Sam Yield is a New York based singer/songwriter. Sam has had experience booking and curating live shows in NYC, and he was nice enough to share a little insight to his experiences of balancing being a performer and a booker.
When did you start playing music?
I didn’t pick up a guitar till I was 18 or 19, and I didn’t start singing till I was 23 or so.
Who are your influences?
Listening to Mississippi John Hurt is what made me want to play guitar in the first place. John Fahey and Nick Drake were also big influences as guitarists. I don’t think I ever would have started singing if it weren’t for people like Joanna Newsom and Skip James, who both have unconventional but completely compelling voices.
Why did you start putting shows on for bands?
I wanted to be more autonomous as a performer; I didn’t like having to rely on other people to get shows. And I didn’t like playing shows that were just a random assortment of bands that had nothing to say to one another. Everyone – the performers and the audience – gets more out of a show that’s planned as a single cohesive event.
What is the most difficult thing about being an artist and trying to promote other bands?
Having to worry about getting people out to a show. When you’re playing a show but not organizing the whole night, it’s not necessarily on you if the event is a dud. But if you’re the organizer, that pretty much is on you.
Do you plan to be an artist for the rest of your life?
Would you consider becoming a music business professional full time?
Not really. I like participating in that side of music only insofar as it’s beneficial to me as a creative artist. But as far as its merits as a job in itself, it’s stressful and it’s hard to make money at it.
Do you think there is a place for art in business?
In a very broad sense, sure – it’s impossible to avoid making aesthetic decisions no matter what you do with your time, whether you’re writing a song or arranging your desk. And these days integrating with businesses unrelated to music is one way musicians can thrive despite the craziness of the music industry – I’m thinking, for example, of the boost in popularity a band can get if its song it chosen for a car commercial or a TV show.
Do you think musicians need someone to help them stay organized?
Well, it all depends on who you’re talking about. I know some musicians for whom not having a manager is probably their biggest stumbling block. But I know others who are totally diligent and meticulous when it comes to all the scheduling and networking and website-management and so on that comes with making music.
Do you have any advice for young musicians?
Writing songs and recording songs and performing songs live are all different projects, and the only way to get good at them is by writing more songs, recording more, and performing more, respectively. That took me a while to realize. Also, it’s really important to find other local acts you like and to get to know them. Exposure to new people and all sorts of unforeseen opportunities can come from a slight effort to reach out to other musicians.
Do you have any advice for people who want to promote their music in a DIY fashion?
House shows rule. Also, the more regularly you can put content online – videos, fliers, photos, etc. – the better.