Hiya! I’m Meri Amber, I’m a nutball musician human from Sydney, Australia. In terms of genre, I create songs that fall into social commentary, social satire, musical comedy, filk and storytelling. So, a little bit left-of-centre :P I’ve performed at comic conventions all over Australia and New Zealand, and stream concerts frequently on Twitch.
I’d say my primary “type” of content is, as reasonably assumed, songs… But, part and parcel of being a one-person-team is that I’m also producing my own music, photo-editing, video-editing, animating, designing and drawing too, just to name a few things. That, and what I do really walks the borderline between music, comedy and performance art, so it could really fall into any of those categories too.
It’s hard to really discern at which point what I do “started”. Was it when I released my first geeky music EP, the Super EP? Was it when I first had one of my songs played on radio, ironically the ‘Sex Song’ when I was 16 years old [and far too young to release such a song]? Was it when I first started high school at a performing arts high school? Or maybe at 4 years old when I first started playing guitar?
I’m not entirely certain… But it was always the thing I was meant to do. My first song was not a heart-wrenching ballad, crowd-roaring punk anthem or ultra-chill reggae mix… It was a comedic song called ‘I’m Not A Hypochondriac’. A song, that at the time, I didn’t even realise was funny. In fact, I bravely performed the song at the State Music Camp at the time and ended running to my cabin crying when I thought everyone was laughing at me for performing it [turns out, well, they were].
I uploaded a few videos to YouTube when I was in my teens, not really understanding the internet or anything about it at the time. One of those has embarrassingly racked up over 26,000 views. I’m not going to specify where it is, as it’s not on my current YouTube channel. But, there’s no need to go digging for it. I promise.
I originally focused on more traditional avenues for performing. I went through a talent school and tried very hard to “normalise” myself so that I could become a mainstream musician instead of whatever strange thing I was. It was very hard, emotionally battering and in the end, sent me a little nuts. So much so, that I think I did the most hardcore, insane and crazy thing a person can possibly do to themselves… Enrolled into a double degree in Law and Commerce at Sydney University, majoring in Accounting.
There’s a funny thing that I was told once that’s stuck with me. Having a talent is a gift and a curse. It’s a gift because you have this cool thing that you can do that makes you feel special and validated. But, you also have a curse that will never lift, you have to do it. If you try to avoid it, your mind will keep drawing you back to it, you’ll feel a guilt so overwhelming that no matter what you may want, plan or logically realise is far better for you, you’ll end up being drawn right back to it.
So, Love$Accy was born. During my accounting studies, I put together a mini-album of accounting songs. It was originally uploaded to a Bandcamp page that was intended to be seen by one single person. My boyfriend [at the time]’s cousin Jeffrey. I wanted to convince him to learn accounting, and, this mini-album was my way of doing it. Seven, ridiculous, funny songs inspired by the accounting profession.
L’est did I know that the big accounting firms have a system set up to ping them whenever one of their competitors is mentioned online… And the very first song in my mini-album was called “KPMG Audit Team” [KPMG being one of the biggest accounting firms]. Somehow, this stupid, mini accounting album was getting all these listens, and Jeffrey was lovely but not really that keen on the accounting thing.
I already had the talent gift-curse thing going, a deep desire to be spouting my ridiculous songs on stages and now this happened. The dominoes were all lined up and started tumbling. After tossing and turning over it like an indecisive salad, I decided to dive headfirst into doing this music thing full time.
I was doing “cover gigs” [singing cover songs in pubs and bars] at the start, and then I eventually got to the point where I could subsist on doing my original songs at comic conventions and similar sorts of events. I had an online presence, but it wasn’t a huge part of what I did. I really wished I could get a YouTube channel with big viral videos, but it just didn’t seem to be happening for me. Not for lack of trying. I uploaded hundreds of full produced, filmed and edited clips, but didn’t really get very far.
I first met Mitch Bruzzese [https://www.twitch.tv/mitchbruzzese] and Jonathan Ong [https://www.twitch.tv/jonathanong] when I was at one of the biggest comic conventions I performed at Supanova. They were part of a group called Critical Hit that was performing there at the time as well. Jonathan and Mitch both started streaming on Twitch and encouraged me, with impressive levels of determination, to give it a try.
I was pretty disillusioned with social media at the time [see the aforementioned grumpy ramble about YouTube for more info], but gave it a try so they would stop bugging me about it. I was sick at the time and put literally zero effort into the stream, because I imagined it would be a quick, passing thing I’d never have to do again. Then... I fell down the rabbit-hole.
I fell in love with streaming as a way of sharing what I do online. There was instant reactions, I could literally have conversations with people and it didn’t feel like I was just throwing hours and hours of work into an endless void to disappear forever.
Since then, I’ve been working like a mad lady trying to improve my Twitch stream, write more songs and create bigger, better things. It’s hard to really say I’ve reached where I’m going as I still feel like I’ve just started!
Idea creation is not something I’ve particularly struggled with. I tend to be inspired by absolutely anything. People around me, TV shows, events, activities, stories. With my genre, the net is cast rather wide, so almost anything is fodder for songwriting. I tend to jot notes down on my phone or computer. Whatever is near me at the time. I currently have a long list of well over 100 song ideas I need to actually go ahead and turn into songs.
I struggle far more with burnout than mental block. It’s not so much that my mind is struggling to come up with ideas… It sometimes just doesn’t feel like there’s any point. And, that, honestly, is very hard to push through. Sometimes another creator, person, or even movie can inspire me out of that state. But, I’m not entirely sure what does it. Being a creator has ups and downs, and no matter how emotionally/mentally strong you are, it can sometimes just take its toll.
I have a physical planner, with actual pages, that I plan my entire life in, using an actual pen. The planner is bright yellow and contains more to-do lists than any human should ever have to see.
Outside of that, in terms of software, I use Cubase to do my music production, Adobe products to edit photos and videos [namely Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere Pro and After Effects] and Google Suite [Docs, Sheets etc.] to do writing. I learnt how to use most of these by clicking around like a toddler and watching YouTube tutorials.
I’m also all over the interwebs in many places:
Patreon [Ninja Club]: https://www.patreon.com/meriamber
Of course I was scared starting out! I still get nervous every time I hit “Start Streaming” to go live on Twitch, or “Publish” for one of my new songs or videos!
I think the only way to handle it at the time is to realise that the fear is there because you care so deeply about this thing you’re doing. Then just do it anyway. That fear is a very subtle feeling compared to the immense weight of regret you’ll feel if you don’t give it a shot.
Also, if it doesn’t work out, you can always try again. If you watch your YouTube video back in a year and hate it, you can delete it. It may feel like the end of the world, but it isn’t!
I’ve done so many things, launched so many projects or schedules, changed so many projects or schedules, invented, re-invented, cried into pillows and screamed at poor, undeserving plushies. There’s really been so much that I’ve done that I don’t know if I could boil it down to an easily digestible couple of paragraphs!
I’m not entirely sure I’ve found the perfect recipe, mix, timeline or anything yet either. But, I find that “just keep creating”, “make it better. Better than that. Better than that” and “stay on the bus” are good mantras to work with. Everyone’s on their own journey and everyone develops at their own pace. The best you can do is be the best you… And really, that’s all I’m [still] trying to do!
The number one thing I really wish I took more seriously was the extremely lame advice “be yourself”. Even if you’re not being directly derivative, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of lying to yourself because you think it’ll make it easier to get ahead.
Posting covers of new pop songs because they’ll get clicks, fitting to a certain predefined aesthetic because it’ll appeal to that audience, dumbing things down to widen appeal etc. Some of these sorts of “tips” which people throw around haphazardly at you, work for some people, some of the time. They mostly confuse you and throw you off your track.
In the end, people seem to gravitate more towards people that are unapologetically themselves regardless of what they do. But really, more importantly, you’ll be a lot happier in your own skin and with your own content, if you make it unapologetically you. If you’re not doing what you want with your art, you’re doing something you don’t want to do. And if you’re doing something you don’t want to do, you’re better off doing something like accounting because it’ll pay better ;)
I suppose I committed more to being an entertainer as a career than to a certain platform [though I am primarily performing on Twitch now, I still see myself as an entertainer first and a streamer second]. It was different for me to many people, because I came straight from university to jumping headfirst into performing full time. I was living with my parents initially, and I can’t pretend that didn’t help a tonne. But, I suppose, my logic at the time was ‘might as well give it my all while I can’ and I’ve never looked back!
The biggest pay-off to being a content creator, for me, has been when I’ve really felt like I’ve made a positive difference in people’s lives, or in some way, the world. Reaching follower milestones or having a sudden large influx of viewers is great, don’t get me wrong… But when you’re speaking about things that have a long-term impact and give real meaning, it’s hard to go past making a difference to others.
Getting messages from individual people who’ve been inspired by what I do to start doing something creative, or to push past a difficult time in their life means a lot. I’ve been in those roadblock places myself, and know how big of a difference it makes to be pushed and inspired to get back on my feet by another creator.
Doing charity streams and raising money for charities that I care about also feels like a big milestone every time. It both shows me the best side of humanity [in the people who watch, support and donate], as well as making me feel like I have actually contributed in some sort of meaningful way to the betterment of the world. What’s the point of doing anything if you can’t do that?
The other thing that really feels like a giant achievement, is when I reach donation goals or gain new Ninja Club Members [my Patreon], as both of these help me expand my setup and create more. This gives that feeling because it shows me that people believe in me to grow and make even more of a positive difference, not just to the point where they’ll vaguely say “you’re great!”, but to the point where they’ll put their money where their mouth is.
It’s very easy to be discouraged as a content creator, I don’t know a single creator that doesn’t have many people in their lives [often close family] that are very vocal about their disapproval of career choice. I know this feeling too. It’s great to have people who really understand the work, passion, love and immense amount of time that goes into being a creator, and who acknowledge and support it.
My marketing strategy has been very haphazard, it’s kinda hard to know what to do at any one time, or what will work and what won’t. I’ve mostly just created, shared what I did and, more often than not, had zero growth from it. But then, tried again, and again, and again, and eventually someone new and awesome does run into it and the community grows. I’m constantly trying my best to create bigger and better things, hoping that the quality of the content itself will be what encourages others to share it and for my channels to grow.
To be honest, I wouldn’t be against finding another person, agent/manager, marketing team or anything along those lines to help me out in the marketing department. It’s an entire job unto itself!
I’ve never reached out to any brands before, but have been lucky enough to have brands reach out to me a few times. Each time, it’s been a very pleasant surprise and I tried my best to make it as valuable for the brand as it was for me to partner up with them.
I think it’s worth seeing brands as other people, or groups of people, rather than faceless businesses. If you’re not going to be lifting each other up, and keen to do so for the right reasons, there’s really no point!