Assessing the true value of your creativity
About this time 3 years ago I released my first EP titled "Kbreaz1." It was sort of a gut check for me to put myself out there to be critiqued by those who are not fans of the genre. So, suffice it to say, the mild success of the project caught me totally off guard and has me feeling extremely blessed and humbled.
You see, it was my first foray into the new world of streaming music as an independent artist. And, as I listen to it now and look back; knowing as I know now would I have produced it differently? Absolutely. Would I have promoted it differently? You know it. Would I have selected different songs? Maybe. But I also know that doing those things differently may not have produced any better results.
I say this because two songs on the "Kbreaz1" project produced unintended results for which I feel extremely blessed and obviously were the right projects at the right time.
The "Som'ville Stomp," which was the most fun for me to record by far. It didn't perform that well on Spotify, but was heard by a little station in St. Louis called TOKOVLRADIO. This led to me being offered to produce "TheUnsignedArtistShow" for the station. And the rest is history. The show now has thousands of listeners, a strong social media presence, and a working relationship with over 300 artists of which I call "The Best Independent Artists on the Planet."
The second song "Jammin' at The Blue" was by far the most difficult to perform, record, mix, master, produce and promote. Did I leave anything out? You see, I had envisioned the song being a collaboration with two of my long time friends who just happen to be great musicians. Well, COVID happened and the collaboration never happened. So, instead of stuffing the song in the proverbial "can," I decided to perform and record all the parts myself...hmmm. Was I happy with the results...eh. It wasn't as I had heard it in my head. But, I released it anyhow and braced for the worst.
However, the first surprise came on Spotify. For reasons I can't explain, it was placed on the Spotify Release Radar playlist. And from there other Jazz playlist curators kept picking it up. So, without much promotion at all, the song had over 10k streams at the end of the year. The residual effect was that people also streamed my other songs I had positioned on my own playlist. So the end of my first year as an independent artist I had over 50k combined streams of all 10 of my releases.
While that was OK, the most profound result came in the form of a rejection. The success of "Jammin' at the Blue" on Spotify gave me a new found confidence to promote the song to one well-known internet jazz radio station. After about three follow ups, a DJ from one of their shows got back to me. In a nutshell, he said he wasn't playing it on his show, but would connect me with other DJs on the station. Well, for some reason all the confidence and joy I experienced from the Spotify success went out the window. For some reason the words of that DJ stuck to me like crazy glue. I did my homework. I listened to the songs on his playlist. Some were awful. Was mine any worse that those?
Well when life throws you lemons you make.......
It was at that point that I decided to learn how to establish my own radio station. And about four months later WKCB-FM was born.
And while establishing a loyal audience, growing a great music catalog and developing quality programming is time consuming and an awesome challenge, being in control of your own results is an awesome feeling.
So I say this to say what?
Sometimes the success of a project should not only be measured by number of streams or unit sales it produces. But for the independent artist, success should also include a look at the number of opportunities the project affords you to grow your music, to grow your brand and to expand your audience.
The "Kbreaz1" project set a lot of things in motion that now afford me the opportunity to help those who find themselves in the same position I was in several years ago.