Happy New Year, or should that be, Happy OOH Year! A post in two parts…
Thursday afternoon 3:58pm…
Part 1 of 2……
I often find Christmas has a touch of anti-climax about it! Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, as for me it’s a concentrated part of the year when everything happens at once; my birthday, christmas eve, christmas day, boxing day, and then new year! I love Christmas, but I hate new year, and I have no issue sharing this with you!
New Year is crap! It’s a time when we reset the clock and do it all again, make fake promises to ourselves, and lie about the hope that apparently waits for us on the 1st January, only to find that nothing changes at all! Amazing really, that we all still make new year’s resolutions, without realising that the way to make changes is to get out there and do it! Do something! make something happen! Set the goals, and go for it! Not expect it all to change because it’s a New Year! Here’s a tip for you, it doesn’t! The world keeps on spinning, the bills still need paying, and January (and probably February) are endured with no money, and not much to look forward to except the long drag to spring!
Sorry for the bleak outlook, but you know as well as I do that it’s perfectly true! New Year doesn’t just have to be the time for making changes, or making big things happen, this can be done ANYTIME! Did Mark Zuckerberg wait until 1st January to start coding Facebook? NO!! Did Jack Dorsey wait until 1st January to launch Twitter? NO!! Did Steve Jobs wait until 1st January to launch the iPhone?? NO!! January 1st is no excuse!! In fact, it’s the worst kind of excuse! We don’t possess an annual reset button! You can’t CTRL + ALT + Delete the last 12 months, so don’t try it!
I’ve just read that back to myself and realised what a grumpy sod I must be coming across as today! Sorry about that, but them’ the breaks!
This post is going to be a recap of what has happened in the world of me and OOH over the last 12 months, and a look forward to what’s on the horizon, because quite frankly, if you’re reading this, you deserve to be as bored sharing in it as I am writing about it! So here we go. It’s in two parts, as I really don’t possess the will to recap 12 months all at once!
It was about this time last year that I first started thinking about OOH Guitar. It was a reaction to wanting to change what I did for a living, and probably indulge a long held passion for guitar playing. My expectations of OOH were great, but the reality was very different. 12 months on, OOH has only delivered a handful of lessons, generated minimal interest and not made any telling revenue that would allow me to rely on it as a primary form of income. On analysis of the last 12 months, there are, I think, a few reasons for this -
- Expense - Guitar lessons are seen as a ‘luxury’ item i.e. something you’ll pay for after you’ve paid for everything else your money allows you to each month. £20 an hour was a considered and reasonable rate, but many were put off because of this.
- Grading – Guitar lessons from a teacher that doesn’t follow the grading system are difficult to quantify in terms of progress, as there are no set markers for achievements. Many people who approached me were keen to learn better improvisation skills and blues playing, and whilst I can teach the fundamentals, a lot of this came down to needing to practise a lot and generally become more confident and knowledgable on the instrument. Remember, I was the teenager who would sit at the end of their bed for 12 hours a day, just playing guitar! That’s one way to get better at improvisation!
- Marketing – Maybe my strategy of where I chose to advertise lessons was incorrect? I tried to spread as evenly as possible i.e. coffee houses, rehearsal spaces, music stores, but again, most of the people who visit these places and picked up my flyers, already believe they’re guitar players of a certain skill level, or had a very prescribed idea of what they want to learn, which may or may not be compatible with how I teach. I also plugged OOH significantly via social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, but this proved difficult, as these are great for communicating, but not necessarily as business generation tools. I’ll talk more about this later.
- Time – I was still trying to hold down a full time job whilst promoting a guitar teaching school and giving lessons in the evenings, and as anyone tells you, you can’t serve two masters.
- Setup – My setup, or should I say, my offer, was that I would go to people’s houses to give them lessons, which isn’t something I’d wanted to do, but the wife wasn’t particularly comfortable with having strangers in the house, so this limited me somewhat, as it meant I was delivering most lessons via a more easily transportable spanish acoustic, as opposed to my electric guitars.
To this extent, OOH Guitar will be continuing into 2013, but in a different, and somewhat reduced capacity. I’m going to be concentrating more on the session work and soundtrack services, which is something I’ve been keen to do a lot more of. I’ll still be offering lessons to those who want them, but I’ll not be pushing this aspect as hard as I was through 2012. There are other projects on the horizon that were put on hold this time last year whilst I relentless pursued OOH, which are now coming to the fore; more about these later.
There were certain disappointment as well in terms of promoting OOH. Various sites that promised a lot ended up delivering nothing. I’m thinking in particular about Fandalism, Band Camp, School of Everything and Just Music Teachers as I write this. Not one communication came from any of these sites over the last 12 months with regards to teaching, which is a real disappointment. I’ll leave my details on each one, but I expected more. It wasn’t through a lack of effort on my part either. I spent a lot of time setting up profiles, and reaching out to people to see if they were interested in collaborating, writing songs, having me put music to their lyrics etc, but nothing back! I think 2012 has shown me how insular the music industry seems to have become, especially as it seems to exist so predominantly online now. Back when I was playing a lot in the late ’90′s, you couldn’t move for musicians wanting to collaborate, work together, or just even get together and play for fun, but these days, it seems that everyone is working to their own agenda, with no interest in branching out and experimenting, which is a real shame. Everyone’s chasing the deal, and a shot at the big time, whilst forgetting that just playing music is one of the greatest things you can do. It’s clear to me now that the music industry as I knew it doesn’t exist anymore. Any kid in their bedroom can write a number one, Youtube teaches you how to play guitar for free, and everyone tells you you’re a star, when you’re not. Maybe this is why I can’t find people to play with, I have no idea what to look for anymore, or what the right question is to ask!?
However, at this juncture, I should say thanks for the support I have received as well. The blog has received almost 3300 views since I started it in January, which I know is what some blogs receive in 30 minutes, but hey, I’m on my own over here! Also, thanks to those of you who did enjoy a guitar lesson, I hope you got something from it at least!
Other moments this year, when it came to music, left me with both a sense of loss, and hilarity! I got wind of a local band that were looking for a second guitar player to fill their recently vacant spot (go and have a look at my post ‘The successful candidate will…’), and I said goodbye, with much regret, to my beautiful Epiphone Les Paul copy, refurbished by Sam, and sent to a good home via the power of ebay! Another goal this year is to procure a new Epiphone Les Paul copy of equal quality, which will not be easy! Speaking of Sam, he worked wonders resuscitating my first ever guitar back to life, a Tanglewood Stratocaster copy, and turning it back into a wonderful sounding blues guitar, as well as two separate resets of the Floyd Rose system on my American import Stratocaster. I kept him busy this year, it’s fair to say!
So, 2012. The year that was. Back at the beginning of the year I was playing some acoustic sessions in Urban Coffee Company. I then made the mistake of enquiring about making it a regular thing, and perhaps even being paid for the 90 minute long solo acoustic performances I was putting on for them (have you ever tried playing a 90 minute acoustic set on your own with no back line or vocals, it ‘aint easy!), at which point the contact dried up, and that was the end of that. This is a real bugbear of mine, people expecting you to want to play for free. I’m the one who’s spent years practising guitar, becoming rather good at it, and in some small way hoping other people would like what I do. I don’t invite Michelin star chefs to come round to my house and cook dinner for my wife and I for free, then suggest to them that if we like it perhaps making it a regular thing? NO!! So don’t treat musicians in the same way! I reached out to some other places to play, but let’s say the response was lacklustre at best. The ‘death by a thousand cuts’ of live music scenes up and down this country is happening right under our noses, and no-one seems to be concerned about it!
I also started playing music with the wonderfully talented Carina back around Easter time (I think), but again, that didn’t stand the test of time! Maybe it’s me! It can’t be everyone else I guess!? I’d like to pick this up again at some point, as her voice is to die for, we’ll see!
I think I’m all moaned out now! I’m sure you’re all relieved! there’s still a lot to get through in terms of what’ happened this year; The Olympics, The 11+, Half Marathons, Birthdays, Holidays, Work! Sheesh, the excitement! This may well have to be a Blog in two halves, with the send half being decidedly more upbeat than this one!
Thursday Evening, 9:05pm…
Part 2 of 2……
Ok, so I’ll start Part 2 now, as the hoped for catharsis of Part 1 hasn’t worked yet! The lasagne for tea was lovely, so now it’s back to the blogging. We’re all off to Plymouth tomorrow morning for a belated Christmas with my parents, which will be nice. The wife and I plan to get in an early morning run along the seafront, something I’m particularly looking forward to! Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the year that was……
The year (2102) started with business plans, big plans! It’s funny how a spreadsheet can convince you that an idea is a good one! Making it work however, is something completely different. The primary purpose of any business, no matter what anyone tells you, is to make money. Why do it otherwise. Don’t mistake business for charity, even though many people often do. I think I’ve moaned enough in part 1 anyway, so lets keep it jovial, and dare I say, festive shall we! Highlights of the year were the half marathons, the family summer holiday in Cornwall, the Olympics, and Slash! I finally got to see my hero perform live, at the O2 Arena in Birmingham, even though the experience was sullied somewhat by the threat of redundancy hanging over my head! I don’t know why I’m surprised, it’s only the 3rd time in 4 years!
Things to look forward to in the first part of the year are the Silverstone Half Marathon in March, the London Marathon in April, which we shall be combining with celebrating the youngest son’s 7th Birthday, and we get to find out at the end of March which secondary school the eldest son will be attending from September! Fingers crossed for that one!
On reflection, it’s 12 months on and I find myself no further forward and no further back. I’m thinking about the future, and more importantly, the future of our profession (architecture that is). Needless to say, it’s time to dream big, and work small. Most of the coming year will be spent in Manchester, well, Salford, building another of my current employer’s projects, unless this changes, which is highly likely. The wheels are in motion for other plans though, but there will be more on this as these become apparent! I may well continue the blog, or I may just transfer the site over to become a more business orientated site for soundtrack and session services details, whilst other projects are worked on, we’ll see. Blogging regularly is a pain in the ass to be honest with you!
P.S. I’ve come to realise that the internet is like a cruel popularity contest, where the most popular survive online, but wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the real world. Cynical? You betcha! Happy new, sorry OOH (sheesh, give me a break) Year!