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This article was written on 10 Mar 2015, and is filled under Music.

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Kim Boekbinder: Musician


New york musician Kim Boekbinder is at the forefront of the booming DIY music movement. So not only is she busy writing an infinite number of songs for her latest crowdfunded album, she also creates her own artwork, manages all her own admin and organises her own gigs and tours. We spoke to Kim about the difficulties of balancing the administrative side of things with the creative elements of her work.

OM: Can you describe an average day at work?

KB: Many hours of organization, scheduling, emails, designing web campaigns, checking stats, and swearing at the computer.

Then there is the “real” work; the work that people know me for, the work that feels like destiny: the music. I try to work on songs or visual accompaniments to the music nearly every day, often the admin leaves me with little energy left for it though.

OM: Have you always wanted to be an musician?

KB: “Wanted” is the wrong word. I am an artist through and through, it isn’t a choice for me. I also enjoy the art, but there is nothing else for me.

OM: What was the hardest part about becoming an musician?

KB: All the admin… admin. Admin. Admin. Bleh.

90% admin, 10% art is what it’s taken for me to be successful. That’s the unglamorous truth. I’m working on those percentages. I’d like to get it to 75/25 – that would be dreamy.

OM: And what’s the best part of the job?

KB: Music! Playing music for people! Writing music, recording music, touring, playing live shows, being alive in the moment of creation. It cannot be beat, it’s why I keep doing what I do even though most of my time is spent doing something I don’t actually enjoy.

OM: Do you feel you’re treated differently in your industry because you’re a woman?

KB: Yes. Absolutely. I never let it stop me or frustrate me. Women and men are treated differently in every industry.

Even though music is one of the businesses in which women are doing well, it must be said that the women who truly succeed at the highest levels are insanely talented AND incredibly beautiful – exponentially more so than their male counterparts, by a factor of 13. At least.

OM: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given? And what other advice would you give to anyone looking to become an X ? What qualifications and experience do you need?

KB: Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

To the victors go the spoils. And the victors, in this case, are the ones who never stop.

Music is one of the hardest careers to make a living from. You could be seemingly successful and still broke. The music has to be enough, because the money almost never will be.

Until one day it is. I’m not there yet, so I keep going. Keep going.

OM: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in the workplace or in your career?

KB: Deciding to be a professional musician. Ha!

Actually I think the worst decision I keep making is to be DIY. I’m very self sufficient but I can only stay at this level. I need help to get beyond where I am but being DIY keeps me too busy to seek the help I need to grow. So my advice is:

Get help early and often. Pay people. Do what you can yourself, but don’t get stuck doing it all yourself or your life will be 90% admin and 10% creation and that is not an emotionally sustainable life choice. Not for me anyway. And not for many creative people.

There’s a lot of information and fluff about being DIY these days – don’t fall for it. There is a big difference between an independent musician running a successful career with the professional help of agents and managers, and being truly DIY. Most everyone you see touted in media as being “DIY” is not, they are business people with many assistants to make their creative businesses run. That’s not DIY, that’s business. If you don’t want labels or managers that’s fine, but you’ll still need professional help, learn how to work with others early and you’ll grow stronger and faster than someone stuck in the DIY lane.

OM: What does success mean to you?

KB: Being busy and in demand, paid a living wage, able to afford my rent, my food, and to make the art that is screaming inside me to be made.

OM: What’s your feminist wish for the future?

KB: That talent and hard work are enough to succeed – for women, men, the gender-free, rich, poor, ugly, pretty, black, white, green, blue, pink, or rainbow coloured.

Read about the album Kim wrote inspired by Space here.

Here’s a guest-post Kim wrote herself about re-inventing how touring works with pre-sold gigs.

Tweet Kim here.


Women Make Music

HOW: Music

How to make it in the music industry podcast by The Other Women presenter Ruth Barnes– who you can also read about on Occupy Me here.

Photo by JB Knibbs

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