The venues have slowed down, the gig counts have dropped, and the “off season” is officially here! What do songwriters do this time of the year? 30A Songwriter Radio contacted several songwriters, to see exactly what the off season is like, from their perspective.
Scott Rockwood – Santa Rosa Beach, FL
First off, I had a great season and I want to thank all the bars and restaurants that booked me to perform. That being said, during the season one is lucky if they can find time to take out a paddle board let alone a spare afternoon for any of their other hobbies and passions, so like most folks who stay in town for the winter I try to take advantage of SoWal’s beautiful state and national forests, biking, paddle boarding, and trying to make a dent in my reading list. I can feel the season winding down the first time that I and any of my friends have the same night off to get together and share some good beers and relax. “Playing music for the tourists” season becomes “Campfire jam session and coffee & front porch picking” season, and is the annual reminder of why I love to play music and why it’s so inspiring and enriching to live in an area with so many great musicians. The annual REP fundraiser show, coming up on Nov 17, is one of my favorite shows of the year, the music is always great, but it’s actually the family feeling between the artists on stage and backstage that makes it truly fun. My band the ScratchTones starting playing shows in July, most often at La Playa in Gulf Place/Santa Rosa Beach, we love the staff and the vibe there, and because our set list is a little off the beaten path, it’s great to have a local venue that allows for that. We’re really excited that fall/winter is here and we finally have time to start writing some of our own material. Also, I’m looking forward to the opening of the new Chan’s Craft Bar in Grayton, and hanging out at this Coffee & Music venue in Santa Rosa Beach I keep hearing about. Photo from Scotts Facebook page.
Mose Wilson – Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Since the shows kind of slow down on the gulf coast during the winter we focus on touring out of town. We have some shows coming soon in Tennessee, Alabama and south Florida. It’s also a good time to focus on new material and new recordings. We will be making a new record at Neptone Studios this December and plan on releasing it in the Spring. This will not only allow us to stay busy and work on new material but it also gives us something to promote come spring and summer and will allow us to hit the road pitching our new record and picking up more gigs. Plus it just gets everyone excited. This year I will also be releasing my first solo record. It is primarily focused in country and folk. I will be planning tours in the spring and summer also in promotion for the record. Saving money in the spring and summer is a must but if you can put back enough to sustain living and record new material when the season does come you will really be able to hit it hard and fast! GIG, GIG and GIG! Photo from Mose’s Facebook page.
Neil Dover – Orange Beach, AL
I spend all year making sure there is no off season. Locals, locals, locals! That’s music speak for Location, location, location! Tourists are a bonus. My hometown people are who I play to and cater to and work for and spend all my time with. After all, as any musician knows, you don’t date girls from Texas. You date girls from home. First thing you ask a cutie, “Where are you from?”. If she says Kansas, you move on. I write all year and spend December and January working on the next CD. Sometimes even February, March, and April :). I’ve been lucky enough to work all winter since I started this by cultivating my local following. If any of my local fans are reading this, I want to thank you for supporting me and buying my music and the CDs of my friends. Sometimes musicians forget to say thank you enough so let me say it here. And thank you Shannon Ireland for taking his personal time to promote and champion independent artists like me. There’s a level of heaven waiting for you. Looking forward to being on your show again! 30A Songwriter Radio!!!! Photo from Neil’s Facebook page.
Kristen Barkuloo – Panama City, Florida
I’ve realized recently that being a musician is so much more than playing gigs during the season; during the off season, I’m still constantly writing. I always feel the need to be making more music, no matter what time it is. For me, music doesn’t have a season. The music that I create is a direct result of my everyday life, so there is constantly something new to write. I’m also loving being able to connect with and meet new listeners through the internet. In fact, being a college-age musician, it’s practically in the job description to be on social media. What’s so wonderful about it is the fact that I have the chance to talk one-on-one with the people who listen to my music, and frankly, that’s the best thing that I could ask for. I’m realizing that another major part of music is to be constantly learning more about it. For me, that means going to songwriting workshops and music business seminars – that way, I can learn from people who know the ins and outs of the industry. The off season is even a time to experiment with new things: after songwriting on my own for the past five years, I’m learning how to co-write with other musicians! Photo Credit: Kristen Barkuloo Music Facebook Page
Nick Turner – Destin, Florida
I started late in music and brought sales and business to the table, so a bit of luck there. During the “slow-down” its important to create new and nurture existing business relationships; without the hard sales. Establish genuine relationships as everyone you meet is a potential avenue for music somewhere and can even fill in the gaps of a slow season. Photo Credit: By www.850ME.com from Nick’s Facebook Page
El Papi – Dothan, AL
Music is my life at the moment and will be for some time to come. It’s not easy keeping up with the cost of life being an artist. I’ve made sacrifices. So, in addition to playing and performing music, I do other things to keep gas in my tank, food in my tummy, and cell phone on. To start with, I”ll do pretty much any side job for pay; I’m handy. I also tutor kids in math and science, which is sometimes more lucrative than the music stint, and almost as fulfilling. And last, but not least, I delve in real estate, which I’ve learned is a sure-fire way to make money in the long run; it’s my real security and income generator. So, even though my songs and performances aren’t yet selling like Swift’s ’89, I’m still living the dream as your guitar slinging, loud singing, joy bringing, local artist. Photo Credit: El Papi’s Facebook Page
Jordan Chalden – Crestview, FL
I want to encourage many of the local musicians here on the Emerald Coast when it comes to what is referred to as “The Off-Season!” I believe many times we can easily wait for someone to give us the opportunity or the door to walk thru. However, I believe we need to become the opportunity ourselves by staying driven and motivated to succeed in spite of what others might be doing or saying. This is possible if we stay focused on our passion, build quality relationships with those who have hired us and sustain them, create a plan of action and execute t. Also, it is imperative that we meet the needs of those who come to see us play by having quality songs that touch people and cause them to want to come back time and time again. Connecting with the hearts and souls of people is what we should be doing, instead of just playing to collect a paycheck only! Don’t get me wrong, getting paid is part of it. Remember people tallk! Currently as a local musician here on the Emerald Coast I have been very fortunate to be just as busy if not busier during what is referred to as ‘The Off-Season!” I give credit to God first, who gives the gift, and the quality relationships which I have worked hard to build and sustain. Now, sometimes it is necessary to take on a part time or even a full time job for a season until we can break thru to the next level. Finally, I must say being able to support my family by doing what I love to do and have a passion for, is an incredible feeling! Blessings to everyone who is trying to make it as a full-time musician. Photo Credit: J. Parker Photography from Jordan’s Facebook Page
Robbie Sellers – Thomasville, Alabama
The “off-season” is definitely always a curveball. Personally, I try to always use my time wisely. It’s not hard to keep yourself busy that way. Recording and writing is a big part of what I do during the off season. Also, anytime that I can find songwriting groups or festivals I try to participate. No experience is bad if something is learned.