Lessons Learned From Losing the San Diego Music Awards

This year, I was honored to be nominated for Best Singer/Songwriter at the SDMAs (San Diego Music Awards). I was totally shocked when the nomination list came out. I even checked it twice to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. 

Shocked, not because I didn’t think my music held up to the other artists, but because I felt that I hadn’t put myself out there, hustled all the same gigs, done as many co-writes, or gone to as many shows as I needed to — in short, I didn’t feel like I had put in enough time and energy to be part of the scene. 

Since the nomination, I’ve definitely felt a renewed sense of purpose, which has prompted me to go out and support my fellow musicians, to put together my own “Songwriters in the Round” show (with fellow nominee and eventual winner Evan Diamond), and to cold call and meet a lot of new people who I’d never met. Turns out that the people who I was too shy to talk to are really, really nice!

A show that really stuck with me was seeing Shane Hall with his band at Prohibition. I had a shitty gig (long story short: bad management, direction, sound, attendance, attitudes, etc.) and saw that Shane was playing nearby, so I was excited to catch his set after my show. I met some friends there and we were BLOWN AWAY. Great music, sound, vibe, songwriting, performance, guitar riffs, all of it! Everyone at the bar had their phones out recording the band, and it was the place to be. 

Leading up to the awards show, everyone around me kept telling me that I had a real shot to win. This bothered me immensely because I genuinely was happy just to be nominated, and thought that I had ZERO chance of actually winning. I had convinced myself that the winner was someone else with the most fans, streaming numbers, etc. When Evan was announced the winner, my whole group cheered her on as we’re all friends, and we were really happy for her. Evan is an incredible singer/songwriter, and somebody who I feel has had a comparable career trajectory so far.

Our EPs came out around the same time last year, our bands played back to back on the main stage at the House of Blues, we were both nominated in the same category, etc. So when she won, I had this cool moment of celebrating her, and also realizing that I shouldn’t have discounted myself. Watching my friend win made me realize that it could definitely be me one day. 

Moving forward, I’m not going to let negativity and self-doubt be part of my equation. It does me no good, and it does the people around me no good. So good riddance. Bye, Felicia!

GOAL: My band will be asked to play live at the 2020 San Diego Music Awards.

PATH:  We will accomplish this by booking more shows, playing bigger venues, opening for larger acts, immersing ourselves in the community, rehearsing regularly together and apart, pushing and holding ourselves to a higher playing level, reviewing our work after each show, writing better music, recording 1-2 singles this year. 

To everyone who voted for me, supported the EP, listened/shared my music, and booked me for gigs — thank you so much! Being a SDMA nominee changed my perspective on my artistry and what I’m capable of.

A special shout out to Bart Mendoza, George Varga, The Troubadour, Frank Kocher, CityBeat, Seth Combs, Andrea Lopez-Villafana, SDMA Academy, Kevin Hellman, Cathryn Beeks, and Cameron Walt who were there for me during the album release and gave me tools to grow. 

<3 JL


Check out these tracks from Evan Diamond and Shane Hall:

Evan Diamond – Intersections

Shane Hall – Vacancy


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