Starting Over: The Journey from Sickness to Blue Beach Songs of My Life
As you may know from reading my posts, I embarked on a journey of making my songs public a year ago, but you don’t know why.
I’ll get back to the why in a moment.
First, I needed to decide whether or not my songs were worth sharing… would someone actually want to hear them? Although I have been singing and writing songs on my guitar since I was six years old, I am as far from a professional singer-songwriter as you can get.
My career path has included being a public relations account executive, a college/university director and assistant dean, and even a high school teacher.
Although the teaching began as a fluke detour, a favor to a former teacher of mine, I really fell in love with teaching and with my kids. It also gave me the time to get a Master’s degree.
After five years of teaching, however, I left to return to the real world of university administration, in part because teachers make very little money and I had student loans for a graduate degree to pay back.
A few years into what would be my last high-powered university job, I began to experience a series of symptoms and excruciating pain that took my doctors more than a year to diagnose as a severe case of fibromyalgia and left me barely functional and unable to return to work.
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that they say I will have for the rest of my life, but around which I can learn to manage my life. Although, five years later, I still have no control over when the pains and symptoms will run me over like a freight train, I am learning to avoid the triggers and factors that can exacerbate the symptoms.
Let me take a moment here to note that this is the first time that I have mentioned in my blog that I have fibromyalgia. I wrote a blog post about the condition, Fibromyalgia: What Is It?, without ever revealing I had it. It is something that I have kept private and quiet, as I come to accept it as part of my new reality. I suppose someday I will write about it in greater detail, in the hopes of helping someone else, but not today… not in this blog post.
Suffice it to say that I had to re-invent myself. I had to look at my skill set, my hobbies, my interests, and figure out a way to make a living from home. So, I made a list of intangible assets, which included my computer skills, multimedia and graphic design skills, experience in marketing and public relations, my creativity, my writing skills, my photography, and my song-writing. It was like making a soup, by looking in the fridge to see what you have and coming up with a recipe to fit.
Next, I began doing research on the Internet to educate myself about publishing my songs, about ways that I could make money from my photography and designs, and to find ways to promote and cross-promote what I determined I had to offer: my writing, my photography and designs, and my songs. The marketing mind kicked in, I wanted one name upon which to build a brand, that would help me cross-promote the three prongs – the written, the visual, the audio – that one name was: Blue Beach Song.
Fortunately for me, the Internet provides a plethora of marketing vehicles, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and countless other media (mediums) – all free and all accessible from home. Just what I needed.
After some comparative research, I chose WordPress – a free, customizable and easy to use blog hosting site – as the place to showcase my writings and give my ventures a voice. In fact, I created three blogs for the three prongs: Blue Beach Song, Blue Beach Song Creations and Blue Beach Song Music. Check!
Then I discovered Zazzle, a print-on-demand company through which I could create products with my photography and designs, allowing me to create a virtual shop with as many products as I could create, and framed photo prints to rival any photo gallery. The quality of the products and the printing is excellent, as is their customer service and generous return policy. These things were important for me to feel comfortable putting my name, photos and designs on their products and recommending them to others. Check!
As for my music, I found CreateSpace, an Amazon company that can publish my songs and albums as MP3s and CDs for free, providing the barcode numbers and sales through Amazon. In addition to publishing music, they publish books and e-books, as well, so, naturally, as a writer who is also working on a few books, I loved that CreateSpace can also publish a hard copy or e-version of my books, provide the ISBN numbers for free, and sell them through Amazon. Check! Check!
The next step was to assess what materials I had on hand, including photographs, designs, song recordings, equipment, hardware and software; assess what I absolutely needed to get started and get it or create it; and, finally, assess what would take my ventures to the next level and set some goals and plan for it.
The vast library of photographs I had taken on my many adventures through California, before I got sick, was a good start. After converting the photos to jpegs and adding a copyright notice to them, to protect my rights, they were ready to be uploaded to my Zazzle photo gallery and shop.
The hundreds of songs I had written over my lifetime were not ready for release. First, I had to make sure to protect my intellectual property through a formal copyright. So, I copyrighted my songs with the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office. It could not have been easier. I just needed to type up the lyrics and provide a recording of each of the songs, fill out the online application, pay $35, and presto! The moment you apply for copyright, your songs can be considered legally protected, even though it will take 6 months before you receive the formal certificate of copyright.
After I copyrighted my songs, I began reviewing my recordings, which I had done years ago on an antiquated 8-track digital recorder. I tried my hand at mixing and engineering a final version of those recordings. I didn’t yet have the energy or the health to re-record my songs, so, I had to use what I had recorded long ago.
These recordings were one-takes, often with my 12-string guitar barely tuned, mistakes and bad singing included. But, in truth, at the time, I was more focused on documenting the song’s melody and lyrics, than I was on the quality of the singing and recording. I never intended for anyone else to listen to those recordings.
Still, I decided, to publish the original song recordings. I didn’t have the money or health to formally record at a studio, and I didn’t know when I would, but I needed to fulfill my dream to publish my songs before I died, in spite of my bad singing and out-of-tune guitar playing! Perhaps one day, a real singer will want to record one of my songs or someone will want to buy them or use them in a movie, and if that ever happens it will only be because I finally took the chance and I published them. As Wayne Gretzky is quoted as saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”
Since I literally have hundreds of songs, which I wanted published as quickly and efficiently as possible, I decided to come up with simple and consistent titles and designs for the albums and to create a Blue Beach Song Collection, numbered ONE through however many albums it would take to publish all the songs, as a way of creating a published archive of my songs. (So, far, I have two albums out.)
The titles are virtually the same, ‘Blue Beach Song Collection: ONE | Songs of My Life by Martie Hevia,’ with only the number of the album changing in the title. The songs are randomly chosen and put into albums of 10 songs. The CDs have a consistent layout and design to tie them together as part of a collection, with only the cover photo and the theme color changing from album to album. And, if you want to purchase the albums, they are available on Amazon.
Eventually, I will release new recordings of my songs, in albums with a theme that ties the songs in that album together… but that’s down the road.
For now, my songs are what they are – rough, acoustic, one-takes – as you will hear. The lead and background vocals are all me; the bad guitar playing and rhythms are all me; the bad mixing and engineering are all me. I cannot blame anyone else, but me.
However, someday, I hope to re-record them properly, health and money permitting, doing as many takes as needed to get the singing and the guitar playing right, recorded on good equipment, with the thought in mind that others will be listening to them, and with the strong desire to produce a beautiful sound recording worth buying.
But, for now, if you can see your way past the mistakes, the bad recording quality, the bad singing, the bad guitar playing, then maybe you can discover the lyrics and the melody, which are little pieces of my soul, little snapshots in time… they are the Songs of My Life.
Blue Beach Song Collection Favorites
Songs of My Life by Martie Hevia
Songs of My Life by Martie Hevia
Martie Hevia (c) All Rights Reserved