1600 shows in 8 years and counting as a full time touring musician.
7 tours in Japan, 5 in New Zealand, Netherlands & Italy, 3 in Australia, 2 in Germany, France, Poland and
one off tours in South Korea, Czech Rep, Austria & Thailand aswell as numerous trips round the UK.
Stuart has shared billings with a weird and wonderful who’s who from the musical world including: Cocco (Japan), Ocean Colour Scene, Little Bushman (New Zealand), Ed Sheeran, The Subways, James Bay, The Staves, George Barnett, Ed Tudor Pole, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Easy Star All Stars to Billy Cobham.
Stuart has carved a living with 7 albums under his belt. His music has been used in schools and colleges aswell as on television and in documentaries and has attracted attention from record labels but has chosen to remain independent. www.stuartoconnor.com
Apologies in advance for how self righteously drawn out the following spiel maybe. I just want to attempt to dissect how I got to the point of trying to make a living from music on an independent level. I’m just one of many working to eek out a living from what we enjoy.
For me there were simply questions staring at me and gradually getting louder as I was getting older.
1. Is it a passion or a hobby?
2. Am I any “good” at what I do and do I enjoy it enough to want to try “giving it a go”?
And finally the big one..
3. Can I survive from doing such a thing?
The answer to all the above questions was a mystery that was driving me nuts, so after much soul searching I decided not knowing the answers was worse than anything. Eventually I decided to peruse music full time leaving my 40 hour a week job back in 2006. Throughout this time I think I’ve broken every rule in the book.
Rule 1. Don’t use your own money to release your music
I started my own label ‘Late Bus Records’. Every album I have released has been through this DIY route. It has of course been more about cost cutting than anything but has been little more than a name and logo to put on my album sleeves.
Rule 2. Scarcity is the model for a good demand of product. Don’t saturate the market.
I’ve never been too good with the financial side of my life and simply want to keep setting goals and hoping to meet them. In 2012 I released 4 albums on the same day. Simply because the idea of the project excited me greatly.
Rule 3. Don’t undersell yourself.
The aforementioned 4 albums to download from the price of £1 (maybe that’s an oversell ;). But £1 is the token gesture which can be seen in a london street being thrown by randoms into a buskers hat to keep him/her surviving from his/her music. I want simply for the same trade to happen electronically. But instead of a tune as you pass by in the street you get a full album to download and to maybe be the soundtrack to more of your journey. In the eyes of a major label I am selling myself short. But in my eyes it’s an opportunity to keep my music affordable to hopefully everyone.
So anyway on with my rambling musical life story, feel free to zone out if you haven’t already 😛
From 1998 – present day I have been a member of 3 Piece Progressive rock combo – My Pet Junkie
We put out a couple of EP’s ‘Can You Answer This?’ (2000) and the ‘Interstellar Conspiracy Theory’ (2002).
In 2004 we signed to Riverrun Records and released our Debut album ‘When You’re Not Busy’ (2004).
Our CD’s are still out there and we still play shows together when we get the chance.
So onto the Solo career bit.
2006 – Made the leap into becoming a full time musician leaving my 9 to 5 and hitting the road to promote 1st Album ‘Autonomous Debut’. By the years end I had played over 200 shows round the UK aswell as shows in Europe and South America. Over this time I was offered a record deal with a Label I knew well. But I chose to keep 100% control simply because it was early days for me and I wanted to stand on my own 2 feet.
2008 – Recording finished in Feb and by March the album was launched with a sold out show at Club 85, Hitchin – UK. A Couple of songs from the show can be seen Here & Here: I then proceeded to tour solo relentlessly round the UK and ended the year with another tour of New Zealand. During this year I played a show supporting ‘Ed Sheeren’.
2009 – Started the year still on the road in NZ headlining the Canaan Downs New Year Festival, From there I returned to Australia supporting Paul Greene and from there ventured to Japan for my 1st tour of just 10 shows. Returned to England; played festivals, pubs, record stores, and for the 3rd year in a row played over 200 times. The year finished with a return to Japan for the 2nd time to play a 20 date tour. It was around this time that I turned down my 2nd record label opportunity. Many reasons why but trust was the biggest issue.
2010 – The first half of the 2010 was spent either on the road in the UK or in the Studio finishing 3rd album ‘Good Times With Evil’. The album was eventually launched in Japan in September with a show at the Museam of Japanese History in Osaka. The ‘Good Times with Evil’ tour took me through Japan and back to New Zealand till the years end again the schedule for the year had surpassed 200 performances. During this time touring Japan I was lucky enough to meet and share a stage with one of my musical heroes ‘Haco’ in Kobe. I also had the fortune of supporting singer ‘Cocco’ in Tokyo.
2011 – Again started with a festival over New Years in New Zealand. The tour then ventured back to Australia and onto Thailand before wrapping up in Japan. Returning to the UK followed for a stint over the summer but once again. In the Autumn I was invited to play in Italy for the first time for a short 5 date jaunt. From there I flew directly to Tokyo where I returned to see out the year with 30 shows across Nippon.
2012 – Saw the first year where I played less than 200 shows. I took 6 months out to focus on album 4 ‘GoForthBrightScenic‘; only for the project to grow into something more. I was lucky enough to work with a wonderful cast of musicians/producers from round the world. Following the albums release I was invited to be a part of the Horizontoer – A travelling festival sailing to the Dutch islands. From there I returned to Italy for 10 dates and after that played my 6th tour of Japan (42 shows) and again to New Zealand (100 shows).
2013 – Started in New Zealand, then 7th time touring Japan followed by mainland Holland. The rest of the year is spent pretty much on the road with bookings in France, Holland, Germany, Poland, UK, Italy, Greece & South Korea.
2014 – Kicked off where 2013 left off. Many months on the road around the UK and Europe. I was invited to return to the Horizontoer a 2nd time in the Netherlands which was the first leg of concerts through Germany, Poland, Czech Rep, Austria, Italy, Switzerland & France. Also this was my first time to be flown out for private bookings in Italy and the Netherlands. So great to know I had made an impression positive enough to have people want me at their functions.
I’m still independent and still living off of what I started with back in 2006. Where it will take me and for how long it will last I will not know. But I am thankful to be 8 years in this game and although I am truly independent. I have had so much support from so many over the years and it is invaluable to me.
I’m happy to be moving forward….
If you want to support me directly simply download an album from here: