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The Pro’s And Con’s Of Busking

Busking, Music

Right now, I don’t think I could ever go busking again. I had tried though… Once.

It was many, many years ago before I started learning to play guitar. I was still just playing clarinet at the time and one afternoon I thought it would be a good idea to catch the bus into the city, go to Rundle Mall and start busking, playing some pieces from a book called 101 Songs For Buskers (the Bb Clarinet version of course).

I thought I was doing ok until I started getting seriously hassled out by this one guy who for some reason, thought it would be funny to interrupt me at any given opportunity whilst trying to steal whatever money I had made in the short time I was busking.

As I was 14 at the time I had no idea how to handle such a person and apart for some passersby who came to my defence, I got really, really freaked out and after about 30 minutes or so of being hassled, I just packed up my stuff and got out of the there as fast as I could vowing never to busk again.

So much for being spontaneous I thought…

(Fast forward to the present day) I know a few musicians through running Open Mics around Adelaide who make some sort of a living busking around town and I think they are the bravest souls around, especially the ones who busk at night.

While striking up a conversation about busking with these musicians they always ask me why I haven’t done it myself.

I answer them by saying that for me, busking is not an environment that I feel comfortable in because you’re far too exposed to randomness, chance and the idiots that will inevitably want to spoil your performance (I don’t tell them about my bad experience all those years ago, they don’t need to hear that).

I’d rather play in a more formalised environment such as a pub or club where you have some sort of control over the performance. To my amazement the reply I get is that they would rather busk because of the freedom it gives them and that performing at a venue is too restrictive and not a comfortable environment for them.

I suppose you’re either a busker or you’re not and right now I’m definitely part of the latter group. I guess it depends on whether your ideal performance is carried out in an exposed environment or in a structured one.

You’re probably asking yourself “why am I writing about busking?” Well, I was reminded of my experience through stumbling across a website called The Buskers Guide and in it is a series of articles about busking in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide and it got me thinking…

“Could I give busking another go?”

With the advent of busking licenses, busking auditions and councils having more by-laws and regulations concerning buskers and busking maybe the environment is a little bit more structured and safer than it was 30 years ago.

Giving busking another go is an interesting concept for me to grapple with because I do want to get back out and perform and I want to eventually venture outside of South Australia and busking would be a great way to add to the touring income. I realise that by being too scared to busk I am cutting myself off of many gigging opportunities.

Before I make any decisions I need to find out more about what today’s busking environment looks like and websites like The Buskers Guide is a pretty good place to start.

Maybe I need to unshackle myself from routine a bit, gain some artistic freedom in my life and live a little. Should I give it a go and see what happens?

What has been your experiences busking? Feel free to contact me and let me know. Let’s start a conversation about this.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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Fab Feb/Mad March – Phew! Glad It’s Over

Adelaide Fringe, Geek, Rants, Thoughts

<rant>

Today is March 31st, the last day of the month and I’m telling you… I’ve had enough of Fab Feb and Mad March, that time in Adelaide where anything and everything remotely resembling a festival or an event gets bundled into one supposedly huge party that lasts for two months.

Now, I don’t want to appear to be some sort of wowser party-pooper type here but please… Adelaide has so much to offer its citizens (as well as the greater national and global population) but this city doesn’t do anyone any favours by cramming most of its events into a two month period.

There’s just too much competition for the disposable income of a finite population of punters who are suffering more and more from “festival fatigue” every year.

I mean it’s not like Adelaide has crap weather for the other ten months of the year especially as we keep on being told that we live in the driest state on the driest continent on Earth.

Surely we can put on a festival or two at other times of the year? Surely we can space things out a little bit more which in turn will give us performers (and the punters we rely on) a bit of a chance to catch our collective breaths?

Whether you agree with it or not, the article “Has The Adelaide Fringe Festival Become Too Big For It’s Boots?” featured in The Guardian which was inspired by a Facebook rant from British comedian Alexis Dubus (now taken down from Facebook) highlights the issue about the competitive nature of Mad March and the effect it has on performers and punters alike.

NB: I know the article is primarily focussed on the Adelaide Fringe Festival and Mad March is of course a combination of many events but the Adelaide Fringe does take up a lot of Mad March.

Please don’t get me wrong, as a songwriter/musician myself I love any opportunity Adelaide offers to showcase the wonderful talent that we have locally, nationally and globally but to cram everything into a two month time-frame and neglect the rest of the year doesn’t really make any sense to me.

What are your experiences as either a performer or as a punter? Are you suffering from “festival fatigue” or are you sad that Mad March had to eventually finish? I’m interested in your thoughts.

</rant>

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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What’s Been Happening At SongMachine

Home Recording, SongMachine, Songwriting

Lately, I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of recording and I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to just be creative again.

It’s really good for the soul.

Now that I have taken stock of my artistic inventory, I have all of my songwriting stuff in one place and because of this I realise that I’ve got a pretty extensive backlog to get through whether it be recording songwriting snippets, ideas, demo’s or full mixes.

I’m using this backlog of material as an opportunity to gradually sort out my home recording studio “SongMachine” and at the same time practise my proficiency at mastering Logic Pro X.

SongMachine exists not as a means to record other people but to ensure that all of my future songwriting and musical projects can and will be done in-house. I’ll make sure I keep you informed as to what goes on.

In the meantime, it’s time to fire the studio up and do some more recording.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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Taking Stock Of My Artistic Inventory

Creativity, Geek, Songwriting

Recently, I’ve just finished cleaning out all of my external hard drives, all 20TB (yes terabytes) of them and let me tell you, I’ve realised I’m not as organised as I thought I was.

The reason why I undertook such a mammoth task was that I wanted to have all of my songwriting ideas, snippets and demos (plus all of my music business, home studio/recording and general songwriting information I’ve collected over the years) all on one external hard drive and not spread out over many which was the case previously.

The process was that I’d go through each of the old drives one by one and transfer over to the new drive all of the files I wanted to keep and once finished I’d format the old drive and put to one side.

Sometimes It was like trying to unscramble an egg.

Now that I have everything I want under one roof so to speak I’m feeling much more in control over my creativity because I can access everything from one hard drive. I now know where everything is.

For me, being organised means that any song idea that I need to present to a songwriting collaborator is only one click away and no more am I wasting precious time searching among my numerous hard drives trying to find THAT particular songwriting idea that I wanted to work on.

I’ve realised already that the end result of the work I’ve put into organising my artistic inventory is that I’m finally finishing more of the songs that I start and that is inspiring in itself.

Another reason why now more than ever, 2016 will be a very creatively inspiring year for me. I look forward to uploading the fruits of my organised labour soon.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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Creating An Aural Portfolio Vs Creating Albums

Aural Portfolio, Creativity, Music, Songwriting

Here’s a bold statement to start things off with…

From now on, I’m not writing albums anymore but I’ll be creating and maintain an ever-changing and constantly evolving aural portfolio of songs instead.

Photographers have a visual portfolio available for their clients so why shouldn’t I, as a songwriter, have an aural portfolio of my songs available online?

I came to this conclusion after looking back on my experience of writing, recording and releasing my first CD Seeing Stars which took an extraordinarily long time to create.

I learnt the hard way that creating an album took a lot of effort, money and some time off the live music circuit to produce the thing.

I also remember the huge stressful build-up to the release of the CD which at the end of the day was very successful however, because I didn’t have a plan on how I was going to market, promote and sell my CD’s post release I still to this day have a few boxes of CD’s under the bed.

Personally, I found that writing songs for an album of 12 – 15 tracks was too limiting in its scope to me.

The more I look into this paradigm shift from creating albums to maintaining an aural portfolio I’ve become more a fan of the “record and release often” concept.

Putting together a body of work by recording and releasing one song at a time will allow me a constant flow of momentum while still playing live and doing all of the other necessary activities an independent musician needs to be doing at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong though… The concept of carrying physical CDs purely for sale at gigs still rings true for me but for the online world, the CD (and even downloads for that matter) are becoming less and less relevant.

Another part of this shift in thinking is that I’ve decided to give away my music downloads for free and devote all my energies on finding ways to be found online, re-purposing my music and building/maintaining my mailing list based on my aural portfolio rather than trying to sell individual downloads online.

I am taking my lead from a San Franciscan songwriter by the name of Dave Hahn. He’s set up his own aural portfolio at songwriter.fm

David gives his music for free for two main reasons which he explains on his website. He says…

“First, I really want people to hear the music I’ve written. The only thing better than creating something exciting is sharing that something with others. For me, writing songs is about connecting with people, telling a story, and sharing a common experience. Writing a song is, then, only half of the thrill of being a songwriter. I also want people to hear it!

Second, I want to build a career as a songwriter. As a Broadway conductor, I worked with some of history’s best songsmiths. I’ve seen what it takes to write a great song and to make a career out of it. What it takes is this: People need to hear your songs, like your songs, and give you the resources to make more of them. That could come in the form of a Kickstarter donation, a TV or film placement, a commission, a publishing deal – or any kind of songwriting project. I want to work on those projects.”

In giving his music away for free, David Hahn is concentrating on the other ways that a songwriter can make some money out of their music rather than the old buy/sell downloads model. I know that there are plenty of artists that have adopted a “pay what you want” model but me, I want to start giving away my music for free too.

Doing this is not an exercise in devaluing my music. I’m looking at this as increasing my chances of getting found, increasing my chances of exploring the other options for monetising my music.

On songwriter.fm you can sign up to David’s mailing list where you get a free song each week plus, you can browse his site and listen to all of his other songs. Each of his songs have their own page with lyrics, sheet music downloadable as a PDF, a YouTube video of the song and a Soundcloud version of it too.

I really like the idea of each and every song being a focal point of music discovery for somebody and utilising social media at the same time.

The site layout is extremely simple and specifically designed to facilitate some sort of dialogue between client and songwriter. For me, stumbling upon David’s website was a real game-changer for me.

It was very inspiring indeed.

Through studying songwriter.fm I realised that there are many ways that a song can be re-purposed for discovery or monetary purposes. My job as a songwriter (besides writing songs) is to find the many different way that my songs can be re-purposed such as:

    • To be performed by me
    • For others to perform
    • To get a publishing contract
    • To be licensed in Film, TV and Theatre
    • As a stepping stone to my next song
    • To collaborate/network with other songwriters/musicians
    • To self promote via social media
      • YouTube
      • Facebook
      • SoundCloud
      • Twitter
      • Google+

My belief is that as a songwriter I shouldn’t necessarily have to worry about genres, trends and fads because what I write, what I create and the output of my creation should be anything that I want it to be not to suit some arbitrary collection of songs.

If I write something that can be turned into something with a country twinge then so be it. If I write a song that has a strong leaning towards rock then so be it.

I always thought that to be truly a liberated songwriter is to create without prejudice to the outcome and the aural portfolio approach I’ll be adapting in 2016 is something that will take me one step closer to artistic and creative liberation.

I’ll be using this blog as my way of keeping you posted as to my progress however, I have started off my aural portfolio using the songs from my first CD “Seeing Stars.”

Have a listen and let me know what you think.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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The Joys Of Collaboration (And Wanting More Of It)

Collaboration, Creativity, Songwriting

This year I want to get back into a really productive rhythm when it comes to writing songs and one of the ways I can achieve this is by co-writing with as many songwriters as I can.

I’ve been collaborating on and off for a little while now and so far I’ve been loving the experience.

I’ve been really enjoying the bouncing of musical and lyrical ideas off and from one another as well as the conversations which evolve from this process. It inspires me to keep going as well as challenge my sense of how the world is through my eyes.

For me, collaboration forces me to constantly think about and analyse, my own songwriting process.

This is because no two songwriting styles are truly the same and the inevitable comparisons of each other’s songwriting styles makes for fascinating insights. Creativity is a fickle beast sometimes and having a little help from your friends can achieve great results.

Results which I will proudly upload to my Aural Portfolio when completed.

Very recently I cleaned out all of my external hard drives and transferred the files I wanted to keep onto my home studio computer. From doing this I realised that I had scattered across many different locations, countless amounts of recorded demos, half finished song ideas and song snippets ready for me to finish off and upload for all the world to hear.

I hadn’t realised the sheer volume of stuff just sitting in my archives waiting for me to finish off one day. I became very aware that I’m really good at starting something but not at finishing things.

This year I want to make a real dent in my songwriting archive.

I’ll still be coming up with new ideas because I just can’t help it but I also know that putting aside those old songwriting ideas to be finished one day is a fruitless task as “one day never comes.”

I’m actively looking for more collaborators to work with me so if you feel you want to be part of a songwriting team that has no shortage of ideas at its disposal then contact me.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some works in progress.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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This Is What Happens When You’re True To Yourself

Adelaide Fringe, CS Solo, Gigs

I was asked the other day if I had missed doing cover gigs since making my decision to stop doing them by the end of 2015, and my short answer was a big “NO!”

No, I don’t miss doing cover gigs at all. In fact by the end of 2015 I wasn’t missing doing any gigs because by then I was a bit tired, jaded, burnt out and needing a little time out from everything.

Let me tell you though, it’s amazing what happens when you start being true to yourself. Since I’ve stopped playing covers I performed my first originals only show (with the wonderful Darren Zaza) at the Hotel Metro on January 27th.

As first gigs go it went off very well as you can see from the below video…

I’ve also managed to secure another three gigs at the newly established Mischief & Mayhem Wine Lounge Art Space for the 2016 Adelaide Fringe plus, I’m doing a 1 hour SCALA spot at the German Club all because word had got around my network that I’m now only concentrating on writing, recording and performing my own music.

All of this has happened and I haven’t even started seriously re-engaging with the Adelaide music scene as yet which further reinforces the feeling that my decision to stop playing covers was definitely the right one to make.

Below are my upcoming gigs for February and March 2016 so far…

Thursday February 18th, 2016
Corey Stewart (with Darren Zaza)
Mischief & Mayhem Wine Lounge Art Space
68 Broadway, Glenelg South
7:30pm – 9:30pm

Thursday February 25th, 2016
Corey Stewart (with Darren Zaza)
Mischief & Mayhem Wine Lounge Art Space
68 Broadway, Glenelg South
7:30pm – 9:30pm

Saturday February 27th, 2016
The Synchronicity Police
Published Arthouse
11 Cannon Street, Adelaide
7:30pm – 9:30pm
Entry: $33 @ FringeTix

Thursday March 3rd, 2016
Corey Stewart (with Darren Zaza)
Mischief & Mayhem Wine Lounge Art Space
68 Broadway, Glenelg South
7:30pm – 9:30pm

Wednesday March 9th, 2016
Corey Stewart (with Darren Zaza)
The German Club (for SCALA)
223 Flinders Street, Adelaide
9:30pm – 10:30pm

I’ll be promoting these shows either personally or via social media as well. It would be wonderful to see some familiar faces in the crowd. If you have any questions regarding these shows please contact me.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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My Transition From Covers Musician To Originals Artist

Corey Stewart, Covers, Creativity, FIGJAM

I made a decision at the beginning of last year that by the end of 2015 I would let go of all the things that I didn’t want to do and only do the things that really wanted to do. For all potential future projects I would use this statement as my guide in what I say yes or no to.

Throughout 2015 I did let go of a lot of stuff. I wound up all of my contracted covers gigs and other related projects so I could devote my time to writing, recording and performing my own music plus, getting stuck into my new (non-music related) day job.

Fast forward to right now (February 11th, 2016) and I know that THAT decision I made at the beginning of 2015 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

No longer do I have the insane amounts of stress and anxiety that came with having to play covers in the large variety of projects I had to be in to ensure that I had enough income coming in.

Let me tell you, I don’t miss working weekends at all.

I no longer feel that I have to put my own creativity in a corner and leave it there for a rainy day because I had no time for my own stuff.

I also don’t have to play songs that I don’t like to crowds that don’t care in venues that don’t respect musicians as the professionals that they are. I can now practise my own songs for my own shows rather than other people’s music for gigs that felt like more of a means to an end than a creatively enjoyable experience.

At this time I’m devoting my time to making friends again with the creative part of myself that I had neglected for such a long time but what I can say is that for the first time a very long time, I am truly happy with where I am musically.

This was all the end result of me making a decision to finally be true to myself. That is the real power of letting go.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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Why Am I Doing This?

Music Business, Thoughts

I discovered early on in my career that, as a performing songwriter and musician it’s really, really important to have people to play in front of. Seems a simple enough realization to me.

Playing to an audience had always given me a sense of purpose with my music, which is an end result to all of the hours practicing, rehearsing, writing and honing my craft.

Of course performing in front of an attentive satisfies the ego too but I realized that just satisfying the ego was not enough. Performance is a two way street between performer and audience.

Without one, the other ceases to exist.

It dawned on me that for me to be a successful performer I needed to be successful at giving the audience a reason to care, to touch move and inspire them and then find a way to keep them all in one group and then give them what they want on a regular basis.

Hence this blog and this website. I’m using technology to reach out over the vast expanses of the internet to tap you on the shoulder and say “Hello!”

I want to build a community of people around me and my music and I’ll be doing that by being me, being open and honest and documenting everything that I can on my journey.

I’ll be putting up my music, my images, my videos, my thoughts, feelings and other interesting and useful things I find along the way. All because I want to reach out to you, my audience.

I know that might sound a tad arrogant but, I know that winning you over is not going to come easily. I have to prove my worth to you, prove that I’m worthy of your attention because your time is just as precious as mine and therefore I don’t want to waste it.

If I’m on stage I know where my audience is. When I’m writing for this site I don’t know where you are, it’s exciting and scary all at the same time but it’s worth pursuing. My audience, my community, my friends are out there. I’ve just got to find them.

It is my hope that through this website (and what I put in it) will give you a reason to give me a go, to care enough to tell your friends about what I do, to come to my shows and to allow me to be part of your life through my music.

It would be an honour and a privilege to do so.

As you can read, I take community building very seriously. It’s what the music industry is all about but I will touch on that in later posts.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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2016

2016 – The Grand Experiment Begins

Corey Stewart

Hi there,

My name is Corey Stewart and I’m a singer/songwriter/musician/blogger from Australia.

I’ve been writing, recording and playing music for over 30 years and in that time I’ve seen a lot of changes in the music industry especially in the way that musicians such as myself get their product out to a wider audience.

When I first started on my musical journey it was still a really big deal to independently release your own material. The reason being that, the only way to “make it” was to send out lots of demos and hope to get signed to a record label.

Way back then, being an independent musician wasn’t really a viable option financially. There were no broadcast quality home studios in those days so if you wanted to record independently you needed to have a fair bit of money behind you.

Record labels rules the airwaves and independence was only afforded to a very few artists.

Fast forward to today, especially with the internet being a huge influence on society as a whole, the tables seemed to have turned. Home studios are everywhere, distribution of music is much easier to manage and putting out a CD independently is now the done thing for bands and artists.

It’s almost like releasing an independent CD is a right of passage for musicians these days. In fact I released my own CD “Seeing Stars” in 2012 and still have plenty of physical copies of it available (as with most artists who release an independent CD).

However, in spite of it all, this is where my Grand Experiment begins.

You see, since 2000 I have been fascinated and excited about the possibilities for musicians who market themselves online and it’s been since 2004 that I’ve dabbled in creating and maintaining a songwriting and a music industry blog which has enabled me to branch out my experiences to include web development and online marketing.

Over the last few years I have been wondering if it’s really possible to have some sort of success as a singer/songwriter/musician through using the internet and open source software.

I’ve been doing some research and I realise that my ideas are not necessarily treading over virgin territory. Artists such as Brad Sucks, Scott Andrew, Jonathon Coulton, Andy Othling and Ben Walker have paved the way before me, producing great music and using the internet to their fullest advantage at the same time.

Reading their stories and watching what they do (I subscribe to a lot of songwriting and indie music blogs and video channels) inspire me greatly.

I’m not necessarily doing all of this to be some sort of trailblazer, all I want to do is to put my music out there to anyone who wants to hear it, perform my music to anyone who wants to see it and produce my music for anyone who wants to share it/use it for their own projects.

This website will document my journey, warts and all. My quest is to be a self sufficient, independent, online music artist.

My journey starts now.

Peace,

Corey 🙂