S. J.’s Blog

Read S.J’s most recent blog posts!


May 1, 20

I released a new song this morning, and you may have it at the price of your choosing (that includes free, if free is what you need). Check it out in the player up top.

I wrote “Star Maps” in 2017 and had not yet made plans to record or release it when my online show audience this past month fell utterly in love with it.  Thanks to them for the push to polish and set this one free.  It’s all about missing your people when you can’t be face to face, and how we’re all more connected than we might even be able to imagine, stars in each others’ sky.  I hope you like it.

For the second time since the pandemic took hold, Bandcamp, the company who hosts my downloads & CD ordering page, is today waiving their cut of music sales.  So it’s a great day to purchase downloads and CDs from artists like me.  I have set everything I can afford to do this with to “name your price” at http://music.sjtucker.com —that means if you need it for free while we’re all navigating this strange spring together, free is ok by me.  Please help yourselves.  

—I’m only giving one online show this month so that I can catch my breath a bit and have some more time, hopefully, to work on recording.  It’ll be another Sunday afternoon concert, May 17 at 2pm CDT (3pm Eastern, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific, 7pm GMT) hosted by Online Concert Thing once again.  Get your ticket at the price you choose here: 

–I’ve been working behind the scenes in recent weeks with the Online Concert Thing team to help manage all their new social media pages!  Please subscribe to the new Online Concert Thing YouTube channel if you don’t mind:   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUD0lJBUdpBw2vHglatb3Ig  I’ve already made one exclusive new interview video for it, and I’ve promised at least one more exclusive video of some sort, to be edited and posted very soon!  I’ll be shouting about the new OCT Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram soon as well.

Shows and festivals continue to evaporate from my tour calendar, including big events like Pagan Spirit Gathering next month, and a trip to Finland I hadn’t even been able to announce yet, and while I know this is the right thing for event organizers to do in order to keep us all safe, I freely admit that I am doing a lot of processing about it, even grieving.  I also worry about friends and fans who have had the rug utterly pulled out from under them where things to look forward to are concerned.  Festival season means a lot to so many of us, and well, this year it just isn’t meant to be.  We must be wise and find other ways to reach and reach out to each other.  Please don’t lose heart.  Know that if you’re also grieving current events, loss of normalcy, loss of work, and of course loss of loved ones, you are not alone.  Keep watching the stars. Keep shining. Keep singing. I’ll be right here with you. 

New interview, online shows April 22 & 25!

Apr 21, 20

Online Concert Thing, the platform that hosts my online shows, has a new YouTube channel, and we’ve put up a short interview video from me, just under five minutes. Watch below if you please (and find out what I had for breakfast, lol, plus how it feels to do more online shows vs. in-person shows).  Captions coming soon.

I promised to film a second exclusive for the channel as soon as it got its first 100 subscribers, and that goal is now met! I’ve had requests for a mini tour of the pretty trees and flowers where I live (and where it’s safe to show them to you whilst also social distancing & staying home), recording studio time, and a new song.  I’m thinking of combining all three of those somehow.

Reminder: Celia and I BOTH have live online shows for Earth Day (tomorrow, April 22) hosted by https://onlineconcertthing.com – I start at 2pm CDT/7pm GMT, and she starts at 7pm CDT! Make a day of it with us if you have the time.  Just click the link above for tickets and more info.  

If you miss my Earth Day show, don’t worry.  You can watch it again at that same link, on April 25th at 8pm CDT during our 2-act replay–my Earth Day set is Act 1, and my Evening in Eleusis show inspired by the Greek gods and myths, never before streamed on the platform, is Act 2! You’re also welcome to become a monthly or yearly subscriber, or join my Patreon. With either of those, regardless of the subscription or pledge level you choose, you’ll get access to the archived videos, which I’ll share early next month.

Hang in there, everyone.  Thanks for staying connected with me during this strange springtime of ours.  Hope to see you for one or both of the online shows this week. 

Schedule updates & stuff

Mar 14, 20

In light of the need to adapt how I do my thing in the season of the virus, as many of you have also had to do in recent days, I have added a new online show for this month:

March 21 (next Saturday) 7-9pm CDT, I’ve just added an online show shared with Ginger Doss & Lynda Millard. I’ll play during the first hour.
This was originally a live show at Fayetteville, AR’s Goddess Festival; the organizers have let us take the reins to host it online instead. Same link as usual, http://onlineconcertthing.com

My March 29 online show at 2pm CDT is going on as planned.  Same link above.

All of my live events for the month of April have been postponed, which is necessary and the right thing, so I expect to add yet more online concerts for next month. Y’all please share any dates/times/days of the week you’d be able to tune in to online concerts for April. I want to include those of you who expect to be working from home, or to be home during weekdays whether able to work or not. I may ramp up how often I stream to help keep our spirits up. I’ve been thinking of maybe even streaming some of my rehearsals or recording sessions, too. Those would likely be free instead of ticketed. Whatever it takes to stay connected.

Lots of my colleagues are taking steps to make sure they can stay connected with fans and community during this national emergency. It’s possible that you’ll all soon have MANY, MANY online events to choose from, and I think that’s great news! It’s a tiny bright spot, anyway, so I’ll celebrate it. Just today I received a message about a Seattle online concert series called Bandemic. How clever is that?
Watch for more important announcements and clever puns from your various bards and faves!
For me and mine, the hashtag I’d like all of you to keep an eye out for on Twitter and other social media, thanks to my song sibling Kate Nyx, is #CabinFeverCabaret.  We’ll be using that to help spread the word about each other’s online shows in the near future, inviting other performers to use it as well, and asking you all to RT whenever you see it. We may not be able to hug each other tight safely right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop the music. Not.  At.  All.

If you know of another musician who’s scrambling to figure out how to adapt and make up for cancelled performances this month, you’re welcome to share with them the article I wrote yesterday, for just such a situation, on where and how to begin offering streaming concerts online.  Here is the link.  I wrote this article with my friend Ben’s encouragement, and I hope it will do some good, soothe some fears.  A brief excerpt: 

Online shows have legitimately been a game changer for me.  They’ve allowed me to tour less during winter weather.  They’ve helped me afford to visit friends without having to book a ton of live shows to do it.  More recently, they’ve helped me to keep bringing in vital income while also taking extra time off the road as a new parent.  Some of us have had to turn to streaming because of our journeys with chronic pain, anxiety, or agoraphobia. It’s a real and true lifeline, for performers and for our fans who can’t always get to a live show.  In recent days we’ve all been facing show cancellations and a devastating news cycle, but even in the face of it all, we don’t have to stop the signal. 

We live in the future, folks.  Let’s make it work for us. Keep creating, wash your hands, and remember that the music you put out there has billions of chances to help someone when they need it most.

Recap of upcoming schedule changes:

-Goddess Festival, Fayetteville, AR, March 21:  this concert is now online only and open to everyone, 7-9pm CDT, shared with Ginger Doss & Lynda Millard.  http://onlineconcertthing.com  Your tickets & tips support the artists, the platform, and the festival too. $5 minimum, more if you wish.

-Online show March 29, 2pm CDT: going on as planned, no changes. http://onlineconcertthing.com

-SpiritCon in Utah, concert April 4:  postponed until September, fingers crossed.

-C. o. O. L. Beltane in Oklahoma, April 24: postponed and transforming into Samhain, concert most likely on Oct 30.

None of my May events have been called off yet, as far as I know, but of course that’s subject to change.  I’ll keep y’all posted. 
Again, please tell me when’s good for you for online shows for the month of April, and I’ll get them set up.

Last thing, just for fun: come follow me on TikTok.

Streaming Concerts in the Year of the Pandemic: solid options for touring musicians who can’t hit the road right now

Mar 13, 20

All of my live concerts from now through May 1st are officially postponed, fam. I’m proud of the events I’ve been working with for making the right decisions and wanting to keep us all healthy if possible. Here’s an article I just wrote in support of my fans and colleagues, and anyone who wants to know more about giving or watching online concerts right now, where staying out of crowds is a smart move. Stay safe; I love you.

I’m a touring performer.  I first took to the road full time in 2004, shortly after the music industry had a huge shift in favor of making indie artists’ working lives a lot more viable.  Since my early days on the road, the internet has grown, and we’ve gained live streaming options for all sorts of online content creators, not just musicians.  Online concerts and similar have become something that more than a few people are aware of.  Platforms like Twitch, Facebook Live, YouTube, StreetJelly, and many others are out there, available to most of us to help us do our thing in all our varied and colorful ways.  

I first consistently added online concerts to my modus operandi in the spring of 2017, a few months after a fellow indie performer had showed me how useful they could be.  That was back when we had access to a musician-founded platform called Concert Window, may it rest in peace.  Nowadays I’m deeply invested in a new platform called Online Concert Thing (OCT), founded October 2019 by a very capable, very good friend and band mate of mine.  The name started as a joke made by my husband, and it very rapidly stuck.  OCT’s founder has asked me to write something up that we could share around, about how to make online concerts work for you, my fellow musicians, as we all face Massive Career Upheaval in the Time of Coronavirus.

Before I go any further: the platform I use for streaming shows may not be the right fit for you, and that’s fine.  Plenty of us use Twitch, Facebook Live, Vimeo & Patreon, YouTube Live, and other options successfully, even simultaneously.  My buddy Ben and I have put significant effort into getting Online Concert Thing going and keeping it going, because we found after researching platforms like Twitch and StreetJelly that those didn’t fit our specific needs.  As with most things, YMMV, and it’s all good.   

If the thought of giving an online concert is completely new to you, don’t panic.  

Here are the basics of what you’ll need.

1. You need an internet connection, and you need a device which will reliably stay connected to it for the duration of your stream.  Desktop, laptop, mobile device; whichever suits your needs best.

2. You need to choose a streaming platform, or several.  All the streaming platforms I’ve mentioned so far have decent artist-user interfaces, and most of them simply require you to create an account before you stream.  Not all are simple or straightforward, though, so do a little research and find the one(s) that suit you.  Read reviews.  Ask your friends and colleagues.  Figure out what’ll work for You.  

3. You need your laptop, mobile device, or desktop to be able to send both a video AND an audio signal out to the internet, and you need to make sure all of your gear will work together with itself and with the platform you choose for streaming.  You can keep your gear simple, which is my preference, or get fancy.  I run my online show video and audio with my laptop’s internal camera and an external USB microphone (the Blue Snowball is my streaming mic of choice), and I have had very few complaints from my viewers about sound or video quality.  That said, I do most of my streams as a solo performer, which means my sound setup is gonna be simpler than that of a due, a 3-piece band, a quartet, or a whole music festival.  Friends of mine have used a USB interface with multiple inputs, sometimes with a separate sound board feeding into it, multiple microphones, and multiple cameras.  You do you, and go to whatever level you feel your content requires. 

4. You need a bit of physical space.  You want room enough for yourself, your instruments, and your cameras/laptop.  You want to be comfortable while you’re on camera, just as you would on stage, so make sure you have enough room to stand/sit/dance during your streamed performance, make sure there’s room enough for your instruments not to hit a wall or an overhead lamp while you play, and make sure there’s room enough for your cameras and computer to be set up, stably.  If you’ll be hosting the stream in your own home as I often do, finding a way not to have large or loud pets and relatives crashing through in the middle of a song isn’t always possible for all of us, but avoid those interruptions if you can.  Make sure your family/house mates know what you’re planning, and recruit them to help keep the peace while you work.  Also, check what your camera sees.  Consider whether you will want to use a back drop, give yourself more lighting, get your laundry pile out of the camera’s view, or move any furniture.  I like giving online shows in part because it’s a way to offer an intimate concert experience, at home or abroad, but I would draw the line at having a visible toilet on screen, for instance.  You don’t have to get super fancy with your decor, either.  Back me up here, fellow theatre kids: a clean bed sheet and a pair of C-clamps (or a clothesline and clothespins) can have a thousand uses.

5. You need to know before you stream whether or not the platform that’s hosting you is set up to do so via your web browser, or via an external program like OBS.  The platform you’re using will most likely give you instructions on all of this, or include it in their FAQ.  However the thing is set up to run make sure you know what you’re doing with it before you go live for the first time.  Test before every stream if possible, know your own gear, and remember to check and get familiar with all of your settings.  Do test broadcasts, and ask a friend to watch on the other end and give you feedback on how it looks and sounds, all before you plan to go live.  In the case of OCThing, we’ve been using OBS to send our feed to the website and from there to viewers’ web browsers, and we’ve had very few problems with it.  Ben and I do a brief test broadcast/soundcheck before almost every stream goes live.

6. You need to know before you begin whether or not you want or need to make money on what you’re doing.  Figure this out before you decide on one or more platforms with which to stream, because not all of them work the same in this regard.  Some have a framework in place to allow you to make money on your streams right away.  Others do not.  Some have criteria you must meet before they will consider you worthy of earning any kind of currency, be it site-specific crypto-whatever, or real-world dollars.  Know all of this before you perform, just as you would with a live show.  OCT allows me to set my own ticket price for online shows, offer exclusive downloads and physical goodies as what we call tip rewards, and pays out via PayPal after each show is complete, taking just 25% of the gross.  

7. You need to promote your online concert just as you would a live concert.  If you’re familiar with popular social media stuff like Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and others, use those to your advantage.  Make 30-second teaser videos for Facebook and TikTok.  Go live on YouTube & Instagram a few days ahead of time to tell your fans you’ve got a streaming show coming up.  Post images of your setup on Facebook.  Make a Facebook event, even if Facebook gives you hives, because guess what, some people who like your work may still be living on that platform and will never check anything else, not even your website.  Come up with hashtags, use them on Twitter and elsewhere, and encourage your fans to use them as well when they mention you in their own posts or tweets.  Draw a goofy stick figure with your stream link, date, and time, and post a picture of it to Instagram.  Anything to get people interested.  Tell your email list.  Remind them on the day of.  Add the online show to your tour schedule page or Bandzoogle, whatever you have.  People can’t watch you if they don’t know it’s happening.  Also, just as with live shows, you have to tell people more than once.  Y’all who’ve promoted your own selves for a while, you know the drill. Lastly, make sure you mention the stream’s scheduled date, start time, and the link to watch it every time you post or tweet or whatever.  The easier you make it for people to figure out how to see your stream, the more likely they are to show up.

8. Consider making it a habit to capture backup video and audio recordings of all of your streams if you can.  Some software, like OBS, will do this for you right there in the user interface.  You can always use those backup recordings as perks for your Patreon people, as goodies for a giveaway or benefit auction, downloads on your website, or new content for your YouTube channel.  This ties in with #9.

9.  If you’ve researched, checked your connection, checked your hardware, checked your software, tested, sound-checked, and done your best to prevent fuckery, but everything still falls apart once you go live, try not to take it personally.  Sometimes the tech simply isn’t in our favor, and we have to try again another day, or hunt for a workaround.  During one of my recent streams, my rural ISP was just not up to the task, and we had to shut the show down early.  I made it up to my paying audience by immediately recording video of the rest of what I’d planned to sing for them, and with Ben’s help, sending the full-length, briefly edited video out to them the very next day.  Nobody asked for a refund.  Since it’s clear my only available ISP has some limitations I can’t fix, Ben and I are planning to stream a pre-recorded concert for at least one of my upcoming scheduled streams.  This is another option worth considering, and platforms like YouTube offer it, too.  You can always upload a prerecorded show, then if your host platform has a chat window, you can watch it *along with* your audience, and visit with them while they watch your show.

Online shows have legitimately been a game changer for me.  They’ve allowed me to tour less during winter weather.  They’ve helped me afford to visit friends without having to book a ton of live shows to do it.  More recently, they’ve helped me to keep bringing in vital income while also taking extra time off the road as a new parent.  Some of us have had to turn to streaming because of our journeys with chronic pain, anxiety, or agoraphobia. It’s a real and true lifeline, for performers and for our fans who can’t always get to a live show.  In recent days we’ve all been facing show cancellations and a devastating news cycle, but even in the face of it all, we don’t have to stop the signal. 

We live in the future, folks.  Let’s make it work for us. Keep creating, wash your hands, and remember that the music you put out there has billions of chances to help someone when they need it most.

Two Online Shows in March!

Feb 28, 20

I’m able to do both evening and afternoon streaming concerts now after a successful one of each this past month! We had good-sized crowds for both February streams, and some new viewers as well; thank you all for staying involved! Both shows will stream on our new grassroots platform, Online Concert Thing! Go here to watch. More details below!

S. J. Tucker: Crow Moon Tunes Online Concert!

Monday, March 9 8pm CST 

Online concerts are a bit of a paradox: both as plugged in and as unplugged as you can get, all at the same time.  It makes sense that they should involve a bit of magic!  Join Sooj for some music and mischief as the Full Crow Moon (also known as the Worm Moon, the Sap Moon, and the full moon for the month of March) rises high!  Choose your own ticket price ($1 minimum, more if you wish), get comfy, and enjoy on the screen of your choice!  Exclusive moon- and corvid-themed goodies will be available in the tip rewards, and Sooj will perform original songs from her mythpunk, witchy catalogue that fit the theme of March’s full moon & its traditional names.  Sign on and be part of the magic!

S. J. Tucker: Sunday Matinee online show!

Sunday, March 29 2pm CST

Come enjoy a musical lazy Sunday with Sooj as she celebrates the recent anniversary of her very first record’s release, the slightly-belated spring equinox, and an early April Fool’s Day!  We’ll get a little silly, a little serious, and who knows what else, but the music- original songs that fit the time of year from Sooj’s fun, fanciful catalogue, will absolutely be worth your time.  So get comfy, choose your own ticket price ($1 minimum, more if you wish), and watch from wherever you are!  Online shows never run out of seats, so bring a friend, a pet, your whole trivia team; you can even take the opportunity to connect with friends far away in the chat window!     

Our new streaming platform, Online Concert Thing, is run by independent musicians, for independent musicians.  Thanks for supporting the music you love in this wacky, 21st-century way; your presence & participation make a difference!

1157 Remixes are here!

Jan 24, 20

2 tracks available now via Bandcamp, and the main mix has been sighted in the Apple Music store, should be hitting Spotify & all the rest very soon if it hasn’t yet! I wrote this song in early 2015 after a nightmare, plus learning about the Doomsday Clock, and…well. Again, here we are, closer to Midnight by nearly half that. My goal & my hope is to help us process and survive our (my) worst fears with this piece and its b-side remix, rather than just poking them with a stick to stir them up.

If any of you are up for publishing a review of one or both remixes, please let me know, and let me offer you a free download in return! Podcast hosts, same offer applies. Write to me: sjtuckermusic@gmail.com

For those curious about my recording studio process with these: the main remix has better and more tasteful EQ to my ears, with the drum elements & some vocal effects rearranged just slightly. The b-side mix has barely any drum elements at all, giving the strings & things a bit more space to shine. I used a service called CloudBounce for mastering, and I think that went well.

Thank you all for listening, even to the scary things. Watch the stars and hold the light burning in your heart.

Coming Soon: brand new 1157 remix single!

Jan 18, 20

In a few days, hopefully: my digital distributor will make my 2020 remix of “1157” available on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, and all the rest! If you’d like to hear it TODAY, join my Patreon for all-Patron access to the mastered new mix!

1/24/2020: watch my download page for my 2020 remix PLUS a b-side! I’ll release both tracks there that day. Again, if you don’t want to wait, hear them right now for as little as $1 by joining my Patreon.

New Music Video Appearance!

Jan 5, 20

Catch me doing a couple moves & some zills work in Ginger Doss’s brand new music video for her song, “Mandala”, which is a straight up work of art itself! The video debut was January 4th, and it went beautifully. Ginger & Lynda have been good friends of mine for many years now, but I’m still a little starstruck at times. This video, seeing the three of us together as part of Ginger’s video vision for her epic song, brings that home! Feast your eyes and ears!

Out Now: Winter Wish digital EP!

Dec 27, 19

Holiday time for most of us involves a bit of stress, a bit of travel maybe, and a bit of chaos.  Last thing I want to do with that in mind is ask any of you for more precious time than you can afford to give.  But I know I’d be on the naughty list if I didn’t take a moment to make sure you’re aware that I released the Winter Wish digital EP on Christmas morning!  It’s got eight songs, some familiar and some brand new, all inspired by seasonal folklore and tradition.  As many of the creatures and customs which inspired the songs will still be stomping around until Twelfth Night, I don’t feel I’m too late to tell you.  

Listen here or via the player above, purchase if you like, and please share the link: 

What’s on it:  
-a brand new song for the Welsh horse-spirit-ghost who comes to your door on winter evenings to challenge you to a battle of wits!  (I love her, terrifying as she is. Actual Traditional Nightmare Before Actual Christmas, anyone?)
-my two familiar wintry singles, “Solstice Night” and “The Feast of Krampus”!  I love them, also.
-a newly polished mix of my song for the Oak King & the Holly King, two mighty brothers who trade places in colloquy on the two yearly Solstices.
-a very silly holiday skit about getting the best of Krampus, performed by Heather Dale, Ben Deschamps, and me!
-a surprise acoustic version of a very industrial song
-two bonus tracks!

I hope you’ll all love what you hear, of course.  This can be a rough time of year, and I would always give you a break and a grin, if and when and as often as I can.  

Online Shows for Solstice!

Dec 12, 19

I hope you’re and comfortable wherever you are today.  I hope you’ll be well and comfortable and able to join me for one or both of my online concerts this month, as well! I’ll stream on our new platform, Online Concert Thing, at 2pm Central (3pm Eastern, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific, 7pm GMT) on December 21st AND December 22nd!  Please join me for whichever one suits you best, if not both!  I’ll be offering special tip reward goodies only available then and there, including unreleased songs, handwritten lyric sheets, shiny things, and seasonal blessings!  Also, so long as recording is successful, we will make the video of the concert available for purchase afterward for anyone who’s unable to watch it in realtime.  

Watch here, and check out the goodies on offer at any time: http://onlineconcertthing.com

And if you run into any trouble logging in or otherwise getting set up, write to our capable admin: ben@onlinconcertthing.com

Performers and viewers alike have been loving this new platform, which is run by people I trust and know personally!  It’s fantastic to have something reliable for the production side AS WELL AS the audience side of things!  While Concert Window filled a need until it closed down this fall, I’m really enjoying this next place to be.  It’s been running like a dream, and I hope you’ll be able to experience it as an audience member for yourself!  

These two live streams on December 21st and 22nd will be my final performances of 2019.  I hope to be able to start giving evening shows once again as early as January, perhaps swapping off daylight and night time shows every other week.  If you all have preferences or suggestions along those lines, I’d love to hear them!  My goal of course is to do my best to make my streaming concerts available for as many of you as possible, at times and on dates which will suit you.

If you would like to keep up with me into 2020 and beyond, and receive more news and more exclusive goodies such as automatic album pre-orders, handwritten correspondence, and special monthly audio downloads, consider joining me on Patreon or subscribing via my website!  

Patreon details: http://www.patreon.com/sjtuckermusic

Monthly/yearly subscription details (via PayPal): https://sjtucker.com/buy/other-products/sponsorship-subscriptions/

I haven’t announced any of my 2020 tour dates yet, but I’ll be sharing the news very soon!  It’s good, every last word of it.  You won’t believe some of the places I get to see over the next few months!  I’ll certainly keep in touch here and on social media as a way to take you all with me.

My dearest friends and colleagues are starting to give their own shows at Online Concert Thing, as well!  Catch them if you can!  Betsy, Alec, and my darling Dogwood will have a show there as Smoke, Flash, and Horn in just a couple of days: December 14th at 7pm Pacific (8 Mountain, 9 Central, 10 Eastern)! 

My Canadian buddies the Heather Dale Band are the might behind this platform.  For their streaming schedule, head to  http://heatherdale.com AND ALSO consider becoming a supporter there: http://heatherdale.com/supporters/  When you do, you’ll get to see, among other things, a video clip of the Krampus pageant I wrote for them to perform last week!  No, I’m not kidding!  

As always, thank you for being part of my year and part of my journey, and for allowing me to be part of yours.  Today on Twitter, someone referred to me as “joyful and encouraging”, and told me that my music is “aggressively affirming”, and that with it, I help so many others to feel seen.  That, folks, is exactly how I want it.  You wouldn’t have read this far if my work hadn’t helped you in some way; I am humbled by this and grateful for it, for you.

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