Today I turn 50! On this episode I’m reflecting on how all the choices, experiences, trials and triumphs have led to where I am today as a musician, a business owner, an educator and influencer and as a person. Join me for a retrospective and a look forward to another decade as a woman in music.
When I was reflecting about going on 50, I found this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt about, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Truthfully, the only one that can tell me what I think or feel about being 50 is me. At this point in my life, there are a lot of things that are set up the way I want them to be. There are still a lot more to do, things that can still be better, or things that don’t happen the way I want them to such as health-related things. Overall, this is one of the better spots I’ve been throughout my life. Like other musicians who are also turning 50 this year — Beth Hart, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, Billy Joe Armstrong of Greenday and Eminem — I’m not over the hill and out of the game. I also feel that I have to grow into the audience that I’ve been attracting over the year. More than half of the amazing ladies in the Female Musician Academy are over 50 years old. I also attract older gentlemen and other people who are retiring and moving in to their second career or wanting to start something on the side as they wind down their career. Now, I feel that I am more in line with the audience I’ve been attracting all along.
I wanted to reflect on some of the things I’ve been able to do over the last half a century. This helps me see that all the experiences I’ve had — whether good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable — it all has helped to where I ended up. It’s helped build my character up. It’s allowed me to help other people because I could understand them and what they are going through. It’s hard to see it in the moment, but I am thankful for all the struggles.
The major thing is of course, I was involved with music for years, and I also went to a college that has given me a really good music education. They didn’t really teach me about business in the music department. I became an amazing musician because of it. Going to a liberal arts college, also allowed me to learn to think critically. It also allowed me to figure out that I love business. You also don’t know what the college you go to does to you about your trajectory. You don’t know if you’ll meet your spouse there which I did.
It also helps that I’ve been young and poor, living on my husband’s stipend from his fellowship. I was working a minimum wage job back then. Having experienced a time in your life that you had to eat soup all the time or your husband had to cut your hair because you couldn’t afford to get a haircut. I do not wish to relive it but it’s a good experience because it makes you appreciate what you do have.
Being overqualified for my job, or not being fulfilled with my job allowed me to understand what some people I am working with may be going through. Doing music on the side got me through that day job. When I worked in corporate, the job really stretched me and gave me a lot of responsibility. It put me in the executive team and worked in a capacity that I never had before. While I got a lot of experiences and I worked in the opera which was around music, it showed me that it was not my ideal situation. It led to burnout and I found it difficult to balance with having kids. That experience was cool and I’m glad I can look back and say, that’s interesting but it’s not something that I want to do again.
Becoming a mom did not come naturally to me. I felt I can adapt to work demands better than adapting to being a mom. I wasn’t naturally drawn towards kids. I had to stretch myself in becoming a mom. At the same time, I had an auto-immune disease during my 30s while I was also coping with being a mom. Being in the hospital for 13 days allowed me to have that Come to Jesus moment, where I realized what I wanted to focus on with my music career. I am very thankful for the experience that that allowed me because that made me put in that focus and extra effort and urgency to make my music career happen. I’m thankful for the 10 years of struggle — while I was working, trying to do music on the side, all the bad band experiences — that allows me to have a conversation with you guys, understand what you’re going through. I can really speak from experience and help a lot of people. I honestly am very thankful for it because it gives me connection points, to be able to really understand what you’ve been through and what you’re going through.
I’m thankful that I didn’t always feel that I’m a songwriter but I did it anyway. I could have easily let that imposter syndrome set in. I wouldn’t have understood my students who are singer-songwriters if I hadn’t pushed myself in that way. If I didn’t build my music career from the ground up, that I didn’t have any kind of easy button or someone do everything for me, or I won’t be able to pass on my knowledge with other artists. Even before I was releasing music that I recorded in a studio, I was recording from home and I putting it at mp3.com. It allowed me to test things out and know what my audience like so I have a better idea of how to reach them. I’m glad I also went through that feeling of being a woman in the music industry in the mid to late 2000s. When I started Women of Substance in 2007, I started that from a hobby but also, I just wanted women to have more representation. I felt it was harder to get on venue rosters, harder to get press, harder to get radio play — all of that back then. I do think that has changed and I’m so thankful that I felt enough of a pain point there myself that I decided to build a platform around it. I think I’ve been able to empower so many female artists through that platform and still doing so today, all because I felt that little discomfort of being a woman, and that I did not have enough representation or that I have enough cover or understanding. I felt so mansplained to many times by a mentor. I wanted to become a mentor so I wouldn’t do that to anyone. I’m thankful for those experiences that would push me to create the platform that I created for women.
I’m also thankful for the last 7 years, I have build a full-on business that helps me support my family and allows me to once again get back into that role I was in before I was a mom. I was financially contributing in a significant way to our family. I’m glad I had experiences early on, as a major contributor to our finances and knowing what that is like to be respected in that way and to know that what I’m doing is helping people at the same time is more gratifying.
Let me go back to what I did with Women of Substance. Something that I did for years and years eventually morphed into this business I have today. When I was in highschool and even college, I used to make these mixed tapes. That’s what I would do in my spare time. I got a lot of recognition for that. People loved my mixed tapes. They asked me to bring it to trips or I would make them as gifts. I did it because it was a passion of mine and I loved it. Overtime, I realized that I have a talent for playlisting. That’s what it led me to Women of Substance from the beginning. I loved exposing people to music that they hadn’t heard. That was exciting to me.
One thing my 50 years has taught me is always look for clues of things that you love doing and things that you are good at and you may think that will not translate to having income. As you keep doing it, you realize that you’re good at it. Watch for those clues and it may lead you to what you really want to do. I just created those playlists so I can listen to them at work, but then it caught on and people started to listen. I thought of making it bigger and how can I break even so I can expand this, so that’s how it started. Then it morphed into what it is today. Then that morphed into me helping female indie artists. Then that morphed into me helping all kinds of indie artists and that’s what became my platform that I have today with Profitable Musician under which is this podcast, and the Profitable Musician Show and the Women of Substance Podcast, and all the other things we do such as the courses and summits and everything. It all came from this one thing I did as as hobby.
Look for clues in what you do. It may be a totally different hobby that is not related to music. You may figure out a way to merge it to your music. Do not limit yourself. The possibilities are endless. You may not see it right now but it could morph into something you could not even imagine.
Finally, one thing I realized over my 50 years, is that music is an intrical part of my soul. Everytime I tried to let it go, it pulled me back in. When I stopped resisting, amazing things have happened. I’m doing things I never thought I would be doing 10 years ago. Now, I’m influencing thousands of people. I’m helping thousands of students. I’m getting the opportunity to share my own music in a job at church which I’m getting paid for which I never thought I would love. Things will be growing and morphing and expanding even more in the next 10 years. Just always be looking for clues. Sometimes we can see them beforehand. Sometimes we only see them retrospectively. Here’s to the next decade and I don’t plan on stopping anything I’m doing anytime soon just because I’m 50. In fact I plan on expanding and doing even more to help all of you and to see all of you guys success in music.
Have a great day, April 28, 2022. I’m 50!