Cruise Lines

Since July of 2018, long-time CSA Member Kyle Marler has been working as a solo guitarist and vocalist for Carnival Cruise Lines. We caught up with Kyle to learn about how this niche pursuit began, the benefits, and the challenges of performing 3-4 hours each night above international waters.

Kyle, how did you get into this?

The short: I applied online through the Carnival Entertainment website.

The extended: I went to Otterbein University from 2008-2012. I was in the Health and Sports Sciences Department, and got paired up with a roommate my freshman year who was in the theatre department. Through his friendship I ended up meeting many other theatre folks. Fast forward 3-4 years after graduation. I would see a few of those theatre folks posting on social media about their jobs working on cruise ships and it looked like fun so I began researching if they had jobs for guitar singers and not just theatrical jobs. Most cruise lines wanted the same thing – someone who could sing 3-4 hours a day and who knew 200-300 songs.

From that point, I began my year and a half long journey of learning new songs and applying to different talent agencies. Eventually, I got a job straight through the Carnival site and didn’t need an agent. It was all done online by submitting a showreel of some live performances at gigs and some shots just playing in my room.

What’s the day in the life look like?

There are 2 types of days. You have what is known as a “sea day” which means your ship will not be docking and you will be out at sea all day and a “port day” meaning you’ll be back at your home port where you drop off passengers and pick up new ones, or at one of the destination ports. On port days I’ll generally hop off when I wake up and have some fun. I’ve snorkeled, grabbed food, played soccer and done some pretty thrilling excursions. I’m generally pretty wiped when I get back so I’ll nap and be sure to wake up with enough time to do a vocal warmup before my sets. On sea days, I’ll get in a good practice session or learn a new song, workout and maybe play a little ping pong. No matter the day, I do 3-4 sets that are each 45 minutes to an hour in length in the afternoon / evening. After my sets, I’ll often head to the bar for a bit or watch a movie in my cabin.

Can you share more about the benefits and challenges?

Benefits. One of the biggest benefits is the amount of people you get to meet, both crew and passengers alike. Most Carnival ships hold around 3-4 thousand passengers each week, or few days depending on the ship’s itinerary. I still keep in touch with passengers and crew that I met when I first started. Being able to travel is also very cool. I recall floating out in the crystal clear ocean in Cozumel Mexico with a fellow musician I had become fast friends with and we were both laughing that this was our life. Musicians, in particular, soloists, get the most free time of anyone on the ship. Knowing you have a set contract for 2-3 months is very financially reassuring. Of course, the obvious, getting to play music for your livelihood quells you with pride. I could keep going with the benefits, but you get the idea. I enjoy myself and the lifestyle quite a bit.

Challenges. In 2019 I had the opportunity to travel to Australia for one of my contracts. As dope as it was, it was maybe the most difficult experience of my life. I had been away from family before, but this was next level stuff, and it was only until those few months that I realized not only how much I love my family, but American culture. I think a large part of the home sickness was a lack of social connection. Every contract is different in terms of friendships and this one just wasn’t great for a few reasons that had to to with me and some reasons to do with difficult personalities. The thing is … you’re living with these people on and off the clock so it makes it very challenging if you’re having social difficulties.

Another challenge is that it’s a lot of singing. You’ve got to be very careful with your voice. Like with any job, it’s easy to get caught up in a bad performance and make it your identity, but I think that’s amplified when you live at work. So, if you’ve got a tough crowd, it’s certainly a challenge.

Thanks Joey and Columbus Songwriters Association for allowing me to share and for the resources you’ve provided and continue to provide to aid in the arts. This is a super brief outline of my experience (I could probably write a memoir and possibly a Netflix comedy special), so if you have any questions for me please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Peace,

Kyle Marler
kmarler18@yahoo.com

2021 Showcases at Donatos Short North

Songwriters:

We miss you all. Thank you for creating with us over the last decade.

From the days of Scarlet and Gray Cafe with poet and best-selling author, Hanif Abdurraqib, to King Avenue 5 where founders Joey and Derek setup each month in the room that is now the new Natalie’s location, to Notes where entrepreneur Jay Clouse began introducing comedic relief, to Brothers Drake where Eric Corthell led the way for connected community — we remember when hundreds gathered for the Finale Showcase at the Garden Theatre, we remember when artists from countries gathered from around the world at SXSW, we remember road trips to The Power of Music Festival in Arkansas — and songwriting and live music will create beautiful new experiences!

We’re entering an era where streaming live performances and digital content is a new opportunity for connected engagement. We’re experimenting with more capabilities at our showcases — and we’re inviting you back with us at Donatos Short North (Black Brick) on the first Sunday of each month.

We’ll enjoy mask-to-mask gatherings, test and practice various live streaming setups, and continue to promote Ohio songwriters throughout the city and state.

Join The Line Up!

Sunday, February 7th from 6-9pm at Donatos Short North
A time for friends, new songs, and community.
BYO mic or we’ll have one provided for you.

CSA DONATOS Songwriter Showcase

We’ve tested and planned a new format for our songwriter showcases. Relaunch: November 8th at Donatos Pizza in the Short North Arts District.

Features:
Socially Distancing Protocols
Live Stream onto CSA Facebook Page
BYO Mic is Welcomed!

Is it time to share your newest songs? Submit to be 1 of 6 songwriters to perform at the CSA Donatos Showcase this November 8th, from 6-9pm at Donatos in the Short North Arts District.

Drive-In Concerts

Members: Thanks for following along through all of this.

We’ve been working hard during the pandemic to create paid opportunities for full-time songwriters in Columbus.

We want to offer you 50% off (save $30-35) to the Chris Jamison Drive-In Concert tomorrow night at North High Brewing’s production facility at 1125 Cleveland Avenue.

Chris was one of the first members of Columbus Songwriters Association who went on The Voice in 2014 and nearly won it. He performed with Adam Levine and still writes and records with many producers in the world of Maroon 5 and Pharrell Williams. He’ll be performing a singer-songwriter style set on a stage we’re creating from scratch, through our benefit project The Hidden Drive-In.

If you’re curious how drive-in concerts look and feel, or if they could become an opportunity for you, this concert with Chris will be the perfect time to check it out.

PS. Announcements about how we’re restyling our monthly songwriter showcases — coming soon.

– Joey Hendrickson
CSA Founder

The Pivot

Songwriters:

Every small business owner goes through it at one point or another.

With federal guidelines for event bans and social distancing extended until June, you probably could guess that we too must cancel our April and May showcases. We miss all of you. We are alone together and we are keeping you on mind.

With everything moved to Digital, one thing is sure: We must embrace the pivot.

Here are a few things we’ve seen work for members of our community:

  1. Live Stream with Facebook or Zoom, and use Venmo or Paypal as a tip jar. Consider launching your show frequently, at a consistent time and day. Talk with your audience. Social interaction plays a very important role in some of the most engaging streams we’ve seen.
  2. Drive-Up Concerts. Cars park around the PA system setup in a parking lot. Best practice: All parking lots are privately owned. If you’re going to set up a show in parking lot, schedule it ahead of time with the owner. Promote the concert as you would on Facebook.
  3. Launch your podcast. There’s no better time. We love the quality of Dan Heidt’s “Flies In The Kitchen” podcast. Using digital calling, there are ways to record the episodes and conduct interviews and storytelling completely remote.
  4. Digital Songwriting Groups. Rob Maccabee has taken songwriting group, The Fertilizers, digital. With video chat capabilities on Zoom, the “digital open mics” and virtual co-writing session are more active in Columbus, Ohio. Brent Baxter leaders another virtual, online songwriting resource: SongwritingPro.com
  5. Recording. There’s no better time to record. Whether you choose home recording and bringing outside musicians in, or a (ten or less) local recording studio environment, please keep social distancing in mind!
  6. Porch Concerts. Zach Friedman and Can’t Stop Columbus are testing an innovative approach to bringing music to specific neighborhoods who request it via live artist and pickup trucks. CSA Member, Will Freed, supported the first test of this live music delivery service.
  7. Campfires. We’ve seen many people going to parks, riding their bicycles outdoors, gardening, and we’ve recently received requests to put on socially distanced concerts in back yards. While a bit on the “risky” side for some, we all know the federal guideline is 10 people, and maybe there is a way for social stream of a very lightly attended and carefully managed bonfire series. That being said, maybe best to stay indoors!
  8. Virtual House Concerts. Given that there is a space big enough for 10 people to fit six feet apart, some hosts in Folk Alliance International have been live streaming house concerts with a small group of audiences.
  9. Concerts for One. This was gaining momentum even prior to COVID with artists like Damien Rice and Justin Vernon taking part.
  10. Digital Festivals. We’ve heard through the grapevine about global streams of artists emerging through companies like NetGigs.com (based in Adelaide, Australia). What a great way to “bring together” artists from different cities around the world while audiences sample the music styles of each city/culture.
  11. Artist Grants from GCAC are now available for those without a financial safety net.
  12. Medical Emergencies for artists during COVID.
  13. Sweet Relief Fund for those artists who receive 50% of their income from music and have a documentable financial need at this time.
  14. Small Business Loans through SBA are available.
  15. Government Stimulus checks are coming.
  16. Here is the link to unemployment benefits, if self-employed as an artist and not able to collect/declare income during the event ban.

We implore you to explore the grants resources available, consider new ways of using technology to reach audiences, and use your creativity to try out new technologies and digital experiences. We’re in this together. We’ll get through this together.

What other resources have you come across? Write to us directly at ColumbusSongwritersAssociation@gmail.com

How has COVID affected you? Please take a moment to complete this 5-7 question survey.

Members: We Want To Hear From You

For nearly 8 years, CSA has been on mission to empower the lives of songwriters. As an organization, we interact with more than 400 songwriters in Central, Ohio. We realize our position to advocate for your needs beyond what our organization can provide.

We’d like to invite songwriters in the Central, Ohio are to complete this Grants Needs Assessment. While our organization has a very small operating budget and cannot provide grant funding, we do have the energy to help musicians navigate the available grants through organizations who are directly supported by the City of Columbus bed tax and city budget who have publicized their desire to support the careers of musicians. We are gathering this grants need assessment in hopes to inspire more successful grant applications that support the needs of hundreds of musicians in Central, Ohio.

Please take 5 minutes to complete the grant need assessment here. Email us at ColumbusSongwritersAssociation@gmail.com with any questions.

What are you tinkering on?

Songwriters: Are you tinkering on any new music tech?

CSA Founder, Joey Hendrickson, and Nathan Dickson are building a mobile audio system (IoT) that allows Columbus Music to be

heard on sidewalks. Lamp Amp can accept cashless tips for you through it’s app. It can also automatically notify your followers when/where your mini-concert is happening.

This is a new way for songwriters to bring music to the streets while earning some money! If you’re on Facebook, smash the “like” button on the Lamp Amp facebook page and come to one of our showcases to meet Joey and let him know what you’re building!

CSA Showcases: Now on 1st Sundays!

Songwriters, we’ve had an incredible year of showcases at Brothers Drake Meadery.

When we started CSA in 2012, Sunday was always our time to gather. Over the years, we’ve adjusted to the schedules of venues and stayed together no matter what day of the week we met up on.

Finally, it’s time to move back to the 1st Sunday of the month! This is our sweet spot. We’ll start each showcase in 2020 at 6pm. Feel free to arrive early to setup and tune your guitar prior to sharing your newest songs with a listening audience.

As always: Sign up on our website prior to each showcase. We’ll add you to the lineup our Facebook events from there!

– CSA Team

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Members: We Want To Hear From You

For nearly 8 years, CSA has been on mission to empower the lives of songwriters. As an organization, we interact with more than 400 songwriters in Central, Ohio. We realize our position to advocate for your needs beyond what our organization can provide.

We’d like to invite songwriters in the Central, Ohio are to complete this Grants Needs Assessment. While our organization has a very small operating budget and cannot provide grant funding, we do have the energy to help musicians navigate the available grants through organizations who are directly supported by the City of Columbus bed tax and city budget who have publicized their desire to support the careers of musicians. We are gathering this grants need assessment in hopes to inspire more successful grant applications that support the needs of hundreds of musicians in Central, Ohio.

Please take 5 minutes to complete the grant needs assessment here. Email us at ColumbusSongwritersAssociation@gmail.com with any questions.