Jesse Terry is a hard working artist out of NYC, currently touring his newest release Empty Seat on a Plane. Through massive amounts of DIY, Jesse is building a career that’s going to last. He took a few minutes to share some of the work he’s done - this is a great read with some great advice.
1. How has fan funding changed your life as an artist?
Well, it allowed me to make a record that really has been a career-changer for me. I’m certainly not a household name yet but it’s helped me to make a living as a full-time touring artist and get a lot of great press, reviews and word of mouth. That exposure has led to some great bookings for me, contest wins, festival and conference selections etc etc. This week we launched a national radio campaign and I’m so excited to see where that takes me and my career. That’s the exciting part about this business; you never know what’s going to be in your email inbox when you wake up. Amidst all of the rejection and endless work there really are some beautiful peaks in all of this! I really think putting out consistent quality content is important these days and fan-funding can really help.
From a different angle it really has given me a new level of gratitude and connection to my loyal fan base. I’d be nowhere without them and I know it. So I’m very grateful. And some really awesome folks over at PledgeMusic taught me a lot of very cool stuff about building my fan base and social media :)
2. You work your butt off! What’s a key piece of advice for artists who are doing it on their own?
Find a way to make music your full time job. Or at least close to your full time job. I know that’s not easy and believe me I’ve waited my share of tables and washed my share of boats. If you’re in an expensive area and you can’t afford it, move. I live outside of NYC because my wife has a job in Manhattan. But there’s no way I’d be in this area if it wasn’t for that. There’s no way I could pull it off. When I was single I lived in Nashville, had a roomie and paid $400 a month rent. That was tough enough. Stay away from credit cards… trust me :) And don’t be afraid to do private parties and different “money” gigs that can bring in a bunch of dough. It’s humbling but it can be great money and you don’t have to put it on your tour calendar. That’s why I’m able to afford my PR, lawyer and radio promoter. It’s a means to an end. Some soul food gigs pay really well too but not all of them. And I believe that someday I can put those “money” gigs away forever… but not yet.
3. How has technology changed the way you do things as an artist?
It’s certainly a love/hate relationship. It’s awesome that we can so much on our own as indie artists. I can spend the whole day replying to emails, booking, submitting to opportunities, etc, and I do often. But if I do it too often without balancing it with a healthy dose of songwriting and music, I get fried and emo. Sometimes I think it helps to exercise and make music for the first half of the day and then do music biz stuff in the afternoon. But really it’s whatever works for you. It’s a delicate balance. We have so much technology at our fingertips and we have to embrace it and use it, while also becoming social media and marketing experts. At the same time I think that the music we make is always paramount. Like Steve Martin says, “be so good they can’t ignore you”. I’m always trying to get better and be that good. I know I’m not there yet but I feel like I’m on my way. As long as I’m moving in the right direction I feel content.