Linking your favorite traveling artists across the globe
You drop little seeds as you travel through life. A word here, a
kindness there, and you move on, oblivious. But the Universe isn't
oblivious. Some of these seeds take root and grow. (Sometimes these
seeds are not planted in kindness, and the fruit that these plants bear
can come back to trouble you. So plant with care, forethought, and
awareness.) I didn't know it at the time, but I was planting seeds among
the local Goddess community. I attended local rituals and celebrations,
met new people and made new friends. Many times we would form
spontaneous drum circles, or just play, since there were quite a few
people who were musicians. Sharing in that way, just playing and giving
were the seeds that I planted. We discovered that we could make music
together. The fruits of these seeds answered me when I put out the call.
Ironically, the responses I received when I put the word out that I was
starting a recording project were overwhelmingly male. So be it. The
door to my band is never closed, and perhaps some day I will make music
with some women, but for now, it's me and "the guys".
I work in the corporate world. I am a cog in the great machine of
business and technology. I have been modestly successful, and I have
learned about being part of a group and leading groups to achieve a
certain goal. Some of the things I've learned are highly applicable to
working in a band and making a record.
I required a commitment from my men, and I gave the same: a year and a
day. A year and a day is a significant length of time in the Pagan
traditions that I follow. We sat down at the table and talked business
before we ever played a note together as a band. We put stuff in writing
so that there would be no confusion later. At least we thought so at
the time. If you don't get lawyers involved, there always seems to be a
loose end or two when you get done.
I have heard enough analogies that a band is like a family, and I
suppose that sometimes it is. I didn't want to follow that model for the
band, because that would make me the Mommy, and I already have that job
at home, thank you very much. So I made the analogy that a family is
like a company, and we will run the band like a business. If that makes
me the boss, well, at least that's better than the Mommy. Bosses don't
Let's think about the band/company analogy for a moment. A band is a
business proposition. We were together to create something. We were
together to make something. We were together to work. The songs we were
composing together become real, tangible, intellectual property
with an intrinsic material value (a commodity). Whether someone would be
willing to pay money for it was still a matter of conjecture, but there
are legal and financial ramifications when a group of people agree to
do this sort of creative work together. We were all mature, grown-ups
who had been through the music mill for a number of years in a variety
of roles. None of us were music virgins. So it was important to iron out
the business details first.
First we laid the ground rules regarding writing. The rule we followed is described in "The Songwriter's Guide to Collaboration," by Walter Carter (Writer's Digest Books). Simply: whoever is in the room while a song is being written is a co-writer.
This is because you don't know where or from whom the inspiration for
that great lyric or melody will come from. It could be someone sitting
on the couch talking about something completely unrelated that triggers a
memory or a flash of insight in you. If they weren't there, would you
have thought of it? Also, from a practical standpoint, it keeps gawkers
and girlfriends out of the writing sessions (yes it could be boyfriends,
too, but "boyfriend" doesn't alliterate with "gawker") if you know
you're going to be cutting them in on the copyright and royalties. Which
brings me to
Music Biz Rule Number 2: PUT IT IN WRITITNG.
everyone agrees, and you then follow your rules. That's what writing
things down does for you. And if you still have trouble, post what you
wrote on the wall so you can see it.
Then we set a goal. It is important for the group to have a goal. The
goal doesn't have to be achievable in the short term, but if it is, or
if it is perceived to be achievable, it helps keep people
focused. The job of the leader is to keep people focused and then get
out of their way. I think our first year's goal was pretty reasonable:
"Let's put a CD out in a year." And we focused on that.
We scoured our existing collections of music to see if we had anything
that would be appropriate to add to the album. There were a few songs
from the past that we wanted to record, and there were others available
Then we started writing. I had a vision for our first CD, and I started a
bunch of songs, and finished others that I had started earlier. We
wrote together and separately, in pairs, trios and the whole quartet.
Then it was time to record.