We were lucky to catch up with Chris Fruci recently and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, thanks for joining us today. Have you been able to earn a full-time living from your creative work? If so, can you walk us through your journey and how you made it happen? Was it like that from day one? If not, what were some of the major steps and milestones and do you think you could have sped up the process somehow knowing what you know now?
Going into 2020, we were incredibly excited about how things were progressing for our band. We were profitable for the first time ever in 2019. We played a ton of high-paying shows, covered our recording expenses, invested back into our project, and had cash to spare. Things were going well with our college booking agency, Neon Entertainment, and we were selling our music through the online sync licensing library, Artlist. It was an encouraging year.
It felt like we had reached a milestone that many others don’t in the creative industry. We finally had several reliable sources of income with plenty of room to grow. And we were determined to take advantage. Then, 2020.
A few weeks before the pandemic hit, we played an awesome show up in Juneau, Alaska. Then, we were booked to play a show inside Red Rocks Amphitheater (not on the main stage, unfortunately) on March 21st, which would have included a tour of the legendary venue. Obviously, it didn’t happen.
We struggled like most others in the music industry the rest of the year. 2021 was better, but we still weren’t able to capture the momentum or success we had in 2019. So, here we are in 2022.
A few years ago, it felt like we were on our way to earning a modest living from our creative work. Who knows where we’d be in 2022 if we’d continued on our 2019 trajectory. But we can’t dwell on the what-could-have-beens. We have to keep moving forward, keeping in mind certain lessons from the past few years.
Knowing what we know now, one area where we could have invested more time was in our online presence – social media, YouTube, etc. The challenge for Will and me is that neither of us spends a lot of time on social media. But we know how important it is to our future success, so we are committed to giving that part of our project the attention it needs going forward.
Chris, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Will Timbers and I met in 2009 during our freshman year of college. We formed an alternative rock band with two other friends while going to school in Nashville. After we graduated, we moved to Colorado in 2013 with hopes of rising up in the Denver music scene. Unfortunately, that project fell apart in late 2014, leading Will, me, and one other friend who has since left the band to form Compass & Cavern with a renewed vision.
Since then, we’ve honed our sound and become much more sophisticated on the business side of things. We approach all decisions thoughtfully and are willing to explore any opportunities to share our music. Our longevity, especially, sets us apart right now – I’m proud of how we’ve continued to adapt, learn, and push through obstacles. And, of course, I love the music we create and our shared desire to write songs that discuss important ideas in a way that’s accessible to the average alternative rock fan.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
Rather than throw in the towel during the pandemic, Will wrote an entire album, which will be our first full-length release since 2017 when it drops. The album takes our sound in new directions without losing core elements of the Compass & Cavern identity we’ve established over the last 7 years.
We’re also in the midst of a rebrand that will coincide with the album release. Our band has evolved since it first began, and we want our new aesthetic to showcase this evolution. After we wrap up the recording process, we’re going to dive into the world of social media and strengthen what has historically been the weakest part of our project. So, while the pandemic was a financial setback for us, it sparked a reset for our band that we are super excited about and can’t wait to share with the world.
Is there something you think non-creatives will struggle to understand about your journey as a creative?
One thing I think non-creatives have a hard time understanding is the imbalance that exists between the creative process and the “consumption” process. As music creators, we spend hundreds of hours writing, recording, producing, and mixing songs. Then, we research promoters, bloggers, labels, distributors, sync agents – anyone who could potentially help expose our music to the masses. We send hundreds of emails to these people, a vast majority of whom will never respond.
During this process, we build an intense connection to what we’ve created. We dream about what could happen if the right person hears one of our songs. We imagine performing the music live and seeing others enjoy what we’ve poured our hearts into.
But here’s a common reality of the creative process: we, the creators, spend hours upon hours creating something, only for it to get a few minutes of attention, if that. Some people may only give us 10 seconds before deciding what we made is not for them. Hundreds of hours vs. 10 seconds. And this imbalance exists across all art forms – music, art, dance, etc.
The thing is…that’s okay, so long as the reward is in the creative process, not the final result. I (Chris) struggle with this. I often need some form of external validation to feel like something is worth pursuing.
But then I remember that there are few analogues for the creative process. In the normal course of life, how often do you get the opportunity to dive into something for no other reason than to see what you can produce with your skills and interests? And how often do you get to show what you create to someone else? How often are you that vulnerable?
This is where tremendous personal growth happens. The creative process is like a hyperbolic time chamber (re: Dragon Ball Z) or a scorching kiln (re: pottery) that makes you a stronger person. It’s also full of risk. It’s scary to give so much time to something that may not return any monetary value or external validation. But it’s worth it. It’s life-changing in the best ways.
- Website: https://www.compassandcavern.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/compasscavern/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/compasscavern/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/compasscavern
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpjB0sL7FkLHux6FmW7yhfw
First photo: Justin Urban (insta: justinurban03) Next four: jason neal menon (insta: jasonmenon)