Have I Been Doing It Backwards?
Over the past 5 years I’ve been arranging all my songs using MIDI. And the goal was to grow it enough to be able to hire a full orchestra. With that, we could finally all leverage that for the ultimate goal: getting enough support for live performances in orchestra halls.
But we never got there.
I’ve tried everything, even so recently as hiring dancers to branch out the idea, but it didn’t work out as I planned.
Then last week it hit me: rather than writing orchestra music from the start, I should be growing into it.
Meaning, I should start small - string quartets - and slowly grow that over time. Maybe adding 1 or 2 musicians every few weeks as the idea grew (if it does at all).
So that’s what I’ll be doing for now on. So now “ForOrchestra” isn’t the weekly music you’ll hear, it will be the actual goal: to get the string quartets to be for orchestra!
It’s the dream. And dreams don’t die. Dreams are about telling stories, they’re about going on adventures, and they’re about bringing us together.
We have no time to worry about how we were doing it backwards, it’s time to look forward. Troops, to forward!
Why I’ve Been Depressed And Quiet
I could do an epic orchestra cover of Taylor Swift “Shake It Off” and make good money by riding the S.E.O. train - as outlined in my “Cover Sales vs. Original sales" blog post. But after the wave crashes then all I’m left with is a few dollars and a memory. I can never sell that sheet music, remix it again, release stems, or claim it as my own. I never went to school to be a cover artist.
Back in 2007 I had one of the biggest Youtube channels in the world at 25,000 subscribers. 25,000 subscribers was unheard of back then, crazy - right? But I wasn’t happy because after 400 music lesson episodes I didn’t want to be a guitar instructor - my passion was always with the orchestra.
So I pivoted and started ‘ForOrchestra’ by releasing a few originals but on week 5 I released my 2nd cover song: Lady Gaga ‘Poker Face’. It went viral and was even featured on Perez Hilton, so it hit me - only do covers!
Fast forward to 2014 and my income has dwindled, mainly because I can’t do anything with my arrangements. Sure, I can sell them on iTunes for a $0.50 on each $1 sale but how is that happiness? How is that even remotely what I ever wanted 6 years ago?
It’s not. It’s not what I want. And it’s not what you deserve. I want to have the freedom to sell you sheet music so tomorrow’s children can learn violin, release the stems, have Spotify listening parties, grow the orchestra’s live performances, do music giveaways, and so much more with you.
But I can’t. I’m a prisoner at the hands of the publishers. But it’s not their fault because I dug my own grave knowing which copyrights I had to follow before each song release.
I even wanted to do a treasure hunt recently - where I split a song into 10 pieces and hid each one on a different corner of the internet. Then YOU would have to find them and combine the music.
Basically, virtually anything else other than what I’m doing right now is exactly what I want to do going forward.
So I think ForOrchestra has to change, and fast. It was fine when I had a few dozen songs, but now that I’m at 200 it seems that every week I face the same story and imprisonment of working with other people’s property. Cease and desist letters, royalties, DMCA counter claims, and worse of all: a creative exodus to do what I want with my music.
The past 6 months haven’t been good. I was creatively empty and going down a road that I didn’t want to go down. When I get older I don’t want to be a 50 year old cover artist. I have 5 cover songs that I’m uploading this week, and then after that I’m done with it.
I have so many original songs that are 10x better than any cover song I’ve written. the issue is that my covers sell 10x as much as my originals. But I’m just going to do it - spearhead it.
TL;DR: All originals from here on out.
ForOrchestra T-Shirt Holiday Sale
Change my Tumblr name from @ForOrchestra to @WaltRibeiro?
On more than one occasion people have been unable to find me, and now that I’m starting to branch out onto other things (other than ONLY orchestra music) I’m considering this very strongly.
My concern is that it breaks my brand (my Youtube, Twitter, etc. are @ForOrchestra ).
For example, Tumblr people tell me “I didn’t realize it was your music across my dashboard. I’d have known if I saw @WaltRibeiro instead of @ForOrchestra though”.
So, the @ForOrchestra alias was started because my music lessons from 2006-2010 were made under my @WaltRibeiro alias. Separating them was the right decision, but I knew I’d face this concern in the future if my orchestra ever grew, which it has.
In a perfect world I would:
1.) make @WaltRibeiro my main orchestra/music site
2.) retire @ForOrchestra
3.) move my music lessons to @WaltRibeiroLessons or something