We had the good fortune of connecting with Andy Salvanos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Some may think of “risk taking” as throwing themselves into an unknown situation that’s completely out of their control. But the reality is that people in creative fields often work very hard to prepare themselves for these scenarios . Usually, the “risk” actually represents an opportunity, and you have to be ready when they come along. You also need to accept (even embrace) change when necessary, something that’s bound to happen several times over a long career. I’ve seen many musicians have really bad patches because they got stuck in one frame of mind and refused to shift. You only need to look at 2020 to understand how much it pays to be flexible and prepared. At times you might have to turn down things that seem like golden opportunities to outsiders, because you know in your heart or your gut that they’re not right for you. I’ve moved to different continents several times in my life. I’ve taken gigs that others turned down, and said no to a few “big names”, because it wasn’t right for me. To a lot of observers, including some of my close friends, my decision to become a street performer at the age of 40 seemed kind of insane, but it was very much a calculated risk on my part. I expected to be able to make a living from it, because I had watched and studied that particular market. A decade later, I embraced streaming, even though most of my peers were openly scathing of this new business model. Ultimately, it’s really important to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and look at where you fit in the big picture. Where is your audience and how do you find them? Obviously, it also depends on personal goals. I never cared about fame or fortune, I just wanted to be able to live by doing things on my own terms, which can be surprisingly difficult, even when you’re your own boss.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I grew up around classical musicians, but I’ve always loved the creative process of making my own music more. I took a very long road from learning music as a child, playing in bands, going to music school, playing in more bands, teaching and doing sessions. By the time I was in my mid-30’s I suffered from burnout and had lost sight of why I wanted to be a musician in the first place. Around that same time, I bought a 10-string Chapman Stick, and started playing it to amuse myself while driving a delivery van for a living. I was still doing occasional gigs, including some pretty big things that landed in my lap out of nowhere. So that kept me thinking “maybe I’m still a musician”… By 2005 I was writing and recording quite a bit of original music, and started plotting ways to get out and turn it into a living again. I didn’t want to go back to playing pubs and clubs, or teaching, which I really didn’t enjoy. On my frequent trips to the city, I’d often see a couple of street musicians who were selling a lot of CDs. I knew it could be a viable way for me to sell my music and find listeners. Our kids were in primary school at the time, and it took me while to work up the courage to go out and play on the street. It’s a completely unfiltered experience compared to being on stage. But within the first few months, I knew I’d made the right decision. I started getting great feedback, and was being booked for a variety of gigs. I think my “brand” was always “no brand”, in a sense – do your own thing with honesty, and people will respond. My long term listeners have always related to me as a fairly normal person who just happens to make music they like. I’ve fostered those relationships and become part of their lives in the process. Social media has been helpful in this respect too.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d say come to Adelaide in late February or March, when the weather is perfect and we host the world’s 2nd largest Fringe festival, WOMAD and many other events. The city streets are alive with entertainment. Take a day trip to some of the best wineries anywhere in the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale. Catch a sunset swim with fish & chips at Glenelg or Brighton Beach, or enjoy fine dining on Gouger or Rundle St in the city. Don’t forget a drive through the beautiful hills to check out the views and native wildlife.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to my family, including my mother and grandparents, as well as my wife and kids. Their support made my choices in life possible.
Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/25Q9si63JQHlQk12dMLZhb
Rundle Mall pictures credit: Paul Doherty-Dawson