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Independent Artists Forum
A Tollbooth Talk
Cornerstone Festival 
Saturday, July 6, 2002

Participants: Beki Hemingway, singer/songwriter; Jeff Elbel, Ping, Farewell to Juliet; Miranda Stone, singer/songwriter
Moderator: Linda LaFianza, co-publisher, The Phantom Tollboothí

Current Climate  The Good News/Bad News
Independent Heroes
You Need an Audience, or is it a very Broad Circle of Friends
Important Career Guides


Beki Hemingway: In the early Ďninties I did a lot of studio background vocals for Wordís alternative label, and from there joined a band called This Train and was in that band for three years a very label called Etcetera, and then decided to go solo when circumstances sort of made that make sense in 1997. Working primarily with my husband and guitarist Randy Kerkman. Weíve both been on small labels before, and we just decided to go at it as independents, mainly because we wanted to be able to play all kinds of venues and see what would fit.

Weíve just released our third CD, called, Loss for Loss for Words and we live in our van.

Miranda Stone: Iím from Toronto Canada. Itís a little bit of a different situation across the border. You folks have a lot of labels here, and as far as the Christian scene, itís virtually non-existent in Canada on any large scale. I am now 27, and I've been writing and doing music as an independent musician for about ten years. I started a label for myself when I was about 19, and still carrying my own music, because thatís the only budget I can do, my own stuff, and on one elseís for the time being. Itís called Earthdress Productions. I just finished a third album; itís about five days old. 

(The third panelist, Jeff Elbel, arrived about ten minutes later.)

Current Climate  The Good News/Bad News

Tollbooth: Letís start with Miranda Stone. What do you think the current climate is for independent artists?

Stone: Thereís pros and cons. With the Internet and with technology being far more accessible for people in my situation, what ends up happening is you get a lot more possibilities, but you are getting so much music now, people are overwhelmed with the choices. Even just in the last few years with women in music, now you throw a rock, and you hit a chick singer who wants to become the next Sarah McLachlan. You have tons of people all trying to mimic their favorite bands so it gets really hard because as an independent artist, youíre trying to struggle through trying to make a living, when there are so many other people saying, ďHey, we want to be a rock star too.Ē 

So thatís the pros and cons of it. More opportunity but now itís more saturated. Really, itís hard. What you are looking at right now is what you are seeing on the port-a-johns. Thatís the climate. You have fifty-million-thousand posters and you get to the point where the public sees so many posters, they just stop looking at them. Iím getting to the point now where Iím going, why am I even postering anymore? Does it make a difference at all? And then, you wonder, as an independent musician, why am I doing this music? Does it matter at all? Is this coming through to anybody, does anybody get it?

Tollbooth: How about south of the border, here in the States. What are you finding, Beki Hemingway?

Hemingway: The same thing that Miranda is saying. The good news is anyone can do it in this climate. The bad news is, anyone can do it. And they are. We do our own booking, and booking people are just so jaded, and so inundated because it is so easy to make a CD now. All you need is a few thousand dollars. Most of us can get a job and save that up over the course of

Stone: Three years.

Hemingway: Thatís definitely an issue. Another good thing, though, is that itís easier to find people now with the Internet. One of the best things about the Internet changing the climate for the indie musician is that we are able to network a little bit better. So, for instance, just a couple months ago, I went up to Toronto. [nods to Miranda Stone] I needed a show, nobody knows me in Toronto, and because we were able to coordinate through email, I was able to work with one of Mirandaís friends to set up a show that actually had people there for my first ever Toronto [appearance]. That wouldínt have happened if it werenít so easy to communicate. 

Stone: Because itís not cheap to call Canada.

Hemingway: Thatís one of the pluses, but the saturation is definitely a difficult thing to overcome.

Independent Heroes 

Tollbooth: Who are some of your independent heroes, Beki?

Hemingway: I thought about this this morning. I had a really hard time because everybody I thought of that was independent and doing really well, like Over the Rhine or Vigilantes of Love, to name two Cornerstone [Festival] bands that have indie success, theyíve been on major labels. In Chicago, we have bands like Jesus Lizard and Poi Dog Pondering and Iíve been to panels that theyíve sat on and theyíve said major labels are horrible, they are evil, blah, blah, blah. And I think, they are the reason that your shows are packed. You may be really mad that they are holding your CD, but you can book any club you want and get a full room, and thatís not really all of your doing.

Stone: I so agree with that.

Hemingway: All the indie bands that I like, I probably do know about them because at some point, they were on a decent-sized label. But I did think of Aimee Mann, who, of course, was a big star in the eighties, but when labels kept dropping her and dropping her and dropping her. She was adventurous and put her CD out on the Internet anyway and did it full scale. I was really happy when that paid off for her. Obviously, Ani DiFranco from a business standpoint is overwhelmingly admirable.  I donít know about heroes, but those are some of my thoughts on who I would watch.

Tollbooth: How about you, Miranda Stone?

Stone: I would say about the same thing, except I would add a person that you guys would never, ever know about because she is Canadian and also because she completely doesnít fit into the Christian Cornerstone scene.  I have a friend named Ember Swift who is part of the gay and lesbian scene and I end up working with a lot of people in that kind of community. She is an independent artist from Toronto and I have never seen a girl work as hard as she has. She has a partner in crime who is sort of a business partner, and they do all the booking themselves, all the managing themselves, every single thing themselves, and they play about 250 shows a year, which is absolutely ludicrous. They have been single-handedly; people know about them now, and they are getting more and more well known across Canada and the States just because they are relentless. I donít know how they keep it up, because I canít keep that up. They completely would never fit into this scene, and they also are probably much more anti-God than anything else. Mind you, often I feel like they are better Christians than I am in some ways because their hearts are really incredible. They are heroes to me.

And the Ani DiFrancoís, again, the Over the Rhineís, the Bill Malloneeís, but again, theyíve been a label before. 

Tollbooth: Miranda Stone, you talked about just not being able to, ďkeep it up.Ē Please expand on some of the pitfalls of being independent, beyond what weíve already talked about? 

Stone: I have a really hard time making phone calls to people for a number of reasons. When you call as Miranda Stone, ďHi, my name is Miranda Stone, Iíve checked out your club, I think itís a really great club, and Iím wondering if you have any openings three months from now, Iím going to do a tour,Ē and they say, ďWhatís your draw?Ē

And you go, ďWell, this is my first or second time playing in your area, I may be. . .Ē and it just goes from there. And you hear, ďListen. We get sixty packages a week. So donít expect to get a gig here.Ē So you get off the phone, and after about fifty phone calls like that, you want to take a gun and shoot yourself in the head, or you just donít want to get up in the morning. Because thereís no buffer.

So sometimes, what ends up happening is, I call as ďSarahĒ because I was born ďSarah.Ē this is a little inside scoop. It is far easier to take rejection or to speak about Miranda Stone when it is not you getting personally rejected in front of this person all the time.

So I say, ďHi, my name is Sarah, Iím calling on behalf of Miranda Stone, suddenly itís like, hereís someone who works for Miranda Stone. It offers a little bit more credibility and they can say, ďNo offense, but you suck,Ē and I can tell them what-for because it wasnít me. 

The pitfalls often are because you are doing all the work yourself. You just donít have the time, you just donít have the energy, even if you are the most creative, responsible, organized person, you just run out of steam. Emotionally, itís just so hard to be by yourself. When I say, ĎI am by myself,í I am by myself. I get up in the morning, and I go, ďWhat do I have to do today?Ē And if it doesnít happen, it doesnít happen. I do have a web girl who works for me, who is awesome. She is very busy, but awesome. With the exception of that, Iím by myself. At some point, Iíd like go get booking and management, but itís hard to find good booking and management, particularly in Canada because support there is support staff. virtually non-existent. No one knows how to do those jobs except if you are in the secular industry and someone in the secular industry doesnít want to work with someone like me because I have, sometimes, a stigma of being at some of these types of festivals and they get a little nervous about that.

Hemingway: Miranda and I are going to agree a lot because we call each other to vent a lot. I would agree with everything she has said. I would add that cash flow is also an issue. Because when youíve got a staff, or youíve to a label behind you, they are going to give you this thing called an advance which you can actually, if you are smart, live on. When you maintain control of your own music, itís a good thing, but you do have to pay up front. 

I cannot do this second name thing. I have friends who are very successful with it. Iím the kind of person that if you compliment my shirt, Iím going to go, ďActually, I bought it at Goodwill for a quarter.Ē I cannot not tell you that. I might be fine on the phone, but I would show up at the club, and as soon as they said something nice, Iíd say, ďActually, thatís me!Ē

The pitfall is, I canít call up and say, ďIím wondering if you have any openings for Beki Hemingway. Sheís so awesome!Ē I have to leave it at, ďI donít suck. Can I send you my CD, and you can tell me what you think?Ē That is a hard thing for me. 

The booking is really a great issue. Cash flow, the burnout, not enough hours in the day, and itís very difficult to find management at this level because at you donít make much money, so a percentage of that is even less money. So if you donít have someone who just wants to sacrifice themselves in order for you to make it, then you arenít going to have an agent.

Tollbooth: Jeff Elbel has arrived. Letís give him a chance to introduce himself.

Jeff Elbel: First of all, I want to say Iím sorry for being late. One of the best suggestions I can give to anybody is to follow through on your responsibilities and be prompt. 

Iíve had problems with integrity on both sides of it, so I feel like I have to be completely up front and accountable to myself, or I canít sleep at night.

Stone: I only do it when Iím really desperate and scared about the person Iím calling and they have a reputation for eating artists alive, or if I am emailing radio stations because I have a girl who sometimes volunteers named Sarah. In fact, Iíve had several Sarahís volunteering at some point, so using Sarah as a name is not even a big issue. But I pull out the bomb only when I need to keep going.

Elbel: I donít say that to judge you. 

Stone:  Oh, Iím not feeling that at all. I just figured maybe I better clarify that.

Tollbooth: It seems to me you were destined for this from birth, since you were given two names.

Stone: I chose a name seven years ago.

Tollbooth: Jeff, could we backtrack a bit now, and have you introduce yourself and your music, and your current project?

Elbel: My name is Jeff Elbel. My musical so-called career started about eleven years ago with a band called Farewell to Juliet from downstate Illinois. We launched an independent label called Marathon records at the time, just for that release, and to be kind of an independent correlation with other bands that we played with just to give us a more professional front which is exactly what Miranda is talking about. That way, at least I could call on behalf of one of my friendís bands and say, ďHello, Iím Jeff Elbel with Marathon Records,Ē and not have them call and say, ďHi, Iím Brian Clark from Solstice, weíre going to have a show, would you like to play us on the radio program?Ē 

Marathon Records has survived, to a degree, for about eleven years now. It followed me to California, and the current project is Ping, which is basically a solo project. I never wanted to be a solo artist and Ping is really more of a collective than an actual band. Itís whoever can amass at the time a tour is going to happen, like this one. Weíre on the road for a couple of weeks in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. 

You Need an Audience, or is it a very Broad Circle of Friends

Tollbooth: If you are going to perform, you need an audience. Do you think your relationship with your fans is different than it would be if you had major label distribution?

Elbel: Yes! Any friend of the band is a personal friend, a personal benefactor. When we get up to play on stage in front of people, itís not the main stage, and itís definitely not an us versus them thing. Itís an ďusĒ thing. If Ping or Farewell to Juliet were to get up on stage and play, itís all community. Weíre entertaining our friends, but I donít really see a need to be up on a four-and-a-half-foot stage. Thatís not what people want when they come to see us. When they come to see us, they just want to see some of their friends play some songs that they like. And every time we play, we hope to broaden that circle of friends. So really, I hesitate to use the word, ďfans.Ē  Itís all about connection at this level, and I like it. Sure, itíd be fun to play one of the major stages, but I love coming to Cornerstone. We see so many people we know every single time, friends from downstate, itís like a homecoming. Thatís kind of the way our entire musical path has been.

Tollbooth: Beki, since you are playing more in Chicago right now, Iím able to follow your career and I know you are hustling, doing everything you can, but I donít go to all of your shows. So someone else does. Do you think that, as you are trying to expand your base, that changes the role of fans?

Hemingway: I know that there is a real difference between when we are doing our own show, and when we have a really good opportunity to open for somebody bigger (thatís not hard!) than us. Iím very aware of who is in the audience. Thereís a part of me that really likes that, and thereís a part of me that feels kind of funny, like, shouldnít we just be sitting down and talking with them because I havenít seen them in a while? Iím very aware when I send out my weekly emailís that my momís next door neighborís little girl, who is five, is on my mailing list, and the president of the Citadel, and if I write anything thatís not G rated, itís going to come back and haunt me the next time I visit my mother. At this level, you can keep tabs, and thatís a great thing because Thursday, when we were doing our set, things were going rough, but thereís something really comforting about that [friends in the audience], but itís also really intimidating at the same time. So itís just different.

When you are on a big label, your fan base is hinging on whether your label wants to put money or time into you. But when you are doing it independently, itís all up to you, and it is very important how you treat people, and it is also a little more fun.

Stone: The only problem with fans in essence being friends is I feel like Iím being worn out so terribly because as your fan base expands, because Iím in Canada, it means that a lot of people that are friends/fans are sometimes twelve hours away, ten hours away. I tell people, ďOh, just call me up.Ē Iíll give people my phone number, and what ends up happening is, I could spend all day, twelve hours, on the phone. I get people who just want to call me up every week, like Iím their own personal friend. When you get that happening with forty, fifty people, you are ready to rip your hair out! Because you realize you cannot give people everything that they want from you.

Hemingway: Donít give out your phone number.

Stone: [laughs] You are a smart girl! I have this desire to be reachable and personable, but then I get to this point where I realize this is killing me. Iím trying to run a business, and I have fifteen-year-old girls calling up about their personal problems, and some of my other musician friends ask, ďHowís counseling service going?Ē That ends up happening. What do I do in the course of a day as an independent musician? I try to talk fourteen-year-old girls out of committing suicide, I try to listen to what is going on to the people who are calling, and I end up feeling guilty because I canít keep up with the amount of personal friendships that results. I want to push everybody away. This whole week, people are coming up to me that are fan/friends. I just keep on telling them, ďOh, yeah, uhm, Iím sorry, I have to, Iíll talk to you later,Ē you keep on telling them, five, six, seven times, ďtalk to you later,Ē and I get to the point where Iím losing my voice, and Iíve got a show tomorrow. 

Thatís the only downfall. When you are on a bigger label and you have thousands of people coming to your show rather than a hundred, or twenty or five, what ends up happening is, they enjoy the show, and then they leave. Sometimes you get a lot of people swarming you, but there tends to be a little bit more of a separation factor in their brains. That person [the artist] is there, and weíre here. A very different mentality. But Iím making my own choices to connect to people and sometimes it burns me.

Hemingway: I had this conversation a couple of weeks ago with my sister-in-law. She was listening to us talk about a friend here and a friend there, and she said, ďYou guys have so many friends!Ē I thought about it for a second and I decided, yeah, we do, but I donít know who are my real friends.

Stone: Iím sorry to interject, but thatís exactly it. I have so many people I know, but I need someone to come over and bake cookies with me, and they are all twelve hours away. When I hit a really bad wall, and Iím suffering in some sort of situation, I have no one, and that is what makes the alone feeling so intense. I come in here, and there are so many people you feel like maybe when you go home, and when you really need someone to take your hand and be there when you get a really bad booking call, there is no one there.

Elbel: You set yourself up in the position of being a healer and not being a patient to anybody.

Stone: Itís hard to develop relationships. Itís the church issue, too. Itís hard to develop relationships of spiritual feeding when you are on the road all the time. Or when you are running your own business and you donít work in someone elseís office where you can develop daily relationships with people.


Tollbooth: Letís talk about success. There has to be a little payoff for this independent thing. Relay one of your better successes; a great show, something that worked, a brilliant moment.

Hemingway: There are a lot of good moments. It is fun do the least little show, and itís great to get a call that says, ďHey, do you want to play with Sean Colvin [sp] next week?Ē Thatís a good day. I must be doing something right. Iím proud of me and Randy that we have been able to make our CDís sound good on a small budget. Thatís rewarding. I tend to write about whatever is on my mind, whatever Iím thinking, but itís kind of nice to step back and go, oh, Iíve learned something. Or to have someone say, ďThat really meant something to me that made me make a positive change,Ē or, ďthat made me think about something in a new way.Ē Thatís not necessarily my goal as a songwriter, but itís nice to hear. Itís my goal maybe as a person. So there are a lot of rewards for me and my husband. 

Elbel: This used to be a very significant issue for me. First of all, success is always out of reach, no matter what.  If that whatís what you are pursuing, you will never find it. When Farewell to Juliet began, our first couple of years, I thought success might be a general market deal. Weíd be able to live entirely as musicians and support our families, no day jobs. I would be able to pursue art. All I pursued was business. I wanted to get booked, I wanted to get signed, trying to get songs placed, thatís all it became. At one point, I said thereís no point to this. Iím not enjoying it. Iím just giving myself ulcers and gray hair. Iím going to quit. 

Finally, I sat back and asked why did I do this in the first place? I did this because I really thought it was important to me to have a relationship with other people in a creative way and to make music because it is what I feel best suited for. 

Now, a raging success is getting through a show with the power staying on and no broken strings. Playing at Cornerstone is a raging success. Being able to finish a record is a raging success. I do feel Iíve finally gotten the perspective to enjoy whatís best about it, and thatís being creative and bringing something into the world.

I could get all silly here. Being a male, I canít bring life into the world, so people talk about songs being their children and sons and daughters, I feel that way about songs. So thatís whatís most important to me. 

Whatís important is the creative process in creating a song. Whatís gratifying is people appreciating and enjoying it. They are two different things.

Stone: You guys have said it all. In some senses I think Iím lost. A couple years Iíve been following the same path that you have and have constantly been getting to the point where I just donít like this anymore. Why am I doing this? And then I ask the question, what is really success for me? Itís a good question. I would have to say success was yesterday for me. Success is playing Cornerstone Festival for five years, not having good sound, and finally having good sound. The power went out on us, but it was restored. The set got cut, but it didnít matter because it was completely wonderful and our sound was good. I could finally, for the first time in five years, hear my guitar in my monitor. 

I often view success as, am I out of debt? Am I being responsible? Am I returning peopleís calls? I grew up in a German family, so weíre all about hard work[laughs], very responsible, so I tend to be a product of that. The gratifying thing of someone saying, ďthat song means this to me,Ē and ďyour song is spiritual to me.Ē As someone who is trying to follow a spiritual path, that means incredible things. I constantly struggle to keep the balance a lot. How do I keep the balance of the material, is this making sense financially, and the emotional/spiritual aspects of things. I get nervous when I donít sell enough albums because I am still a record company.

Hemingway: I am constantly amazed at how many doctors and lawyers come up to me and Randy and say how much they envy our job and wish they were doing what we are doing. We look at them, and I think, you would never make the sacrifice it takes to do what we do. I donít mean it in a snotty way, but I do step back and I think, thatís true! We got a camper on Ebay, we can cook eggs in it, we can sleep in it, weíre going all over the country, Iím with my husband, itís like one big hippie road trip all summer, with some accounting nightmares and some booking nightmares mixed in!

But I have basically recreated summer vacation for this season of my life. Itíll suck when itís time to go back and set the office up again, and there are some other factors I didnít count on that are making it suck a little. But itís summer living for me, and we created that with our little independent CD, so thatís nice. Canít complain.

Elbel: Suffering for your art is axiomatic. Itís a foregone conclusion if you want to make it as a musician, unless God drops a million-dollar record deal in your lap, which is known to happen. Those doctors and lawyers, they can afford to buy the house and have a family.

Hemingway: They cannot make tuna salad in a foot of counter space. You find joy in all this.

Important Career Guides

Tollbooth: One final question for our panelists. Share a scripture or a Bible story thatís been an important guide to you throughout your career, and why.

Stone: There is a line that David says, ďWho am I, and what is my family that you should bless me like this?Ē I keep on going back to that verse and that relates to everything in my life. I look at how I grew up, the country Iím living in. I donít understand why Iím alive to be in the situation Iím in. Itís a blessing, and sometimes I complain about certain things, but I just keep coming back to the psalms, the Book of Job. Why me? It doesnít make sense to me, but it is what it is.

Elbel: First of all, Iíd like to say that if there are any prospective doctors or lawyers in the room, I have no disrespect for your vocation. We are cut from different cloth, and people who are willing to do it should pursue it with vigor. 

Hemingway: Iím actually in a position where I need my attorney like crazy right now!

Elbel: And attorneys and doctors that have a passion for music and art, please support them.

Tollbooth: What is your job?

Elbel: I work in the telecommunications industry. If it were not for said telecommunications industry, I would not be able to do this.

Tollbooth: I like to think of you as a rocket scientist.

Elbel: Yes. I went to school to be one. I have the credential, but I have a maintenance job. 

As far as scripture that is central to what I do, itís very easy. Itís Matthew 6:34. I think of it every day. I wrote an entire fourteen song cycle about it because it is something Iíve always struggled with to try to remember to make it part of my life. Itís the words of Christ, to paraphrase, donít worry about tomorrow, tomorrowís got enough things to worry about of its own. Basically, try your best to be content where you are, and make the best of what youíve got, whatever it may be. Itís a tough one to learn and Iím finding that as I try harder to do it that itís easier to live with myself.

Hemingway: I did just like I do in every restaurant. I narrowed it down to two. I used to have this verse on my fridge that said, ďGive me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.Ē But now I really wouldnít mind riches, and I think I am mature enough to handle them, so thatís off the fridge.

Randy and I got in a huge argument and I was so upset with the way that he was talking to me, and Iím sure I had things to apologize for, but Iíve decided that what I really wanted to do to resolve this was to have him write out all these verses about the Noble Wife, and hang them up around our home, and he obliged me. But he put this one right by the bed, about getting up early in the morning:

ďShe sets about her work vigorously. Her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable and her lamp does not go out at night. . . she can laugh at the days to come. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children call her blessed [I donít have any] and her husband praises her.Ē

It was a real good challenge for me. Because like Miranda, sometimes you wake up in the morning and ask, what do I have to do today? When you donít have a regular job, itís just really hard to make that list so itís easy to sleep in because you are not sure why you are getting up until you get up if you havenít made the list. So I would wake up and see that, ďShe sets about her work vigorouslyÖ..her husband praises her,Ē well all right. Thatís probably what it looks like to be a successful independent musician, too.

Questions from the audience

Q: You mentioned VoL earlier. Bill Mallonee was in here yesterday and he mentioned that despite being on a big record label, he never really made any money off of it. But you mention the successfulness even independent artists have experienced thanks to past major label deals. If a major record deal were to come along, would you take it? 

Hemingway: It would depend on the deal. What all of my musical friends tend to say is, if you want a good major label deal, it needs to be them pursuing you. Thatís given me relief about pursuing one. Iím not pursuing one, but it doesnít mean I wouldnít welcome the right one. But the best way for me to get it is to be an independent artist selling as many CDís as I can. 

Elbel: My case is entirely different from these other two, who are trying to make their living entirely from music. I would like to be doing that, but the fact of the matter is, ten years on, Iím not. If somebody were to offer me a record deal that had good distribution, I would take it because the music would be getting to more people, presumably, and thatís what Iím in it for. To make the connection of myself through songs to other people. Ideally, I would be able to make a living at it, but Iím not expecting it because it hasnít happened. Since it hasnít happened yet, itís not likely to, but thatís not going to keep me from trying my best. But yes, Iíll take all comers, as long as there is no crossroads deal signed in blood. 

I donít expect to make money from my songs, I would prefer to own them as a matter of principal. To have the freedom to do with them whatever I chose to do, whatever I saw fit to be best for the music. Making money, I gave up. Itís not about that now. But that does not relate to other people.

Stone: The one thing with being independent, the up front costs are sometimes steep; I just spent $20,000 making an album. Iíve been saving three years for that. Itís a down payment on a house. I am now currently in debt. This is the first time in ten years, and thatís terrifying to me. I wasnít expecting that, but I went over budget for a variety of reasons. But the thing is, God willing, once I pay off that money, my initial costs, even if itís a year, two, three years down the road, I still own the songs. Then say someone gives you $10. Some of that goes to tax, and if you are not paying 25% commission for the festival you are playing, then you are putting that money in your pocket, and itís going to go to the next album. Some of my friends are in bands and they have to pay 15% to their booking guy, 15% to their manager, etceteras. Do they live off the 1% after everything else is taken? Well, if you want to sell your soul to the devil you can, just try to make it work a little bit for you. 

As an independent, you are in the possibility of making your money back, and you donít owe it to anybody else.

Elbel: I have been on record label. I played with EDL[sp ] for two years, co-wrote an entire record, toured, did all the promotional work for that album, and to date, Iíve made $600. Thatís the value of being on a record label.

Stone: One last thing to say, though. The reason I surviving right now is that I have a little bit of an edge. Iím Canadian and my money is worth 40% less than yours. Most of my touring happens in the states. What ends up happening is, my expenses are more, but when I make $300 dollars at a gig, or $200, or $50, or $5, it still translates over into a higher amount of dollars. So if I make $20,000 in a year, that turns into $26  $27,000 Canadian, which sometimes is enough for me to survive.

Now, unfortunately, with the September 11 thing, Iím in a really bad situation because Iíve put all my eggs in the U.S. basket. Iím having trouble getting my visa, and they are doing terrorists-style background checks on everyone trying to get a temporary work permit. I may be losing my entire livelihood within the next year. So I donít know how long I keep on doing what Iím doing. I currently have not been doing any shows in Canada or building that market at all. Itís very difficult in Ontario. You drive for 24 hours to get to the next major city. If I were doing only shows in Canada, I couldnít do it for a living. If I think too much about it Iíll cry. I canít think too much about it, I just have to do what I have to do. 

Tollbooth: Letís turn that into a prayer request for your fans and supporters. Unfortunately, we are out of time. 


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