Before I head off to Berlin, I thought it would be cool to write a couple posts getting up to speed with what I have been doing for the past three months. In particular, this is with regards to some musical decisions I have made and why. While everything I put down here is based very much in my personal experience and is therefore admittedly, and unavoidably, one-sided, I do kind of hope that it will be of use to anyone back home who would like to test themselves artistically out in the big wide world. But such lofty aspirations aside, at the very least this should serve to put my next round of adventures, music and otherwise, into a bit of perspective.
So first up, a bit of background…
My original plan to go to Berlin came about as something of a present to myself. I had a little bit of cash in my bank account and decided to treat myself to a couple months in what sounded like the coolest city in the world. In August 2013 I booked my ticket to leave in April of 2014, with the eight month gap giving me the time to get together whatever practical items I might need – visas, courage, warm clothes, etc – and to save the rest of the money I needed. To start with, I didn’t have much intention of gigging, I just thought I would take my guitar with and play some open mic nights, but as time went on I realised that this sort of opportunity might not come around again in a hurry. So I started to do a bit of research (basically looking up live venues on Google or Facebook) and I sent out a few emails asking about the possibility of organising a show. A ‘few’ emails ended up being around 200 from which I got twelve positive responses. (To my amusement, I later discovered that some of the venues I contacted were 4000/5000 capacity arenas).
After a week or two in Berlin, and with a few gigs under my belt, I already knew that I would be coming back. A lot. The scope of the European music industry – especially for the sort of slightly-left-of-centre hopeful like myself – is just vast compared to the opportunities back home. I quickly realised that if I really want to give this music career thing a shot I am going to have to spend the best part of a couple years over there to see if anything takes. By the time I left Berlin at the end of June, I had gained what I hoped were some valuable insights concerning the similarities and differences between being a little known singer-songwriter in South Africa and a completely unknown one in Berlin – and in the three months since coming home I have been hard at work trying to put some of these insights to good use in the hope that they will bear a little bit of fruit on my upcoming return.
And that is the end of part one of this post. The next two or three parts will be about what I discovered, the opinions that I formed, and what i decided to do about it all. Following that, the next next three months will be about how that all works out for me.