Number 45

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When I was growing up, my father cared for the most perfectly deep pink camellia plant, grown in a big terracotta pot. Along with other tender members of our plant family, there was always a big production of bringing it into the house for winter, then taking it back out when the risk of frost had passed.

I love flowers. Always have, always will. But there is something special for me about the camellia. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the camellia is native to China, yet somehow, she made her way to Britain, where she would be treasured by others.

Camellias in Melbourne, Royal Botanic Gardens

The photo above was taken 12th September 2017 in Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. The below was written on 7th May 2021 and inspired by a real-life No. 45 as photographed by Bea @a_london_story

In the heart of spring, the pink camellia tree in front of number 45 continued to bloom. Across from it, on the opposite side of the top stone step, was a fruit tree, planted long ago in a repurposed whiskey barrel. Both of them exuded a warmth to passersby, but there were really only two people in the world who could truly appreciate them.
The front door, made of the blackest wrought iron and white frosted glass, was equal parts functional and romantic. The lines, circles, and curlicues of iron, for all their stoicism, stood weathered, yet firm in the face of the cold and inevitable rain the door would be subjected to in a year. In stark contrast, the white frosted glass, probably intended for modesty by the home’s original owner, had a new, sacred purpose.
They were all too frequently ships in the night. Like the sun and the moon, the path of one would often skirt that of the other, but rarely would they cross.
But when they did, there was a guarantee of fireworks. They would wait to withdraw behind the glass, out of the gaze of anyone else’s prying eyes. A cozy embrace would quickly lead to a passionate kiss. Behind the safety, privacy, and anonymity of the frost, the two souls could be themselves. Their best selves, for themselves and each other. In a moment such as this, they could forget what it had been like without the other.

Dipping my toes into podcasting, and a short interview with me about astrology

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Podcasting
Since March, I’ve been a fellow in the 2021 Fifty Feminist States Podcast Fellowship. This is a brand new program for the podcast and brand in 2021, and it’s been a great experience. I applied for the fellowship, as I had wanted for some time to do something with my voice for a long time. I wanted to write about how I got to this place.

Before all the COVID lockdowns and restrictions on travel began last year, I was in Belfast last February for Output Belfast 2020, a music conference by day, a music festival showcase by night. During the conference, I met Josh Rabinowitz of Brooklyn Music Experience, an experienced global music leader in the American advertising industry. He said something to me during a networking dinner that surprised me. “You have a voice for advertising.

I was skeptical. He went on to ask a bunch of music professionals at the table, people I’d just met that night, if they agreed. In one of the oddest moments of my life, I was prompted to speak in front of a group of strangers, who then critiqued and unanimously agreed with this industry veteran. The result? I learned that I own a trustworthy-sounding voice that might be put to good use in voice-over work.
I had arrived in Belfast after time off in Scandinavia. I had left a position in nonprofit scientific publishing, knowing that I was destined for something bigger. I just didn’t know what that was or what it looked like. Like many people, I had big plans for 2020 that could not be followed through on because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One big part of my plans was directly connected to the music industry, and that part was no longer viable once live music was put on pause indefinitely. I wrote about my hopes for critical change in the industry in this previous blog post. I sincerely hope that what we’ve seen in the last 14 months leads to lasting changes in how artists and others working in the industry are perceived, respected, and fairly compensated.

Realizing that my dreams would have to be put on hold at least temporarily, I had to change my focus. While all of us were involuntarily forced to stay at home and reduce contact with other humans, I concentrated on myself. I had always loved singing. Then that idea from that brash guy in Brooklyn re-entered my mind. Once COVID hit, I had already dismissed the idea of pitching myself and my voice to companies. Who would want to spend money on new advertising and recording new commercials when no one was going anywhere or buying anything except food and toilet paper?

And then it came to me. What if I did a podcast? I could do that from home. But what would the podcast be about? What would I need to get one started? Who would even want to listen to me talking? How would I drum up enough interest to attract an audience? My anxiety was running wild. I was trying to run before I could walk.

I had casually mentioned my idea to Carolina Isabel. She’s a radical reiki master I met through a female entrepreneur virtual convention I had attended last autumn. Carolina told me about a podcast fellowship that she’d seen advertised on Instagram and suggested I look into it. I applied to the fellowship, I was accepted, and here we are.

During one of our Fifty Feminist States fellowship workshops in March, we conducted short interviews with our classmates, which we then edited on our own. Beyond the basic editing techniques we used for interviews conducted at festivals for There Goes the Fear, editing and producing self-recorded audio was entirely new to me. Below, you can listen to me being interviewed by L’Oreal Thompson Payton to learn a bit about astrology and my background with it. It has been posted to my Soundcloud with permission from both L’Oreal and Fifty Feminist States’ host and producer and our fellowship program leader Amelia Hruby.

Public domain photo via https://www.goodfreephotos.com/

2021: The time is now for the music industry (r)evolution

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Music
If you make your living from any sector of the music business, there is a lot to be upset about during this pandemic. Artists of all kinds have been economically affected drastically, and we still have no idea when the music industry will be returning to any sort of normality. Far too many people who once had pretty much guaranteed income from shows, festivals, and events have seen their revenue streams dry up and disappear. Or they have been let go or their hours reduced and are struggling to make ends meet. Venues have closed or are in danger, barely hanging on with paying their rent. Outside of streaming gigs, it’s uncertain when live music events with actual live audiences will be making a comeback. I am not making light of any of this.

Folks, we’ve had almost a year since the first lockdowns related to COVID-19 began in the United States and the UK. On top of the pandemic, UK artists and workers are dealing with the economic fallout of Brexit, whose ripple effects will not be felt fully until some time. A year is more than plenty of time to contemplate what and how the pandemic has negatively impacted our industry. I’ve seen so many angry posts pointing the finger at how our governments have failed our industry, how Brexit was a bad idea and is going to have long-term effects, and how the major labels and the big players like Spotify and Apple Music should have already stepped in with their money. I understand the anger, but blame without positive action and forward movement isn’t the answer. It’s not constructive.

I am not a fortune teller. I do not have a one size fits all solution to the many situations that need tackling. The problems are broad and diverse. What I do know is that the music industry, while I’ve been part of it, has not been an agile business. It has been slow to make much needed changes for the benefit of the artists. One only has to look at the amount of time it took for streaming services to catch up and recoup some of the industry’s financial losses to music piracy and due to the precipitous decrease in physical music purchases that began around the millennium. Even now, we all know that many artists are still not making much money from these streaming services.

A project by a friend of mine has given me some hope. He has reached out to friends near him and is soliciting ideas on what they can do regionally to help each other, no matter what walk of life in the music business they work in. This, to me, is going to be the key for us moving forward: communicating, connecting, and working with each other at a grassroots community level are all going to be paramount. Supporting each other, not just in financial but mental terms, too, will also be important because the task up ahead is monumental.

While it would be nice to receive them, we cannot wait for solutions and injections of money from higher up. We know the business outside our own door and what our most important needs are now and better than anyone else. As daunting as this all sounds, we don’t need to solve the big issues tomorrow. But we must get started on what we can today.

We understand how the music industry used to run and used to work. Now, the industry has to evolve from the inside out. The future of the business, and the livelihoods of so many, depend on it.

Resources

US

American Federation of Musicians’ COVID-19 Resources

Brookings Institute: “Measuring COVID-19’s devastating impact on America’s creative economy” (PDF, published August 2020)

musiccovidrelief.com

SoundExchange’s Resources for Music Creators During the Coronavirus Outbreak

UK

Creative Industries Federation: The Projected Economic Impact of Covid-19 on the UK Creative Industries (PDF, published June 2020)

Help Musicians’ Coronavirus Advice for Musicians

Musicians’ Union Government Measures for the Music Industry

UK Music‘s landing page for guidance and support