reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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ks friday

jacketrightnowjpeg copy 2as much as i like black and white, NOTHING is really quite black and white.

we walked the tax stuffff into the accountant’s office this morning.  it’s been over 20 years that i have been keeping precise records for the company that is my recording label: sisu music productions inc.  this company (like me, like any of us) has seen its ebbs and flows through the years.  some of it was due to economy, some due to personal reasons, some due to technology and the internet changing every professional musician’s life, some due to the matter-of-fact financial challenges on any independent recording artist.

while i was compiling all the information this year, i had many conversations with d about how i was feeling.  at one point, he turned to me and said, “this is like reading your calendar at the end of the year, isn’t it?”  mmm.  yes.  a cruise through the year in my life as an artist with albums, an artist who has spent time on the radio, on stages, on wholesale show floors.  some years that ramble-through is exciting; some years that ramble-through is disappointing.  there is always back-story behind the activity, the sales, the decisions.  it’s not black and white.

i stand here in march, 23 years after the release of my first album, touching the very very black of my piano and the very very white of the scrap paper i use so often to write on, and look out ahead of me.  i wonder where – in this arena of my life, this heading, this column – i am going.  the view from here is foggy and unclear.  do i have albums to make?  stages to play on?  my end-game is different now – it has to be; i am 23 years older than i was back then – at the beginning.  i can only wonder if the music that is still a part of me, still inside me, never yet hitting anyone’s ears as a finished recording, will find its way, will find relevance, will lead me into the next.  it’s not black and white.

IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE from the album RIGHT NOW track 4 – on iTUNES

IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE from the album RIGHT NOW on CDBaby

PURCHASE THE PHYSICAL CD – RIGHT NOW

KS FRIDAY (KERRI SHERWOOD FRIDAY)

 

it's not b:w framed art copy

 

it's not black and white LEGGINGS copy 2

 

it's not b:w square pillow copy

read DAVID’S thoughts on IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE

IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE from the album RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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ks friday

i used to spend a lot of time driving across the country to wholesale shows where i would represent my cds and sell to stores everywhere that stocked music.  the world has changed since then and not only are there less boutique-type shops with original work (inexpensive copies have taken over), but there are few shops that actually sell physical cds.  in this world of downloading (read: streaming, but don’t get me started on THAT subject) it is hard for a proprietor to invest in anything they aren’t sure will fly out the door.

when i drove east with a vanload of boxes and merchandise, i would pass a lake called meander lake.  i looked forward to these signs and the view of this lovely lake through the trees.  the word “meander” conjured up images of every time i had taken the time to do just that:  meander.  on a back road, on a trail in the mountains, in the woods in a state park, along the lake, through a magazine or book, or in my mind’s eye.  i am a meanderer.  i believe i come by it naturally; my sweet momma loved meandering…any day she would suggest a car drive or a bike hike to some distant spot, meandering on the way.  she wasn’t afraid of getting lost; for her, meandering WAS the meaning in the time spent.

sitting at yamaha artist services in nyc i had a list of titles i had collected, words that had spoken to me or touched my heart.  “meander” was on that list.  with “record” on, i simply ‘played’ the word “meander.”  the amazing “fine” ken orchestrated this piece back in chicago, bringing in musicians to add tracks.

sitting next to me right now, david just listened to it.  the richness of that orchestration wrapped around me and i was back on I-76, jotting down on a scrap of paper the word “meander.”

MEANDER from the album AS IT IS track 3 on iTunes

MEANDER from the album AS IT IS track 3 on CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts about MEANDER

 

 

 

MEANDER from AS IT IS ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 


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twenty years later

my sister sent me this.  i don't know who to credit, but it's brilliant.

my sister sent me this. i don’t know who to credit, but it’s brilliant.

a year ago yesterday i wrote about an anniversary….it was 19 years since i released my first album. well, that makes this year’s yesterday 20 years since the release concert for that first album! i looked at someone last night and said, “two decades!” which makes it sound like forever ago. in some ways, it is.

fifteen albums and several singles after that first release i sit here at my piano and get lost in thought. thoughts of what next? thoughts of direction – looking back and looking forward. thoughts of relevance. (yes, i have used that before in writing. but it’s so…relevant.)

at 56 i am a different composer, a different performer, a different dreamer than at 36. it doesn’t seem as important to fill any concert venue in order to have impact, in order to resonate with someone in his/her life. i wonder where the next two decades will take me. sheesh, where will the next one decade take me?

i face different challenges now than i did at 36. i’m not writing in interrupted bursts at the piano, in-between toddlers’ requests or needs. i have more uninterrupted time to sit and compose, to write lyrics. hmm…i find that i’m actually better when being interrupted.

my songs are different too. lyrics at 36 were designed for airplay – 3.5 minutes or less. more than that was the kiss of radio-death. lyrics at 56 aren’t designed. in fact, i’m wondering who will listen. how many other pianoplayingsingersongwritercomposers are out there?

i was listening to pop radio while driving the other day and was floored at all the lyrics i would never have written. the lyrics “i’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble” would never occur to me. so i’m guessing (newsflash!) i’m not cut out for this pop radio thing any more. that’s a no-duh, you’re thinking. and yet, i know that people are still listening. i get feedback (jay’s word:) from people who generously take the time to sit down and jot a note to me about how something i have written touches them. this is huge. this is what makes writers keep writing, composers keep composing…the idea that something they have to say resonates with someone else. although the muse forces us all to continue regardless.

so….where am i going? i’m thinking about recording a new vocal album that is ukulele-based. not because i am a good ukulele player, but because i am not a good ukulele player. it will force me to really think about the lyrics, the melody, the stuff of emotion. i won’t be able to rely on those familiar and beloved 88 keys. it would make me change; it would make me grow. both are good.

i’d like to find a way for all the music that i’ve already recorded to be accessed more…in a fiscally rewarding way. the 319,954 downloads in the first quarter (see post from September 22) didn’t actually help me make a living. and that same thing happens each quarter that goes by. i’d like to think that everything that has been invested in all those albums – all those pieces of music – all that heart – might be able to help me pay my bills. $0.00079 royalty per download isn’t really the way to get there. and all the radio promoters and marketers i’ve paid in the past didn’t need the income from my music to pay their electric bill. they needed the income i paid them. big difference. but genuine iTunes downloads or licensing for movie scores or some wildly lucky viral hit would help.

in the meanwhile, i have to decide to decide. that it doesn’t matter, ahead of time, to know who will listen or what will happen. that if music is to be written, it just must be written. i have no real control over the rest.

twenty years later i think i get it.

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood


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319,954. first quarter 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 5.12.43 PMbmi, one of the major music royalty companies, sent me a statement and a check which i opened today. happy to be a bmi artist, i was grateful to receive the check; i read it first, a natural human reaction. then i pulled up the statement.

my original music had 319,954 plays in the first quarter of 2015. that is: between radio, tv, internet, music program companies, my music has been spun over 319,000 times. in one quarter of a year. now…that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it. one of my big questions these days about my music is – is it relevant? well, apparently, it must be. and so this is reassuring.

now, you would think that would equate to a decent royalty check, the ability for an independent artist to make a living. this is what i made per spin (an average…i am a bit of a math geek)….are you ready? i made a whopping $00.00079 per play. that isn’t even NEAR a PENNY. so let’s see. that means that the total of 319,954 plays has NOT netted me enough to:

1. buy a decent basket of groceries
2. even pay half of my private health insurance premium
3. pay for my dog to have 3 months of heartworm preventative medication and flea and tick preventative medication
4. pay my one-month cell phone bill
5. contribute to half of the mortgage payment
6. pay the minimum payment on my master card bill
7. pay the amount of my monthly parent plus loans for my son’s college fees
8. pay an hour of an entertainment attorney’s time
etc etc etc

it would just cover the electric/gas bill.
it would pay for life insurance.
it would cover a month of car insurance.
it would cover the cat food.
it would cover the water bill.

but. it will not cover any combination of these bills. and, as i pointed out above, there are many it won’t cover at all.

and that brings me to value.

what is the value of music? and, if it is relevant, why is so little value placed on it? how many places have you been, events have you attended (weddings, funerals, dance parties…what would those be without music?), commercials you watched on tv, movies that inspired you, moved you, disturbed you – how would those be without a soundtrack? how many moments have you cherished that would have changed dramatically withOUT the music in that space of time? what does it do to your heart? and how can we place so little value on that?

there were a reported (mind you, this is what is reported, not what is the real total) 19,974 plays on the internet of my original music. this netted me (wait for it) a grand total of $3.61. yes, you read that right. $3.61. i could not even treat you and me to a starbucks for that. i couldn’t even get a happy meal for that. and yet, 19,974 people/entities listened to the music i conceived, wrote, recorded, paid for a recording engineer, mastering engineer, piano technician, miscellaneous equipment, yamaha had a piano delivered to the studio, purchased upc codes and copyrights, had a graphic designer design a cd format, ordered and paid for replicated cds and print art (jackets, tray cards), paid ups to ship boxes upon boxes to the office, paid for marketing materials, paid employees to market and distribute, drove thousands of miles and carried hundreds of pounds of boxes of cds to play concerts, perform at wholesale, retail shows and stores and do radio and tv interviews, uploaded over 200 tracks from 15 albums to itunes, and see that pieces have found their way onto the internet in ways i can’t put my finger on…..i needn’t go on….i’m sure you get the point…. in the days of physical cds and brick and mortar buildings, and even in the days of just itunes downloads that paid artists, there was a chance at treating you to BOTH a happy meal AND a starbucks. but now…..

and so. the music. it’s relevant. and it has value. but who is missing out in this equation??

a few weekends ago i performed for an important event. as with all work, it took preparation and commitment, practice and heart to make sure that my performance supported the event. after it was over, many people commented on how touched they were by this music. one gentleman asked me, “when you aren’t playing music, what do you really do?” really???

i am 56. there is a lot of music left in me to write, record, perform. how do i justify continuing to make this music when each piece that reaches the ears of another living soul pays me less than a penny? do i hope for sheer luck? for an overnight itunes download sensation? or a youtube that goes viral, heaping advertisers at my doorstep?

these are potent questions. what are the answers?

how can i (afford to) live and keep making music? how can i (afford to) live and not keep making music?raw-1

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood