Sunday, September 27, 2009

Deep thoughts on my music career

I went down to San Jose last week to do an interview and performance on the NBC Bay Area show Press:Here. The host, Scott McGrew was awesome for making the whole thing happen. The piece aired on TV this morning (its also available on the web here) and one of the interviewers also wrote about it for TechCrunch.

The interview went by so fast, and there was such much I wanted to say that I didn't get in because I was so flustered. Thankfully, that's what blogs are for: a chance to elaborate. Here are some of the questions I was asked, and how I would have liked to answer them if I had had my wits about me and an hour instead of a few minutes.

Thank you Scott McGrew and everyone at Press: Here TV and thank you Sarah Lacy for the follow up story. These things really help, they really do.


----
Do you feel like you've sold out in licensing your music?

Nope. Basically I think "selling out" is when you compromise your creative ideals in exchange for money. I have never done that, so I don't think I'm selling out.

I've been lucky that the companies who've wanted to use my music are selling things that I approve of, like Apple, Specialized Bikes, and Herman Miller. Second, in every single case, I didn't solicit them. The people making the commercials found me and asked if they could use my already existing music, or if I could tweak something to fit. Thankfully I haven't had a situation yet where I've had moral problems with the company (i.e. Exxon).

The film work I've done has been custom in that I've had to write to the movie. But I don't feel like I'm selling out there either. Directors ask me to write for their films because they want a certain style that I presumably have. I would never compose anything out of character. Its all MY music and I think its recognizable as such. If someone approached me wanting me to write a score of salsa music, well, I'd turn them down...because I don't write salsa music.


How did you get 1 million followers on Twitter?

I've been very upfront about this. I've written about it, the SF Chronicle and Billboard magazine have written about it: I am on the Twitter Suggested User List! I don't know how I got there, or how (or if) I deserve it...but of course its incredible and I'm grateful and I should probably give Twitter a cut of my income if it makes me a lot more money than normal (I don't know yet if that is the case).

I will say however that I don't think this all this is a big deal. I honestly don't believe that 1 million people are listening to everything I say. I use Twitter to talk to whatever subset of that million is my friends, fans and potential fans.

What is great about Twitter is that, like I said in the interview, it allows me to be myself to as many people as possible. Me and my music are the same thing and I've always had this stubborn, egotistical belief that if I just had a chance to get the real me across....people would be interested. The belief that what I'm doing is worthwhile, even if no one hears it, has sustained me through a lot of rejections and hard times.

I doubt my current career would be possible without the internet. Thanks to social networks I can have what feels like a direct relationship with an increasingly vast audience. There is no middleman.


If a label approached you with a huge record contract, would you take it?

No. There are so many reasons....

I can't help noticing that most of the signed musicians I've known are broke or struggling. Those on small labels keep their day jobs. Mid-level bands, they run through their advance quickly and then they make a living by touring constantly so that they can sell t-shirts. It will be several millennia before the amount they owe the record label is recouped out of the band's royalty, and they don't own the recordings. New music/modern classical artists seem to sustain themselves with teaching and maybe performing as they get more well known.

Then there are the bands I know who've been dropped as soon as their sales dip. I know bands who've been majorly screwed by this: they recorded followup albums that never saw the light of day, or had nervous breakdowns. A basic financial decision to a company can feel like a matter of life or death to an artist.

So I've just watched all this and since I'm realistic that my brand of instrumental cello music is never going to go platinum anyway, I might as well save myself some suffering, release it myself and keep all the money.

I didn't always think this way. I used to feel like landing a recording contract was like a "stamp of approval" and I wanted that approval. Back when I was starting out my solo career, Myspace didn't exist yet. The standard wisdom was that the way to success was to build a local following and strive to get the attention of a record label. I spent some time and energy sending my music unsolicited to record labels, agents and managers that I thought would be a good fit for me. Of course I didn't hear back from most of them. I did hear back from two labels that were kind enough to reply. They both said that I didn't fit with the other artists on their roster.

Since then, I've had industry executives tell me very respectfully the following things: my music is interesting but not marketable; my music can't be sold because it doesn't have words & it lacks a single, simple melody for people to latch onto; and I am not young/not sexy enough/too nerdy. I've had classical industry people tell me that my music is too pop. I've had pop industry people tell me my music is too classical. And by the way, what category am I in and can I name any similar artists? The music industry seems entirely focused on releasing albums that are similar to albums that have sold before.

Very quickly, it became clear that I would never fit on any label without serious compromise....so I stopped trying. I didn't bother to hire someone to craft a "story" that would fit me into a neat little bucket. I just focused on playing music and selling my CDs at shows and on my website, and on Amazon, CDBaby, iTunes, Rhapsody, etc.

I'm not trashing record labels. They perform a useful service for many artists. But I don't think the model works for me. I think of recording contracts as very, very expensive bank loans. In the future, if I need extra money to make an album, I'm more likely to try and raise it by appealing to my fans.

Because there aren't very many mouths to feed, I don't feel any pressure to continually be selling more, more, more. I have never done an ounce of official marketing or publicity. I make enough to pay the mortgage, the bills, go out to dinner and a movie every now and then, go on vacation and save money for the future. I'm not rich, my car is old, but I have enough to live well and not be continually worried about money. That's really all I want. I want to exist and keep making more music. I'm in this for the long haul. Slow and steady is fine by me.



How do you make a living?

I realized that I should probably know the exact percentage breakdown of my finances before I answer questions on television. I just went and looked up all my tax returns, looking from Dec 2005 when I released my Natoma album until today. Averaged over that almost 4 year period, roughly speaking, digital sales have totaled 40% my income. Of the remaining 60%, maybe a quarter of that is physical sales and the other 3/4 is licensing, commissions, performance fees, grants, and royalties. That's all 4 years together. This year physical sales and performance fees are much less because I've spent most of the year in the studio and not performing (that's the deal... if you're out there performing, you sell music, but then you can't write music). But digital sales and licensing has been much higher and made up for it. This year has been my best year ever, I'm guessing because of my internet presence.

I'm optimistic about the future. However, the entire situation is constantly changing and I know I can't keep all my eggs in one basket. So if by this time next year everyone has migrated to subscription music services, I'd better find a substitute for the digital chunk of my income. I don't want to start selling T-shirts, which I've resisted to date. I do know it helps when people know that by purchasing my music they are supporting me directly, that each CD sold is a vote for me to continue as an artist.



Phew! That's it!

I'd love to hear your comments about all of the above!

46 Comments:

Blogger The Distant One said...

Howdy, Zoë!

I think your post is interesting, and insightful, but really, not very surprising to me, especially the parts about your past dealing with record labels.

The recording industry is very conservative, largely dishonest, and primarily concerned with $$$, not beauty or music. I think you're probably much better off for not fitting into their mold.

An interesting question from my perspective, with an upcoming record, is this: Do you prefer that people buy CDs or downloads? Which one is more profitable for you? I prefer to buy CDs of artists I really like, and also because it gives me a physical backup of the files I'll eventually spend most of my time listening to (and they do sound better than mp3, as well), I like the artwork, they can be loaned to people, etc. That said, it defeats the purpose of support if you don't make much on them.

Blogger Iggy said...

Interesting, I've never really heard it that way from an independent musician before. Everyone I work with has some sort of major record deal (and thus can afford to hire us to put up shows, so they can sell t-shirts!).

But yeah you're right, the music industry is just that, an industry. And very dominated by capitalism. In a way there's a breach between the people that make music and will gladly make a living out of it (like you) and people that make a living purely through selling music (record label execs).

You know you chose a path that may not seem as easy, but in the end you're absolutely right, you decide what to do with your music, you don't owe every penny you make to anyone else, and you don't have to deal with the stupid politics!

Cheers!

Blogger Jake said...

I can attest to being one of your 1 million followers on twitter... in fact you last tweet would be why I found your blog. It's true that we have no idea who you are (I knew you were a cellist). What is not true is that we aren't listening. In fact you seem to tweet a lot about how no one is listening to you tweet. I do enjoy reading what you write... even if I have little context to put it in.

Blogger rda said...

Hey - good stuff, that in your nothingness, you stuff nothing into it but your glorious music, you in all your notes, and nothing contrived... Authenticity - in this day is priceless...

You are interesting. The record labels would destroy that.

I have to admit I don't follow you on twitter...

Rick

Blogger Victor said...

Thank you for this.

It's important for others to read about the reality of a real working artist and not to make conclusions after reading the Techcrunch piece that just because you have a million Twitter followers you have sold out some how.

Your success; in my humble opinion, is in direct proportion to what resonates out of your Cello and into our imaginations as we listen to your music.

Blogger Luke said...

Great blog Zoe- thanks for the read.

Its great to know that it is still possible to live reasonably on the back of being a talented musician, without having to be a commercial suck up or compromise the music you make.

I discovered your music as a fan of Amanda Palmer, and I've heard a lot about her troubles with Roadrunner, and the financial problems she's had as a result of a poorly backed record deal. I guess I'm just glad you're able to avoid that!

Side note, I'd totally buy a T-shirt, Zoe dreadlocks flying.

Blogger Christopher said...

The interview was great and I do think that you got all of this across.

It is a weird time right now to make a living as an artist. I think the model is broken and changing in most of the artistic fields. Two types of people are going to survive it.

Those that are already huge and demand major attention from the media and from media companies.

Those who can think outside the box that is currently crushing so many artists.

In a perfect world talent would win out but it isn't perfect and no matter how talented you are it is going to be the tenacious who survive.

Thank you for being tenacious. Thank you for making inspiring music. You are now one of my goals. I will improve my writing. I will be tenacious because I can't wait to dedicate my book to all of the wonderful people whose art moved me to be better :)

Blogger Cran Berry said...

I love your music and love the fact that it does not come through the filter of the music industry. That filter can be helpful to artists who do not have a strong musical identity and are better off being shaped by other professionals (Britney Spears) and harmless for those with enough long term success to call their own shots (Barbra Streisand). But even huge acts like Pearl Jam have found it stifling and the Internet may be rendering the old industry models obsolete anyway. Keep doing what you need and want to do, and I for one will keep listening. And buying!

Blogger Jerry said...

If you ever need to raise money to put together another album, I'm sure your fans (myself enthusiastically included) would be quite happy to pre-buy the album to front you enough money for the expenses. All you need to do is ask.

I listen to your music at least once a week, along with the likes of Ehren Starks, Jami Sieber, and Claire Fitch - That's my "Zen Cello" playlist, which is background music for when I'm writing - and so I'm definitely waiting hungrily for more music from you.

I'm very happy that you've found your niche and can make it doing what you love to do.

That is awesome!

With much love,

Your Fan Jerry in Chicago

Blogger Tinker said...

So pragmatic and smart. I found you after you toured with Melora and I saw a link to your work from her site.

You're so modest in person. You know you got it going on but do you realize how bright you are to come to all the realizations in this blog post. So many people never get it and keep hitting their heads against the wall.

Blogger wenbv said...

I saw the interview off of the Techcrunch article and I think your answers were fine... A TV interview like that is not really conducive to your more insightful elaboration here on your blog. To tell you the truth I'd never heard of you until today and have subsequently listened to several of your compositions this morning on youtube and elsewhere. Very nice sound. What software do you use primarily for looping?

Blogger zoecello said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback. I'll try to answer some of the questions...

The Distant One asked, CD or download?
I keep the most money from CDs sold off my website via Paypal. iTunes or Amazon mp3s, I make about 2/3 what I do from a physical copy.

whenbv asked, what software do I use for looping?
I use a combination of Ableton Live and Sooperlooper

Anonymous Daniel said...

Zoe,
Thanks for the info on which format to buy, I'll buy a CD from your site later today. And about the Not young/Sexy/too nerdy. Please, young is overrated, nerdy is the new black, and black is always sexy. Keep up the great work.

Blogger Israel C. Evans said...

Excellent interview! Thanks to the internet, social networks and sites like boingboing, I been led to the wonder that is your music and I am happy to be part of your zombie army, an additional vertebra in your ever lengthening tail, and a fan who follows your tweets, posts and all that rot.
Anyway. Keep it up, I love the music. It's bliss and I'll gladly buy from you when I'm increasingly turned off of buying music from the more predatory labels and orgs (RIAA...). The more music I can buy directly from the artists and avoid supporting those nasty beasties, the better.

Thanks!
Cheers,
Israel

Anonymous radionowhere said...

Hey Zoe - great to see you getting some more "mainstream" media love.

Wouldn't be surprised if the number of people who heard that you'd been on the show through Twitter and your blog turned out to be exponentially greater than the number of people who actually watched the show when it aired - which would be kind of another interesting point about the nature of the Internet fame that you've earned and what it "means" in today's media world. Pretty cool.

One unrelated indie music geek question: would you be amenable to sharing a rough percentage breakdown of your digital revenue per service (Amazon, iTunes, etc.), for all the other self-marketing/distributing musicians out there? If not, totally understand. Thanks again for all the stellar music!

~ Mike

Blogger John Kinsella said...

Zoe, don't kid yourself, you've got plenty of sexy! :)

The thought about music labels trying to fit you into one of their existing boxes is interesting...VCs I've pitched to in the past did the exact same thing: "Which product in the marketplace are you like?" I'm sure it'd be interesting to look for more parallels between the two...

Blogger The Distant One said...

Thanks for the reply.
That you get the most from CDs is kind of a surprise, given that the actual cost of a CD exceeds the costs of hosting and bandwidth by quite a lot per sale, I'd imagine.

That settles it for me, then, given that you get more, AND I get to have the object as well.

That's a pretty good Win-Win scenario, I think.

Blogger zoecello said...

Here's the scoop on digital downloads...

My mp3s are mostly sold on iTunes. There are other digital sellers, but iTunes pays the best.

The deal on iTunes is the same for everyone....Apple keeps 29% of every download. So, for a 99cent download, Apple sends 70cents to my distributor. Individuals can't put songs directly onto iTunes (or if they can, I can't, because I keep submitting my music, but I never hear anything back), they have to go through a digital distributor like TuneCore or CDBaby. I use CDBaby, because at the time, in 2006, they were the only option for independents. So CDBaby keeps 9% of that 70cents, so I get in the end 63cents.

To recap:
99 cent song
- 30 cents to Apple
- 7 cents to CDBaby
total = 63 cents to Zoe

I think that TuneCore is a much better deal than CDBaby and as soon as I can I intend to move my catalog over to them (they don't accept Classical yet). They charge a low annual fee per album and take NO percentage of downloads.

However, I hope eventually to be able to deal with Apple directly and not have to go through a gatekeeper.

Blogger RaquelAshlei said...

I'm a multidisciplinary artist...haven't spent much time composing my own music because I prefer to spend time moving to music.

After reading your most recent blog, it has given me another green light to move forward with my artistic vision and goals as a movement artist.

When I listen and dance/move to your music I see beauty, I hear beauty, it's lovely and you're an awesome person.

I don't follow you on twitter [I've resisted opening an account] but I do read your posts [so in a sense I am there]. So you are being heard; we are listening.

Just keep going forward, follow that intuition of yours and you'll be fine.

Thank you.

Blogger MMI said...

Thank you for sharing your story.

When an artist such as yourself gets rejected by industry people, it's not just an affront to you. It's insulting to your audience. "No single simple melody" ?!? Are we in kindergarten?!? I'm sure any of your fans are capable of hearing entire pieces in their heads. Galling.

Not young and sexy enough?!? Did these "experts" ever think that not all of us want to watch teenage boys and girls prancing around on stages? To music they didn't compose?

Nevermind that those of us over say (arbritrary and unfair, I know) 25 don't mind actually buying music.

Even more galling is that while they were rejecting you and insulting us, they were charging their time, the lunch, the drinks, whatever to the A&R budget which is funded by other signed artists.

Thankfully it's not all bad.

It might not have been the road you envisioned but from the outside it looks like it's worked out pretty well for you. I am but an old-fart-hobbyist musician and I find you inspiring. If I think about the profound effect you must be having on younger artists that we have yet to hear about it's hard not to be optimistic about the future.

Anonymous Bert said...

... this is the age of unreason and reason only blurs a true talent like you. my son txt'd me the other day with a link to your podcast on radio lab... he knows I love the tech and I also just started playing the cello (just in time... turn 50 this year). I look forward to seeing a live performance.

Anonymous radionowhere said...

Zoe - thanks for sharing the info on your digital downloads. Real-world data on these things really helps other independent musicians make informed decisions; I think I'll be sending more fans to my iTunes page in the future.

Blogger Chet said...

Zoe, I just discovered you through the TechCrunch piece, and I'm instantly a fan! I love your music, and your method of making a living from it. I would very highly recommend to you that you go to www.techdirt.com and read everything that Michael Masnick has to say about the new state of the music industry, and most importantly, his articles about CwF+RtB (Connect with Fans + Reason to Buy). Your business model is a perfect match for what he is talking about, and I think that if you looked into some of his ideas about selling the 'scarce' facets of your business model, you could make quite a bit more money without selling out, and in the process, you'd be connecting with your fans on an even deeper level.

Look into it, I hope the advice works for you, and I wish you continued success!

Blogger Kate said...

After both Amanda Palmer and MC Frontalot tweeted about you in one day, I had to read your blog and start following you on twitter.

Good for you for creating your own path!

Blogger rda said...

Zoe,

I've arrived Kuwait today, and on Thursday embark for a place where your music makes a difference in my life. Your epic song, Fern, provides a space for me-it's in my head on takeoff, touchdown, and here, 3AM in the morning. Where I am beginning to tune up to the time zone here in the middle east.

The cello creates beauty, gets under my skin, and fills my abdomen with words. I am a musician and I played a stint for two years in Seattle with a cellist and a djembe(ist) - my music dealt with all sorts of issues, one poem in particular by Langston Hughes, I adapted to music - the cellist did things with this poem, accompanied by my guitar and voice, and the drummer where one could easily imagine the tree, the hanging, the crowd, the grief - it's an instrument that breathes...

Song for a Dark Girl

Way Down South in Dixie
(Break the heart of me)
They hung my black young lover
To a cross roads tree.

Way Down South in Dixie
(Bruised body high in air)
I asked the white Lord Jesus
What was the use of prayer.

Way Down South in Dixie
(Break the heart of me)
Love is a naked shadow
On a gnarled and naked tree.

I am moved by your music, your authenticity, it's priceless. I will prepay for any music project you embark on...

I have a son in Seattle in a band. They've just released their first album. They are doing it the hard way with lots of $ from a few dedicated parents, israfelmusic on myspace... I've sent him some of your replies - I've preached to my son not to sell out...

Anyways, authenticity, being human, adapting, is beautiful, intriguing and always far more sexy than focus groups producing music.

Rick

Blogger MissDebs said...

Hi Zoe,
A secret admission is I normally get your news, sigh that my location is not the US, stick your CD on the player and think no more about it (unless you happen to be supporting gigs in Brighton again!)

However, today was intriguing and I thought I'd mosey onto the blog and have a look around. I really love your light and open writing style. Of course the content's interesting, and it matches up with what I've seen of you, but everyone's commented on that, and it's lovely to see someone able to express themselves well in type, even if you did feel a nervous monkey on t' tele!

As for not being able to sing along to your music, I do. I sing, and dance, and sometimes play whichever instrument is handy along to it. Thanks for it. Looking forward to the new one!

Anonymous rubber universe said...

Looking back at your income. It doesn't include the licensing check we sent you that you still won't cash. :)

Most people who've listened to our CD usually say the best song on it is our transmogrification of "We Insist". I still listen to your material and with about half of it just want to put in drums, a bass and some electric lead guitar.

Anonymous Geo Seven said...

I think it is very important to the future of art as a whole that more people follow the example you are setting here. What was particularly striking was when you mentioned how the entire music industry is geared towards selling albums that are similar to other albums sold, well that is not just the case with the music industry but rather with any and all things that a corporation wishes to sell as a product. So yes, I'm very impressed and I hope more artists choose to use modern technology and the internet to maintain their creative freedom. The world is overdue a massive influx of original and creative ideas because lets face it, things have been rather bland for the past 20 years or so.

Looking forward to the new album! :)

Blogger zoecello said...

oh bother, already someone tried to post icky spam in a comment. deleted, but now I've turned on comment moderation....

Blogger theCrandallSter said...

I already looked up to you as an artist when I heard Legions the first time a year ago; but reading this made me look up to you as a person.

The recording industries are funny little entities. You would think such outdated models would simply crumble to dust. I guess they have their claws sunk into the system beyond reform, and will always be there to bother people who progressed beyond their silly dark ages charade.

There is nothing wrong with finding success in things you enjoy doing. It is even better that you are your own leader. Not many people can say that for themselves, no matter what their occupation is.

In my opinion, you are living the dream, and I hope it only gets better for you.

Someday I hope to, too :)
Ray

PS - Nerds are better

Anonymous Easi-Ear said...

Uncommonly good sounds are heard as soon as one logs on to your site; pity I lose them when I come her.

With increasing concern in the world over noise damaged hearing [frequent exposure to 80+dB], would you ever consider wearing custom-made musicians'monitors or attenuators during rehearsal and/or performance?

Interesting comments about Twitter - if it has helped you, why don't you "follow back" all the people who have been good enough to follow you? Carina K [singer in Florida} does and gets a lot of support.

Ian [aka @EasiEar on Twitter]

Blogger ubelong2matt said...

Zoe,

I found your music tonight after a friend on Facebook posted a video of you playing. I'm a fan of Apoloclyptica and I'm delighted to find another cellist who can make unique music. I think it's awesome that in this day and age, you can find an artist who is true to the music and not the popular vote. I think record labels are going to realize, very soon, that the viral market of the internet is where artists will gravitate. If you make good music and have a Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter account, you're pretty much going to be able to carry yourself.

People wouldn't follow you if they didn't want to read what you have to say. To be honest, I compare Twitter to stalking for the digital age. All 1.1 (almost 1.2) million people are stalking you. We're in your bushes!

Blogger dshep said...

Zoe, I follow you on twitter (username: novelsmithing), and I'm really impressed with this blog entry. What got me the most is when you said that "what I'm doing is worthwhile, even if no one hears it". I'm a writer, and I've also been rejected by major publishing houses because my work doesn't really fit a genre or what is now selling. So I've started publishing my own work. I sell some, but not a lot because I don't have a big marketing machine behind me. But at least I get to write what I love to write. My writing is who I am, and I spend all day actually thinking and writing about what matters most to me. And, yes, it doesn't really matter if no one reads it. I love what I do. You are an inspiration to many people in this world. And the world is changing. You are the change.
David Sheppard

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang!I read the whole thing about web/pay/pidgeon-holed mainstream music promoters etc.,and then felt compelled to comment how incredibly interesting this blog was so I went to the top of the page to sign in on this Dang!..incredibly interesting blog.....True Story...Anyway I am gonna hear me some Zoe very,very soon and I'm gonna like it.

Anonymous April said...

I recently came across your music when I downloaded "Quantum Cello" from Radio Lab. I was immediatly hooked on the second song that you played, the one that you had yet to give a title to. It was so beautiful and haunting that it keeps echoing in my mind even when I sleep.

I can really understand your view on not signing for a large record label. With music as beautiful as yours, I think that you should keep on doing whatever makes you happy and that will bring you the greatest success of all.

I look forward to buying any and all of you CDs that I can get my hands on. As well as seeing a live preformance.

Anonymous dennis said...

I just listened to the quantum chello podcast. I sat in my drive-way for several minutes listening to your improv piece, I didn't want to miss anything. Absolutely stunning. I somehow missed the beginning, when I realized the first track was made by one person I was thoroughly amazed and impressed.

I'll be buying your CD soon, so another vote to keep making music and stay independent.

Blogger Me case con la lluvia said...

Hi zoe Im Luis from Argentina south America. Im a lyric singer student and from a long time ago I was wondering what can I do with all the knowledge of ableton and academic music I know. And well just like a miracle I listen your work years ago. And then I could listen your album (thanks pay pal XD)
It is really inspiring what you do and I hope you came someday to our country to play your music (I hope in the Colon theatre ^^) .
I think that you are going to be part of the "contemparaneous music history" and i mean it. You are amazing & I hope you have even more sucess Zöe... :D

Any advice for an "avant singer" I will really apretiate it? ^^


Arrivederci! Chevediamo dopo!

Luis

Blogger Abbie said...

Your blog is totally "Incredibly Interesting." :)

I'm at a university, studying the entertainment industry and music business. When I was a kid, I wanted to work for a record label or a management company. I no longer want to be a part of the traditional music industry. (They keep saying that it's disappearing anyway.)

All I want to do now is figure out a way to help amazing, independent musicians like you. I'm way more interested in the art than the industry. Wonder where I'll end up...

Anyway, keep on keepin' on, slow and steady. I'm always looking forward to new music from Zoë Keating!!

Anonymous Andrew Ward said...

Hi Zoë,

I just found your blog and your music, and am listening to "Sun will set" as I write this. I love your originality and the soundscape you've created. As a former cellist, I also just love the sound of the cello, which also helps!

It's also really interesting to read about how you've created such an individual career for yourself. My wife's a professional violinist with little desire to follow the "standard" orchestral route, so it's inspiring to see how you've created a niche and a following doing what you love.

Wishing you much success!

Andrew
--
www.myliszt.com

Blogger sattmims said...

Hey Zoë! I learned the character code for putting the umlaut(?) above the e in your name.

It's been amazing hearing your music and I am happy to hear you're able to do what you want to do, earn your bread and butter, and expand and grow as a human and musician.

I for one went in search of your music on piratebay (mainly out of eagerness). Much to my surprise, I saw a personal post thanking me (and others) for interest in your music.

So, I closed piratebay and went to the site and ordered the album directly from you. It was more more enthralling anticipating the mail then it was watching a percentage meter crank away.

As the outlets online change, so do the ways we'll get music. But as I continue to hear, the *ahem* assholes that are i nbetween the artist and the exposure of their creations are being circumvented or cut out all together. =)

Anyway, I just wanted to pop by and say thank you for the beautiful music!

Sincerely,
Matt

Blogger Jeff said...

Thanks for sharing Zoe!

I just found out about you and your music, and if more artists modeled your attitude, there would definitely be less whining in the music world! I particularly like the long-term view you have. I already like you as a person, and I have barely heard your work!

Blogger Utenzil said...

Your thoughts about recouping a label's investment and a record contract being a "very expensive loan" are right on target.

Self-production is the smarter route for a musician who wants to make the music *they* like to make, and it is now possible to self-distribute on a global scale.

If the music you like to make happens to be the music other people want to hear or license, then you are golden.

If it doesn't happen that way, then at least you have enjoyed what you've been creating.

Also, I like the way you debunk the notion that music for commercials is somehow "selling out"-- as you say, you've already made the music, they want to use it, and you haven't had to do this for ads that promote some bunch of Vogons.

Anonymous Business Loans said...

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Anonymous Dave said...

Wonderful little interview/article. A very interesting read

Anonymous Mark said...

Who determines the sampling rate for mp3 and iTunes songs? Do you have any control over that?

Blogger zoecello said...

hey mark,
itunes decides the sampling rate. that's why i'm loving bandcamp...they allow higher quality. best! zoe

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