New Music is on the way!!!
So I started this crazy quest for my next full-length studio album and I’m so excited! I basically have until November 6 to raise $10,000 to get this next album off the ground and into your hands If all goes well, and we raise more than my goal, then we can put promotional muscle behind the album, which I’m already working on with producer Michael Ramos.
I’ve got the songs to move you, the musicians to bring them to life, but I can’t do this without your help! I made a super fun, quirky video to explain my journey (think: coconuts, English accents and lots of graffiti). Click here to watch the video and join me!
Thank y’all so much for your support! I can’t wait to share this new music with you!
-gina “la chancleta”
(For the full September 2011 edition of ginamail, click here)
The last time I played the intimate and legendary stage at Cactus Cafe, I was a wee journalism student at UT, nervously awaiting my turn at the Monday open mic night hosted by a fantastic songwriter, Gary Graves…
Fast forward eight years and I’ve been asked to open THIS Thursday, Sept. 1, for Jon Christopher Allen, a tall drink of water from NYC with a sexy husky voice AND I’ve been asked to headline the Mexican Independence Day celebration at the Cactus on Friday, Sept. 16!
I’ve been working out some songs by notable Mexicanas, including Lila Downs, Chavela Vargas and Linda Ronstadt, as well as a few new tunes of my own. I promise it will be an intimate and unforgettable evening of Latin music, so save the date!
For those of you who made it all the way to the end, I shall reward you with a special “chunche” of insider info. At the start of October, I will be representing the Live Music Capital in…
…wait for it…
JAPAN!!! Fellow Austin artist Jeff Plankenhorn and I have been invited to play in a handful of cities in Japan, ending with the Oita Yumeiro Festiva on behalf of the Austin Sister Cities program. I am honored (to say the least) and still can’t believe it’s really true! I’ll keep you posted.
Thank you for sharing in my music and my joy.
Abrazos y paz,
-gina ” la chancleta”
Aren’t you? Wow, this heat is ridiculous. I may be a native Austinite, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the Texas heat, so I’ve fled to San Francisco… But I’ll be back in no time and super stoked to hear the mix of “Like An Animal,” my latest track that’s been a blast recording with the fab guys at Same Sky Studios.
Click here for a video update about zee cancion, which features charango & camel bells.
You can hear “Like An Animal” and tons of other kickin’ songs at the full band show in Austin at Momo’s on Friday, August 12. We’ve got a great show for ya. And for those who live in Dallas, I’m coming to you, too! Saturday, August 13 I’ll be at the Opening Bell, so please spread the word (look left for the juicy deets).
– gina “chancleta” chavez
(For the full Aug 2011 edition of ginamail, click here)
(For the full July edition of ginamail, click here)
I hope you enjoyed some watermelon and cerveza over the weekend. I’m back from podunk west Texas and find it crazy that as you read this, I’m on a plane to New York for the Latin Alternative Music Conference! Some Austin Latin ladies and I will attend industry workshops and dance to music from around the world – think SXSW with hips. Wanna come with? I’ll post photos, news & vids on facebook and twitter.
Since my last communique, I’ve been playing with my superfab birthday present (yay loop station), writing new material, and working out plans for the next album, woohoo!
I’ve also been researching ways that YOU can help me make music (i.e. “crowdfunding”). Check out this Kickstarter campaign from Austin’s own Matt the Electrician and stay tuned for something similar from Austin’s own chancleta…
Finally, a big thanks to all who braved the sweltering heat to rock with us at Pachanga Fest in May! It was an awesome day, complete with a goofy concert for the kiddos, an interview with Univision Florida, AND we were claimed the “the breakout artist of Pachanga” by Austin Chronicle critic Austin Powell – chivisimo!
Abrazos y bendiciones,
– gina “chancleta” chavez
PS: A shout out to one of my absolute favorite organizations in Austin, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, for allowing me to play for their recent benefit. Donating to MLF means providing food and dignity to our homeless brothers and sisters.
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!
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’!