Interview with... Johannes Linstead
April 7, 2015
Already an award winning musician, Johannes Linstead has recently broken into the Top 10 on the New Age Billboard charts - with his release Midnight Rhumba. His music blends virtuoso Spanish-Style guitar with Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern and Latin American percussion. He has also found success with Divine Earth, an online humanitarian community.
Being on the Billboard charts in the US is a very coveted position; it's like winning an award. I found out in this case directly from a Billboard rep via email. I was very excited because it was like an acknowledgement for all the hard work that went into making Midnight Rhumba.
Congrats on breaking into the top 10 of the billboard 'New Age' charts - especially as an independent artist. How did you find out about the news and what was your reaction?
There's been so many performances that I've cherished. We received 6 standing ovations at the Centre for the Performing Arts in Homer NY. That was pretty amazing. We were also invited to perform in the Kingdom of Bahrain (near Saudi Arabia). That was quite an experience, especially seeing people in the audience wearing the traditional Middle Eastern garb. I must say that they are very hospitable people.
What has been your favourite gig that you've played and why?
My favorite composer of all time is Mozart, so I would certainly love to trade ideas with him. However, if it is a matter of "jamming" I would love to with either flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia or devotional musicians playing traditional music from India or of the Sufi tradition.
Who would you love to play with? (alive or deceased)
I think young musicians need a lot of advice, because the music industry isn't what it used to be. In many ways it is easier to make a living as an independent. When I first began my career back in 1999, I was signed with a California based record company. They did a great job marketing and promoting my music, and for that I will be forever grateful. But now it is possible to be a success without the traditional record company. The most important thing is to think like a business person. A businessman has a product and invests in it. You can't expect a product to sell without marketing and marketing takes money. Ditto Music can get your product to market, but if you don't promote the product by performing and placing ads and hiring a radio promoter no one is going to know your music is available. So taking advantage of Ditto's promotional services for example is a great start. Use social media and videos intelligently. Hire a publicist. Place some ads. Think like a businessman.
Do you have any advice to young, independent musicians who are wanting to try and break into the charts and forge a sustainable career?
A lot of travel. As I write this I am currently in the Dominican Republic enjoying the sun and, of course, writing new music. I may also make a trip to India in April. Other than that I will continue to promote Midnight Rhumba and perform as much as I can.
What does 2015 hold for you?
Spirituality is the most important thing in my life, so I do my best to have my music career run in parallel with my spiritual work. It's really simply a matter of time management. I know my music serves to bring joy to people so, to me, it is part and parcel of my spiritual path - what I call devotional service or seva. I am a certified Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master, certified Sensory Healer, and I have trained extensively in Kung Fu and Qi Gong.
You founded and run 'Divine Earth', an online humanitarian community relating to spirituality, health and world politics. Can you tell us a little bit about how this came about, and how you manage to run this as well as your musical career?
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