Technology shapes career for homebound troubadour
By Michael Krahn | Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Photo courtesy Deni Gauthier
ST. THOMAS, ONThe life of a traveling musician isn't what it used to bejust ask Deni Gauthier. The once well-travelled artist from St. Thomas, Ontario now spends less time on the road and more time with his growing family.
But the father of four hasn't given up his dream of making a living in music. In fact, he is living that dream as what can best be described as a homebound troubadour. At one time those words may have comprised an oxymoron, but technology and social media have now made it possible.
Online social hubs like Facebook and Twitter have allowed musicians to reach new fans all over the world, and thanks to sites like stageit.com, Gauthier can perform his lyrically-driven indie folk-rock live from thousands of miles away.
But the connections are not all mediated by technology. For example, in response to the 2011 tsunami in Japan, Gauthier was inspired to write a song and donate the proceeds to relief efforts.
He explains, "I woke up the day of the disaster and saw footage of a guy in a tree holding two kids, water and vehicles were rushing by him. I put myself in his place, and then I thought about where his wife and other kids might be. What if that was me?"
It was then that the song lyrics for "Worlds Apart" began to take shape: "I know that we are world upon worlds apart, but if love can span the ocean then you have my heart."
The recording session followed shortly after and was attended by many of his new local social media friends, all of whom served as a choir for the song. "We released it with a video, and I cried when I saw it for the first time," Gauthier says, "When the song hit iTunes we immediately jumped to number four on the singer-songwriter charts and stayed there for over a week. That's the power of people."
Faith and art play also a part in the continued growth of Gauthier's fan base. His well-crafted songs are those of aseasoned veteran. There is a freshness to them that reveals the creative and insightful spirit of the writer, and that freshness is a result of his underlying faith.
"My faith directs how I talk to friends and how I raise my kids. God is my inspiration for life and everything I do. When I write a song, it may be about me longing for the simple life I had as a child but deep inside me I know it's because it's how connected I felt to God when I was a young boy playing in the woods. I try to explain that at all my shows..."
In days past musicians would travel the world chasing what was then the Holy Grail of career success: getting signed by a big record label. But that's no longer the goal, at least not for Gauthier. The goal now is to find somewhere around 5,000 dedicated fans who will follow every turn of his career and buy everything he releases. Not only is this a more attainable goal, it is also a more fulfilling mission, he says.
The definition of "making it" in music has changed significantly. The goal of the old reality was to sell enough CDs and perform enough concerts to make a living.
"I've been a professional musician for eight or nine years. I've seen the industry move from only selling CDs (for $25) to practically giving music away and industry sales plummeting. Through all of that I've tried to stay on the cutting edge and understand where I should be headed in terms of technology.
"The only thing that hasn't changed is that musicians need good people to love and support them. That hasn't changed, but the way you find those people has."
The goal of the new reality is significantly different: genuine, intimate, one-to-one connections. And this is a reality that Deni Gauthier is more than happy to live in.
Find out more at www.denigauthier.com.