My hundreds of receipts for tax-deductible things from 2009.

So after putting together all my receipts from this year I found out that I spent a quarter of my total income before taxes this year on music-related stuff, which is about what I expected, but still, when you consider that most New Yorkers spend around a third to a half of their income on rent, then pay all the taxes we have to pay, the fact that I spent a quarter of my income on music stuff and still managed to save a bunch of money is pretty awesome. The expenses, from largest to smallest, were as follows:

Rent on my studio/office

Mixing and mastering my songs

Tech-related expenses (this was so high because I had to pay a tearjerkingly large amount of money to do data recovery and computer repair after my hard drive died this summer. Am I backing stuff up now? You bet your sweet ass I am. Holy shit!)

Deductible meals (networking, business relationship building, treating dancers and other favor-doing friends to meals in exchange for their help with my projects)

Site maintenance/hosting, songwriting contests, SonicBids submissions, payment for airplay on Jango.com

Transportation around NYC

Stage costumes/makeup

Business phone bill

Rehearsal space for my band

Show-related expenses (equipment purchases etc)

Deductible tickets to professionally enriching music shows/movies

Membership dues for Women in Music and Art for Progress

Music conference registration fees

Mailing CDs to fans and registration forms to music companies

The good news is, I expect many of these expenses to go down, but if I do end up doing shows in places I have to fly to, the overall amount of money I spend on my career might still go up this year. But it’s nice to know that I don’t expect to have my computer melt down again this year, and if it does, I still won’t need to do data recovery if I keep backing everything up, which will knock about $1000 off the bill for having my computer repaired. I am also being more frugal in general with how much I spend at restaurants, I don’t expect to enter any songwriting contests this year as they’ve largely been a waste of time, I’ll be drastically reducing my submissions through SonicBids since I find it better to just advance my career in free and productive ways, I’m being more frugal with my MTA and cab spending since monthly unlimited cards have gotten expensive enough that they don’t make sense for me anymore and I love walking anyway, I’ve got enough costume pieces and makeup that I won’t need that much more this year, and I won’t be performing as much with my band this year since I think it makes more sense to do solo shows/shows with a DJ playing my tracks. This should eliminate a lot of expense and hassle while making more room for more shows and promo that are actually effective in building my fanbase and getting my career off the ground. I’m excited!

So the last few weeks have been just a tad rough to say the least. First, I finally started recording vocals for the new songs, and then my computer died right in the middle of recording. So I lugged it to the Apple store, who couldn’t help me (can someone explain to my why they don’t do data recovery, especially when they do everything else, and especially when they call their service people “geniuses”?????), so I went to Tekserve, who could help me, as long as I could flush $1300 away in the process. It’s amazing the ways in which money is determined to run screaming from our bank accounts. What is so scary about just staying put, money?!

So anyway, I lugged my seemingly 100lb iMac all around town, finally got a solution for $1300 dollars, and waited two weeks to get my life back. I have not recently been as depressed and bored as I was in that time. And it taught me how important making music is to me. It’s literally something I have to do to have any true excitement and gratification in my life. There is nothing like writing a great song, nothing like seeing it come to life when you record it, and nothing like performing it for people and having them be blown away and tell you they love it. That’s what I love to do. That’s almost all I love to do, especially career-wise. Luckily I realized a few days in (I can be pretty slow about some pretty important things) that I should be using that time to write, and so I wrote three new songs in that time, and now, finally, FINALLY, I have 12 songs for my dance-pop album, Four on the Floor. With the pace at which I was able to work on the last few songs, if I really put my mind to it, I could have the remaining 5 recordings done very soon, and record the vocals quickly too, then it’ll be time to take them to the studio for finishing, and then finally, FINALLYYYYYYY I can start sending it out to bloggers and internet radio and all my profiles and promote it and send it to everyone everywhere and see what kind of a response it gets. And this time around, I really know what I’m doing and what I want to do and who will like it, and that makes all the difference.

For those of you who are fellow artists, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a specific vision for your music about what it is, how it will sound, and who will like it. Once you know those things, you know exactly what to do with it. For example, my music is dance-pop, which means it’s great for any event that would involve dancing or a party, which tells me what kind of venues I should play (i.e. dance clubs, not coffee houses). I know that my music is similar in its aesthetic and appeal to club music of the early 90’s and some of the current electro indie pop, so I’m going to push it to people who like that kind of stuff. Since I know which artists I’m similar to, I should go after their fans, the bloggers who blog about them, and the stations and venues that showcase their music, because they’re the ones who will most likely support my music. So now, instead of thinking about pitching one song to a comedy blog and another to a country blog etc etc etc, I know exactly who to send my music to, and I can be confident that they will probably like it, or at the very least not get mad at me for sending them something totally irrelevant to their tastes. That, in turn, gives me a lot of hope and excitement for the promotional part of my music business, which means I’ll approach it with more confidence and happiness and be more successful at it.

I’ve started compiling a list of blogs I should reach out to for when the record’s done, and I’m really excited for the results I know will come when I reach out to them and follow up continuously until I get a response!