In this industry, it’s all about building the “story”. That is all everyone wants to know about- the record labels, the distribution labels, the publishing labels, the management companies, the PR companies, the venues. They want to know if it’s a story worth selling, if it’s a story that people will connect with. If it’s a story that will make them money. If I had a dollar for every time an industry type in a meeting said “so tell me your story”, I wouldn’t need a label behind me. I’d be rich and could do it all alone. Which is what I have done thus far. Kind of ironic right? Doing it all independently and working my guts out for the last sixteen years- with no financial assistance, with no label backing, with sacrifices, determination, bloody hard work and a large amount of faith…well this is what has built my “story”. Everything that I have done up to this point, every sacrifice I have made, every dollar that I have put in….it has all contributed to my story and I know that it is what will get me to where I want to be. Has it all been worth it so far? Yes. But that simple answer is not without hesitation. So…it’s been a while since I updated my bio. I thought I would go ahead and share my story with you, since the single most important element of this crazy journey IS you- the wonderful person listening to my music and reading this here right now. So here goes…
My first ever gig was at a café I worked at when I was only 16 years old. The manager knew that I loved to sing and had heard a really bad recording of me doing so and offered me a spot to give me a go. I remember that gig like it was yesterday and I remember that feeling that I still get every single time I sing- that feeling that everything is going to work out, that life is wonderful, that I am exactly where I am meant to be, doing exactly what I am meant to be doing. I knew then, at that moment, that I wanted to sing for as long as I possibly could, that I wanted to write songs and be a performing artist- sharing love and joy through my music. So I finished school, even went to University for a little while. But I knew what I wanted so I left Uni and moved from my hometown of Perth to the other side of the country and settled in Melbourne, the capital of music and arts in Australia. I left everything- my home, my family, my friends, my love. I knew one person in Melbourne. It was scary and big, but necessary for what I wanted to achieve.
I was young, knew nothing about the music industry and I was truly and completely naïve. I thought I would move to a big city and some industry or label person would “discover” me and I would be signed. That obviously didn’t happen and I made the decision to give music my absolute all which meant learning the business side as well- totally necessary in order to be a successful independent artist. In the five years that followed, I worked very hard. Maybe I can summarise it in dot point format:
I built up my fan base in Australia one show at a time, one person at a time.
I toured the country four times, both with my incredible full band and solo. I booked the majority of these shows myself.
I played some incredible festivals and got some amazing support shows for artists such as Newton Faulkner (UK), Don McLean (USA) and Toni Childs (USA).
I saved my arse off by doing every job you could imagine (from working retail at the Duty Free store at Melbourne airport to handing out flyers to cleaning houses to cover gigs….even working as a Magician’s Assistant for a while). I put almost every single dollar I earned back into my music, prioritising and budgeting as best I could between recording, touring, publicity, new gear.
I recorded twice in the USA with incredibly talented producers- Peter Malick (Norah Jones) and Anthony J Resta (Elton John, Shawn Mullins, Duran Duran, Soul Collective). These two EP’s I released independently only in Australia and organized every detail with the talented creative team I have been lucky enough to find along the way- from the photography to the artwork concepts to the packaging and manufacturing.
I organized, funded and produced three professional video clips. I also released a Live DVD.
I was signed to Australian independent Publishing Label, GAGA Publishing. They placed my original composition “A Song About Me” into an Australian Ski Yoghurt TVC, Australia TV Series “Offspring” and a Scandinavian TVC for a Coca Cola Pty Ltd product, water bottle brand Bon Aqua as well as many other songs in TV commercials and TV shows- both nationally and internationally.
I decided that the European placement with Bon Aqua was too good an opportunity to miss. So back then, in 2011, I organized a seven month European Tour travelling and gigging not only in Scandinavia, but also Germany, UK, Ireland, Austria, Holland, Belgium, France and Czech Republic. I booked all of these shows myself- about 200 that first year. How did I do that? COUNTLESS hours in front of the computer researching and emailing booking agents and venues and other artists doing the same style of music to see where they were playing and then emailing THOSE venues too. Phew! The point was to figure out where my music would work the best and Germany seemed to be the place. The audiences there really responded to my music, the people want to discover and support new music. The opportunities are endless- the sheer VOLUME of people means being able to appeal to only a niche market and be more successful than back at home. It was a hard year though- more physically and emotionally demanding than I anticipated. Leaving my home in Melbourne, family and friends was so difficult. I lost a 5 year long love, I was working so hard I was starting to forget what I was doing and why. I needed a break after what felt like 6 years of very hard work for my music so I went home, to Perth, and spent two months doing nothing except being with my family, dancing with my friends and kissing Charlie (my beautiful dog). I did some soul searching and I realised, more than ever, that music is my calling. So, I put together the debut album- “Coby Grant Is In Full Colour” and I came back to Germany. There I found a team of amazing people to help me promote, market, manage and book shows- namely Max Gehrig, my incredible friend/tour manager/PA/solver of every problem I ever have. I borrowed ten thousand dollars from a friend in Melbourne to go towards the 13000 Euro fee for the PR for the album and prepared for the release in August 2012. By the way, that wasn’t too expensive for a PR campaign- we did radio, press, online and tv and managed to get the exposure and notice that led to bigger shows, bigger audiences and signing to SonyATV publishing in Holland- more on that in a minute!
It is a hard slog this independent thing- coordinating my bookings, flights, tour and show logistics, as well as paying the wonderful musicians who play with me, looking after my website, myspace, facebook, twitter (oh god let them stop creating social networks!!), keep being creative and writing new songs and then trying to be a normal person with friends and a social life and a day off every now and then!!! Let me tell you it’s a balancing act that sometimes goes pear shaped. I work hard and will keep working hard to get to the point where I can live solely off my original music, where I can reach a bigger audience. As I said above, in the last half of 2012 I signed a deal with Sony ATV Publishing for the territories of Benelux, GSA and Scandinavia. At the time, I was absolutely thrilled. After all my hard work I was finally signing with a major label (I know it wasn’t a record label, but still, a publishing label is huge). In some ways, Sony have been incredible. Through the great team there, I have been able to co-write with some amazing writers/producers/other artists. These collaborations have improved my own songwriting and allowed me to explore other types of genres- I’ve written songs for other artists and even toplines for some EDM music too! In Holland, where my publishing company is based, I have worked with some of the TOP producers and writers. It has been amazing!! Sony also put money into the release of my debut album in The Benelux- they organized my awesome team there- my booking agent, my publicist and my radio promoter. At the end of 2013 I did a successful first tour of Holland- playing at some great venues including the world famous Paradiso in Amsterdam. Signing with a major label really put me on the radar and opened doors.
One of those opened doors were my support shows for US Number One artist- Josh Groban. My incredible booking agent, Mojo, took a chance on me and put me forward for these shows. They were LITERALLY be the biggest shows I have ever played- the first one at Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam to 7000 people. I mean, Beyonce played there!!! And we all know how much I LOVE Queen Bey. I have never been more nervous in my entire life, but as soon as I walked out onto that HUGE stage, just me and my guitar, I told the audience how I was feeling and they broke into applause. That’s when I knew I was going to be ok! I released a single “I Wanna Be The One” on the day of the show at Ziggo Dome, which has since been placed in the Dutch Film “Hartenstraat”. After those shows and releasing the single, I decided I wanted to record a new album, but alas, that all comes down to money and since I am still an independent unsigned artist, I didn’t have the funds. One step at a time. My publishing company in Australia, GAGA, have placed a couple of my tunes in TV Advertisements and shows back home- that has been fantastic and funded the single which no one but me foots the bill for and which includes recording, mixing, mastering, graphic design, legal fees, printing, videoclips and promotion (about $15000 for those of you interested- crazy huh?).
2013 was a tough year for me. Emotionally, financially, career-wise. There were broken promises, legal worries, tough realizations about the nature of the industry I am in. There were a lot of great things happening with music, but personally and financially I was struggling. I had never been so broke. I literally couch surfed when I was away from home, because I couldn’t afford anything else. I lived out of my suitcase, I busked on the streets, I busted my guts and lived day to day with money for food. Living like that was very stressful on my mind, my health, my relationships both business and personal. But I’m proud of myself for not giving up, even when it seemed like my world was falling apart. I owe my family, my friends and the INCREDIBLE people who look after me when I’m on the road- people I know and people I don’t. Strangers who open their doors, friends of friends who have me stay, fans who invite me for dinner, my adopted families. The kindness in people is there- you just have to look.
In 2014, I spent seven months in Melbourne, Australia working a normal job, from 9 to 6, in a call centre in sales. I actually really enjoyed it. It was normal, it was routine, the money was fantastic (I paid off 22000 dollars debt AND saved more than that to finally record my new album!!). I made some wonderful friends and learnt a lot about myself and managing people. I also promised myself not to return to Europe for music without having enough money to properly look after my health and wellbeing while on the road…be able to afford good food, nice places to stay in (not five star but just a proper bed and privacy) and to be able to do a little bit of travel too instead to make sure I had that work/life balance I was missing in that last year or so. In late 2014 I released my second album, “I Was Young” and spent the good part of a year touring around Germany and Holland playing shows.
Fast forward to today and I now live between Germany and Australia, playing and writing music. My last release, Winter Bear, has been a great success (you can read about that on the news page) and now I am just taking it all as it comes – every opportunity! My latest album was recorded in Holland last year and I am releasing it in May 2018, with the next single out at the end of February.
I have a quote from the Dalai Lama above my computer that says “judge your success by what you had to give up in order to achieve it”. My interpretation of this has changed recently. I have given up a lot…in my personal life. I have also recently learnt what I will NOT give up for this crazy dream. That took me a while, many years in fact, but now I feel that I am at a point where I know what is the most important thing in life and lucky me to have the support of my family, friends and of course, you reading this blurb. It is worth it.
My name is Coby Grant and I am a Musician.Singer.Songwriter.Human being. But those aren’t the only things that define me. I am more than that…a good daughter, friend, sister. A good mother (of sorts) to my precious Charlie Boy (my dog haha). I am independent, strong-minded, not afraid to speak up for what I believe in and when I think something is wrong…or right. I’m affectionate…a definite hugger and kisser. I have never lost anyone close to me and I am blessed for that. I have started to pray a lot…when I was on a train in Germany recently getting ready to hop off to run for the next one, I was exhausted, stressed and carrying everything with me- my suitcase, guitar, laptop, cd’s, la la la and I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Then, I jumped off and noticed a young man in a wheelchair waiting to get on my train and I stopped for a moment and said to myself “thankyou for this heavy load that I am able to carry”. Am I getting too heavy in this bio (pun not intended)? Ok how about this…I love potatoe chips. Very very much. Especially the ones that have folded over and are really thick and crunchy. And reading too…all kinds of books but mostly fiction- getting lost in another adventure for a minute. My favourite colour is blue…blue clothes, blue eyes, blue skies. I am slightly obsessive compulsive (I like to refer to it as “organized in an orderly fashion”) and have a real problem delegating tasks to people. I’m working on these things. My face shows exactly what I am thinking- never a good thing really. I love being alone…I’m not bad company you know hahaha. No but honestly, I like to learn new things about myself and to know that I am ok by myself. I think laughter is the best medicine- the last thing that made me laugh out loud was nothing much…just a silly moment with some friends that made my belly ache. Honesty is always the best policy. To me, someone’s smile is the most attractive thing. I have been in love. It’s incredible and wonderful and painful and I hope it works out the way it should- you have to right? There is always a plan. What I know for sure is that not many things in the world make me happier than singing my songs and knowing that maybe I am helping, maybe I am connecting, maybe I am inspiring one more person with my music.
Because isn’t that what life is all about? Connecting with other people? To give love and to receive it back? See what happens next time you are selfless or kind to someone you know or someone you don’t- it comes back to you, always. I want to thank the music and musicians that inspire me. There’s so much I could say…so much I could go on about…apparently I’m a bit of a talker! I don’t know if I’ve said enough or not…feedback is welcome!! Actually I’m sure I’ve said too much hahaha. But…thank you for taking the time to read this and get to know me a little better. I wish you every happiness and I mean it.