reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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sisu. [merely a thought monday]

sisu box

sisu.  perseverance.  fortitude.  stamina.  courage.  determination.  my grandmother mama dear used this finnish term all the time and passed it down to my sweet momma beaky who passed it down to me.  a philosophy of life, a mantra, “you gotta have sisu!” mama dear would say.  if up against the odds, if forging upstream, my sweet momma would say, “you gotta have sisu!”  and so it was without a second thought when it was time to name my own company, the independent recording label that has been sisu music productions for the last 23 years.  i can’t think of a better name for all the challenges that have risen – and continue to rise – as an independent artist.

any moment of fear, of uncertainty, brings me to draw on that sisu…digging in my heels and standing firmly in it.  it’s kind of a blind faith and has everything to do with that.  in the face of adversity, of the scales tilted not-in-your-favor, you just keep on.  in the face of fear…everyone has their thing…the thing that makes them afraid…the thing that makes them white-knuckled…you just keep on.   sisu.

i was flying back from telluride to denver a couple days ago – in a smaller plane.  there was a big strapping guy all dressed in camouflage who got on the plane before me.  he told the flight attendant he had been out in the middle of nowhere hunting (successfully) elk and mule deer.  he was a rough and tumble kind of guy and ended up seated just across the aisle from me.  when the plane hit turbulence, particularly over the front range, his face turned red and he looked over at me with a deer-in-the-headlights look and said, “i hate this part!!”  i started talking to him then, trying to ease his obvious fear, talking about the wind currents and the mountains…how i could see the airport…we are almost there…just a teeny bit further…wheels are going to touch down any minute….  he was gripping the lock on the little tray table and finally relaxed his grip and smiled.  everyone has their thing.

we can loan others the sisu we carry with us.  we can bank on the sisu we carry with us.  i often credit being-from-new-york for times i have just forged-ahead-anyway, but my sisu roots go way further back than that.

sisu.  i stood back from the edge of a deep deep canyon the other day, my beautiful daughter on another boulder a few hundred yards away.  i looked at the sky, the sunset playing over red rock.  thought about that very moment in time, this moment i was sharing with the part of my heart known as kirsten…this moment that wouldn’t be repeated.  and i heard the voice in my head, “you gotta have sisu.”  i stepped to the very edge of the canyon, stretched out my arms and laughed aloud.

moab edges with website

read DAVID’S thoughts on SISU

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i didn’t know. [k.s. friday]

i didn't know song box

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yesterday, the senate passed the Music Modernization Act, a complex bill that is supposed to help songwriters in these days of streaming.  as quoted in one article questioning the feasibility of pushing through this bill as is:  “…niche labels and independent musicians face either a zero, or statistically insignificant, chance of a return on their investment through streaming. many report barely paying for a sandwich with their royalties.” (maria schneider, musicanswers.org) yes. creatives are still facing a grotesque misalignment of power and income despite an effort to supposedly be “helped”.

i didn’t know, back when i released my first album, that there would be another…and another…and another…

i didn’t know how vulnerable i would feel each time i released a collection of my soul, turned into tracks of music.

i didn’t know how grateful i would feel each time i stood on stage and spoke to an audience that was there to hear this music – my music.

i didn’t know how many stores, in the early days, would carry these cds (and cassette tapes, way back when), how many times i would be live on QVC-TV, how many radio interviews i would be relishing.

i didn’t know how humbling it would feel that many people would respond to something in my music, something would resonate with them, something would be healing or heartening or touch them.

i didn’t know, through the years, how many thousands of cds would sell, how many boxes i would carry, how many wholesale shows or retail shows i would be present at or how many phone calls i (or wonderful people who worked with me) would make or receive, taking and shipping orders.

i didn’t know that the BMI royalty statements i was getting earlier would soon decline as our world and the internet changed them drastically.  the one i got two days ago for a period of the year included 59,000 performance counts and a $47.47 check.  streaming has made it unnecessary to purchase a physical cd or even pay for and download an artist’s music and so i agree with the writer who said: “streaming revenue for most independent musicians doesn’t even amount to pocket lint.” (m.schneider)

i didn’t know that the yearning inside me to compose and record more music to be released on cds would be stymied by the cost vs earnings debacle that has been created by an industry that doesn’t lift up the independent, while the behemoths remain behemoth.

i didn’t know how sad it would make me.  i didn’t know how it would change me.  i didn’t know i would keep wondering ‘what next?’  i didn’t know i would be seeking answers to where i stand as a composer.  i didn’t know my piano would call from my studio and i would ignore it, feeling betrayed by a profession that should pay my bills like any other.

i just didn’t know.

purchase the physical cd THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY or purchase a download of I DIDN’T KNOW (track 4) on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

I DIDN’T KNOW from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1998, 2000 kerri sherwood


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trust where you’re going. [two artists tuesday]

TRUST this one.jpg

so if you are an over-thinker like me, this is tough – to trust where you’re going.  there are too many details that get in the way of the overall picture.  d is a global thinker…he looks at the bigger picture, he calls it “from 30,000 feet”.  i need to be able to envision each foot to get there….ok, maybe not EACH one, but i need a few more details lined up in order to believe something is possible.  that disparity gets us in trouble sometimes.  we talk about something and are having two different conversations within the same conversation.  mostly, we usually agree on the ultimate Thing, but getting there is, well, sometimes cloaked in a tad bit of disagreement.

who was it that said, “everything will be ok in the end.  and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end” ???  such brilliance! and optimism!  i suppose we gauge so much of what might happen on what happened Before.  we have pre-judgments about how something will turn out; we have reluctance to start; we think, “i’ve already DONE this and it didn’t work.”

i am at a crossroads.  after 15 albums, i haven’t recorded an album in 8 years, haven’t recorded a new vocal album in 16.  16!  where does the time go?  albums are very expensive projects, not only financially, but emotionally.  as i have already talked about numerous times, there is financial pressure on independent artists now like never before.  streaming and illegal downloading has lead to a literal trickle of income, despite millions of “listens”.

so – where do i go from here?  songs have been waiting; the piano beckons.  something in me resists, afraid of not recouping even what it costs at the front end for something new to be released.  part of me wants to believe – believe that it’s time to release something new, in this new time of my career.  put it out there and not be concerned with how it is received, how many cds are purchased, how many paid downloads vs how many times it is streamed or pirated.  but that won’t pay any bills, won’t afford a living.  i am having trouble seeing the 30,000 foot view.  not to mention all the feet in-between here and there.

like you, in some arena of your life, i am trying to trust.  that whatever decision i make it will be ok in the end.  and, if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

if you'd like to see TWO ARTISTS copy

read DAVID’S thoughts on this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY – ON OUR SITE

www.kerrisherwood.com

iTunes: kerri sherwood

trust where you’re going ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

 


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these paintings.

EarthInterrupted2 copy

50 % OFF ALL PAINTINGS SALE

it’s a great space – d’s studio.  i’ve talked about how i spend time down there…in a rocking chair, drinking coffee or wine, watching or talking or gazing at paintings:  canvas he painted long before i knew him, finished canvas that have images i watched evolve, gesso-ed canvas on an easel, canvas pinned to the wall in-the-middle-of-its-story.  i love these paintings and feel fortunate to love the work of the man i love.

we both have chosen an independent route in our respective artistry.  that’s not the easy choice.  (think:  how many people try out for american idol across this country, how many people choose to do their painting ‘on the side’ as they also day-job.)  our “galleries” of work are not mediated or machinated or led or thrust forward by the work of anyone but ourselves and our generous friends, family and people who believe in us.

as i mentioned in a post yesterday, we are coming up on five years together and are offering heart opportunities.  this one is to help match paintings with people who hold them in their heart, who wish to have them.  sometimes, as we all know, it is hard to justify what we wish for.  with this 50% sale on all of david’s gallery of paintings, we hope to make these more accessible to the people who want them.  that way, you, too, can sit in a rocking chair, drink coffee or wine (or cocoa or tea) and gaze at one of these beautiful paintings.

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here are a few examples of the paintings i love

EmbracedNow

NewMother copy

SharedFatherhood2 copy 2

I will hold you copy

Woman With Dog copy

InQuietPrayer10.25 copy

Prayer copy 2

earthInterruptedI copy

 


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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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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