JUDE AND THE DUDE #MyMusicStory
#mymusicstory #creativeminds #growwithus
We’re sharing the music stories of industry veterans, aspiring young musicians and entrepreneurs to help others make informed decisions when shaping their own story. Jude Graham of ‘Jude and the Dude’ shares her story –
It’s never easy trying to make a living as a musician, but in Cumbria we have additional challenges to face. Jude Graham of acoustic band ‘Jude and the Dude’ tells us about music in a rural location:
Tucked into the North-West, just below Scotland, the county is the second largest in England with the smallest population distribution. We have a lot of distance to cover to get to anywhere or anyone else! The public transport system is dismal and fuel costs are high. In addition, we have a small but high mountain range (the Lake District) in the middle of our county that creates a real psychological split between north, south, east and west. Traditionally, our working class population didn’t travel far, an attitude still exists.
Cumbria has never been widely known for its music scene and original music is particularly scarce. There are some really talented original melodic artists here at the moment in whose music you can almost see, hear and smell the landscape in which it was created. I’m honoured to count my own group, ‘Jude and the Dude’, in that number.
When we started our music business in 2008, we were aware of our need to diversify. My partner Paul Deegan is a graduate of Perth College (Scotland). He had a good deal of professional experience touring with various line-ups before he came to live in Cumbria, not to mention being a talented songwriter, multi-instrumentalist/arranger and producer. I had worked locally with covers acts and in collaboration with a local composer, having tracks released on Cargo Music, but had not done much since the 1990s.
We began recording original tracks together in our home-based studio and Paul. He started working as coach, mentor and producer for two original female singer songwriters on the basis that any profit from sales would be shared. Soon we had other artists and instrumentalists joining us in the studio and a small collective emerged so that by 2013, we were running acoustic stages at prestigious local festivals, Carlisle Music City and Women Out West.
Paul and I have always been `enablers of others` and our work is based around the ethic of `music for all`. We went out of our way to make our services comfortable and accessible for female musicians and students, as we both had experienced the macho/sexist aspects of the music industry previously. Our home and studio was an open and friendly place.
Unfortunately, group dynamics became unhealthy, with people using our home for heavy drinking and other shenanigans, becoming unreliable in turning up for recording and gigs in a fit state. It all came to a head when I was successful in getting one of our artists heard by John Ravenhall (top UK producer) who expressed an interest in with recording her. Unfortunately, she responded with complete psychological collapse and inability to produce anything at all! She would turn up to the studio in her pyjamas and do nothing worthwhile. The other female songwriter had not been in the studio for months. After her sexual advances towards Paul had been re-buffed, it was time to call the whole sorry project to a halt. We learned that it takes more than raw talent to make a successful musical artist; it also takes focus and commitment.
In the meantime, Paul and I had been engaging in other moneymaking musical schemes. We ran a very lovely programme of reminiscence music therapy sessions in care homes and day centres. I was Jingly Jude The Singing Fairy at children’s events for a while and we recorded an album of original fairy songs for another local fairy impersonator. We set up and ran a community choir for 18 months
The problem with all these projects has been making them pay on a time/cost/hassle to income ratio. Music and musicians are particularly undervalued in Cumbria. There are still many venues, organisers and customers that expect musicians to do things for free. We too have been guilty of undervaluing ourselves in the past.
This year we have been concentrating on our own original music after deciding we had been spending too much of the past 7 years on other people’s. I have had a huge barrier to overcome in terms of live work due to acute performance anxiety. I realised that to overcome this problem, I just had to perform as much as possible until I started feeling more confident. I got a busking licence for a local tourist town last December. The weather was atrocious, keeping the punters indoors and me soaked to the skin and struggling with frozen fingers!
After Christmas, I had a brainwave and started an Indoor Busking Scheme. I formed a Facebook group and promoted the scheme to acoustic musicians and local cafes. The scheme was more popular with the musos than the venues but we managed to put on several programmes of high quality music, featuring musicians of all ages and musical styles and giving me the opportunity I needed to develop my performance skills. The scheme did not continue beyond Easter when the weather got warmer but it proved very useful in establishing myself as an independent, active musician amongst the local musical community and enabled me to organise line-ups and take part in various charity events over the summer.
I’m pleased to report that ‘Jude and the Dude’ is now an established live act and being invited to play proper paid gigs! It may be such a basic thing to some, but a huge achievement for me.
After our previous experience our studio has been successfully re-located to a separate address so we can have a healthy separation between our work and personal space. This taken some time to arrange, but we are all set up and looking forward to transforming our new original material into an album over the winter months.
The reasons we have been able to keep going with our little music business for so long and after so many false starts, are many and varied. We are tenacious people; we are stoical in our tolerance of poverty and debt. We both absolutely LOVE music and enjoy creating it, for ourselves and for the joy it brings to others. I do other casual work to boost our family income. However, we have also taken advantage of grant funding that is still available for musicians if you know where to look for it.
We happen to live in an area defined as `socially deprived` and have benefited greatly from a business support agency called Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC) who have provided business training, support, advice, sign-posting, loans and small grants. I’ve been able to access a range of free local training in social media marketing and BEC has funded me to undertake the Independent Music Industry On-Line Music Marketing Course, which I would highly recommend to any serious music professional; it is up-to-date, comprehensive and easy to follow and excellent value at around £80.
My next steps are to build ‘Jude and the Dude’ website and join the UK royalty collection organisations, which BEC is also funding.
Listen to Jude and the Dude’s music here.
And look out for them on the festival scene next year!
For more information on how to find grants and support check out the following links:
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