Thursday, July 31, 2014

But there IS work for musicians....

A lot of folks are complaining lately about this idea that there is no longer any work for musicians.  Many others however would agree that the problem is not that there is no work, it's that there  is a different landscape and it is harder to maintain steady work. Which means of course, we have to adapt and diversify and make ourselves valuable to a client.  

Mostly, today's musician has to wear several hats and do many projects if they want to call this a job. 
I currently play in 5 different projects with five different set lists and am available to substitute in a number of  other bands. 
My jobs are a broad spectrum dichotomy from one other. They run the gamut from full on band (complete with costumes) performing for several thousand people, to small, intimate and solo. It has been hard work to get that much material show worthy but I wanted this job, so I have been dedicated to the point where I feel sure that I can deliver on each show I commit to. With that comes an experience that I think has been invaluable, learning to understand my audience.

Audiences are just as diverse as the work itself and it pays to understand them.  At a festival for instance people are there for  the music so you get rapt attention and cheers before during and after your performance. It is profoundly heady and if you are in it for the glory the festivals are the bomb.

But I want to talk about something else here, because not all gigs are festivals or theatres and not all audiences are there for specifically you, you are there for them and it's nothing to do with you. In the instance where  it is your job to add vibe to the environment, you don't always want to put a big flashy sign over your head and insist on attention. If you don't get this about your audience or your venue you won't like this job because you will take it personally, you have to face it, sometimes it is thankless job.....or can appear to be.

I am going to reveal some secrets here...I don't mind being background music, specifically, I love the solo gig that most musicians say they hate...the one where no one 'seems' to pay attention. I am really good at this kind of job in fact  because I accept that the audience came to eat, that they didn't come to see me do a show. So I happily let go of it and get into my music. And that...... is when the people get me. They also appreciate that I release them from the obligation to clap. I don't do it obviously I just am obviously comfortable letting them be.

  Lets face it, for most of us meal time often revolves around conversation and connection and people are busy when they are eating, their hands are busy with utensils and they are there to talk to friends or family. as an artist I add nothing to the room if I dial it up so loud that no one can converse or if I say something that shames them into clapping (yes I have seen artists do this).

Expecting applause can become uncomfortable for people whereas releasing them of the burden just makes it all the more enjoyable for everyone. I would rather just do a good job, enjoy it and be patient since inevitably I will be thanked over and over and over and over in the end.  That is the truth of it and knowing this, means you can let go and settle in and give your clients what they bought, a nice atmosphere. Part of fostering that atmosphere is knowing that you have to let folks be.

 Which.... leaves you  free..... and that is the beautiful thing, there is something very soothing about being allowed to just do your thing. If you do your job right you will have fun weaving music in and throughout the room according to the flow of it. For instance, in a soft quiet dining lounge when the audience energy goes up so does the volume....believe it or not, that is exactly when I pull down and play and sing quieter, I give the room it's energy rather than try to compete with it. I leave space with my my guitar by dropping a beat and I can hear the buzz. All the while I can see people mouthing the words to my backround songs or tapping their glass or foot, I know they are with me. When the time is right I might dial it up a little, never do I overpower.

I look at my demographic and I pick a song for each table as I go around the room...I try to play something from their era that they will know. I reach everyone. Sometimes a room can be silent after songs for half an hour and then for some reason some song will resonate with someone and they will forget and put their hands together as I finish and the whole room will suddenly explode with applause, its almost like they were waiting for someone else to start. I just smile at them and say thank-you and I carry on, indicating that there is still no pressure.

As people leave however it goes from apparent ignorathon to intense gratitude, guests most often step out of their way towards me to say thank you, sometimes they give me money, often they ask for cards, always they tell me the music was fabulous and that they love my song list. At the end of the night the owners tell me they had nothing but massive compliments, they loved the vibe and at first they will even apologize for the lack of applause. I release the owners of this burden as well, likening myself to the plates and utensils and letting them know I prefer it whichever way the crowd drives it and I assure them that I  know they are with me regardless, sometimes just a happy vibe means everything is working.

 I'm in it because it is a job, (and a great job, in fact I feel almost guilty for just sitting there playing and singing while everyone else in the room working there is busting their tails....) and when I release myself and the room of the pressure, then the applause that I do get is rarely forced or polite, it is  real and somehow the crowd and I appreciate each other for it.

Which is why I so love the solo gig just as much as the big glorified ones, even though I can go from the spotlight to background music in a heartbeat, I am still channelling energy and communicating in the language I most deeply understand.  This bit of independance is  just as challenging and enjoyable for me and I am forever grateful that I can do it as a job.

Which is why I bring up the process of understanding your audience and reading your room, it's one element that is important to understand if you want to get or make work for yourself. ....because  if you can do that well and bring something to the table to enhance your audiences experience, then the work will be there. I played last night because a customer specially requested me. She had seen me at the venue before and appreciated that I would bring something to her party  without taking away from it.  The importance of this can not be ignored...

There are a lot of people out there complaining that there is no work for musicians but I don't buy that because here I am, singing and strumming once a week and doing special events in a venue that never even intended to have live music.   You have to remember what they hire you for and it 's not always to be a rockstar, sometimes you get to run the campfire.

                                      Rachael Chatoor at Sheila's Bistro  most Thursday nights!

To see my solo show click the video! Thanks to the Vancouver Web Festival!

Rachael Chatoor LIVE at the Vancouver Web Fest by VanWebFest At the Vancouver Web Fest!

later loves! xoxo


Sunday, July 6, 2014

it's worse than pitchforks.

So today I read an article written by someone in the the elusive 1%. Finally, we hear from someone from camp special who might actually have a soul, someone who sees how clunky the economic engine is getting and whom is open minded enough to noting some of the reasons why. Cool. Thank you   for your first step. You have our ears and our attention, now lets see you turn your brothers.

And before you say anything let me offer another thought. The pitchfork thing is an interesting analogy and even possibly correct but it is also  incomplete because there is another possibility.........tell your friends that we are not all barbarians and that we don't want to come with pitchforks.......In fact tell them it's worse, we are losing interest and in these days of information revolution, we are learning. We are learning about ourselves, about each other and also we are figuring out what is truly valuable about living and for the first time in history we have the means to spread that information, organically. We are learning that we don't really even need pitchforks. We are learning to speak with our wallets, by not opening them to you and instead, by opening them to each other. 

Yesterday, for instance I went to paint my sons room. We used Google to find a local garage saler who was selling paint supplies and I filled up for $10. All I had to buy from a store was new paint. That's $50 which is not going into some big corporations till. Admittedly it's a drop to them but it's a fortune to me. You see one thing  I've learned lately,  is that while I am not against you corporations making some money for your efforts, my own dollar goes farther when you aren't involved and so sometimes,  I have  to make a choice to get creative.

I  do it to survive but also to bring more palpable good to my community. I know my money is going back  into my 'local' economy and that painter Joe and his wife down the street can pay their heating bills. Meanwhile that corporation  is probably paying $42,000 for an ice sculpture to be designed for one executive dinner and it makes me feel great that my money is not going to pay for that.

At the same time, I don't begrudge you people your yachts, in fact some of you have spent good money to have me play music on them and for that I am grateful. (I did put one boat to sleep once but I digress). So, I do love it when the wheels of economy are turning. When you rich people invest in the live-arts it beautifies the environment and it connects people on a universal level and for a moment we all feel happy. Personally, you treat us very favorably and I appreciate that. It allows some of us starving musicians to stay afloat...... but just barely, since even the arts have lost their value.

Like many musicians, I am self employed and live  under the poverty line. But here is the rub and its why, despite our percieved  poverty you rich folks also often look towards us with wonder.......we are happy. Deeply, soulfully, happy.....some of you have everything material that we could never have yet you see us onstage, happy. What you see is what you can't buy......freedom of the soul and joy in the heart for doing something that comes from the inside, something that  is intended to connect and communicate. It's magic and you can't buy it.

 And I, along with legions of other inherently happy people, am  naturally inclined towards  motivating other people on how to find the same inner joy, to remind people of its value despite all of your media attempts to imply  that true happiness is found in the things they buy. Happiness can not be found in any 'thing' if you can't afford it. You are doing no one any favors by focusing on making money off of us or enslaving us in debt in order to be like Mr Jones next door. So it's a multi level battle we are dealing with here. But we are succeeding.


Already a new value system is gaining ground.  I know about it because I live it and because  in a time when the internet allows us to reach out to more people than ever, I have the blessing of being able to share my successes with people who happen to be listening.  I am just a regular girl like everyone else and people see that happiness is achievable through self motivation, caring and creativity, something we all are capable of, money or no.... maybe that is why some people listen.

For instance; I posted about our painting/garage sale savings yesterday on facebook and now several people I know have told me they will do the same thing the next time they have a project. So lets times that by six and now next week we have $300 that is not going into your till. The week after that, even more people try out the idea and save more money which also now circulates more effectively, locally (and also outside of your radar). It feels better to us and we find good reasons to leave you, our once trusted brands.............we used to care because you used to care.... but now we don't, because you don't.

Having said all that, would I support the company who puts its money where it's mouth is and delivers something deeper than merely slave wages? Absolutely, and I do, both the big and small ones.  

Anyhow, these are a few tiny moments that they might want  to know about  up there in 1% land so if you could please pass on the message that would be great. I agree with your post and think that the system can not be built on broken backs, you want strong ones and the 1%  need to know that the strong ones are leaving. When you  rich folks cheap out you choke society, you yourselves are  forcing us to clog the system, forcing us to find other ways that don't include you.  

And I do like the system, when it's not choked. I think it can work. I'm not against someone having the reins I just need to trust they know how to drive. I like contributing and having and enjoying things and experiences but not at the expense of happiness, or health. Mine or anyone elses.   

If you 1% ers get conscious, not for the sake of the buck but for the sake of something more elusive and valuable, happiness......and reward people so they can do more than just survive....then people will work hard for it, they will work hard for you. Imagine being THAT innovative..... Its time to make "good values" the hero again for real, not just for on the package.

And if you don't make that change up there in 1% land, it will happen down here anyhow (because we have no choice). I know it sounds crazy. But if you ask me, a revolution is already happening and it's happening through information. And society is buying it.  We are starting to 'get it' and its only a matter of time before we all get it and find a new way without you. There is a small army already assembled and we are getting skilled at hitting you where it hurts most, your bottom line.

I thank you for sharing your insights and I will gladly support a modern 1% er like yourself if you are putting your money where your mouth is....I'd like to see something come of this so I am now following you on Twitter. I hope you have seen a little bit more of us, from what I have shared, we are the ones without pitchforks and we should be even more scary to you.

And so I ask,  how do we take this new understanding of  each other and build a collective army that will build a richer society?  Maybe the way to speak to your 1% brothers is in their own language.  Reassure them that no one really wants to take their power away, tell them that  the more you 1% ers  empower and inspire the masses, the more chance the masses will put their 'hearts' into the game and support you back. A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle, so fire us up........for that is where you will see the most return on your investments.