This week we get to hear from Ira Marlowe, whom I met more than twenty years ago in a writing workshop. I’ve followed Ira’s music career all this time and have been inspired by his constant dedication to his art. In the time that I’ve known him, Ira has produced many different genres of music and has found a lot of unique ways to perform/sell his music. (This guy’s got a wealth of ideas and energy!)
Read on to learn about his latest project, which is an amazingly creative way to share his music and also increase his income. Personally, I’m cheering him on and hope that this idea nets him lots of moola and new followers. But even if it doesn’t, I suspect that Ira will simply continue to write/perform songs and find other news ways to grow his career. I admire his stick-to-itiveness. He says, “If you really have a passion for your work, you love it so much that ultimately, on some level, you don’t really care what follows.”
As always, I invite you to share in the conversation by posting in the comments below! We’ll be back on the 4th Friday of the month with the next Money Talks installment.
1. Are you earning what you’re worth? Someone big on market economics would insist that everyone is naturally paid what they’re worth—if the demand is there the money will follow. Yes, there are plenty of songwriters no more talented or accessible than myself who are getting a lot more attention and earning a lot more money. So I guess the way to be “worth more” would be to create more demand. But many artists have little love for all the self-promotion required to build that demand. And we’re unable or unwilling to change our work to fit the current style. At some point we make a choice to focus mostly on doing good work, trusting that something positive will follow, even if it’s only artistic satisfaction.
2. What does the expression starving artist bring up for you? I think the idea of the “starving artist” is perpetuated by people who’ve made conservative choices in their lives and spend much of their time doing work they don’t really enjoy. When they see people whose lives are devoted to singing, painting, or acting, they comfort themselves that these people live in squalor. Most of the working artists I know live in relative comfort, in an environment that supports their needs and drives.
3. Do you have any childhood money stories that have to do with making a living from work you love? My parents were hardly thrilled with my choice to be a musician. (I believe the job description I used was “rock star”…) Their fear was that I would fail and be left with no skills, working minimum wage jobs. Or worse, living at home!
4. What’s your biggest money story currently? My money goals work on two levels. On a day-to-day basis I support myself through The Monkey House (my live/work performance space) and also from writing songs for the SF Mime Troupe, playing shows, selling CDs, teaching, producing artists in the Monkey House studio, even taking on graphic design jobs. But simultaneously, I’m always working on projects aimed at larger success. I recently wrote a musical screenplay I’m very excited about, and I’m now working with an agent to pitch some my songs to major artists. Another project is to enlist 1000+ subscribers for my 2016 “song-a-week” campaign. Each week, subscribers receive a weekly link to a newly recorded song. If they like it, they can buy it for a buck. They’ll get to offer feedback as well as suggest titles, moods and topics for new songs. Should be challenging and fun. And potentially fairly lucrative.
5. Do you think the expression, “Do what you love and the money will follow” is accurate? (Would you add anything to it?) That expression is a great way to sell self-help books. I think one thing that distinguishes artists from people with ordinary day jobs is a greater willingness to embrace uncertainty. If you really have a passion for your work, you love it so much that ultimately, on some level, you don’t really care what follows. Sure, do what you love and the money may follow — given the right circumstances and perhaps a little luck. But what is likely to follow is happiness, or at least a general sense that you’re doing what you’re here to do. There’s a great quote from Joan Didion, who said that what she loves about writing is it’s the only time she ever feels she’s not supposed to be doing something else.
Money Talks with Sherry Belul appears here on the Mabel blog every 2nd and 4th Friday of the the month, meet us here!