We recently connected with Sam Arjes and have shared our conversation below.
Sam, appreciate you joining us today. Did you always know you wanted to pursue a creative or artistic career? When did you first know?
Music was a pretty constant presence in my household when I was growing up. My dad and grandfather owned classical guitars, which always fascinated me as a kid. I’d sneak them out of the rooms where they kept them and try to figure out how they worked. My mom also loves to play piano, and kept an upright in the house. I remember her teaching me to play “Heart and Soul” when I was about 5 years old and I would sit and play it over and over.
Growing up in that environment, my decision to learn and play music came pretty naturally. I started with piano lessons in grade school; then, switched my focus to guitar at age 13.
I was in a band throughout my high school years, but we never really got past the garage phase. Everyone kinda drifted apart, off to college or wherever, But I still had the drive and the passion to pursue music full-time. I carried on as a solo singer-songwriter, gigging most nights of the week at various bars and coffeehouses around Kansas City.
Sam, 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?
Around 2008, I took a break from performing to pursue other endeavors, eventually getting married and starting a family. Being a father became my new favorite thing, and the idea of being on the road touring, away from my wife and daughter, didn’t really appeal to me.
I remained passionate about music, however, and with significant technological developments happening in the field of home recording, I bought a Macbook Pro, and some cheap recording gear, and started learning everything I could on the subject. I had a pretty good-sized catalog of songs I’d written over the years and it became my goal to record as many of them as I could.
Fast forward to the present, and my passion for creating music has expanded to helping other independent artists bring their own music to life. I have had the good fortune to have worked with and learned from some of the best producers and engineers out there, and have recently launched my own music production company, Oceanbird Audio Productions.
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?
My answer to this question is two-fold:
As an artist, it is my goal to create an emotional impact on others. Ultimately, I strive to create songs that resonate with listeners. Music has often been cathartic for me, or therapeutic, during times of loss, stress, etc. And on the reverse side, some of the best times of my life have been punctuated by great music (weddings, road trips, etc.). I would love for my music and art to bring that same joy or catharsis to others.
As a music producer/audio engineer, my goal is to help other artists bring their own music to life, and help them get it out into the world where it can hopefully impact others. I am especially driven to help independent or up-and-coming musicians. Having spent two decades as an independent artist myself, I understand the limitations that come with that particular lifestyle. Therefore, I strive to provide top studio results for those who don’t typically have a top studio budget or resources.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
I may not be the most qualified person to give advice on this; after all, I started out in the days before social media, and I experienced a definite learning curve trying to navigate that world at first. But some things I learned in my early years, which apply equally to building a fan base, building a clientele base, and building a social media following:
Build personal connections with people. Talk to them and be interested in THEM. Make yourself known and promote yourself, of course. But also try to learn what they need and want, and do your best to deliver that. Try to align your music or your product with that.
Example; When trying to get a total stranger to listen to my music, I don’t just DM them a link to my song or album. I try to get to know them, or find something I can connect with them on first. Maybe I’ll see on their profile that they like a band that I like or am influenced by. Maybe I’ll ask them what they like about that band, or what their favorite song is, etc. I stay interested in THEM. Then, when I’ve gotten a response, I’ll introduce your music with something like “my new song is actually inspired by that band, I think you’d like it!” and ask if they’d give it a listen.
This can take time, and maybe I don’t always get a response. But it’s THE most successful way I’ve found to grow a fanbase through social media. After all, the whole point is to get people to connect with you over your music, art or product. Not just getting as many followers as possible. I assume that, like me, most artists want REAL followers who also become fans and who listen to their music, purchase their art, etc.