Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Anything Worth Holding on To

I have horrible writers block and so I figured I'd see if I could write a blog instead.  About what, I don't know.  I figured I'd just write about life and let it lead me wherever it wished to.

     My life right now is in a weird placement.  I released LIVE three weeks ago.  Every time I finish an album I always say 'NEVER AGAIN.'

     When I put 'What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up,' into the world I was extremely proud.  It felt like the strongest collection of music that I'd done up to that date.  It was all very personal.  It was all very raw.  It felt like an incredible closing to a challenging start.  Sadly, it was also a huge flop (well, in terms of sales).  Like the album prior, 'Keys,' it had undersold expectation (Keys still remains the poorest of all sales, but 'WIWBWIGU' is a very close 2nd).  I swore I would never release another album again.

On June 26th I released LIVE, a double CD featuring some fan favorites and some new compositions and sung by some of the greatest vocalists of our time (including Lea Salonga and Liz Callaway, two of my childhood idols) recorded LIVE at Birdland on April 30th during two sold out concerts.  The concert itself was a mighty challenge on its own.  I wanted to get every performer on the album on the cover, I wanted new arrangements and orchestrations of some fan favorites.  I needed to re-write some lyrics so that I could change the gender on many of the songs. It was a huge undertaking but I was up for the challenge.

Thankfully, so were all the incredible people who helped put this album together, especially from Jesse Vargas who's orchestration and arrangements exceeded my expectations. Jesse and I have been working together for many years and he has done the arrangements and orchestrations on every album with the exception of a few songs on Keys and one song on WIWBWIGU.   Joining us again as our engineer was Paul Vazquez, who's work I stand by over and over again.  Listen to this LIVE album and tell me it doesn't sound like a studio recording.  He brilliantly focused his energy on bringing out our incredible orchestra made up of 13 of the best players and some of the most brilliant vocalists i have ever had the honor to know, let alone sing my lyrics and music.   Then, add on top of that the incredible cover photo by Nathan Johnson, the book art by Robbie Rozelle and I thought: THIS IS IT.  THIS IS MY GEM.

    Though the album has only been out for three weeks, it's already sold EXTREMELY poorly.

     It's upsetting, to say the least.  I really thought this would be a sure fire hit.  The reality of the situation is very depressing.  As strong of a collection as I think it is, there's really not much that can be done.  I can't force performers to support the album and tell the world about it.  They get paid to come, sing, and go back to their lives.  I can only ask.  As far as getting the word out from the press world, I have written emails to everyone.  I have sent follow up emails.  I have sent follow up emails to those follow up emails.  Nothing.  (If you know anything about me, you know another follow up email is already in the works). Word of mouth is essential for an independent release and after the first three days of its release that word of mouth slowed down considerably.  Yes, I still see people tweeting "Just bought LIVE," but that's one person a day at most.  I totally understand the album costs $19 and that price is expensive for a lot of my followers, so it's all turning out to be a very strong lesson.  Of course, I say to myself 'NEVER AGAIN.'

     With LIVE already out there, I at least was excited about HOME, a musical I've been working on for over nine years.  I have given so much of my blood, sweat and tears to this show.  It has seen three different playwrights, three different producing teams but only one songwriter.  I have written over 70 songs for the show and if it continues to have a life, I expect to write more until we settle on the final version.

     On the 19th of June we presented a reading of HOME.  Christy Hall, the current playwright, and Jen Bender, our current director, and I had worked on the script to really tighten it and tell the best story possible.  Did we succeed ? It really depends on whom you ask.  I had conflicting opinions from friends who came to see it.  I was proud of the work we had done.  Some people thought we took huge leaps forward and some thought we took some minor (yes, only minor) steps back.  Personally, I thought our script is in the strongest place it's ever been.  The biggest argument we had was 'there are three hit songs back to back and it feels like three different endings.' Not the biggest issue and easily fixable (though, which song gets cut is a conversation that will take a lot of thought to decide upon).  Either way, there was a momentum gained and even a press release that said 'Home aiming for Broadway in Fall of 2012.  We went into the reading with high expectations and a lot of excitement.  We have since come back to reality and await an update from our producers on what comes next, if anything. Christy is in LA and Jen is in Australia.  I am in NY waiting for a call.

     I will say this. HOME has broken my heart before, but it always fixes itself.  I truly believe in this project or I wouldn't have spent the last nine years trying to find it's path to its ultimate home.  I think it's unique and unlike anything you have ever seen before (the main argument I always hear is 'This is so different I don't know if it will be successful.' To me, that is an amazing compliment).

So, that's where I am in my career right now (Don't even get me started on taking care of a newly blind dog or my non-existant love life - oy!).

 I wanted to be as honest as possible with each and everyone of you.  I think it's important.  I don't want to show you a fake ideal of what to expect once you enter this industry (today I am down, but tomorrow is a new day and who knows what it may offer.  Maybe Celine Dion will ask to record 'Home.'  Anything is possible).  I also find so many of my contemporary composers expecting to profit in the way that 'Dreaming Wide Awake' was able to.  I am learning that sometimes you only hit gold once and that is ok.  That doesn't make me any less proud of the work that I have put out there in 'Keys,' 'What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up' and 'Live.'  That also doesn't mean that they shouldn't put themselves out there and celebrate their work that way I did in 2007 and continue to do year after year.  It just means to be truthful in why you are doing this. When I released Dreaming Wide Awake I only knew that nobody else was giving me a platform and I was tired of waiting for someone else's ok.  I worked three jobs for a year (Starbucks at 4:30 - 8am; Lunch shifts at Paris Comune and 8pm - 4am at Stonewall Inn. No, I never slept but I believed in my work, not sleep), raised the money and put it out there in hopes that I would attract an industry in wanting me to be apart of their world.  Instead I found an industry that distance themselves further away from me (that's a whole other blog) and fans around the world who embraced me for who I am.   Each album since was not so much wanting to replicate the sale of DWA but to continue growing my empire around the world.  Yes, I wanted to make a   profit from the sales of each album (DWA continues to outsell every album every single month - even the months that a new album is released.  Go figure) but I also wanted to continue giving my gift of music back to the people who have continued to support me.  You.

     I am totally in ramble mode right now.  Some will see this blog as a man complaining that he believes his career is washed up.  Others, I hope, will see the honesty of what I am hoping to convey (and yes, maybe my career IS washed up.  If so, I had a great run).

     In closing,  I have no clue what tomorrow brings me.  I guess I will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.  As for today, this is me.

                                                                                    Xx - SA


  1. Maybe this is an opportunity to explore/sit with and see if your career means something totally different than what you expected or want it to be.

    It's shifting...and instead of seeing the deficit...see the abundance and the lessons.

    You are a major talent...don't allow this challenge to take you over...take the challenge over...

    and wait...

    Something will surface and it will be unexpected and glorious!!

    Greg Allen

  2. Don't despair! There are so many people out there who appreciate what you're doing. I know I do! I wish everyone wrote music as new and fresh, yet still as deep and touching as you do. Thank you for sharing your music with us and please, keep it up.

  3. It saddens me on many levels to read your post. I am sure the accolades don't help, but as Greg Allen states " YOU ARE a major talent... don't allow the challene to take you over....". I cannot tell you what your music means to me, and for you to stop writing and recording would create an incredible void in the world of music, and certainly in my life. But that's rather selfish of me to say isn't it.

    This is about you. Try and focus and bring back that feeling of euphoria when you were planning and developing your spectacular LIVE night .

    As for sales - let your fans know - yet again - ask for other strategies to help promote all your music. Yes, maybe from a cost of living focus, success is based on sales. But from a quality and talent perspective, you have consistently put out priceless music.

    Take a break, but don't give up on your passion. You can't do that to yourself......or us.


  4. LIVE -in my opinion is your best album yet. i listen to it every day and i'm not even a little tired of it. don't know what's wrong with this world...
    every life, every carrer has it's up and downs and its a matter of fact that the ups always seem too short and the downs too deep. this doesn't make anything better but thats the way it is.
    but there are soooo many people out there - fans, performers, friends, family,... - who highly apprechiate what you do. and you should listen to just them. allthough i know it's easier to believe the bad stuff thats said about oneself because we hear it much clearer - whyever that is.
    ok, a whole bunch of nonsens from me - hope you get what i wanted to say.

  5. this summer at a theatre gig the intern came to pick us up for the first time we were five different people working together for the first time. none of us knew each other well but the guy driving put on Watch Me Soar. All five of us were singing at the top of our lungs. and saying we LOVE Scott Alan! We all love your music as do many more people. you are gaining fans everyday. We all have highs and lows but you wont get to that next high if you say 'NEVER AGAIN' pick your self up by your boot straps and start on your next project or perfect the current one. in the work you will find happiness.

  6. I know you didn't write this to garner a response from anyone, but I just felt compelled to tell you how much your music has helped me. I can't count the number of times I've put one of your albums on because I needed a pick-me-up, diversion or just wanted to hear the amazingness that it is.

    Also, I'm STILL talking about your concert last year at the Kennedy Center. It's been the one and only time I've seen you live and I just about melted.

    I've been listening to LIVE on Spotify because I hadn't had it in my budget, but I finally bought it this afternoon. It really is a gem.

    (And as for KEYS: It may be the "flop" but it remains my favorite album. I can't count the number of times I've cried in the car to that album)

    And smile. It really helps me when I'm down.


  7. For what it's worth, you're still inspiring people everyday. I only very recently discovered your work, and you've already inspired me. I've put a lot of my own personal creative projects and dreams on hold over the past few decades so I could pursue the "life stuff" I'm supposed to pursue. But listening to your work has ignited a fire under my ass to unbridle my creative voice. So thank you. I know it's not much, but know that you've inspired me and have helped me clear those mental and emotional cobwebs preventing me from unleashing my creativity.


  8. Ever since I first heard about you, I believed in you. I'm not in the industry myself, mostly because I found my calling elsewhere. Lord knows I have those days where it feels like I'm the only one wanting myself to succeed. I'm sorry for how sales are going. I'm sorry to hear about the writer's block (I'm right there with you on this one). Most of all, though, I hope you know how much your work has changed my life. From hearing Home for the first time, to singing Nothing More to my partner at our wedding. From seeing my friends' reactions to Blessing to letting Anything Worth Holding Onto wash over me as I grieved the loss of my grandma and suffered the worst cycle of depression ever. There are people who write for the sake of being mega-stars, and there are people who write because it's in their blood and their bones and they want to make a difference in the world. Just know that a lot of us out there have your back.

    Peace friend,

  9. I love singing your music. It's personal, mature and beautiful. And that is what really matters... You have brought happiness and music into peoples lives... You didn't fall in love with this industry for the money... No true artist does. So focus on all the amazing things you've achieved, not the things you feel you haven't.

    Everything happens for a reason. :)


  10. Even if your sales aren't great at the moment, at least you know it's not because of the music you wrote. I've made my friends from many different cultures and backgrounds listen to your songs and all over them came back to me telling me how they were obsessed over your songs. I think it took me at least a whole month to being able to stop listening to only DWA or Keys on repeat.
    You are one of the inspiring figures of my life and if one day it was possible for me to give back to you, I would. Think of your awesomeness right now in being a long-term investment? =)

    You're awesome!

  11. Scott,

    I'm sorry to hear of your recent troubles in trying to make things work in this world, but at least you are following your dream and personal legend, your purpose in life. You have a gift that so few people have in this world. You Scott, are able to share stories through music, lyrics, and through your voice.

    I'm at a similar spot in my life, well, not exactly, but I am searching for my meaning in life. Back in January I left behind the life I knew for 27 years and moved out to the Chicago suburbs. Being born and raised in South Dakota this was a huge adjustment for me, and still is in some ways. I came out here with a vision that I'd suddenly and magically find everything that I've been looking for all of my life. I thought I'd find the love of my life, (I came out at the age of 19, nearly 9 years ago and have yet to ever have a guy even seem remotely interested in me for longer than a few weeks), find the career I was supposed to be in, and have everything I ever wanted. The total dream of every small town boy that moves to a big city kinda of idea. But since I moved out here, none of those dreams have happened. I'm completely lost and I'm struggling to find anything strong enough to grasp onto. I have the education yet none of the experience needed for anything decent job out here. I work 40-60 hour work weeks, and just scrape by. One thing that scares my most is in a few months my student loans are going to kick back in, I'll have to find another 550 a month to make those payments. It scares me and I really don't know what I'll do. My options are limited and I won't go into details, I tend to ramble like Rose from the Golden Girls... but it really scares me. I might have to go back to South Dakota, I don't really want to, but alas, I might have to make that decision.

    There are two things that do keep me going out here, your album WIWBWIGU, and one of my favorite books, The Alchemist. If you haven't picked it up yet, do so. It's a quick read, and I tend to find a few passages here and there to keep me in a positive mood. It does tell you that most people will work so hard at achieving their personal legend some people will come so close to achieving it and will quit and give up because of the obstacles even if they were just one more rejection letter before getting the YES that makes them truly successful. Don't give up Scott, you've discovered your legend and are way ahead of me, and many others on succeeding in life. I believe in you.

    Keep your head up, and if you ever need some words of wisdom you always have me, and many others who will be here to listen. But more importantly, cheering you on.

    All the best,


  12. If you get a hug by a redheaded stranger that might have been me. That's the feeling you gave me when I read those lines. I don't have wise words like the others who commented on this text but I can only tell you that your work has inspired so many people I know (including me) and if I had the money I'd buy all the copies of your CDs I could get and give them away for free so noone had an excuse not to listen to your incredibly beautiful songs. They are worth every dollar. At least.

  13. My sweet friend,

    I write this (and some will not understand it & think me a HUGE bitch) with a little tiny smile on my face. NOT because my heart does not ache for the way that I know you are feeling right now. I know this feeling and I know it in you, but because I read it knowing that this is just a moment of "wait" in what is and will be a lifetime of GREAT! I have stood right beside you (in an ugly apron smelling like shitty food) feeling these same feelings and then right beside you laughing at those very moments. It is funny to see this post pop up today of all days, as I, myself, cried myself to sleep feeling the woes of this ridiculously difficult industry we have decided to plop our already anxiety-riddled selves in to for all these crazy years. I, myself, had been riding a very pretty wave for awhile and saw nothing but opportunities for miles and then things seemed to screech to a halt and all was dark. I liken it to that feeling in high school where you are in a hurry and you can't seem to get the lock to your locker to open... you can't get the numbers to the combination just right. Just a little off. Shit, start over. Ugh! Aggravated. Fingers slipped. Damn it! Start over. Angry. Went around once too many times. FUCK! I gotta be somewhere. Back to locker. Kick it. Sit on the floor. Put up your hands. Cry. Take a moment. Laugh. Then, calmly try again. Viola! Somehow, it always opens and you get to where you needed to be and it wasn't that big of a catastrophe that you got there a little later than you had planned. In fact, maybe you missed something awful, like that annoying kid who rambles on and on about the fundraiser the Science Club is having. Right? ;)

    Truth is, love, this is your life. This is the life you were meant to have. It is your passion and your heart. THAT is what makes it more beautiful than what so many people will ever have. So many people will NEVER know what it is like to follow their dreams, to watch them unfold, to feel that rush of pride that fills you up just because you get to do it, not because it makes you rich. Of course, we want to be financially successful - we gotta pay the bills just like everyone else - and this work makes for a lot of years of eating soup and struggle, but the the reward is the dream and living it. Your ARE dreaming wide awake, but even the best dreams can get a little stuck or make no sense sometimes. Sure, you could take some other lame-o job and make a shitload of money, but you would be far more miserable if you no longer had the time to write amazing songs, use your voice, work with fabulous people and DREAM. That shit will crush your spirit for realz. :)

    I am very proud of you. It takes real courage to take the risks you have taken and to stick it out through thick and thin. It takes true strength to keep going when it seems like there must be an easier road. But, easier is boring and, in some cases, dirty. ;0

    I have to go now, because my dog just threw up all over my brand new, very expensive $99 Home Goods rug after he chewed it up, of course.

    I love you.


  14. Scott, you are an amazing person, hugely talented and you have four fantastic albums that have touched so many people. Even though they may not be hugely successful in sales you should keep in mind how much your music means to your fans. Don't lose sight of that. Through Facebook, Twitter and other social media you have a rare opportunity to connect with your fans and see how important your music is to us (and sometimes see your fans geeking out to one another without realizing that you can see!). Your music is unlike anything else I've ever heard and I am still moved every time. As for Keys, I love it. I think of it as a very wintry album. Kind of haunting, simply beautiful. LIVE is a fantastic album. I was devastated that I could not be there for the concert but the album is a worthy replacement. And noe I have half a mind to buy a copy for everyone I know. There are a lot of summer birthdays in my family...
    Love from a longtime fan, Em

  15. Dear Scott,

    First of all I'd like to say that I admire you very, very much. In my opinion, you are such a strong person! Not many people nowadays really fight so hard for things they love (e.g. Home). You are someone we all can look up to and I hope you know what you mean to your fans. We love you.

    Well, okay, the second thing I have to say: Sorry for my bad English. I'm one of your German fans. I understood your blog entry perfectly and I'd love to give you sooo much feedback because it really touched me a lot, but I guess I can't explain everything correctly. I'll just try my best. :)

    I can imagine how frustrating it must be, when you are working so hard and it's just not that profitable you wish it was. All I can say is: I love LIVE and I still think that it's a masterpiece! While listening to your beautiful music I can feel your heart. I can feel everything you put into it. Of course I've also bought your other albums and I love them as well.

    You're doing a great job! I'm sure I speak for every fan when I say that we are blessed with your wonderful music! I'm so glad to be able to listen to those touching, wonderful, powerful and unique stories behind every song. Thank you so much, dear Scott!

    The most important thing is that you never ever give up. Keep on doing what you love! It doesn't matter if you're selling 100 CDs or 100.000 as long as you are satisfied and happy with it! ;) It must be terrible to look into the mirror and see someone who is not satisfied with his life at all. Someone who doesn't believe in anything anymore. Don't let t it ever comes to that.
    I'm sure that HOME will be a great success! It just has to be. I believe in you. I always will. :)

    As for me, I'm happy to support LIVE. Many of my friends here in Germany bought it as well and I only heard amazing things about! They're all very impressed by it! Maybe you don't receive all of the feedback, but you can be sure that there is a lot of positive stuff about LIVE. I didn't hear something negative yet! ;)

    In my opinion, you are very, very inspiring. You teach me every day that I should follow my dreams. And I will! I still don't know how, but I'm sure one day I will be there... ;)
    I love to read your tweets and stuff like that, because it always makes me smile. (Well, sometimes it also makes me cry :D but in a very positive way ;))

    Dear Scott, I hope my weird comment is understandable for you. I feel much better now that I let you know how I feel about your situation. As I already said, I wish I could express everything better, but I can't.

    Lots of love from Germany! xx


  16. Dear Scott,

    I just want to say thank you for all your incredible music you have given us. Your music has helped me through my parents' divorce, deaths in my family, and coming to terms with being gay (thank god for Over The Mountain!).

    I am 18 and just starting out in the musical theatre business, and it really frightens me. I was faced with a choice to study economics at a top uni in England, or forget all that and follow my passion of music. I chose music. And, honestly, I would not have made that choice without having listened to YOUR music. I know this may not help with your album not doing as well as I know it deserves to do, but I hope it makes things just a little better. I really hope you find the success you're so worthy of, but until then, you'll still make a lot of people VERY happy. I hope so much that one day I will get to see you live in London, write a song half as good as yours, or MAYBE sing with you. (pah!)

    It's cliche, but you're an inspiration.

    Lots of Love,
    Luke Ward

  17. Hello Scott,

    after reading your blog I felt compelled to share my story with you. I graduated university with a business degree, a subject I studied for no other reason than I didn't know what else to do. I took the first job I was offered and now work in HR.

    From the minute I accepted the job I was miserable.

    This is not what I wanted to do. I thought that was going to be it for me career wise, until I listened to your 'what I want to be when I grow up' album. Your inspirational songs showed me that I was in control of my own destiny. Since then I have been looking into ways to be involved with the theatre industry without actually being on stage.

    Although I still work in my job for financial reasons, I now have an internship with my National Theatre and write a theatre blog. There are small steps to achieving my goal and I have you to thank for that.

    Try not to be disheartened, you inspire so many people. As an idea to perhaps boost exposure, you might want to share you album with some bloggers who fit the demographic you want to hit, they then review it and all their followers see it.

    It's a trick my national theatre use with new productions. I have personally written a review of 'Live' ( http://lostinlondonx.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/album-review-scott-alan-live.html ) and have had 2 people leave comments saying they will be adding it to their collection.

    Lost of Love,


  18. Dearest Scott, you are not alone - and you are a beautifully gifted artist. Period. Thank you for pouring everything into your work - your music is alive. I introduce my students to your music often and am always excited to hear new work. SO excited for you+Broadway. <3 Lots of love.

  19. Don't ever stop making music! I love your work. Whenever I get the chance to sing your songs I do. And "I'm a star" helped me to get into Guildford school of acting (BA MT 2012-2015)! "anything worth holding on to" is my new favorite!