Wisdom of the Fish

“I’m just gonna lie here and fish in my mind”…

Sounds like it could be a lyric to a song, doesn’t it?

The jelly fish whispered words of wisdom when I put him in my ear.
He said, “You’ve learned alot about the sea, my Dear, now it’s time to use your fins”.

Last week I didn’t want to blog … at all. When I don’t want to do something I really enjoy, it usually means one or two things:

a) I’m burnt out or

b) The purpose of the thing is changing

I am relieved to say that this time it is the latter.

I am so inspired to create right now (which is what being an artist is all about), but my blog is very ‘Left Brained’. It feels like an assignment instead of a mode of expression.

Now that I am 3 articles into my monthly column on Women’s Radio, I feel the need to divide my brain a little more for these projects. The articles on WomensRadio are the resource-based accounts of my adventure that I hope other independent musicians will find useful. It is time, however, for this blog to become a more personal and creative representation of who I am as an artist and a person; A brief, weekly insight into my oddball mind that my followers who aren’t musicians can relate to along with my fellow musicians (because we’re all a little weird in our own way, aren’t we?).

One week it may be a poem based around an image of me doing something silly. Another week it may be straight up philosophy and reflection. Perhaps sometimes it will be a piece of art I have created or a song I have recorded… it could be anything. It will be whatever I’m inspired by, not just thinking about.

* “I can’t even think about wading right now. I’m just gonna lie here and fish in my mind.” is a phrase that caught my eye when I googled “the fish in my ear said”. It’s on page 77 of this edition of Field and Stream and was said by angler, Colby Lysne.

Meghan Morrison

www.meghanmorrison.com

Challenge Week 5: Blogging

Original Blog Post

Read this blog in 27 different languages

I have become immersed in the world of blogging. Chapter 5 of Ariel Hyatt’s Music Success in Nine Weeks does a great job of summarizing a strong rationale for why musicians should blog. It also provides a number of valuable resources for starting a blog and, later, takes you step by step through establishing a protocol for getting the most out of your blogging efforts. This provided some reassurance when I started going into panic mode this week because, let’s face it, blogging is a big commitment and we musician-types still need to have time to write music too.

The overall process, in short, is something like this:

1) start a blog

2) subscribe to some relevent blogs (publications that might review your music)

3) start reading those subscriptions

4) leave some comments (that are related to the actual post, not just a plug for yourself)

5) then ask for a review after you have developed some rapport with the writers

I already had a blog, so I was able to skip step one. I didn’t, however, subscribe to or read any other blogs. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my email, so I’m not sure how this is going to go, but I’m determined to try. Ariel suggests establishing a list of 50 blogs to subscribe to, so that’s what I did and though there are 50 of the list, for now I have decided to just focus on one or two of these blogs for a few weeks and then move on to a few more afterwards. That way I can give adequate attention to any particular blog even when I don’t have a lot of time for reading.

That number 50 was a bit intimidating at first, I must admit. It took a lot of mouse clicking and searching on Technorati and then often times struggling to find the RSS feed links/buttons on a page I liked once I found it. That part was very frustrating. In my head I kept saying, time after time, “I want to follow you, but you’re making it impossible!!!”. Who knew having that little orange icon would make such a difference.

Once I found one good and relevent blog it became easy because their blog roll was also relevant to what I was looking for. I found a lot of great blogs in the blog roll of Einstein Music. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an RSS feed for their own page though, so I had to bookmark them instead. Chances aren’t good that I’ll remember to go back and check on that one when I have 50 others being brought to my Google Reader though.

This “blog roll” thing had me a bit perplexed at first. I understood what it was (a list of links to other blogs and sites that blogger post on their own pages -usually in the right hand column), but I couldn’t figure out where mine was on my page. After some handy Google Mcguivering I learned that it was a multi staged process with WordPress (the program I use) and was able to set up my blog roll after watching a few videos. If you use word press, here are videos on how to add a link to your blog roll and How to make your blog roll visable to readers

Other ways I found blogs to follow: 1) New Twitter followers (a lot of bloggers have Twitter accounts). Here’s one for local Toronto bloggers 2) Indie Charts – you create a profile and submit songs for review by other artists, industry professionals and … yep, writers. 3) Newsletters. In particular, The Digital Media Wire newsletter is where I learned about the MOG Music Network (a network of top music blogs).

Another strategy for finding potential reviewers/bloggers that Ariel recommends is searching your name for existing articles you don’t know about and leaving comments on articles written about artists you know/play with. She suggests starting with a list of ten. This is what I came up with:

Chloe Charles – we share a violinist (Kelly). Chloe is amazing!
Radio Belle – I met Cristina and her brother at the MIAC/PAL 2010 tradeshow and have since gigged together
The Mudmen – a mutual fan connected me with their guitarist
Oliver Pigott – I met through MySpace and wanted to do a cover of his song. He gave me permission and invited me to open a show for him.
The Station Agents – Billy Fong has been playing guitar with me, has been on my webcast, and we gig together often
Beth Moore - she lives across the kitchen from me and has been on my webcast
Hayley Stark – Did a songwriters showcase together and they have also been on my webcast
MIP – I met at The Painted Lady open mic and, coincidentally, my favourite computer repair man is her drummer
Alice Stops Time – I set up a show with them in Halifax on Leg 2 of Dara’s Wedding Tour 2009
First Rate People – we were on Indie Idol (indielove.ca) together and they were one of the first guests on my webcast
Blake Bliss – used to gig together in Hamilton when Purl of Surf was in full swing.
The Skirt Chasers - Hilary and I used to fence together. Now we gig together.
The Danger Bees - played a show with David in Dartmouth during Leg 2 of Dara’s Wedding Tour
Courtesy Blush - Jon and I go to the same vocal school
Axe to Mouth - I’ve been gigging regularly with these guys thanks to The Dishes

… as you can see, I started getting carried away (extending my list past 10). Though there are many more I would like to add to this list, I had to cut myself off and move forward with this week’s challenge (including leaving a comment on each artist’s myspace, since they don’t all have blogs, to let them know I’ve mentioned them in my blog. Sig file -or signature file- will be added at the end, as recommended by Ariel)

Another time saving strategy Ariel recommends is to join MyBlogLog and/or GoogleFriendConnect. That way, if you don’t have time to leave a comment on everyone’s blog, the authors still know you have visited their site. Though not as memorable as a comment, it helps to establish a connection and rapport over time.

Blogging. Some call it a hassle; some call it an addiction. It certainly is an avenue for ranting, raving and sharing news. It is also a networking and marketing tool. My favourite function of a blog: discovery.

Blogs have the ability to tell stories: within an individual post, through a nine week series, or over the writer’s life. It’s not just about connection, but also growth. The writer opens a window for the public to see  into their inner world but can also control how high up they pull the blinds. By reading blogs we discover new things others want to share with us. By writing blogs we reflect and learn more about ourselves. This has certainly been true for me as an artist. While my Dad was up visiting this week, there were a number of times where there was no technology around to distract or interrupt our conversations and as such, I heard tales of his childhood and my own (which I don’t remember) that I had never heard before. With all the blogging I have been doing lately, this experience triggered the thought in my mind that people are more than their thoughts and opinions, they are their stories … and blogs are a great way to tell stories.

My story this week (outside the context of blogging itself) was pretty exciting. The Horsehoe show (my biggest show to date) was a success, we bought a house (home studio and webcasting set here we come!), I finally got caught up with all of my social media sites from last week (the MySpace page was the biggest obstacle) and I found out that Mike the Bee featured one of my songs on his podcast in the UK after I signed up with Music Alley last week. Not too shabby.

I feel more comfortable moving forward with the marketing side of blogging now that the idea of storytelling has returned to my line of sight. I started blogging by telling stories, but lately, with all this reading about business and promotions, I have found myself becoming a bit blinded by the exciting statistics, increasing quality of interactions online, and other new developments.

Now, if Ariel could just teach us how to deal with Blog Comment Spam. I had over 200 comments this week, which made me very excited until I saw that they were mostly either:

1) Utterly vague: “Incredible, that’s definitely what I was scanning for! You just spared me alot of looking around”

2) Self-promoting and irrelevant to the subject matter of the post: “if the cops werent so bad in florida it would be really awesome” has nothing to do with my Week 3 post on website optimization.

3) Template messages being sent from different people from the same agencies. Grrrrrr.

For example, I received such similar posts from a 3 different virastop.net users:

“What a blogpost!! Very informative and also easy to understand. Looking for more such blog posts!! Do you have a myspace? I recommended it on stumbleupon. The only thing that it’s missing is a bit of new design. However thank you for this information.”

The other commenters just substituted “twitter” or “facebook” for “myspace” and “digg” for “stumbleupon”. If it wasn’t for the fact that there was more than one comment saying the same thing, I would have thought it was a legitimate comment. So now how do I know which ones are the fakes and which ones are real? I would hate to delete a legitimate comment.

To end on a positive note, my web guru Byron has hooked me up with a translator for my blog so that anyone around the world can read my posts. I just need him to help me install it now haha

Ariel’s Book: Music Success in Nine Weeks

www.meghanmorrison.com


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