I believe what Simon Sinek says is true: ‘Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.’
Shininglights has been talking to artists about the interaction between music and money. The aim is to understand how different artists approach and apply this to their own circumstances.
In this interview, we talk to Lynz Crichton, who is a contemporary folk musician recently releasing an EP “Acquittal”. Lynz manages her music after leaving her job as Head of Modern Foreign Languages at a Secondary School.
We caught up with Lynz to talk about, money, music and careers to understand how she has approached this.
Free Digital Bundle: lynzcrichton.com
SL: Can you start by giving us a potted history of your music career to date?
LC: Well I started singing, playing and writing music when I was a young teen back in school. Music was definitely an escape for me, and when I was playing it often felt a bit like scuba diving, where I could swim down to this parallel universe and where everything else was mute, and I could just hear the sounds I was making and feel the emotion all for myself. Since that point, I have played at venues all around the country and in the last year I released my first EP, so I have started to create and produce music more seriously.
SL: Would you consider making a full-time career in music, and what do you feel would be the challenges of doing this?
LC: This is now my full-time thing! Well, the first challenge to this is that I gave up a well-paid career to be a stay-at-home mum for a few years. Technically THAT job still hasn’t finished yet, as my kids are still very young. I wanted to do something with my life though, that allowed me to still be available to the children while they grow – you never get those years back – but also to let my creativity and passion for music flow and grow. I am currently transitioning between being full-time mum, and full-time musician. The time I do get for music, needs to be planned, organised, and I need to work like never before….but the thing is, it really doesn’t feel like work. I believe what Simon Sinek says is true: ‘Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.’
SL: Do you think it is harder today for someone to make a career in music than perhaps twenty or thirty years ago, and why?
LC: No!! It depends what your perspective of ‘success’ is. If you want to be a bright-eyed bushy tailed member of the in-DUH-stry (to quote my fave music coach Carlos Castillo) then yes, you may be setting yourself up for a barrage of constant disappointments. However, if you want to create your own tribe, and serve your true fans, then making a career in music has never been easier. It is ALL about relationships, and connecting with people. As a PROUD independent musician, I like to think of musicians today as being Musicpreneurs. WE need to find the fans, WE need to foster the relationships, WE need to set the tone, WE need to understand the business (just like you would if you were ANY kind of entrepreneur) and yeah, WE need to create the music. You’ll notice I purposefully left that until the end. The music is almost the cherry on top of the cake, but there is SO much more to it nowadays than ‘just’ the music. I never said it would be EASY, but there are absolutely more opportunities today than there were twenty or thirty years ago to make it work.
SL: Do you think you have to operate music like a business, and if so does that create a clash with the desire to write and play music?
LC: You absolutely do have to operate music like a business. It does at times take over from the creative side of the brain (I actually really enjoy the business side too) but creating art forms takes time, art needs space, and needs nurturing. For me, it is really important that I do block out chunks of time to let the creative process take place, but the business side is also time consuming….and necessary! So, I’m back to the point about having to be organised, and dedicated!
SL: What do you personally class as success in life?
LC: Ooooh nice question! Having balance is always a marker for a successful life to me. We have a saying in our little family that we use as our yardstick ‘Happy and healthy’. It seems a little simplistic at first, but in reality, if either one of those things starts to falter, we rally together to make changes.
SL: Thinking about your own music how would you describe your musical style, and who influences you?
LC: Well, If Ed Sheeran and KT Tunstall had a lovechild, this would pretty much sum up the musical style I’m aiming for, with cheeky lyrics and harmonies, layered up with my beloved looper pedal! In truth, I have a LOT of influences in my music, I am a music superfan after all, but artists from Sheryl Crow, Laura Marling, Haim, Larkin Poe, Jewel to Janis Joplin and the band Joseph – I love feisty females who can tell a great story with a strong beat.
SL: You have released an EP “Acquittal”, can you talk a bit about the process of writing and producing this, the funding and why you produced as a download?
LC: In terms of the writing – I had an ‘interesting’ upbringing (people who have subscribed to my email list have heard the whole story) but needless to say, I realised I needed write about things that were happening in my life, and in the world around me. I could use the songs as a journal, as catharsis for my soul, as well as social commentary. Spilling the beans right in front of everyone’s eyes, but nobody would see it unless they really looked. Sneaky. I wrote and recorded the music in my studio at home – and funded the whole thing myself. I figured that with the first EP or two I wouldn’t necessarily make money on it, and therefore rather than spend a lot of my own hard-earned cash on physical CD’s and merchandise, I would release this EP solely as a download (for now). Feels great to have kicked off the songwriting and recording/producing process, and I have one total product ‘out there’, in existence, from start to finish. The majority of people don’t even get that far.
SL: In terms of your music, what would you like to achieve?
LC: In terms of this being a business, I have a 1 year, 5 year, 10 year and 20 year plan – and yep (I’ll be pretty old by then, but in no way past it!) The thing I am working on very hard at the moment is writing as many songs as possible, and building my tribe. I want to connect with people who like my music and let them in on the process, let my fans tell me what they would like more of, given, it is them who are ultimately gonna part with hard earned cash to buy my produce and services in the future. But I see this process as an issue of trust and connection. What drives humans is more human connection, and to feel we are being heard. To have shared experiences that you cannot get elsewhere, and this is why I am very keen within the next 2 years, to start a House Concert tour. I know this has given artists across the pond huge success, but it is not something which has caught on a huge amount here in the UK yet. Then, once the House Concert Tour is organised, the tribe is ready, and the music is flowing, I would really like to crowd fund a bigger project…. but you’ll have to join in the fun to find out what!
SL: And finally thinking about places you have played and would like to play. Can you describe your favourite venue or venues, and where you would like to play in the future?
LC: In terms of venues, I have mainly played in the UK so far, from the Oval Cricket ground in London to the Hospitium in York and various festivals and venues in between, however in the future I’d love to get on a bigger bill festival and to play abroad! A lot of people already in the Crichton Clan are from the US and I’d love to be able to create a tour there and play live for my fans over the Atlantic pond! However, that being said, given I used to be a languages teacher and can also speak 5 languages, it would be a shame to not go touring around Europe too!
I have just signed up to Lynz’s mailing list after reading this, and listening to two songs ‘Back Together’ and ‘Let’s Lie Here For a While’. I can see KT Tunstall especially in ‘Let’s Lie Here For a While’ but the music stands out on its own.
What interested me about the interview was the approach to her music in terms of setting up a business and her ‘fans’ being part of that. It reminded me of bands like Scouting for Girls who set up and ran their own fan club, the Wolfcub Club.
I was also interested by the approach to touring and playing through a House Concert Tour, which I guess is like Lounge Room Gigs we have run. It seems a great way to play in front of 40 or so people (perhaps more if the house can accommodate) and grow the fan base further.
But ultimately with my look at financial education her approach to this as a business and her view of success is really fascinating. To make anything successful there has to be a plan, time needs to be spent and being focused on the right kind of success seems a crucial element to the mix.