The Story Behind the Blog

Several folks have asked me why I started the Creative Music Blog. Here’s the story.

Although my career as a freelance musician and educator has been successful in many ways, it was not financially sustainable. I was teaching saxophone lessons to earn a living, but my family was scraping by because I chose to invest considerable time and money into my book and recording projects. With a young daughter at home, I had to make a change.

I thought my only path to financial security was finding a full time teaching job. I went to graduate school as a step toward landing a college teaching position. Earlier this year I was selected as a finalist for my dream college teaching job and ultimately rejected. I was disheartened and frustrated. Trying to make my resume stand out in a pile of hundreds of applications seemed like a losing battle.

Then everything changed

Through Seth Godin’s freelancer’s course and Michael Port’s book Book Yourself Solid, I discovered short and long term strategies that have transformed the freelance work I love into a sustainable business.

I started teaching more group lessons and helping high school and middle school jazz programs launch combo programs. By serving more students, I’m able to earn more money and free up time to work on new projects.

This summer, my publisher introduced me to the concept of “content marketing.” Like most people, I hate spammy ads, sales pressure, annoying social media posts, and the idea of diluting my art to appeal to the masses. Content marketing appealed to me because it is rooted in authentic work, generosity, connecting people, and spreading ideas. If executed well, it can be a very effective business strategy.

I realized that I needed a platform to amplify my ideas. Thanks to the internet, anyone with access to a computer owns a media publishing company. There are no gatekeeperswe don’t need approval from a record label or publisher to share our work with the world. I decided to take the opportunity. (If you are interested in launching your own platform or blog, check out Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt.)

I launched this blog because I know many students, amateur musicians, and educators frustrated and overwhelmed in their pursuits of improvisation. This is an attempt to help break through barriers and connect a community of people who may feel isolated.

The process of reading, writing, and reflecting on music had an enormous impact on my music and teaching. It’s a privilege to communicate with a small audience who finds value in my articles.

Over time I can build trust with potential clients and customers through useful content, not advertising. I hope to develop new educational products to serve my audience as it grows, but my strategy will always be rooted in giving away material for free. If my material resonates with people and spreads organically, it can grow into a successful business.

So I have a favor to ask. If you find Creative Music Blog useful or interesting, tell a few friends about it.

Thanks for listening and spreading the word.

– ST

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