RSVP Music Chat unearthed revealing, frank advice about the music business from Ann Arbor artist manager David Tamulevich and Lansing singer-songwriter Jen Sygit. Listen to the podcasts.
David Tamulevich of Ann Arbor’s Tamulevich Artist Management has seen and heard it all when it comes to the music industry and artist development – especially in the folk field.
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So his words of advice are informative, enlightening, and often, brutally frank:
• “You play your instrument, you write good songs, you learn how to perform. Those are three jobs. … Those are just starting points. You’re good at all that, fine, there are a million people like you. Not that you’re not good enough (but) that’s got nothing to do with the business.”
• “You have got to create a story that is compelling about you. This is beyond being good at writing, performing and playing. You have to be good at marketing. You have to be strategic. … There’s so much talent out there. It’s not about your talent. It’s about what else have you got; what else can you bring to the table that puts you above the other people.”
• “I think most of the expectations (of artists getting into the music business) are way off base. There isn’t that much money in touring, especially in the folk world. It takes a lot of investment, a lot of time. … (Folk legend) Dave Van Ronk said folk music was never meant to be a living. … You do it because the rewards are non-monetary.”
Indeed, he noted, some artists are duped by the “smoke and mirrors” that promises pop stardom in the business.
Tamulevich – who’s also a musician and part of the long-running Mustard’s Retreat folk group – recently sat down with Local Spins publisher John Sinkevics and Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles to talk about booking, performing and the realities of the music business for an RSVP Music Chat recorded during the recent Folk Alliance Region Midwest conference held in Grand Rapids, where 350-plus musicians and industry representatives gathered for showcases, workshops and late-night jams.
Tamulevich called the conference a “gathering of the tribe – exceptional people, like a family. … The folk world is community not commerce. It’s about sharing not selling.”
Ralston and Sink’s Virtual Podcast also caught up at the conference with Lansing singer and musician Jen Sygit to discuss her own experiences in crafting a career as a player and songwriter — and why Michigan is an outstanding place for roots music.
All of it proved to be immensely illuminating for musicians just getting into the business as well as those already immersed in the tumultuous world of music. Listen to both podcasts here and leave comments or suggestions via SpeakPipe below.
(Read more about the FARM conference: Camaraderie, late-night showcases launch Folk Alliance conference in Grand Rapids. And check out an RSVP Music Chat podcast with Nashville artist manager Kari Estrin.)
RSVP Music Chat with David Tamulevich
RSVP Music Chat with Jen Sygit
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