Self-Care For Entrepreneurs & Indie-Musicians.

One of my absolute favourite entries that I’ve written so far is: The Glorious Hustle.

In fact it might be my number one favourite blog entry.

The funny thing about hitting the wall health-wise is that you easily end up going back into the same patterns of behaviour once you feel better.

This month I’ve had the flu but I’ve still been “hustling” and only stopped once I was forced to physically.

I guess that should turn me into a 21st century icon especially if I die of exhaustion.

When you exit the system and become an entrepreneur your rights are directly linked to whatever portion of the market you are able to reach.

There is no union or government department ensuring that you only work so-and-so many hours or that you have an x amount of paid holiday days or sick days.

Whatever percentage of the market that you manage to reach and expose yourself to decide as a demographic whether or not you deserve a holiday or time off due to their purchasing power.

The best thing that can happened to you as an independent artist is that the entertainment establishment gives you a call and want to hire you to do some work for them, this gives you a proper salary and you’ll know upfront what you are dealing with.

It will also give you a spike in online engagement and sales if a major outlet writes about you. This will be instant and very noticeable.

Most of the time though there will be a direct relation between how much time that is spent online and how much money you make. 

I’ve been very lucky since I don’t work alone but have a manager and representation, however these last few months I’ve had to be very active online myself since there has been lots of health issues within my family. This means that I’ve hardly touched my instruments since I’ve been busy promoting my videos and music online in addition to spending time reading and watching videos updating myself on all sorts of changes in the music world.

Pledge Music for example now find themselves in the middle of a scandal and Spotify has changed some of the services that they offer unsigned artists, which are things that I wouldn’t know about if I hadn’t been reading myself up on certain things.

My sponsored video was also the result of me finding out about an online site connecting brands and YouTubers, a site I didn’t even know existed.

Posting updates and being active online raise awareness of your product and results in tangible sales, this then obviously means that you lose out on potential sales if you turn off your gadgets and don’t engage! You also need to have something to sell and this should be of the best quality possible which means lots of blood, sweat and tears when it comes to creating quality content….

Being accessible and “open” might result in extra opportunities and work coming your way since people who follow you gain insight into your charity work or interests, so cutting yourself off from the online world as an artist is a bad idea especially since fans and followers love to connect directly with you as a creator.

So how on earth do you then manage to have some me-time?

  1. If someone offers you some sort of establishment contract you’ll have some sort of financial predictability. You’ll have access to infrastructure and increased exposure for your brand, in addition to the networking-opportunity that comes with it. Considering how much money the establishment have access to I personally see this as the best option, even though you’ll probably have to deal with difficult attitudes and personalities if signing a record-deal.
  2. If more of your followers sign up to your Patreon and/or PayPal. If 10.000 of my subscribers on YouTube signed up to my Patreon for 1$ each it would change my life, sadly though I’ve seen people with millions of subscribers on YouTube have only a few hundred signed up to their Patreon. Whether you engage in crowdfunding or a sign up model you’ll never get the majority of your followers to sign up, not even half of them. We started my first crowdfunding campaign due to suggestions from Facebook fans, but we got a bit annoyed afterwards when we had to persistently campaign in order to reach our goal (which we did) since the majority of those who had suggested crowdfunding did not sign up for it… What happened to all of those who promoted this as a good idea? Much talk, not much action.
  3. The only immediate solution that I see when it comes to me-time is: AUTOMATION. The other day I decided to try Facebook’s scheduled posts. While I was officially active on my profile I was actually keeping my brother company as he was eating his afternoon supper. I was reading a bedtime story for him, but officially I was posting online. Likewise this morning I woke up to a spike in statistics here on my blog since my latest blog post was scheduled to be published at 01:11AM, which I’ve now set as my “publishing time.” In an ideal digital-world it would be possible to automate across all of your various social media profiles for free. Sadly that isn’t the case yet.

If how much money you make is directly linked to how much energy you spend online (without your reach being restricted on social media) then it goes without saying that you can never disappear.

I’ve now heard it repeatedly said that the old model of artists creating something and then vanishing for a couple of years is over.

Just like your social media activity has to be consistent well so does your artistic output. This works well for those who just put things out there, not so much for perfectionists who believe in quality over quantity.

It might even make it less common with creative “masterpieces.”

The whole aspect of you having to be a “social media” person as well will reward characters that aren’t totally socially retarded which also might reduce the amount of masterpieces produced in our time since it is unreasonable to expect that talent or genius should go hand in hand with “agreeableness,” “openness,”etc;

I also see an increase in individuals online becoming upset if they do not get an instant reply when they contact an artist/business. It is in fact very telling that Teespring (the company that I work with on t-shirts) have a system in place that makes the service as close to instant as it gets.

Because of people’s detachment to the production and delivery of goods they seem to think that no effort is required in the stage of production or delivery. Everything ought to be instant!

I receive lots of videos/music from other musicians all the time and that has always been the case. We as a team have also been approached by people who seem to believe that we have the power to get people endorsement deals, even record deals.

Sometimes people have reacted in anger as if thought they are entitled to priority time-wise when we have so many other things to be concerned about both in business and privately.

Every single revenue stream has to be monetised when you aren’t part of the system and it might even prove to be a good idea to share pictures and updates about your life outside of music. I started a blog because there was a demand for it.

This obviously blurs the line between who you are as a person and who you are as a professional person, I see no way out of this because what people expect from their artists and public people have changed so dramatically. Even sharing your artistic process and recording sessions is now a thing. It is all about being accessible as an individual.

The establishment is not static either and have suffered enormous financial losses these last few years due to the digital revolution. Everyone regardless of stature has a social media presence and I do get the overall impression that you somehow have to be extra-likeable and extra-nice if you are very skilled professionally or famous as if thought people are looking for asshole-signs.

People are weird, yet what people want colours where businesses go.

Once again I see AUTOMATION as the solution to me-time.

It will also satisfy the market’s desire to get instant replies and attention once social media platforms offer more diversity when it comes to automated responses.

AI to the rescue.

 

“The Value Of Labour” goes to print!

As I was setting up my first official merchandise store I figured that I could might as well extend my post-modern art project to clothes as well. Any media goes, even an activity.

So here you have my latest art-installation, or my latest addition to this year’s art-project!

Whenever people purchase these products they will literally become walking members of my art-project! Now that’s a cool idea right there!

Go here to purchase your ticket to this mobile, global art-installation!

Your “ticket” is one of the items below – you enter the exhibition by becoming the exhibition – through wearing one of these items!

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Previously introduced to “The Value Of Labour” series:

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Sometimes we all just feel like…. walking away… for ever… (Name Of The Drawing Below).

No I’m not upset or anything! I just came across this in my “unpublished blog folder” and thought : “Hey? Why not put this one out?”.

The top drawing is a drawing I made based on my artwork “Hail To The Chief” which you can see below.

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This is one of the monkeys being fed up just leaving the negotiating table.

I’m sure we all feel like walking away from things now and then.

Sometimes that could be a good thing to do, sometimes not.

Sometimes things might seem hopeless, but sometimes things might not be as mad as they seem.

If you guys are interested I got plenty of artwork over at my website! Feel free to check’em out 🙂 http://commandermusic.com/art.html

Also! A very cool thing to check out is my latest youtube video!!!!

If you guys remember I was in the US of A some months ago shooting vids for Guitar World Magazine and EMGtv!

The first live video with me playing my original metal music is now up \m/ Check it out and share!!!

As always take care people \m/ More guitar-related entries are coming your way before I’ll go back to blogging about things not related to my music!!! Stay tuned for my ” 20 PRACTISE TIPS FOR GUITAR” it’s coming soon!!! \m/

I have something I want to share with you!

Hey you guys!

Today I would like to share something that is very close to my heart and very personal! (Just to warn you guys… there are explanations below the pictures in this entry, so to avoid any confusion, it’s a good idea to go and read these later after you’ve read the main text!! Explanations are inside the parenthesis (). Bear that in mind!!!!)

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Self Portrait from 2004!!

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Self Portrait from 2005!!

Long before I even though of picking up a guitar my main interest was visual arts!

Music was still my biggest source of inspiration, but drawing was something I did every single day!

“Every picture an artist makes is a self-portrait” is how the saying goes, but as I never really plan much when it comes to what I draw I guess I prefer to say that ” these pictures are a snapshot of how I feel at the time”.

Still I guess they say a lot about me, just like the rest of my creative output which is quite substantial.

Believe me when I say that the only reason there is no album out there from me with original material is due to lack of funding NOT due to lack of ideas!

I do however have an album with Classical Music available. An album that I’m incredibly proud of! If you want to hear me play violin music on the guitar or hear me sing opera you can check it out here: http://www.commandermusic.com/store.html

Anyway….

When we started out with this whole “Commander-In-Chief” business 7 years ago, it was a very different “product” that was presented to the world!

We started off my Myspace page with 2 original demo-tracks, with illustrations I had made for the lyrics and an animated “artsy” video I had made myself!

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From my animated “Battle For The Mind” video-2008.

( I spent months working on the animated video! Very high pace, full of colours and artsy stuff it got me my first fans over on Myspace!).

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My initial vision was that music and art was gonna be part of a whole since I visualise my music when I write it! This was going to be an artsy project and I was initially not even planning on using photos of myself to promote what I was doing.

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The Bush Administration, taken from Hail To The Chief 2007/2008

( The picture above was inspired by the Bush administration and/or the leaders of the world. I had written a song called “Hail To The Chief” long before I took my artist name! I was very politically involved when I was a teen. All my lyrics were strictly about issues in society for a very long time. I was surprised when I discovered the Dead Kennedy’s, as I realised that they had already covered many of the topics I was writing about! The picture below is more recent and was made in 2012 as part of a Pledge Campaign! It’s an illustration for my song “Famous”. The song is strictly about reality shows, not talent shows or celebrities who are famous due to skills.)

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Illustration for “Famous” from 2012

We saw however that pictures of me created “buzz” on my pages and got a good reach.

When I started out I had only been playing for 3 years and had no interest in shredding, I considered myself a songwriter more than anything else.
My original idea was to have a male singer singing my music, but I was advised by the producer I worked with that it would be better to “not-give-my-songs-away”.
It took me sometime to get used to the idea of being a vocalist! I had already started taking singing lessons from my mother, but I did this initially as I thought it would be a shame to turn down singing lessons in opera when the offer was there.

The 2 demo tracks we promoted caught the attention of indie-producers that had worked with pretty big names, in fact some of the biggest names in the genre, but I knew that I wanted a heavier sound even though my songwriting was catchy/commercial.

Things changed and developed over time and considering how much time and energy “artist development” can take if you are going to do it properly, visual arts went out the window.

I started drawing again in late 2012 and I also illustrated ( and wrote) my first children book “The Freezing Snowman” which we released in 2014!

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Original drawing from “The Freezing Snowman”, First Draft, from 2013.

( The drawing above is part of the “first drafts” I made for the book. They were all made on cardboard. I got the idea for “The Freezing Snowman” when I made a snowman with my siblings in early 2012).

My original artwork will now be for sale on my website right here: http://www.commandermusic.com/art.html
and I’ll take the opportunity to share the stories/ideas I had behind some of these pictures!

As always, thanks for the support everybody! If you like me as an artist keep on supporting what I do by buying what I put up for sale!

ALWAYS support original art, whatever form!

You gotta keep the ideas coming and the art alive!

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“I’m your new neighbour” I don’t think this picture needs an explanation!

( I like to draw facial expressions that are exaggerated! And I love colour, I spent a lot of time making this one.)

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( I was using something as a reference when I drew this, but I quickly departed from that as usual. The man is obviously not happy. He is thinking about what he could have done differently in his life.)

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(This man is being pulled in all directions to such an extent he is literally being torn apart. I was inspired by one of the villains from Spiderman! Believe it or not!)

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( I have no idea what this is. A strict italian guy. He certainly looks like a villain to me!)

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( I made this back in high school. We were supposed to draw our comfort zone and then add an element that would turn the comfort zone into the total opposite. I picked my bed room and added an entity that was not supposed to be there. I guess this is my ultimate nightmare in many ways. I used myself as a reference, then I used one of the guitar players from Dimmu Borgir as the reference for the guy in the closet! I just loved how he looked like in their band photos!)

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( This is me dreaming about new children’s stories. I’m not gonna go into detail, but you see the Snowman on the right looking happy for a change. I have several other characters I’ve created!)

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( This is a Thug God. My youngest brother Eric wanted me to draw a Buddha. Me being me though the Buddha ended up being a thug, rub it’s belly and you will be sucked into an endless pit, or I guess the greed for more will devour you. He is also holding a baseball bat. Try to take his gold and you are dead!)

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( I started a political zine with a friend of mine back in 2007. One of the articles I wrote was about the “Big Brother” state America was turning into due to the increase in surveillance cameras everywhere. Freedom was lost in my opinion and it was only going to get worse. During that period I sketched a whole bunch of spy-robots, in 2013 I went back and turned these ideas into something tangible.)

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( My socialist grandfather with a deep fascination for everything Russian, brought me this chessboard. It’s Russian and I used it as a reference during art class. The picture is fittingly called “Russian Revolution”.)

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( Not my best, but the idea is cool. This is again inspired by the “Big Bother” society we live in. When I made these sketches I had still not discovered 1984! This picture is supposed to represent cloning. I guess it could look like I was inspired by “Brave New World”!)

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( I have no idea what this is. I had no reference when drawing this. She is a lady about to get murdered. She is next but she doesn’t know.)

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( Another take on the spy-robot, that will get to you no matter where you are! Nowhere is safe I tell you! This robot is pretty much alive, it’s an organic robot I guess you can say! It’s one of my favourite pictures.)

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(And this ladies and gentlemen is Lady Justice in all her might! This was one of the illustrations I started my MySpace page with! The illustration for ” If The Dead Ones Could Talk” a song inspired by Chicago mobsters. It’s suppose to symbolise corruption needles to say!)

Here is my explanation for the two “self-portraits” at the beginning of this entry! It seemed a bit confusing to let it be where it was originally!

( I’ve always enjoyed making “self-portraits” that are based around an object I own or how I feel inside. The dragon represents my fire, passion and drive. I made it back in 2004 as part of a school project, I grew very fond of the picture even though its old and made by a child. The picture below was made a year later as part of an art school application. I was supposed to draw my shoes. I thought this sounded very boring and uninteresting until an artist I knew told me ” it’s a great challenge, it’s not about the shoes really, it’s about how you see the shoes”. Brilliant advice! I immediately drew the shoes to represent me, therefore I see the picture as more than just the picture of shoes. Like the one above it’s a self portrait. Maybe the coolest self portraits are the ones without the “self” present).