Jane Eamon is a veteran singer-songwriter and music community-builder from the B.C. interior. She has just launched her brand new album, Pieces of Me – hear samples below – and she shares with us some candid thoughts about making the music business meaningful as an older artist with limitations on her finances and mobility. Thank you for such a loving and honest piece, Jane!
I have just released a new CD, Pieces of Me. It’s number seven, and it cost a lot of money. I want the world to hear it. I want to be embraced by my fans and the general public and – possibly – make enough money to do another one. But – and here’s the big but – things are different now. I don’t drive, so touring is an onerous option. I don’t have my husband anymore to play with me. I’m over 65, and I don’t have the start-up capital to promote and produce videos and marketing materials. So now what?
Things have changed so dramatically with the established music models that the way we’ve always done things is not necessarily the way things are now. It doesn’t mean that parts of these models aren’t effective and worth pursuing. It does mean though, that not everything works as it should. Record a CD, get it out to media and radio, get it reviewed (positively), sell it to distribution channels (iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby) and then book an extensive tour where you can sell lots of CDs to your adoring fans both old and new. Try to tour with the least amount of expense, come back and repeat.
Recording runs the gamut from cheap-on-my-home-stereo to thousands of dollars with a big name producer in a top notch studio. Both methods have pros and cons. Both work and fail. Niche media plays a lot of the lesser-known folks, but the bottom line in a lot of cases is listeners. So playing what the listeners want is often the driving force. CBC still remains pretty much the mainstay of lesser known music, but even that is changing these days with younger demographics demanding their own music. You can pay to have your record reviewed. Or you can chance what someone says. But I imagine most respected reviewers are deluged with CDs, and it becomes a full-time job just to wade through the piles. What are the chances of you getting to the top of that pile AND getting a positive review? And don’t get me started on distribution channels. In the age of millions of streams for very little payback, why would I want to direct traffic to someone else’s site? Have I bought into the belief that iTunes is the only way?
So this time, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to try and take back control of how my art gets into the world. I have often been frustrated with the difficulty of making my way in the music business. I have toured, I have played house concerts, I have recorded seven CDs, I have sold off CD Baby, I have promoted, planned, talked, and played every gig I could, had numerous websites and, at the end of it all, been exhausted. I even began to resent the process just a little bit. I even toyed with the idea of packing it all in.
It’s funny though, how the art won’t leave you. It bubbles up when you least expect it demanding your attention. Sure, I could keep it to my chest, not sharing it with anyone. But sometimes you have to share. It’s what keeps the art moving in the world. It stirs the pot and adds to the great mix. It makes folks think and inspires others.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I know a lot of musicians who make a living working the old methods. Touring constantly and recording CDs. But even they have doubts. Even they talk about how hard it seems to be. And they spend a lot of time on the road. I can’t do that. I have to stay put.
So I had to build a community space where folks could find me – where you could sit with a glass of wine and listen to music, where you could peruse the pictures and read what the songs were about, where you could look at poetry and maybe find a book to read, where you could drop me a line and tell me what you think, where you could read a blog. So that’s what I did.
I created my website – janeeamon.net. The songs from the new album, and my previous album, She’s the Girl, are available for streaming. The whole songs, not clips. You can listen as many times as you like. But if you want to own them, you buy them. I’m not on iTunes, and I won’t be. I want folks to come and visit me and hang out with the whole me, not just my music.
I take photos, and I write poetry. That stuff doesn’t come up at a gig. But it’s a very big part of who I am. My poetry has inspired my songs. So I want you to know about that. I read – a lot. I read everything. I’m an equal opportunity reader. And I want other people to discover authors they may not know about.
I like to write. I like to rant. I like to talk. So I have a blog. I’ve had many over the years, and I’ve turfed probably more than I’ve kept. But when I was going through stuff, writing it down really helped. And I want to share that.
It’s my hope that I can inspire and comfort others. My new CD is about the loss of my dad, my husband’s stroke and cancer, and the overwhelming feelings of life’s challenges. They are difficult subjects, but subjects that are necessary to deal with in some way. This CD also has a limited edition chapbook with selected writings and poetry that inspired the songs. It’s a little like the liner notes of old vinyl. Something about the songs and the processes to bring the listener into the world.
I don’t expect to get rich off this model. I don’t expect thousands of adoring fans. But it’s a model I can manage. I look forward to sharing what is happening in my life. It’s not just about the upcoming gigs. It’s about the whole me. The reader, the poet, the photographer, the musician, the songwriter, the writer and the human being. All of it.
Songs from Pieces of Me
“When I Build My House”