That’s the take away from a panel at the AMA Conference on the subject of Artist Develoment. It’s all about life on the road.
The panel consisted of emerging artist Sarah Borges and her team: her manager, her booking agent, her radio rep, and two two publicists from her label (Sugar Hill).
Sarah has been working the program, and making the sacrifices necessary to stay on the road at long stretches with her band, “The Broken Singles,” and the effort has paid off in a growing fan base and exposure on NPR, etc.
Most insightful comment came from Sarah’s manager, Jeannie Smith, who stressed the difference between the objective of a major label release and and indie artist like Sarah: “we’re not looking for the hit, we’re looking for the fan.”
And then there was the story of Nashville favorite David Olney. Moderator Peter Cooper relayed the story of Olney saying “in any given city, there are only 30 people who like my shit.” The trick for an artist like Olney is getting those 30 people to show up whenever he does.
But still, “success” at that level sounds a lot like what Buddha said about enlightenment. A devotee asked Buddha once, “what was it like for your before you reached enlightenment? Buddha thought about that for a second and answered, “chop wood, carry water.”
“And after enlightenment?” the devotee asked.
And Buddha replied, “chop wood, carry water.”
And the key to that success, according to Sarah, boils down to learning how to be comfortable outside your comfort zone. And being willing to spend seven arduous years before the industry will recognize you as a “new and emerging artist.