(Photo: me in my narrowboat home !)
Some time ago, after having done the rounds on the London gigging circuit for a while, I decided it would be a cunning idea to see if I could get the interest of a manager. To help me get my music out there properly. You know, out there – to the right ears. Your beautifully sculpted and highly sought after ears, to be specific.
I decided that I would send a few music industry bigwigs ‘messages in bottles’ with a treasure map inside. (When I say ‘send’ I really mean hand deliver. Shoe string and all that.) X marked where the treasure lay, and the treasure was of course, my music.
So off I set on my mission, leaving my strange offering in the doorways of ten reputable manager’s offices. Some were laid in porches, some were given to bemused admin staff. All, I believed (hoped) were washed up on the shore of the manager in question’s desk.
One of the managers who got a bottle, followed the map which was tucked inside it, and found me at a little stage at The Troubadour in Earl’s Court, West London. (Picture a coffee-house with lots of continental charm and the aura of decades of bohemian musical history, not least, the home of Bob Dylan’s first ever gig in London… ) I was excited to have caught the attention of one of the UK’s most reputable managers, and I wheeled out my best schmoozing efforts for the occasion.
After the gig, we sat down and chatted business. ‘To get anywhere in this industry’, he declared emphatically whilst straightening his tie, ‘you need to write hit songs, and get on daytime radio.’ I nodded my head. It made sense to me. I thought about the people I knew he represented, and yes they had hit songs on daytime radio. Seemed like a sensible path to really go about the business of earning a living as a singer-songwriter.
‘We’ll be keeping an eye on you’, he said. ‘Keep writing and performing, and keep in touch with us.’ We chatted a bit more about the unpredictability of the music industry and some of his successes, and then we shook hands and parted ways.
I would say that over the next few days and weeks I thought about the advice he had given me and avidly began putting it into practise. But the truth is, his advice kind of drifted out of my mind…. much like a cork might drift away on a passing wave, and I kind of smile wryly to myself as I think back to that conversation now.
I didn’t have it in me to think about how to write a Hit Song, or how to self-consciously write music friendly to daytime radio. I’m an incurable idealist is the truth of it. Perhaps willfully obscure at times, I don’t know. I wanted to write songs about things I cared about, things that had happened to me, no matter how palatable to whatever shows my new bigwig friend had in mind.
In the months that followed, I wrote more songs. One about being mugged (thank you, delightful streets of London). One about getting smuggled across the English Channel (true story, though more light-hearted than it might sound). One about a curious character whom I will from now on refer to as The Bus Spotter, that I met on board one of those beautiful old red Routemaster buses the day they discontinued them in London. (Sad day for humanity). And other songs about all kinds of things including my Mum’s life journey, ill-fated romantic scrapes with older men, and yes, the odd song about heartache, because, you know; life.
Suffice it to say, I’ve written no hit songs, and made no millions.
What I have done is worked with some awesome people I never dreamed of working with (more about that coming up), to record the above-mentioned songs for the right discerning ears … hello there! ;).
I’m sure you’re aware that especially these days, making music is not the most lucrative life path a person could choose, unless you’re like, Beyonce or Justin Bieber or something. So whilst my friends started buying houses and cars, I moved onto a little narrow boat on a tiny island in the middle of the Thames… not the most lavish of lifestyles I admit, but it’s a beautiful spot, that I can’t believe I get to enjoy from my tiny little floating home … And what with the flowing waters of the Thames, it makes sending out Message in Bottles so much more convenient! Haha!
Seriously though, I wanted to say a big Thank You for spotting my Message in a Bottle this time round- I have this instinct that these days I don’t need a middle man after all to go about the business of making all this work … :).
I also have a question for you … if you were to throw a Message in a Bottle out to sea, what would it say, and who would you hope would find it?
Would it be an SOS? A message to a loved one who has passed away? A wish for a dream to be fulfilled? A letter to a love interest you’d like to have the courage to send in real life ?
(A plea for more truly inspired music in your life? … Ehem…. ;)….)
And if someone found your message, how might it change your life?
That’s my question to you. If you come up with an answer, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below …
And if you fancy diving a little deeper into my music, and would like to consider buying my album, your support would mean the world to me. Click here for a link to my album.
Sending you warm wishes from my little treasure island ☺.