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Songbook And Structure...


The 2009 Joe Songbook is done. (Mostly. I’ve found a couple more corrections I can make. I like to be perfect.) The product is a 1.67MB Acrobat (*.pdf) file, that can come on a CD with a cute Depressionistic label if people want. I can sell the CD for five bucks, including mailing, and recover costs. Or e-mail it for free.

(Anyone within earshot (or eyeshot) who’d like one e-mailed for free, contact me through the Usual Outlets and I’ll take care of it. I will need your name and e-mail, of course, and I think we’ll do a trade-off (since things shouldn’t be entirely free or you’ll assume they have no value)—if you do this, I will add you to the “joelist,” if you’re not on it already. Don’t worry—as I routinely tell people at gigs, you’re only going to get notices of gigs, and of when the next CD comes out. So you won’t hear from me a lot unless things get really busy, and you are not going to be bothered with “important news” about what I had for breakfast.)

I was asked how I’m managing to reach this songbook market. I’m not. I don’t think there is a market, really; the only person who’s likely to want a Joe Songbook is another musician who’s interested in performing my stuff, and I think that’s a really limited number of people. I mostly wanted to see if I could do it, and get the production costs down to a reasonable level, and I did that. I expect I will be giving away a dozen or so of the attractively-labeled CDs as Christmas gifts. Sara may want a couple for the county library, and there’s one music-store owner I would like to make sure has one on his shelves.

The primary value of the “eSongbook” may simply be as an example. As noted previously, I do not know of anyone else doing this—but it’s doable (here’s proof). Could I do this for others? Sure, it’s easy; I’d recommend keeping roughly the same format—including a discography, links, and a bio, and peppering the lyrics with lots of photos, in other words—and I’d want everything, including the photos, supplied to me so I didn’t have to spend time either hunting for or creating stuff. (When I ran my own graphic-design shop, I used to charge double for work I had to do that the customers could have done themselves.)

There’s a bigger question being begged here, though. What AM I doing to promote my music? The answer, I’m afraid, is “Not much.” I’m still well-known to only a small group of people. Yes, the fans I have are pretty determined ones—but there’s not a lot of them. And I’ve sold CDs (I’m almost out again)—but again, not a lot of them.

A large part of the “not doing much” problem may stem from the being-unemployed problem. Except for the occasional gig or job interview, my life completely lacks structure: I don’t HAVE to do anything, including eat and get up in the morning; add in a severe paranoia about being rejected (having been rejected for every single job I’ve applied for for 18 months), and I’m encouraged to put just about everything off (not that I needed much encouragement—procrastination has always been one of my strong points).

I did see in a blog by fellow songwriter Vikki Flawith tips for imposing structure on one’s life; the tips were intended for the self-employed, but it seems they’d work equally well for the unemployed. A key point is setting aside blocks of time for certain activities (something I used to do when I was working)—so many hours a day in the studio, for instance. I could expand on that easily, setting aside blocks of time for promotion—and for job applications, even. Doing that stuff simply because “this is the time when I do that stuff” might help defuse the paranoia factor, which has gotten really bothersome.

So I’m up early (high winds and horizontal rain woke me anyway), and I’ll keep to that routine, and since I like to sit at the computer when I first get up to unstiffen my back, I’ll do the Red Queen Thing (“half a dozen impossible things before breakfast”). I do have some promotional things I’ve been putting off (of course). And I took all my rejection letters out to the burn barrel and burned them. I don’t know if that was cathartic or not, but it sure did make a big fire. And as several people have already reminded me, there is probably a song in it.



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