So, I knew playing an official SXSW show would bring good things, but I’ll admit I was shocked when my favorite radio show, Alt Latino, picked up my newest single, “Miles de Millas (2000 miles)” and featured me as one of eight “New Latin Artists Playing at SXSW” on National Public Radio!
Listen to the show (I’m featured around minute 18:00 – it’s a hysterical intro, hehe)
Speaking of my latest single, “Miles de Millas (2000 miles)” — which is featured on the official 2011 Austin Music CD — is now available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon and all your favorite digital download joints. Please check it out and, if you likey, tell your friends!
In other exciting news, the guys and I have been invited to play PACHANGA Latino Music Festival here in Austin! They just announced the lineup and it’s incredible (Ozomatli, Chico Mann…), so save your Saturday, May 21 for beer-drinkin’, hip-shakin’ fun in the sun. Click here to get $15 tix while they last…
If you’re looking for something more introspective, I’m playing a great solo show this Friday in the beautiful sanctuary at United Methodist Church in North Austin. The show benefits an Alzheimer’s respite ministry and I’m dedicating my performance to my grandmother, CiCi, who suffered dementia for 14 years before passing away in 2005.
Abrazos y bendiciones, gina “chancleta” chavez
PS: The SXSW show itself was incredible! Thank you so much to all of you who braved the downtown madness to rock with us at Mellow Johnny’s – t’was a day to remember…
Lately I’ve been a tad obsessed with decorating my condo. It may be a case of avoiding the admin work of a musician (updating profiles, creating events, sending out newsletters, making media contacts, building the email list, yadda yadda), but I also think it’s important to have an inspiring space in which to work, especially if you work out of your home. I am a HUGE fan of Craigslist, lol, and I’ve been scouring the listings for a round black dining table – let me know if you see one!
I owe my CL addiction to my mom who took me around to all the neighborhood garage sales on the weekends. I LOVED looking through all the one-of-a-kind items to see what would catch my eye. An animal figurine for my display shelves. Polished stones to add to the collection. A wooden box to store my findings. Mostly I just looked, though. I was pretty miserly as a young’n, keeping all my Christmas and birthday cash rolled up in a Garfield piggy bank in my room. Come to think of it, I kept a lot of my treasures hidden. I used to sympathize with the third guy in the parable of the three servants in Matthew 25.
“To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” The master ends up super stoked with the first two, saying to each, “well done, good and faithful servant!” and giving each more talents. But to the third he says, “You wicked, lazy servant!” and decides to “throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Woah there, gnashing of teeth? Seriously? I mean the guy just saved the money, just like I used to do with my Garfield bank. What’s the big deal?
As a child, I never understood that story. And it wasn’t even really until a few years ago that I got the message in relation to my own “talents.” I was always hiding what I’d been given, whether that be money, presents, talent, spirit… I developed a strong sense of false humility. You know the kind. It says “no, I’m not that good, everyone else is so much better than I am. I’m nothing. Nobody.” But that false humility is perhaps even more damaging than arrogance. It is only now, at 28 that I’m really discovering the talents that I’ve buried over the years. I’m excited about music like never before because God knocked some sense into me when I got back from El Salvador. He gifted me with the irrefutable knowledge that I am meant to sing, to write, to perform and that He will continue to bless and grow the music He places in my heart. No doubt about it.
I started to look at songs the way Michelangelo is said to have looked at stones, believing that every one had a sculpture within it, and he had simply to chip away the excess in order to reveal the image within. It’s a philosophy that takes the pressure off an artist, and allows the world and the people and the day-to-day music of life to write the soundtrack. I realize I’m completely rambling, and this was supposed to be about week 7 of the blog challenge and how to build your mailing list.
But I find myself overwhelmed by the mound of paperwork and catching up I have yet to do. And I need to remember that Michelangelo’s wisdom applies to the mundane as well as the masterpiece. For it’s in the mundane that art finds it meaning.
It’s funny how something as simple as an email newsletter can be such a burden and seem like a waste of time… and then one day it just starts working for you!
That’s what happened to me after I came back from El Salvador, or rather, while I was in El Salvador. When I left the comfort and good music of Austin, Texas, for amoebas and chicken buses in Central America last year, I thought I was putting my music career on hold. But, I did my best to bring my friends and fans along with me on my adventures via my music newsletter… and it worked!
Five times out of ten when I walk into a place in Austin and see someone I know, they comment on how exciting it was to follow along on my adventures South of the border. It’s a beautiful thing to know that not only are people receiving my updates, but they’re actually reading along and wanting to hear more. I think my biggest take away from that is that it’s uber important to not just sell sell sell to your fans. Those newsletters from Soyapango were purely updates to keep people informed of our latest battles with amoebas, misunderstandings with the sisters, and silly school dances and drama.
In general I’ve noticed that my music has really benefitted from my life and the things I hold dear in my heart. That may sound obvious, but I think part of niche marketing is capitalizing on the very activities/volunteerism/causes/events that you (as a regular Joe enjoy). Then, try to find ways to unite those things that make your heart smile with the music of your heart. When I returned from Soya, I helped start a college scholarship fund for some of our girls in El Salvador. We held a benefit concert to raise funds and had 120 people come out for a set of pre-El Salvador and post-El Salvador jams from my band and helped us raise more than $1,300! The trick is to keep up that momentum.
My newsletters now feature a “Top 5″ list of things I miss from El Salvador or funny stories people might enjoy, but my constant battle is doing things consistently even when I don’t have a pressing deadline. For instance, right now I don’t have too many gigs on the calendar because I’m working on new music and practicing with my band to put together a really solid set that will take the audience on a journey rather than a smattering of songs interspersed with gina-chatter. And while I’m working on new music, I don’t have a lot to sell right now, so traditional thinking would say there’s no need for a newsletter right now…WRONG!
This is the PERFECT time for me to send out a survey asking fans and friends what they would prefer to see from me, regarding merch, ways of communicating, show prices, etc. I’m sending out a newsletter every month, if not every 3 weeks, and my November issue is overdue, so I need to get to it!That’ll be my charge over the Thanksgiving holiday.
For now, though, I’m going to start the feast early by providing some tunes for a thanksgiving feast being put on by one of my favorite organizations, Mobile Loaves & Fishes, for our homeless brothers and sisters. Buen provecho!
And remember: say no to spam!
…que voy a decir eso” - Julieta Venegas, Primer Dia
It’s my first day to publicly blog my five successes each day, a confidence-building activity encouraged by Ariel Hyatt in her book, Music Success in Nine Weeks. For your eyes only!
UNO: Got to work on time and started crankin on a 40-page layout.
DOS: Went to the library and got some fab educational music for my ears, including the Rough Guide to Cuba, Motorcycle Diaries Soundtrack!
TRES: Played some geetar outside the library before I went in and got me a great start to a new song (con mouth-trumpet y todo)!
CUATRO: Finished my Week 6 blog in 20 minutes (also at the library – love that place!)
CINCO: Sang my little heart out for Danny and Ricardo and many other homeless brothers and sisters at the Thanksgiving feast put on for them by oodles of Mobile Loaves & Fishes volunteers!
Is anyone else out there having a hard time balancing the music and the business? It’s so hard to find time for this scattered little musician to do it all!
It’s odd to think how lazy I was about music before I went to El Salvador. I didn’t work on the music or the business, but just let whatever happen happen. But now that I’ve got this raging fire about life, I am STOKED about music and, though overwhelmed by the business, I’m still excited about all the doors I have yet to bust open! Now it’s a matter of finding the time. Correction, MAKING the time.
I’ve learned that we always “find time” for the things we want to find time for, no matter how busy our schedules. So when someone says they “find time” to go see your concert or go vote or drop off canned goods at the local food bank, it’s not because they didn’t find that precious time. It’s because they didn’t want to. And such is the case with my blog this week. I was in a not-so-great mood and I just didn’t want to write one. I tried to make the time but got frustrated trying to add my blog URL to the Google directory when the bully inside my head told me I wouldn’t have anything good to write anyway, so I didn’t. And that’s a HUGE area I’m working on in all my lives (musical, work & personal)… positive self-talk and DISCIPLINE.
Yuk. It’s a bitter word that reeks of daily catbox cleaning and shrieks like coach’s whistle. Like going to the gym. You don’t want to go even though you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’ll feel better about yourself and more energized if you would just get off the couch! It took me a few days, my friends, but I’m off the couch and in a MUCH BETTER state of mind to tackle last week’s Music Success In Nine Weeks chapter on blogging.
It may seem like an easy topic. Just post a few words to your blog and voila you’re done. But in this day and age of Web 2.0 there is so much more to blogging than just throwing a memo up on the web. One of those is setting up an RSS feed and reader. I get the point but I’m having some issues actually implementing things. I think part of it is my new website, which I’m managing myself. Another aspect is following blogs. I set up my blog reader profiles on My Blog Log and Good Friend Connect, but now I need to find blogs that I like. I’m not sure why this seems so tough, but I honestly feel like every music blog out there is for alt/indie/pop/rock music. I’d really like to find some Latin/World/Folk blogs – any suggestions?
Just found Sarah Ocker‘s blog on TheHypeMachine by searching “Brandi Carlile,” who’s music and voice I love. That’s probably a good way to find blogs, by searching artists and songs that I like and are in my genres of Latin and/or folk. One down, only 49 more target blogs to go, hehe…
And before I go, here’s a great site from Ariel on finding blogs and tips on how not to get overwhelmed, a reminder that has yet to sink in…
The past week was an interesting one being that I lost one of the most important things in my world…my voice. And though I physically felt fine, the inability to speak with friends or sing during my busiest gig week since I’ve been back from El Salvador left me feeling pretty worthless. But although I did exercise my political voice on Nov. 2, I for some reason did not choose to exercise my social media voice. Weird.
I guess I was so worried about taking care of my real voice, that I forgot to “water my social media garden,” as Ariel says. And of course that was the focus of this week’s challenge – oops! Anywho, I have my real voice back (mostly) and the day I got it back, I remembered my fingers could share the news with the world, hehe. I can only chalk it up to the fact that “a Gina in motion, stays in motion.” I am most definitely one of those who is more productive when I’ve got a ton of things going on. And last week my body told me to rest, so I rested everything, even my iPhone.
That said, I obviously need a social media routine. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and sidetracked when you’re updating profiles and posting and blogging and tagging and yadda yadda, so I need to limit my social media time to 30 minutes or something – any thoughts? The last time I read this chapter, it changed my world, lol. Ariel explains the term “Web 2.0,” which allowed me to finally join the smart kids in knowing that the world wide webbernet is cosmically different than it was when I was searching clunky Geocities sites in the 7th grade. The interweb, as I like to call it, is now more like one big chat room, an interactive, living thing rather than a collection of static pages like the company brochure you’ve got sitting on your desk. And with the onset of interactivity through things like blogs, social networking sites, wikis, and tagging, we have the ability to create and foster relationships with people across the globe.
One of my main successes stemmed from this chapter because Ariel gave me the much-appreciated advice of “following at least 100 people” and “tweeting at least three times a day.” It was just what I needed to kickstart my journey through the Twitterverse. I have a lot left to learn, but my current Twitter stats are: 632 Tweets, 1,126 Following, and 597 Followers. I use @mentions as much as possible and I’m getting a better about my selective tweets to Facebook — at first I had it linked straight to my FB status, but that junks up your wall, so I made them selective, but I hardly remember to use #fb at the end — too many things to remember! But, I’ve found some great new Twitter buds and this whole new world of social media.
The things that still boggle my mind a bit are social bookmarking (I get it, just haven’t dived in), RSS feeds (kinda get it) and bloggers (i.e. how to sift through and find the ones that I’d like without spending my life online). Oh and I followed all the directions to link my Flickr account to Facebook and FireFox kills it everytime. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong – help! I’ll go try again one more time and report back…
Nope. The userscript no workie If you’ve got any ideas, feel free to drop your two cents. I can use all the autosynching I can get. Time is just as precious as the fingers and vocal chords for this lil songwriter. And sleep, yes, well that might be the most important. Nighty nighters…
I definitely feel more capable of chatting about Chapter 3: Optimizing Your Website on this second run-through since my new site is up and running. YAY! That said, it’s also a lot tougher since I’m doing it all myself and I still have a long way to go. My first site was beautifully designed by Sko Design Lab and had fabulous dangling-spoon navigation and fun couch photos (from that time when we put a sofa in my Honda Element and drove around downtown Austin loading and unloading the red loveseat from my car and taking photos – good times). That site was beautiful, no doubt, but I couldn’t update it myself and it was flash-based (aka not SEO-friendly nor visible on smartphones ‘n such).
So, I get back from El Salvador and thought I’d look into this whole WordPress thing I’d heard about before I left. After talking to my WP guru friend, Jackie Dana, and searching for weeks for the best theme, I ended up with the fab site I have now. The theme is called “Reverb” and it’s developed by AlohaThemes. The support has been quick thus far and other than a few quirks and kinks here and there, I’m pretty happy with the fact that I have a functional, good-looking, user-friendly site that I can manage without knowing code!
I chose this theme for the fun social media links at the top right and the nice, clean layout. I like the fact that I can have Web 2.0 features (i.e. conversational/social media functions) on my homepage with the help of great widgets like Twitter and Facebook that allow people to reply to my tweets and become my fan right from my homepage. Good stuff.
But, let’s keep in mind the real function of a band website, according to Ariel’s Music Success in Nine Weeks. She says a website should help you do two things. ONE: build your mailing list. TWO: Make me $$$. Let’s tackle number one. I use Constant Contact to manage my email list, so I found a CC widget that captures an email from my homepage and adds it to my main fan mailing list. I do not currently offer a free download as an incentive for people to give me their email mainly because I have yet to work out the logistics of doing that. Should I set it up via a secret page that fans have access to once they sign up? Or should I use Reverbnation’s freebie feature? I still have to do some research. Stay tuned…
As for number two, that’s an even bigger research project since I have yet to decide on a store front. But, my songs are currently available on iTunes and CD Baby, so I have a slider image that links to the latter and I added a CD Baby album link to the “Music” tab on my site. I also added a “Get the Music” ad that appears on every page of the site. It still needs work and any tips are helpful. An in-house store front would be the best, but I need to do research and see which of those is the most cost-effective.
Other important things to have include/consider:
- Is my pitch on my homepage? Yes (if you count the mailing list box) I’m working on adding to my logo.
- Does my site load in less than 3.5 seconds? Yes (the music player takes a bit longer)
- Do I have a consistent look/feel across the web? Yes (my name & photos are mostly the same. I’ll be changing my profile photos to a shot from a recent photo shoot)
Am I further along? Definitely! Do I still have a way to go? Yeppers. But, I’ve got the hard part finished (installing the new site). Now I just have to learn some WP tricks, figure out the best way to distribute a free track, and get my Photoshop back up and running so I can update graphics and add my pitch and all that good stuff. Lots to do, my friends. And I still need to get rid of this awful inflamed throat business. Down with Austin allergies!
So you’re in an elevator. How do you describe yourself in a accurate, concise and intriguing way?
It’s a tough question and I really struggled with it the first go-round. I’m still struggling, but I think I’ve at least landed on a response that people understand and are at least slightly intrigued by. Let’s see what you think:
Elevator passenger: “You’re a musician? Cool. What kind of music do you play?”
Me: “I play Latin folk-rock. Think Sheryl Crow meets Selena.”
Elevator passenger: <nods head> “Cool. Do you wear crazy spandex outfits?!”
Me: “Well, my cycling shorts didn’t go over so well the last time…”
Yeah, apparently use of Selena conjures up images of spandex, which is far from accurate since I’m more of a jeans-and-a-shirt kinda gal (though I’m slowly succumbing to more attractive gig-wear – anyone got a good reference for a wardrobe assistant in Austin?) Spandex aside, my main goal is to splash the folk, rock and Latin genres in the same shaker and pour a tasty elevator pitch cocktail. Does it work? Is it any good?
I’m comfortable with it, that’s for sure. I’ve used it and I think it gets the job done, but it could definitely use some refining. For one, I hardly get Sheryl Crow references, but she’s a well-known folk-rock-type artist and I feel like she’s a strong songwriter, but mainstream enough to reach a large audience. And Selena, well, I really don’t think I sound much like her at all, but she is one of few, and I mean VERY few, household names in the female Latin music world (at least in Texas) whose music conjures up Latin rhythms and bilingual songs. Ultimately, though, isn’t the idea of a pitch to place someone in the ballpark of your musical genre and pique their interest enough to inspire action (i.e. look you up online or come out to a show)? If you can do that, then score! Once they’re on your webpage or in the audience, they can decide for themselves what playlist they would put you on in their iPhone and how they characterize you to their friends.
That said, I know my pitch could be stronger, so bring on any and all comments! I want to know what would get your attention in an elevator (pitch-wise, that is). What musical references come to mind when you hear my tunes? …Don’t leave a compadre hangin’!
I’ve decided to join Wave 3 of the Music Success in Nine Weeks blog challenge. I learned a ton from the first go-round and there are still so many things I missed that I’ve joined for another go. It’ll be interesting to go back through the book and see how far I’ve come. Plus, I’ve noticed that the challenge provided a nice deadline that this little ex-journalist desperately needs to, as they say, “git er dun!” That said, let’s get crackin’ on Week ONE…again.
The first week is all about goal-setting, and it comes at a great time. One of my favorite local orgs, the Austin Music Foundation is hosting a 4-week Management Series and the first session focused a lot on your road map. How can you get to where you’re going if you don’t know where it is? Seems easy enough, but it takes a lot of thought to figure out your short-, medium-, and long-term goals. Where do I want to be? Will I allow myself to be unreasonable and think big? Then, once I can verbalize my dream, can I figure out what steps I need to take to get there? Where are the stops along the way? The good thing is, goals are editable. The main thing is to actually write them down!
Looking at the goals I wrote down the first time, here are a few short-term goals I’ve already accomplished:
That’s a little recap of what I’ve done since returning from El Salvador, but I still need my road map. Where do I want to be in 1 year (short-term), 2 years (mid-term) and 3 years+ (long-term)? Here’s a countdown to help draw the picture:
3. Long-term goals (3+ years)
2. Mid-term goals (2 years)
1. Short-term goals (1 year)
*Liftetime music goals
It’s exciting writing down goals. It’s also really difficult. There is still part of me that wants to shrink into false humility and say, “I’m not worth this; I don’t want fame; I don’t need anything more than what I have…” But there’s a new part of me that knows I was made to stand on a stage and use the voice I was given. It’s amazing how much I get from performing and I can’t deny that passion for music and movement that God placed inside me. Now we get to see where that “don” and those “ganas” take this little chancleta…
First off, the weather in Austin, Texas, is absolutely gorgeous! The day began with a teeny cup of Einstein’s, piling two fabulous photographers (my Aunt Nettie and my dad), and my bike in my car, along with changes of clothes and photography equipment. The Chavez paparazzi and I hit the streets for a much-needed photo shoot with yours truly and the ever-colorful, ever-beautiful, ever-peaceful Virgin de Guadalupe! My dad and Aunt were like kids with their toys – so cute to watch together in action, hehe. The sunlight was already a bit harsh by the time we arrived, but luckily Austin artist Federico‘s Virgin on SoCo outside Tesoro’s Trading Company graced us with the perfect amount of shade and made for some fun, beautiful photos. I even wore a cutesy bright blue dress!
Last Saturday’s Austin 4 El Salvador concert was AMAZING! The guys and I played our best show ever to 120+ people who helped us raise more than $1,300 to send Esme, Marta, Sofia & Xiomara to college in El Salvador! Thank you so much for your attendance and support! Sign up on the mailing list to get more info on the college scholarship fund and our beloved Salvadoran girls.
In not so great news, there was a sniper on UT campus. But, fortunately, no one but the shooter was hurt, gracias a Dios.
With the weather so nice and the benefit concert behind me, I finally got back to my Tuesday-bike-to-work schedule and had a wonderful 40-minute ride down Woodrow and Red River. At 5 o’clock I hit my Cannondale and I hit the streets again. Luckily, traffic treated me relatively well (just a few honks) and I the cool breezes and smells of fresh bread cooking inspired me to drop in on my good friend, Emily, and her lovey pups, Pancho & Covey). Gotta love savin’ the Earth from a few exhaust fumes and seeing wonderful friends.
The end of my day brought me to Genuine Joe’s for some catch-up work on the Music Success in Nine Weeks blog challenge. The challenge is over, but I have SO much left to do. I spent the event working on the parts of the blogging chapter that I’d skipped – yikes! And I must say, I don’t get it. I really don’t quite understand the blogging community yet and how to figure out which ones I want to target as good for my music. I set up mybloglog and google friendconnect accounts, but I repeat, I don’t really get it. Just not sure what I’m supposed to do. There’s so many blogs out there! Which ones fit my music? Which ones do I leave comments on? Where do I find the time! Eeek!
I’ll do some more research and get back to you on what I find. Feel free to leave me some helpful comments For now, this little chancleta is off to clean up the house (yuk!) and hit the hay. Gnite!