The catylist of a dream

After writing two different blog series about the church, an idea took root. Over the last couple of months, what was once just a dream, became an idea. That idea is turning into a reality.

I have a quirk. I'm not really interested in my own success. I derive more personal satisfaction helping others be successful than I do in my own personal victories. So I envisioned an organization where I could support artists in my community and be the catalyst for their success.

In helping others achieve artistic success, I recognize that many have hurdles too high to jump over. Walls that some might consider unbreakable. Roadblocks that might as well be dead ends. Those challenges may be a creative slump, writer's block, a muse that no longer speaks. It could be fear of failure, performance anxiety, stage fright. It could be time management - conflicting schedules and priorities. Then there are things that can't be done alone. That no matter how talented an individual might be there are occasions where they need a partner, a resource, guidance, support.

All these holes within the artistic community. Places where people need help. Over the past couple months, that idea has become an deafening roar. I can help.

I can be that person. I could be the hub in the center of the wheel that connects the individual spokes to the others. I could be the underwater ridge joining the islands of an archipelago.

Several years ago, my buddy Steve and I took a road trip from Boise to Seattle for an independent musician's conference. The conference was held at the EMP with appearances from bigwigs from Sub Pop and The Seattle Weekly. The highlight (and the reason Steve and I drove there and back) was to do a Q&A session with some really cool people. One was an A&R person from a local music label, another was an editor for an indie magazine. But the third person on the panel was the one I was most excited to meet and talk to: Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America. If you don't remember PUSA, chances are you were not alive during the mid-90s. (Millions of peaches, peaches for free. Anyone? Anyone???)

Beside the point, I'm getting side tracked.

The Q&A was set up for the panelists to listen to short clips from submitted demo tapes from the bands and musicians that attended; Steve and I had submitted the demo that Steve's band had just finished. After listening to about 20-30 seconds of a song (sometimes two songs), one of the panelists would ask the people that submitted the demo, "What do you want to do next?" Answers ranged from recording a better demo, to wanting a record deal, to building a fan base. Questions arose about how to self promote, how to find studio musicians for a backing band, and copyright issues. Steve and I asked what we needed to do to get noticed outside of Boise. Chris gave us wise advice: "if you can't make it in Boise, you won't be able to make it anywhere else." The last ten years has seen revolutionary changes for musicians. Websites like ReverbNation, Band Camp, and NoiseTrade have created outlets for indie artists to get their songs in front of new listeners with out the assistance of major labels. Crowdfunding has created avenues for artists to finance their projects that didn't exist a few years ago. These changes have made it easier in some respects, but at the same time it's made it harder to be an independent artist. Despite the changes with in the music industry over the past decade, the advice that Chris Ballew and other industry insiders gave to that crowded room at the EMP are just as true today as it was then.

Looking back, that weekend was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had. I learned more in those few hours than I could have anticipated.

The question asked of us is vital to the life of an artist - whether it's a musician or a photographer, a writer or a filmmaker. A woodworker or a painter. The question that must be asked is this: what's next?

What do you want to do?
What do you want to accomplish?
What is your dream?
What is your next step?

For some, these questions might be too big to answer - or at least too big to answer out loud. But, wherever the artist is in their journey - from the kid strumming their first power chords on a $150 guitar in their parent's basement, to the actress taking a bow after the closing night's performance, everyone has a dream. But not everyone knows how to take that step.

I could help people find that next step and help them take it.

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