Going Full Time With Music – 2nd Year In Review – What’s Next?

Kristopher Keuning laying down the drums with Christopher Bell on the mixing board

On January 1st, 2013, I made the decision to become a full-time musician.  I spent much of 2013 aggressively booking gigs, trying to keep up with my ambitious goal of writing and recording a song every week, and organizing a self-supported fall tour in Europe.  In 2014 I switched gears a bit.  I set a goal of recording my first studio album.  For years I had been under the assumption that “No one buys CDs anymore”, and had mostly focused on releasing songs online, with a few home-made CDs here and there.  But after doing some research, I found that, while well-known pop artists have suffered and CD shelves at electronics stores are shrinking, CD sales for independent musicians are alive and well.  So in February and March I teamed up with my good friend and audio engineer, Christopher Bell, and we recorded the 12-track “Joy, Pain, Love, Songs”, which was released on June 5th, 2014 at the Redstone Room in downtown Davenport.  While playing over 200 gigs this year, I found that music fans are, in fact, still very eager to buy CDs.  In the less than 6 months since releasing my CD, I’ve sold 326 copies, which helped me recoup all expenses for recording and pressing the album, and now CD sales serve as a nice supplemental income at gigs.  I’m so thankful to everyone who has bought CDs, come to shows, shared videos, and as a Christmas gift for fans, I produced 5 new Christmas recordings available for free download at my bandcamp.com site.

Lewis Knudsen Band at Airport Road Winery, in Mt. Pleasant, IA

This year I also had the privilege of playing with quite a few Quad City-based musicians and I have to say each one of them helped me become a better musician and we had a great time.

In anticipation of the new album, I booked quite a few out of town gigs, however, I wanted touring to make financial sense, so for the most part, I kept gigs within a 3-hour radius of my home base.  My summer tour brought me to quite a few different venues in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  I met a lot of new people, made new fans, opened for some killer musicians/bands, and discovered some really cool venues.  I also got myself a nice $250 ticket in Ohio for going the wrong way on a one way street.  I did my best to try to get out of it on the grounds of not being familiar with the area, but couldn’t make it happen.

This year I had a change of heart toward music videos.  In the interest of songwriting/recording purity, I had been hesitant to spend a lot of time conceptualizing, shooting, and editing a music video.  However, I came to understand that having a few cool music videos can bring my music to people who might not have clicked on an audio link.  I ended up actually having a lot of fun making a video for the album single, “All I Need”, as well as collaborating with Quad City bike riders to create a video for “Ride Our Bikes”. I’ve got all kinds of ideas for more videos this year, stay tuned!

promo cddsI mailed over 200 copies of “Joy, Pain, Love, Songs”, to college radio stations for airplay, and to music review blogs and magazines.  The album got some nice reviews, including this one by babysue.com.  The album also enjoyed some radio airplay on college radio stations including South Florida’s WVUM, and I did an interview with Bruce Carter for Art Talks on WVIK.

I’m already well into the songwriting process as I prepare for a brand new full-length album in 2015.  While this year’s album was an eclectic compilation of songs I’ve written in the past 8 years, this next album will be full of brand new, never-before-heard songs with a genre focus of alt-funk/neo soul.

I’m so thankful to be able to continue to pursue this largely uncharted path of a songwriting/music performance career.  This year I want to raise the bar.  I want to produce an emotive, catchy, high energy album, with a music video to accompany each track, a full line of merchandise, create an engaging, interactive live show, and appear as a musical guest on the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.  Thanks for your support.  I’m excited for 2015!

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