The new year tends to be time for new beginnings and resolutions--both things I try to avoid. Not because I think those things are bad, but they tend to be temporary. At least, that's been the case for me. Instead, I try to use the new calendar as a chance to reflect on the last year. What were my goals a year ago? Am I still headed in the direction I want to be headed? It's difficult to measure long term success when you're in the middle of mixing an album or trying to find a place to crash while you're on the road in New Hampshire. But once a year it's good to stop for a moment and decide what worked, and what didn't.
2009 was a year of recording. I finished four albums and have a fifth in the works. The last album is my trio album, which I'm currently titling Tributary (subject to change), and should be done in a couple months. I have a few recording projects this year, but fewer that put me behind the controls. While I love the creative process of producing an album, the editing and mixing process can be awfully laborious, and I plan on spending some of that energy elsewhere. It's also difficult to say whether recorded music can be a steady source of income for independent musicians. I used to do fairly well selling my music on iTunes, but I'm not sure that revenue stream will be as lucrative in 2010. We'll see.
Towards the end of '09 I began taking singing lessons. For most of my life, I was convinced I couldn't sing. When I was young a music teacher told me to not sing, so I figured I just couldn't do it. But this year some of my friends started hanging out and singing songs by Bruce Springsteen, ELO, The Beatles, and they told me to chime in. They didn't care how bad I was because nobody in the room was really a singer. Finally, I realized my voice was just another instrument and it took focused practice, not unlike the guitar or harmonica. With the help of my friend, bandmate, and now voice teacher Erika Lloyd, I've got a better idea of how to practice.
To make the process more fun, I decided to learn a new song every week. Someday I might create a list here, but right now the list is pretty small. This week I'm working on Colin Hay's "Beautiful World" from his album Going Somewhere. I don't intend on subjecting anybody to this process, but once I've made enough progress and start sounding like a singer, you may catch me singing harmonies on a gig here or there.
Last year was also my first complete year as a full time musician. Naturally, one of my goals for this year is to get a raise. 2010 is full of potential success on several fronts. I feel like the work I've been doing with Lauren Zettler is really going to pay off. We've been working hard to bring our music to the next level both in performance and songwriting. Really, all this comes down to is making the song sound as good as possible with just two people. Once you accomplish that, everything else is easier. I also believe MusicianWages.com is beginning to hit it's stride. I mean, it was used as a reference on the Wikipedia entry for "sideman." Somebody is paying attention!
There will be a lot to share this year, and I'm excited to get to work. I expect to play many more shows this year, and in more places. Hopefully I'll be coming to your town and will have a chance to meet you. Thanks for helping make '09 such a great year. On to 2010!