Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: tavonna miller

tavonna miller

Life After Berklee: Gunning It – An Ambitious, Female Musician Learning to Make Time for Self

For an independent musicians, the challenge is always to stay on top of the latest opportunity for marketing, promoting, and/or recording your music. Sometimes taking on that challenge comes at the cost of sacrificing both personal comforts and personal necessities like sleep and groceries. This often is my experience as a musicians and singer/songwriter. I experience times when there are lots of opportunities to take advantage of, but only the usual seeping financial flow as sustenance. In those times, unfortunately, the first things to be sacrificed for those opportunities are indeed sleep and groceries. Those stressful times are usually followed by times where there are fewer opportunities and my resources have a chance to replenish. It is during these times that I, personally, have a chance to regroup and recover as well! At this beginning part of my career and at the beginning parts of many artists’ careers, there seems to be little or no way around this cycle – the ebb and flow, the influxes of work/opportunities followed by dry spells.

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LAB: Life After Berklee – The Favor Trade: The Impact of Building a Team Out of Your Close Friends and Colleagues

The experience of going to Berklee blessed me with the priceless gift of having a group of friends who are immensely talented writers, musicians, engineers, and business minds. My album, “Peace, Love, & the Lack Thereof” that I released after graduating would have had quite a different sound without the thoughtful critiques I requested from some of those really talented friends.  I believe most artists DO naturally share their new work with close friends and family to get feedback towards the song or project completion, however, I found great benefit from creating an unofficial ‘team’ from the friends who were gifted in a lot of different aspects of the music business- including AND beyond the song. Making a team of some of the friends and colleagues you most respect is the best possible thing you can do for yourself as an artist next to hiring a consulting/artist development company. You’ll be hard-pressed to find strangers to advise you on a “starving musician’ budget like friends would for free or in exchange for the same type of favor- trusted friends are already invested in you outside of music and already want to see you succeed. If you help each other, you’ll both succeed together and THAT should be the mindset- yes, they are on your ‘team’, but in-return, you are also on theirs…or your ‘team’ will slowly disappear as the members lose motivation.

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Life After Berklee: The Night Shift-When your crowd is too small to crowd fund

In August 2010, I embarked on one of the biggest endeavors of my music career to date- recording my first album “Peace, Love, & the Lack Thereof”. After having graduated from Berklee and spending a year or so writing, polishing and perfecting songs for this album while in school, I felt ready to take on the challenge of getting them recorded utilizing some of the connections I had made. I walked away from graduation day armed with nearly perfect charts, polished songs, a crowd-funding campaign on FeedtheMuse, a well-maintained YouTube channel, a small following I had accrued from a year of playing locally, and a small promotional EP project I had recorded earlier in the summer. I was READY to get this album recorded, funded, released, and marketed to an interested audience right? Well sort of.

Wait, why didn’t you use KickStarter?

If you’re wondering why I didn’t choose a crowd-funding site that was more popular like Kickstarter, for example, I didn’t because I really didn’t feel confident that I could pull the amount of backers that I would need to have a successful campaign. You see, back in California where I’m from, I have been known primarily in the gospel music circles from my childhood into my teenage years. However, I branched out in my late teens to do different types of music including Opera and Jazz as I felt limited in my artistic expression within the Gospel music genre. My following, however, was primarily in the fundamentally Christian/Gospel circles and I wasn’t prepared for how they might respond to me asking them to fund a secular R&B/Soul album. My fears may have been unwarranted, but I didn’t want to find out. This project meant too much to me. This is why I chose FeedtheMuse as a more consistent fundraising method that allowed me to receive what I raised as I went, regardless of whether I had enough support to reach my project goal. I was able to take advantage of the support I DID have here in Boston.

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