At the end of March I was halfway through my European tour. I had been anticipating and working towards this tour for years and I had manifested this whole thing years before to get back to Europe and really get things happening there.. The audiences were amazing and digging in to the shows. I felt I was performing better than ever and my band that I use over there was on fire. Apart from missing my family I felt pretty stoked and so grateful for this career I’ve managed to carve out for myself. I started hearing whispers about this virus that was starting to spread it’s way around the world but I dismissed it and I had no idea what was about to unfold but I was resolute to try and keep playing the shows for as long as I could. I was in Spain and hanging to get in to France to play at some pretty big festivals which this tour leading towards. However, as the days went on and more and more gigs where getting cancelled the cancellation of the tour became inevitable. Resignation turned to panic on the way to the airport as Spain was declared in a state of emergency and by the time I got back in to Australia I was pretty grateful to be back with my little family. The full magnitude of what was transpiring was dawned on me as ALL of my shows (my main source of income) even here in Australia had to be cancelled for upwards of six months!!!!
With a mortgage, two kids, and my wife’s business similarly suffering it felt pretty dark there for a few days. I don’t believe in letting external realities dictate my inner reality so I worked hard during these dark days to keep mentally resilient and focus on what I had power to change. I resisted the temptation for things to be different to what they were and focused on what I could. What am I good at? How can I bring in some money to keep us afloat? What do people need? Well I know that I am good at music, I know I am good at adapting, I am good at communicating and I have some skills that people might want. So first up and within a matter of days I set up online guitar lessons, vocal coaching, online private gigs all on the Zoom platform and some money started to filter in. This was by no means my dream job or what I saw myself doing but I realised it wasn’t about my ego. It’s firstly about feeding my family and secondly embracing what is and thirdly if I am going to do something I am going to do it the best possible way I can, so I focused on delivering the goods 100% to whoever was good enough to employ my services. And that felt great!
It is such an uncertain time and uncertainty can cause people to be paralysed with fear causing procrastination. You might want to sit and watch the news to stay informed. I can tell you I have not watched the news in over a decade and I still manage to stay informed. The news builds fear and fear is one of the most destructive forces in your life. It becomes a habit and gives you every reason why you can’t do x y and z and if you believe you can’t do it you are absolutely right!! I prefer to strive for the things I want and leave it up for life itself to tell me what I can’t do. But it’s my job to strive not to decide what I can’t do before I have even tried.
I was determined to not sit around watching Netflix feeling sorry for myself the antidote for that is to take action! I also focused on taking pride in how I dealt with this situation, I was looking for that silver linings and opportunities in this seemingly adverse environment. And they are everywhere.
I started to connect with my audience through live streams on social media and paid zoom concerts and I began to realise how much people enjoyed it how much they needed the connection and the distraction through music. After all live music is in our DNA and it’s what has brought us together throughout the ages. During this same time my wife Danni excitedly informed me she had booked us tickets to watch our friend Liz Stringer perform a live concert on the Youtube platform. We made a cheese platter, set up the TV and had a great old time. Rather than your normal livestream because we had paid for tickets we had the strong sense of being excited about the gig. Liz was awesome as always and we had a great night in.
I awoke to the news early the next morning that I was to be doing a similar ticketed gig that Danni had organised without consulting me and her excitedly telling me that my job was just to figure out how to pull it off. It was actually quite stressful especially after we started to sell tickets and I still hadn’t fully worked out how to make the technicalities of it happen. But, I just kept reminding myself new things are not supposed to be easy. This was completely new territory and I was WAY out of my depth but I knew I would work it out. And I did. But I wasn’t alone. I got a team. I had no money to pay my team so I had to ask them to work on commission based off the sales. I used my sister who is awesome at implementing and my brother in law has just finished a Facebook ads course and my neighbour who is a great videographer and I took responsibility for the sound and we were all in it together learning on the job. We sold over 600 tickets and the gig was a huge success. The audience loved it and my inbox was flooded the next day with messages of gratitude. It may have gone down as one of my most memorable gigs. If you weren’t there it’s kind of hard to explain the palpable connection and sense of community, we had. We all got paid really well at the end and I just feel so stoked to be able to share in something like that with my audience.
It’s not just in live music but in any situation. As we confront the so called “New Norm” we should realise that change itself is the “New Norm”. If you can think outside of the box and take action you will be rewarded. Not just financially but if you can reach out to your wider community they may appreciate it more than you could ever guess. You will learn new things by challenging yourself and that is one of the greatest gifts you can get from any situation.
Something in the human spirit dies when we feel we are in a rut. Adversity is the challenge that when met with open arms becomes the catalyst for growth.
Ash's new live online concert will be held on June 5th AEST ticket link here.