Two weekends ago, I drove to Chicago from Detroit and it was one of the rare times that I only had music/podcasts on for about 1.5 hours of a 5 hour drive. It gave me a lot of time to think about the ups and downs of a music career. Sometimes, you are invited to Bahrain to have the time of your life and other times, you drive really far to play to very few people for free and get treated like garbage. Either way, you stick through it knowing that you haven't hit your highest highs and hopefully have hit your lowest lows. You make a plan and adjust it along the way.
For up-and-comers like myself, the good stuff that moves a career forward are opening spots. These are gold. You have the chance to play for a bunch of people who are excited to hear music. Here's how fans usually break down:
1. I LOVE THE HEADLINER AND YOU ARE PLAYING WITH THE HEADLINER SO I LOVE YOU TOO. (Love you guys, you are my anchors that I joke around with as I get to know the crowd)
2. I LOVE THE HEADLINER AND IVE NEVER HEARD OF YOU, LETS SEE WHAT YOU GOT! (Ya'll are the reason I wake up in the morning, winning people over is what it's about)
3. I LOVE THE HEADLINER, YOU ARE NOT THE HEADLINER, GET OFF STAGE SO I CAN SEE THE HEADLINER. ALSO IM NOT MOVING FROM THE FRONT ROW SO SHALL SCOWL AT YOU THE ENTIRE TIME. (I got nothing but love for you as well. I get it, your itunes library is full and there is no room for new artists. No hard feelings! :)
I've had nothing but positive crowd experiences opening for radical people and have made some friends along the way (Shouts out to Dani, Ashley, Jenny, Crystal, Brian, Ashlyn, Vanessa). I've opened for dope people.
So back to the other weekend, a woman approaches me with three friends and says "Hi, I saw you play with Danielle ate The Sandwich three years ago and you really blew me away that night. You played 'From Your Bones' for the first time live and it really spoke to me. You created this super emotionally deep and intellectual atmosphere. I've been making all my friends listen to you since but haven't been able to get back to a show til now." It totally blew my mind that what I did that night made a strong enough impact for her to seek out a show years later. Lets just say I really needed to hear that on that particular night.
So if there is anything to be said about the music business, it's that the work you do in the beginning has a cumulative rather than direct affect. Playing 2000 people in various crowds doesn't always mean 2000 people are coming to see you play next time you're there. Even when they really dig what you're doing, life can get in the way and that's ok! Consider them seeds planted so when you come by to water them, they bloom. I firmly believe that music has a way of finding the people that it was meant to find. Some people will get it right away, some people will later, and some will never. Maybe I'm just a boutique songwriter but I just want the people who need it to hear it. The rest is just gravy.