Today in this third episode of IndieViews we will be talking with Monika Ryan, born in New York, currently living in Chicago where she has produced a solo discography of 9 albums, including the latest release “NOW”. With a degree at “The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music” since 1997, she has taken part to two seasons of concerts at “Carnegie Hall”, in addition to performing at festivals such as “Montreal Jazz Festival”, “Big Apple in Nonoichi Jazz Festival” with following tour in Japan.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce:
1) Love – 2000:
2) Duo – 2001:
3) Involution – 2014:
4) Sketches – 2016:
5) Fly – 2016:
6) Merry – 2016:
7) Crash – 2016:
8) Windmills – 2017:
9) Now – 2018:
If we cast your mind back to when you were a kid and a teenager: what are your earliest musical memories?
Which was the first album you ever bought?
My first album? I don’t know. I can’t remember what I bought and what was bought for me or what was in my parent’s collection. The first jazz album that I bough was a double LP “Ella Fitzgerald’s Greatest Hits Volume II” It is still a favorite of mine.
Which musicians do you particularly admire and which one do you think influenced your music?
Which is the best concert that you have been to?
What does music mean to you?
If I can serve the world by elevating someone’s day, or lifting them up, or helping them express their feelings, or understanding something or someone in a different way, or helping them have a rest at the end of the day, if I can inspire someone in a positive way, it brings me tremendous joy. I like to be of service.
When I am moved by art it is food for thoughts and feelings and all kinds of personal growth, understanding and reflection.
I offer up my work as a vehicle for others to reflect in, if it touches or serves another it, it’s purpose is served.
Are you still in love with your profession as musician? How do you keep your enthusiasm always live?
There is no way to separate the two. Even angry music is coming from a place of love.
Love is powerful and sometimes love is hard truths, so love is in all of the music. Love is the recipe, love is the main ingredient and love is the motivation.
When did you decide to be a full time musician?
When I didn’t need another job anymore, I didn’t have one. Being a musician was always the goal.
How do you manage your music life with your “common” life? What is your typical day like?
So I work on music and music business interwoven with teaching them throughout the day.
Here is a typical day: 6:30am wake up, do some correspondence, have coffee with my husband before he goes to work. 8:00am home school begins.
I teach and during their independent work times I do music business stuff, PR, Booking, Correspondence, Phone Meetings. 2:00pm school is over – They play and I do some song writing.
Maybe work out a bit as well. 3:00pm-5:00pm – some practicing and project planning 6:00 I cook dinner and sometimes get ready for a show… and then do the out of the house music stuff. Performance, events etc.
Different days vary… touring is different… recording on projects is different… but this is the basic idea. I find my windows to get it all done.
Tell us more about your latest works (album, live tour, new projects).
I am about to release “Now” later this month. This is a reflection of this moment in time for me and how I see it. For me this project is like a timeline photograph. I am very excited to be returning to Europe for a tour in June and July. I am also working on some new writing with a wonderful Indian artist blending eastern and western music. This is a bigger musical exploration that is forming now as we speak. I’m excited to see where it leads. There are never any shortage of exciting projects to do, and I am always busy creating. Which I love.
(Ed.) In the main time “Now” has been released, check it out:
Are you self-taught or have you studied music? You think is important studying music to be a Pro?
I love to learn and explore, so it is fun for me. I love music lessons.
Did you keep on studying?
Speaking of culture, which is the last book that you read?
I find it a nice reminder to keep perspective in check.
I like biographies and books about creativity also.
I was reading a book about Django Reinhardt which was fascinating, but so detailed that I could only take in bits of it at a time.
Called “Django” by Michel Dregni:
I really enjoyed “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield:
Ted Orland and “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp —
I got something from each of these books, take some info and leave the rest…
But I find books about creativity to offer great tools for overcoming creative obstacles.
There are no shortages of interesting books to read and re-read and interesting “rabbit holes” to go down.
While you are on the road did you find the time to improve your technical skills on your instrument? Do you think is it important?
Can you describe the process you go through when you are writing a song? What inspires you to write?
Tight money = tight time. I record fast.
I like the energy most in the first and second take, I rarely push anything further.
We went for it. I knew that the band was wonderful and I knew that we would move as one so we just dove in and recorded it in one day. There were more songs but we ran out of time/money…
In 2016 there was a weekend where I had a concert of one catalog of music on Friday, I recorded a new album of totally different music on Saturday and another album of totally different music on Sunday.
But I respect that others feel differently.
Album/Ep/Singles any favorite way to release your music? and why?
How do you plan an album production and his release?
When you release an album how much is important for you the tracklist? And the time between the tracks?
Do you produce your records by yourself or do you prefer to have some extra ears or a producer to guide you?
Did you record your music in a rented professional studio, home studio or in any other way?
How did you choose the musicians for your album?
Did you mix and master your album/tracks in different ways for digital and physical releases?
Are your records only digital or also physically distributed?
What types of promotion and marketing have you found to work best for an independent artist?
There are some music industry analysts who argue that the CD is dying. What percentage of your sales are physical CDs and what percentage of your sales are in other forms (e.g. online)? Do you see that changing significantly in the future?
How do you normally promote your latest releases? Do you use only social networks or also other ways?
Do you use Facebook/twitter/instagram sponsored post for promotion? You think could be they helpful?
Have you a mailing list? I personally use MailChimp.You think is a “must have” as most people in music business said?
Have you a favorite way to distribute your album?
Do you think that, with all the digital alternatives, radio airplay still has an effect on the success of a release? And how does an independent artist get radio airplay?
There are many ways to get it.
You can hire a radio promoter or send stuff to radio stations yourself.
It depends on your budget and your time constraints.
Like anything else, it’s a network that can be built.
What do you think about streaming services like Spotify and Pandora?
They only worry me because they are making it harder for musicians to make a living at making music.
They are wonderful resources for exchanging music and learning about music.
Did you work with booking agencies or you manage your own gigs?
How do you promote a gig in a new town/country/region?
Organizing a tour could be really expensive especially if you travel with a band far away from your country, how do you manage everything to earn and don’t loose money?
Did you sell your physical CDs, Merchandising and other?
Somebody says that House Concert are the future of live music as many club are closing. What do you think about it? Have you organized any?
Being invited to make music in someone’s home is an honor and there is a warmth to it.
Do you have any suggestions for somebody who would host an house concert?
Every time you play your music you are giving a big part of you to your crowd, do you feel tension before a concert? If yes how do you manage it?
Which is the difference between a big audience or a small one?
Give them every drop you’ve got. Make each person feel special, draw them in and give them a magical experience.
Connect to the music and the musicians that you are working with and give to the listener.
Each of us has some expectations before a show, which are yours? What would you love to “have back” during a concert or what you already receive?
My expectation is that the band will work with me and that I will work with the band and not against each other and that everyone on the stage will be present in the music.
I always appreciate it when the venue is a happy partner as well, though some venues have more or less warmth.
Have you a daily business routine? Checking/writing E-mail, phone calls, create new connections?
I make sure that I respond as fast as possible.
I meet with my PR helper over the phone once per week and check in over the course of the week as needed.
Which percentage of your time is dedicated to: “Creating Music”, “Promotion”, “Organizing gigs/tour”, “Studying”, “Reading”, “Listening Music”
This would be untangling a big woven structure that is always moving and changing.
I try to make as much progress every day, I rarely ever complete what I would like to complete because my daily lists are quite ambitious and I like to do what i do as well as I can, so I spend time to thoughtfully approach as much as I can.
Do you think that the Artist status is compatible with the entrepreneurship? Do you think that an Indie artist needs to be also an Entrepreneur?
It would be near impossible to make progress in business without someone at the helm of the ship. If one is fortunate enough to have help it is easier, but it is still a huge undertaking to captain a career through the choppy waters of the music business.
As an artist, which are the biggest differences between being represented by a major label or being representing by yourself?
I will advocate and answer for the work and be available for the project in a way that I don’t imagine happening with a major label, unless you are a big star and there is a lot of money in the balance.
Which PRO (Performing Rights Organization) are you affiliate with and why did you choose that?
Did you use any other service to collect your royalties?
As a full time musician I immediately realized that I can’t only work as musician and I should extend my expertise in different fields. So, I became a Sound Engineer, composer, producer too. Did you also develop different fields? Which one? What do you like and do not like about each one?
Between us we manage to run the household responsibilities well.
What’s your relationship with the social networks?
Any other social or service you want to talk about?
Do you have any suggestions for a young musician that is thinking to start with his carrer?
Music first, business second. Remember that music is a service to others. Be kind and professional.
Hopefully we all live very long and connected lives and we cross paths with people over and over again. Musicians are social and a tribe/community is important. Be a team player even if you are a star.
Be a star among stars.
Lift those up around you. Don’t take rejection personally.
Rejection is part of the artists path, always. Know that it is not about you it is about coins and bills. This is OK. The venues have to keep the lights on too.
That relationship is rarely about quality, it is about the venue’s bottom line.
This is just how it is, and it is OK. Keep following your musical bliss. It will lead you somewhere wonderful.
DISCOVER MORE ABOUT MONIKA:
– Website :www.monikaryan.com
– Facebook (fan page) :https://www.facebook.com/monikaryanmusic
– Instagram :http://www.instagram.com/monika_ryan_music