Hello everyone! Today is another guest post! Christy-Lyn of Christy-Lyn's Music agreed to complete an email interview for the Fischarper blog. I sent her some questions through her sister Megan, & the resulting interview is below the break!
Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be here today on the Fischarper blog! My name is Christy-Lyn and I sing and play the harp here in Cape Town, South Africa and have an online business providing support and encouragement for harpists around the world! The best way to give you a taste of what I do would be for you to watch two of my YouTube videos; here’s one of my harp and singing and here’s a Harp Help video.
What made you decide to start a YouTube channel?
I absolutely love YouTube! I spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos because I love the chance to connect with creators in a more personal way – I’d rather watch a YouTube video than a TV show any day! After watching YouTube videos for years, the first YouTube video I ever made in 2011 was a competition entry where I sang an unaccompanied folksong. At that time I was still at university studying Occupational Therapy so I didn’t have the opportunity to make regular videos. But in 2012 I started working in a hospital in a very rural area, so I took along a whole BUNCH of equipment and spent most of my free time making YouTube videos. I used to stay up WAY past midnight recording and editing videos, it took SO much time!! You might be wondering why I spent all that time making YouTube videos when I wasn’t even earning any money from it! Well, I’ve always been motivated to share my music, and without a place to perform for “real” audiences, YouTube gave me an outlet to share my music, a reason to keep progressing and learning new songs, and a way to connect with other people who love the kind of music I love. It was so exciting when I started receiving positive comments and people started subscribing!
That was before I started playing the harp, so all my YouTube videos back then were either a cappella multitracks or accompanying my singing with piano or with ukulele. When I finally started learning the harp in August 2013 I immediately started making YouTube videos with harp and singing. And now that’s my job! I upload a new YouTube videos every Thursday, alternating between music performances with harp and singing, or Harp Help videos where I give tips and encouragement to people learning the play the harp as adults. I believe it’s never too late to learn to play the harp!
If you’re thinking of creating YouTube videos of your harp playing, I’d say go for it!! Don’t wait to be “good enough” - rather just put up the videos and you’ll learn along the way!
What is it like being a full-time musician? Do you have many income streams, or do you focus on one?
What people imagine when they think about being a full time musician is that you’d be playing music all day, sounds like bliss! And although that is sometimes true (like when I play at a wedding or perform at a hotel restaurant for 3 hours), on a typical day I spend a similar amount of time playing music as I used to spend when I was working a full time and squeezing music into the evenings. The difference is that instead of having a day job doing something else, my “day job” is now the business side of the music. The reality is, if you want music to be your career, you have to spend a lot of time strategizing on how to make money from the music, and doing lots of admin and associated tasks. So it’s very different from what people might expect!
You really have to be creative and flexible in figuring out how to turn music into money! When you look around you’ll start to notice, it’s not the most talented musicians that make the most money. Often it’s the ones who are good at sales, marketing and the business side. Being talented and skilled doesn’t automatically turn into a pay check!
It’s also about making smart decisions about when you need help. I currently have three employees (one of them full time and two of them part time) and wages are the biggest expense of my business, but it also means that I am able to spend more time doing things that only I can do, which is a smart business decision.
My best advice for someone wanting to make a career out of music? Read as many business-related books as you can! Don’t spend all your time building your skills as a musician. Learning how to run a business is the key to a sustainable music career.
You're quite active on Instagram. What are your tips for making social media work for musicians?
Great question! My number one advice for social media is be consistent! I’ve realised that it’s not possible to focus equally on all social media platforms, so it’s better to choose one core platform and pour your energy into that. As much as I love Instagram and Facebook, it’s not my primary focus; for me the main focus is YouTube. Whatever platform you choose, find ways to be consistent. For example, I batch record six videos at a time, to make sure that I can continue to release weekly YouTube videos without having to film every week. That means that no matter what’s happening in my life or work, I always put up a new video every Thursday! Subscribe to my weekly videos here.
When it comes to the content, think about how you are benefitting your audience rather than just sharing your experience. Who are you wanting to reach with your content? And how does it improve their lives? Because if it’s just a self-centered display of what I do, it won’t draw people in and make them feel like this is something they want to be a part of. It was that kind of thinking that caused me to start my YouTube series “Harp Help” which has grown into my online harp business. When people want to take the next step in finding support and encouragement as adult harp students, they find a whole range of offerings on my Patreon page, including my favourite… a Virtual Harp Circle!!
What are your tips for arranging music and making it available for other musicians? What programs do you use?
Oh yes, I love writing beginner harp music and arranging for harp and voice! I have quite a few arrangements available on my website. When it comes to software, I use Sibelius, but you can also use free software. My best tip for arranging would be “simple is better”. It is possible to make things sound equally good but easier to play, just by understanding how the harp works and what sounds good. For example, my beginner harp piece “Sailing on a Lake” (you can get a free copy here) is easy to play but sounds really beautiful, and that’s always my aim when arranging for harp – to get the best pay-off for your effort. I also love to arrange for singing and playing, and I think it’s even more important to keep things simple. My biggest tip for arranging for singing and playing is not to play the melody in the right hand – it doesn’t add anything and it’s better to use your right hand to fill out the accompaniment. For example, my arrangement of Silent Night has been really effective for even the newest harpist to start to accompany themselves on the harp.
It's no secret that you enjoy tea. What's your favorite kind? And what's your tip for the perfect cup?
Ooh, I LOVE tea!!! A few years ago I even wrote a song about it! I like what is often called black tea – in South Africa we call it Ceylon tea. My favorite brand is Five Roses (I really can’t understand why I’m not sponsored by them, haha!). If you want to make a perfect cup of tea for me, it should be medium strength, with a good amount of milk and no sugar. I usually make it in a mug, so I put the teabag in and then boiling water and leave it to brew for about a minute. Then I take out the teabag – very important, otherwise it gets bitter! – and then add milk until it’s the right colour. Drink it while it’s still hot, otherwise it doesn’t have the same calming effect! :)
Thanks so much for having me on this blog post! I hope it’s inspired you to take the next step with your harp playing – whether it’s learning the harp, sharing your music with others, or growing an online business… You can do it!!
Thank you for this interview, Christy-Lyn!
Make sure to check her out on YouTube, give her a follow on Instagram, & subscribe to her newsletter! (While you're at it, why don't you join my email list too? ;) )
Anddd I'm trying out a Fischarper Blog Guests playlist on Spotify. Let me know what you think!
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Welcome to the blog! I'm Barbara, and I work as a freelance harpist and private music educator. You can read my bio here. On the blog, you can find posts about various aspects of this career path, especially teaching and crafty stuff. Thank you for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you in the comments or on social media. And don't forget to subscribe to the email list for updates!
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