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 last night I was at the Jonas Sees In Color record release party and spoke with one of the women I know through Women In Music (if you’re a woman in music in any capacity in NYC, join this group!! It’s awesome!!) and learned an interesting tidbit from our conversation.

She spoke about something called “upstreaming,” which is when an artist on a small indie label is sort of “promoted” or “upstreamed” into being on the major label affiliated with the minor due to hitting a certain number of sales. I’d think that number would be in the hundreds of thousands of albums, but she said it was only in the low tens of thousands. That may sound like a lot of cd’s for an indie artist to sell, but it’s not unattainable if the music is good, the artist is constantly performing and growing their fan base, and the music is being marketed properly. So the take-home message for me was: don’t be afraid of getting “stuck” on a smaller label, especially because smaller indie labels are usually more passionate about and dedicated to their artists, and will help them a lot in the beginning of their career, and every young artist needs that. Then, if the music does well enough, a bigger label with more muscle and money will sometimes take you on to reach higher levels of success.

This reminds me of the bottom line I always try to remember: if you can make money, you’re golden. If you have nothing else going for you but that you make money, you have everything going for you, because at the end of the day, labels want to make money, and they’ll go with the artists that make money. So the key is to figure out how to make money, because then you will get the support and help you need, because people will recognize that they can make money by being part of your team.

Money might be the root of all evil, but it’s also the route to all success, hahaha. Then it’s your job to keep the evil at bay while enjoying your success.

And now back to work.

Ayayay so much has happened in the last few days! I got the new songs up on the myspace and my website, and people really enjoyed them at the show. I just finished the dance remix of “Can’t Stop” with Lee-Sean, will post it asap, and it sounds awesome. So now I finally have a nice little set of dance recordings ready to go, and it’s just gotta be nose-to-the-grindstone getting the rest of the songs I have in mind done over the next few months so we can have like two set’s worth of dance songs to play. I’m SO glad to be writing regularly again!

The problem is, I should really re-brand myself completely now as a dance-pop artist, which means taking down the old stuff and replacing it with the new. And redesigning the website and doing lots more music videos to replace the ones I won’t be promoting anymore and blah blah so in a way I’m back to square one. Yowza. But I’m so much more excited about the music and the shows this time around I really don’t care. This new music kicks ass and having danceable, fun music will be a big help. The music videos also now would make much more sense being weird or witty or really memorable because I’ll be able to dance in them and use more humor etc. It’ll be great.

In other news, we’re losing our fabulous drummer to LA and the glare of Hollywood. Nicole’s going out there to pursue acting and music opportunities that have arisen, so we need to find a new drummer stat. I’m working on it and it’s going ok. Wish me luck and put me in touch with any drummers you know!

Also, in exciting collaboration news, I have found some new collaborators in a songwriting and production team in New Jersey whom I found through a music biz event. Now because I always hate it when people can’t explain how they got certain opportunities, this is exactly how I got this opportunity: 1. I met one of my best friends, Elijah, at Harvard. 2. Elijah’s ex-roommate is a girl named Joanna who lives in Brooklyn and wants to get into the music biz. 3. Joanna is on an email list called Women in Music which you women should all get on. 4. Joanna told me about the Women in Music list because she knew it would help me out. 5. I got on that email list and someone emailed out something about a music publisher’s organization called AIMP which regularly holds helpful events for music makers in NYC. 6. I registered for an AIMP event a while ago and got on their email list. 7. They emailed me about a song pitching event where songwriters would receive instructions on what kind of music a few artist’s A&R teams were looking for, including Leona Lewis’ team. 8. I went to that event, where there was a sign up list for producers and songwriters in attendance to be able to talk to each other and work together on the songs to pitch to the artists’ teams. 9. I signed up and so did all the producers. 10. I went through the list and reached out to all the producers offering my skills as a singer. 11. One of the producers who got back to me had a great song finished for which he needed a demo singer. 12. We arranged a time for me to come in and sing the song. 13. We did that on Friday night and finished the song in 6 hours. 14. It was a great time and we were both happy to work with each other, and now the production team wants me to come back for future demo singing needs, and I want to keep working with them as well. So THAT’s exactly HOW IT HAPPENED. Now, everyone else who has cool things happen to them, can you please learn how to explain it like I just did and stop pretending it’s always some magical fairy tale with no explanation? EVERYTHING HAPPENS SOMEHOW. Ok.

So they’re going to pitch that song to Leona Lewis’ team, and if her team has half a brain they’ll take it because it’s awesome.

Now, I’m off to band practice and hopefully some more work on my new songs later tonight! Enjoy the new stuff on my myspace and website!