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Wellbeing on Your Journey to 'Success' - AmericanaFestUK Highlights

Rev Sekou performing at Americana Fest UK
How do you define your own meaning of success, and how can you develop the emotional resilience necessary to sustain a career in the music industry? AmericanaFestUK, run by the Americana Music Association UK and supported by the Musicians’ Union (MU), looked at exactly that in a panel led by Help Musicians UK. Here are some of the highlights…
 
Success may be defined in lots of different ways.
 
For artist Ruarri Joseph (a.k.a. William the Conqueror), success is an evolving concept, starting with visions of shelves heaving with awards and houses with swimming pools when you’re a kid before you go out into the real wold and that vision of success changes. “Focusing on the music, the art and the creativity, that’s what success means to me now,” Joseph adds. 
 
Artist, activist and author Rev Sekou takes a different approach. “The ways in which we conceive success have to recognise the people who made that music”, he says, elaborating on a concept of success based on integrity, hope and joy. For Rev Sekou, these are the roots of Americana.
 
Staying motivated can be tough.
 
“Artists do not exist outside of history” says Rev Sekou. For him, motivation comes from looking at how he can use his performance and role as an artist to create the possibility of a new world, and to offer hope.
 
“There’s nothing wrong with saying it’s hard graft,” adds journalist and author Laura Barton, encouraging artists to claim their successes as their own and not attribute them to luck.
 
Women do face specific challenges.
 
Barton highlights the number of women in festival line-ups, and the “tiny” number of female voices in key industry roles as big challenges. Her experiences of sexism include being mistaken for a groupie as a young reporter.
 
Artist Lucy Kitt spoke about the opportunities out there for older women. She gave the example of Seasick Steve and challenged the audience to think of female artists who developed a sustainable career in music in their 60s.
 
It’s important to build your resilience…
 
“One of the greatest things you can learn to do is take care of yourself,” advises Barton. Musicians take care of their instruments and gear, she elaborates, but they need to take care of themselves too – whether that’s through exercise, social responsibility or finding other ways of feeding your brain, such as reading.
 
… And protect your rights as a musician.
 
“Everybody’s family until it’s time to pay the bills” says Rev Sekou, “Never give away more than 30% of your royalties. Own your publishing. Own your masters. Own your rights to licensing… keep as much to yourself as possible.” Don’t sign contracts with agents or managers until they have proven something to show what they can do for you and never sign a 360 deal, he adds.
 
Do you have questions about a contract, royalties, licensing or a record deal you’ve been offered? Get in touch with your MU Regional Office for expert advice – including our Contract Advisory Service.
 
Find out more about Help Musicians UK and the services they provide via helpmusicians.org.uk
 
Learn more about the Americana Music Association UK via theamauk.org
 
Like what you read? Keep up to date with the latest from the MU on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
 

Photo: Rev Sekou performing at the AmericanaFestUK Showcase, photographed by Joanna Dudderidge on behalf of the Musicians’ Union. 


Published: 06/02/2018
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