Recording artist Marci Geller shares some words of wisdom and encouragement!
Marci rarely needs an introduction in New York as she reaches thousands of listeners every year, but has also reached millions of viewers nationally through television & radio appearances. We asked Marci to speak on her methods for building a successful career in music and were illuminated by her responses.
LBFH: How were you first drawn to music?
MG: Apparently it was an instinct from the beginning. My parents tell me that as soon as there was any music playing, I would start smiling and “bopping” to it. There are videos of me doing the “Twist” before I was able to even stand on my own. I also was very drawn to my Great Aunt Mimi’s piano and started tinkering on my own. My parents bought me an Emeny organ for Christmas when I was three, and had it plugged in and turned on. They awoke to the sound of their three year old playing “Silent Night” by ear!
LBFH: At what age did you give your first performance; can you describe for us what it was like?
MG: Hmmmm, I’m sure the actual first moment was for some type of school thing. The first actual professional performance I recall was at a venue was when I was 16. I read in the paper that a venue in Mineola called the “Round Table” was auditioning acts to play during the summer. I lied about my age and I remember being too naive to be nervous. I wound up getting “hired” as part of their weekly “review,” and worked that summer with the MC who was a comedienne named Rosie O’Donnell! She was definitely intimidating to me and I thought didn’t like me because she kind of ignored me. I remember her coming towards me the last night I kind of cowered because she was much taller. She looked me in the eyes and said “I’d kill for a voice like yours” and then went on her way. That was the only time we ever spoke, and it made me really happy.
LBFH: You’ve made television appearances is that correct? Which ones?
MG: The big one was “Live! with Regis” which was part of a series they did called “New Discoveries Week.” They had a different act each day for a week ranging from Broadway to Blues. I was supposed to be their “Lilith Fair Type.” I was on Good Day NY early in my career. I had a record deal and performed at the Rainbow Room for the famous Erte’s 90th birthday party. It was pretty surreal. I was also on CNN World Beat, Dance Party USA, Better CT, Fox Morning Show. Ticket with Laura Savini and probably a dozen or so news programs.
LBFH: Can you describe what that was like; were you nervous playing in front of a studio audience?
MG: I was shaking so hard during the Regis appearance I was amazed I was able to get through it. I look back at the video and I’m thankful that you really can’t see it. It was very, very terrifying to know that a live performance was being broadcast to about 10million homes.
LBFH: many musicians would consider television a big break, but I get the feeling that it was not just luck that landed you on TV, did you have to work hard to orchestrate that?
MG: I always tell people that you never know when opportunity will avail itself to you, so you should always perform like you’re at Madison Square Garden, even if there are three people in the audience. I have always been a very, very diligent, relentless worker when it comes to my music. The TV opportunities came because I was prepared. A producer saw me perform at a friends birthday celebration at a club in the village. He asked for a package and said it was unlikely that he could help in any way, but months later I received a phone call asking if I wanted to be submitted for a contest they were throwing called “New Discoveries Week.” I said sure, forgot about it and then got another call from a different producer telling me I was a finalist. When I was actually selected, I had four days to rearrange my song for 2minutes, rehearse with the cellist and figure out what to wear! I was ready because I had been preparing my whole life. That is really the crux of it. You have to stop thinking about it as a race and realize it’s a marathon, and you need to be willing to endure the ups and downs.
LBFH: After browsing your website and Facebook page and some other of your social media links, it is very clear that you work diligently at “creating” your own exposure. Do you consider your efforts a major contributor to your success?
MG: I consider them part of the entire process. When you decide to lead a creative life, you also have to be willing to consider your art as a product. It is a business. How would you sell cupcakes if you were a baker? The same applies to music. You need to get the product out there and get people who love it to share there opinion with other potential customers. That’s the beauty of social media, it’s pretty much a virus that travels information around and infects others.
LBFH: Have you tried to market yourself nationally, or do you focus your attention on local?
MG: I do both, as well as international.
LBFH: How much promotion do you do for each performance, can you elaborate on your process?
MG: I have a system; he first thing I do is contact the venue with a booking checklist that gathers all the information I need to add the show to my various online calendars and also create Facebook events. My checklist requests a media list from the venue and also asks how much promo material they can distribute, hang. I then create posters/flyers which are sent to the venue (unless the venue creates their own in which case I supply my head-shot and bio). I then write a press release and send it out to everyone on the media list. I try to book radio interviews and news appearances on local shows. Of course, I send out a monthly newsletter talking about the shows and also blast it out on Facebook and Twitter.
MG: You have also produced CD’s. Do you work in a home based studio? Yep. I was previously a partner in a studio called Sonic Underground with my husband Gian DiMauro and two other partners Paul Michael Barkan and John Tabacco. My husband and I bought our first home almost ten years ago and we dissolved our studio partnership. In 2011, I decided I needed a studio again, so I took my savings and invested in building a new facility in our basement.
LBFH: How much of the recording process and distribution set up do you get involved with?
MG: 100%, and I’ll be honest, I don’t enjoy it all the time. I am much happier in live performance situations.
LBFH: What do you see as the next logical step in your artistic evolution?
MG: I am beginning to think that the next focus will be seeing if other artists are interested in covering any of my songs. I’ve had a few friends do so, but never tried to get a more established artist to hear anything.
LBFH: Have you ever gone through a period in your professional life where you doubted if the music life was for you?
MG: I never doubted that music was for me, but I certainly doubted whether I had a thick enough skin for the music business! It can be heartless and very anti-creative. I’ve really had to create my own business model and support system.
LBFH: Your music is very thought provoking and you write a lot about your feelings. Do you think this has created a unique following for you?
MG: Sure! I think that if someone is yearning for a songs that state political commentary, I’m probably not the artist for them. If someone is looking to make a heart connection with someone who makes themselves emotionally vulnerable, I’ll probably be more up their alley.
LBFH: Describe what success means to you.
MG: From a soul perspective, success means creative and emotional fulfillment. From an economic and business perspective it means being able to pay my bills without thought.
LBFH: What do you hope that others will see in you as an artist and a personality?
MG: Hopefully authenticity, kindness, strength and love.
LBFH: Many musicians are afraid to really put themselves out there and often play down their talent. What is the biggest musical risk you ever had to take?
MG: I take that risk every day whether it’s to perform a show or share a song on the internet!
LBFH: So what new projects is Marci Geller working on?
MG: The next CD! J
LBFH: If you could give advice to musicians who want to build a career in writing and performing, what are some of the “Must Know” point you would tell them, and what supportive advice would you give?
MG: It’s the same advice I would give anyone starting a business: Treat everyone with kindness, because the people you meet on the way up will be the same you meet on the way down, be financially responsible, don’t expect anyone but you to support you financially or otherwise, if you don’t believe enough to risk years of your life, choose something else that will give you more stability and make music for YOU! Work hard, stay focused, be positive and give your whole heart!
Links To Marci Geller:
About the interviewer:
Thomas Mangano is a composer and a performer living on Long Island, NY. He is the owner of a production services company that provides music, soundscapes and effects to professionals in film and media industries. He is also the founding member of the Boutcher/Mangano Jazz Trio and currently serves as the Music Director for the Custer Observatory.
To learn more about Thomas, Please visit his website: Thomasmangano.com