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January 3rd, 2011

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12:46 pm - Trip recap & 2010 earnings pie chart
I had a fabulous time in Seattle this weekend. The trip was a perfect chaotic ending to a glorious year. Every band I play with has a different chemistry and is fantastically fun. Abney Park is absolutely no exception, and they pull in a crowd that's really receptive to what I do, too, so it was huge that I got to open the show with a solo set (which Laela the Violist joined on as well).

Here's a video of "Letters" which I'd played with them before. I also played on 3 other songs with them (4 if you include Auld Lang Syne), which was pretty thrilling for me. Despite the unfamiliar rental cello I was really proud how my playing turned out (it's hard to hear on the videos.)

My outfit was pretty amazing if I do say so myself, and once a few more photos are posted I hope to talk a little about it. I had had way too much booze at Thursday's rehearsal and had a refreshingly sober NYE experience.

Saturday daytime went with Nathan, Alyssa, Mark, Beth and Dana and Jay (and Libby met us later) to Mishu the capitol hill boutique, then the Underground Seattle Tour which was informative, cold and darkly hilarious and kinda long. Then was another show, put on by Classical Revolution, at the Rendezvous/Jewelbox. It was low-key but lovely. Overall, a terrific trip.


I'm kind of a nerd, and since I felt like sitting on the couch for a while after my flight back to SF yesterday, I decided to finish up my earnings spreadsheets for 2010. (After each gig I record in a google doc spreadsheet how much I made in fees, tips, or music sales, and periodically also collect my bandcamp earnings.)

I wanted to see if I hit my projection from the beginning of the year -- that I'd make 2x as much on music as I had in 2009. There's no way I could have predicted this, and the individual sectors would have been different if I'd lined it up (I assumed I would make more money touring with other bands -- that never happened, and I couldn't have anticipated the AFP bump or just how important Bandcamp and Kickstarter would be) but I totally nailed it -- I made 108% more on music in 2010 than 2009.

The pie:

For some weird reason I feel like including the real number is TMI, but it works out to much less than I made with my dayjob. However, although it's not enough to afford rent in San Francisco, and my expenses were higher this year too, I'm really pleased that it grew as much as I'd hoped. A significant financial difference this year than I'd expected, too, was that I was way better at living cheaply than I'd predicted and my savings did not run out as soon as I'd feared.

I am fortunate among independent musicians in a few ways. 1) My skills are versatile, and I have a lot to offer other musicians while also 2) writing and producing my own music which means a small, steady stream of passive income as my older releases continue to sell while I'm off traveling and such. And 3) I can move back in with my parents who live in the East Bay and live comfortably and still come into SF a few times a week for rehearsals and social visits. Also 4) I am scrappy and resourceful and LOVE playing music for people under almost any circumstances.

I am doing just that (#3), moving out of SF in less than 3 weeks. If I had been much more successful (by a factor of 2 at least) I wouldn't have to; if I'd been much less successful I'd be heading back to corporate work with my tail sadly between my legs. Or heading off a cliff. I am not unhappy about this move, in fact I'm really looking forward to the pressure being off so I don't have to consider selling myself in ways I don't really want to.

Assuming I make near the same amount this year (I am not projecting an increase in income, but I suspect my music expenses will be less) I won't have to dip into my savings any further and I may be able to save up enough for a new laptop which I need badly if I want to make my live shows even better-sounding (though of course, with an even higher chance of electronics failure, probably.)

(12 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
You were excellent on NYE (both with and without the wonderful Abney Park), and you looked fantastic as well! (As you always do!) I look forward to your next Seattle appearance!
[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
glad the cello got worked out, i imagine that was super stressful, tho i didn't have time to comment. i was rooting for you

also fantastic that your making income from your art no mater how lean. congrats
[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2011 11:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, it worked out. Honestly I kinda regretted posting about it at all since it ended up being a waste of time for anyone who tried to help, since they didn't get it taken care of in time. But I think I will plan to rent cellos more often, it's a viable option.
[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2011 12:44 am (UTC)
I'm really glad that things are going well enough to keep you doing the stuff you love doing :-) The absolute numbers on earnings sound like no-one else's damn business, but it's still interesting to see the proportions - a good reminder of just how little of the typical musician's income comes directly from the live performance part of things in this day and age.

There's a chance I may be coming through the Bay Area in May - with any luck I might even get to see you perform live finally :-)
[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)
Glad to hear you did so much better this year, as planned... sorry you will have an East Bay Commute now, but more time with UnMom probably won't hurt.
Also cool that Bandcamp came through so well -- I sure hope they stick around and don't change their cost structure any time soon (unless they
give you an even bigger slice; I honestly don't know how they work though).

Here's hoping for an even more successful 2011!

[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2011 01:21 am (UTC)
I bet they will stick around. As far as their cut, I've been frustratingly close to hitting the 10% mark for a while now, now I'm like $124 away but it keeps moving because it's yearly (and I guess, saying that, everyone who's read Bandcamp's blog will know how much money I made this year, hah.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2011 08:01 am (UTC)
lady, it is utterly badass that you've been able to make this work the way you have. You are an inspiration.

If you ever want an extra set of vocals on a track, recorded or live, I'd love to play with you.
[User Picture]
Date:January 4th, 2011 11:37 am (UTC)

Sad Cello.

I think it's funny how Robert says "we have cello so now we're going to depress you!" In one of my old bands called Josette's Eye, we put cello on our most depressing song. It's weird because when I think of cello, I don't automatically think of music to slit my wrists to. And your own music makes me feel quite AWESOME when I hear it! I suppose cellos don't have to be inherently sad, but nothing can provide those low, melancholy, plaintive sounds like a cello when you need them.

I hope one of these days to get the chance to play with you! Must make this happen.
[User Picture]
Date:January 23rd, 2011 05:47 am (UTC)
Maybe you'd make more money on CDBaby if the songs were available individually. I mean people are happy to pay small amounts for music, but once it becomes high enough they start looking for torrents instead.
$10 is affordable for 14 songs, but only if you don't already have half the songs.
[User Picture]
Date:January 25th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
I don't really want to make more money on CD Baby, I want people to buy individual tracks on Bandcamp or buy whole albums for whatever they deem the songs they don't have to be worth, altogether. CD Baby's cuts are really ridiculous compared to bandcamp and my sales there are negligible so their users are clearly not worth pandering to. But this is a good reminder to make sure that I have links to each album's bandcamp on each album's CD Baby page.
[User Picture]
Date:January 25th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's a good idea. I wasn't really aware of bandcamp, I just got an email from CDBaby saying you had a new album. Obviously I must have bought the albums I have from there last time but I imagine that was just me blinding googling "buy unwoman" or something lol.
[User Picture]
Date:January 25th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
Oh interesting, I had no idea CD Baby told previous customers about my new albums. Neat!

Bandcamp is really great -- some famouser artists who use it include Sufjan Stevens, Amanda Palmer, and Zoe Keating.

I have my latest 3 releases on there for free/pay-what-you-want, which makes the piracy issue extra frustrating for me. Eventually people will figure it out I guess.


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