How much IS that doggy in the window? (Wk 8)

It is no surprise that it’s 10:20pm on Sunday night, and I haven’t scratched out a single sentence in this week’s blog entry for my Monday morning deadline. [Ed. note: it’s now Monday morning at 9:15am, and I’m not done yet. Yikes.]

You see, I’m wrapping up the eighth week of the nine-week blogging challenge. And this week the task is about money. Our task is to create a “Continuum Program”. In market speak, this means answering the key question: what are the variety of items / services / events you can sell to your consumers (fans) in order to make your music business an ongoing thing?

A visual collage

Like many artists, I find it hard to think / talk about this question. But it’s maybe not for the reason you think. I don’t believe in the cliché of money sullying art (well, I used to… but I’m long over that.) I like money. I like feeding and clothing myself, paying my bills and student loan (well, I don’t like the bills, but I like paying them off.) I like being able to afford to tour and make records. And I do think my music contributes to people’s quality of life and is worth an exchange of cash for it.

But it baffles me how people actually assign monetary value to things …how do they know how much to ask for? It seems to me that succeeding in sales and these sorts of financial matters require an understanding of interpersonal communication rules and a community agreed-upon pricelist that I just don’t have.

Maybe it’s silly but…

When I think about money, I get the very strong sensation that I am a kid playing house or “groceries” and that it is play money I’m handling. Yes. Even now. I get that feeling. A concert ticket could be $2 or $20, a record could as easily cost $50 as $5, and I couldn’t explain the difference between St. James Place and Pacific Avenue. The amounts are arbitrary to me, and at the end of the day it is merely an accumulation of numbers. Maybe this is why I don’t mind doing my taxes, because it’s more like a giant set of math problems than any thing to do with the real world.

Image of Monopoly and Canadian Money

Is that strange?

Like I said I am coooool with money. I know I need it to live, to tour and to make records. I’m pretty good at raising capital for large projects: I collected a fair chunk o’ change for my last two albums through arts grants and by inviting friends and fans to contribute through my “Fundraising The Roof” campaigns (popularly known as crowdfunding), and I’m about to do it again for the next one. Making records this way is a fairly sustainable proposition.

But what this week’s chapter reminds me is that it is on-going sales/contact in-between the big projects that makes a music career sustainable. I ought to (want to) come up with additional day-to-day ways of making an income. Less feast / famine and more chug – chugging along.

So let me put the question out to you, my trusty readers… what sorts of items / services would you like to see me offer as my “Continuum Program”? Do you need t-shirts? Fridge magnets? Chord charts? House Concerts? Let’s brainstorm here! And can we get a price check on that?

PS: Speaking of play money, check out my friend Corin Raymond’s fundraising efforts for his upcoming record. So far he’s collected more than $2,600 in Canadian Tire Money!! He’s aiming for $10,000! (There’s a photo of what $2,600 CTM looks like on his blog:

Next week: “The Real World”.
Look for my next blog update Monday March 12th.

For more about the blogging challenge I have embarked on for my 2012 New Year’s resolution, see my earlier posts:
Warm up: Does Anybody Ever Win These Things
Week 1: What The Mayans Can Teach Us About Setting Goals, Or…
Week 2: Hold the door, this elevator is going up!
Week 3: Home Sweet Homepage
Week 4: Social Media and the Theory of Everything
Week 5: Music Videos Are Not Dead! They’ve Just Gone North For The Winter.
Week 6: I’ve Looked At Blogs From Both Sides Now
Week 7: Poor, Poor Baby


Filed under MSi9W3, Music, Writing

17 responses to “How much IS that doggy in the window? (Wk 8)

  1. Pingback: Karyn Ellis » Monday Morning!

  2. You raise some interesting points here. So let me throw out some ideas….$ 50. per hour to give tips/advice/feedback on someone else’s songwriting efforts (which could be done either in person or online), $ 10. per person for a group one hour workshop on songwriting or guitar techniques, $ 200. to add your musical input to someone else’s music video, $ 20. to let someone duet with you on stage (at a kind of open mic event)…….just trying to brainstorm here.

    • Great tactic to put it into value for hours worked!

    • Great ideas, David. You’re helping me to stretch my notions of what it means for me to be a musician. Most of the things you mention have to do with sharing what I’ve learned over the years, something I have found challenging to do (“what, me a teacher? whaaaat do I know?”) But maybe it’s time for me to brave that role a little more. Thanks!

  3. Karyn, I think knowing what to charge has to come a bit from observing what others like you (I hate to say competitors) are charging. You might not be able to charge as much for a ticket at Hugh’s Room as, you know, somebody like Leonard Cohen could, but you could get a good price. CDs are interesting because no matter who you are, you can get $15-$20 at a show. As far as what I’d want–I am not a merch gal. I want a live show where I can buy a ‘souvenir’ CD. No matter who’s performing, I find that the live show is what really counts, and the CD is an impulse purchase fueled by the vibes of the night, the quality of the pints, the company I’m in, etc. House concerts are great. Hope to hear you somewhere in the near future.

    • Good points, Debra. And I’d add that the concept of souvenirs is even more important these days now that music can so easily and freely be distributed as digital files. You can’t download “an experience,” so mementos become an important way to connect. And I agree, house concerts are amazing for creating good vibes!

  4. To Debra’s point about live music and souvenirs. If you could find a simple way to record a live show (gargaeband off the sound board) and offer it for download the next day that could be worth $10 to a few people in the audience as a memory of the show they attended.

    Don’t be baffled by how I assigned a value to the download. I just made up a price I thought people would pay ;)

  5. Hi Karyn, I just LOVE all the colours and photos and playful crafty way you put your blogs together. So much inspiration! Cheers to the continual and glorious chug chug chugging! :D

  6. Pingback: Positive-Thought Boot Camp « Aynsley's Blog

  7. I feel the same way about stretching one’s notions about what it means to be a musician and am still very much in the thinking stage on all this. I like Tuckers idea too. and I like how relaxed you are. Pleasure as always.

  8. Pingback: And That, Folks, Is A Wrap! | Letters To My Editor

  9. Pingback: Here’s A Pretty Ribbon On That Blogging Challenge Wrap! | Letters To My Editor

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