Archive | May, 2017

OUS-Redefining Success by Matt Hicks

The Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2017 saw the very first physical manifestation of the Original Ukulele Songs platform. I feel honoured that as part of the OUS team and contributor to the ideas that led to the us having our own stage, I witnessed this event first hand and performed. Naturally I entered this years GNUF with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for what we were doing so I was a little surprised when a couple of people asked me a question which knocked me momentarily off my feet.
“What is the OUS thing all about?”
It was a simple question but obviously an important one because. My immediate response was to explain the work we’re doing to present the ukulele as a songwriting instrument and the talent that exists within this field. The look I got from the source of the question didn’t convince me that I’d given a good enough answer which in fact led me to question what exactly we’re all about.
Lots of people write original songs. Lots of people play the ukulele. Lots of people do both quite independently of the OUS platform. Lots of people write songs and don’t play the ukulele. So what gives? What is it that we’re doing that is filling a gap in the market, for want of a better word?
The OUS is not saying that original songs are best on a ukulele. It’s not some pioneering campaign to eliminate covers of King of the Swingers or Valerie in the Ukulele clubs. What it recognises is that the ukulele is an accessible entry point to creativity as is poetry or writing lyrics for anyone who aspires to do so.
In light of that then I think what we’re doing is important for the following reasons.
The OUS platform is a safe place by which to put ones creative neck on the line.
It provides a network whereby each member can receive peer led support, mentorship and coaching in writing and performing songs. Kind of a “Patch Adams” approach to music.
That network gives access to a multitude of experience and ability and exposure from people on similar or different ends of the musical spectrum and links artistes who feel they can work together.
Lastly, and I think this is probably the most important point, the OUS is part of a much wider effort to steal back music from a money motivated industry and place it in communities where it can be shared and passed around to create bonds and friendships and fellowship that may not otherwise exist.
As someone who has written and performed songs for over 20 years and gradually realised that the chances of  “making it”  have become slimmer and slimmer, I have had to redefine what it is to be successful in music. Indeed the experience has brought me to a state whereby I am actually grateful for the journey I’ve ended up walking. I feel privileged that I have the opportunity to write and perform songs without flogging myself to death on endless tours and I can quietly and without pressure, experiment, write and share with others.
I guess then what the OUS is all about is redefining success in music. As I stood on the stage and performed in front of many songwriters I had shared ideas with on line over the last year, I had an overwhelming sense of being part of something very immensely creative and supportive. Perhaps for the first time in my musical career (again for want of a better word) I had a sense that my performance at that point was not a means to an end, but the end point itself. And as I watched my fellow songwriters perform, I sensed they may well have felt the same. Success had been achieved by getting this supportive network in one room and sharing songs with them and those who cared to come and listen