Singer/songwriter Terry Penney likes to quote a phrase he heard one time, "The harder I work the luckier I get."
But, in fact, his ambition to share his music with the world is well on its way to becoming a reality.
He and his wife, Angie Wilmot, use their decade-old company TAP Productions to explore opportunities and are branching out to European markets.
At last year's East Coast Music Awards (ECMAs), Wilmot talked about her husband's desire to bring his music to the European market.
That resulted in a meeting with government representatives to determine if TAP Productions was ready for export.
In February, the couple took part in a week-long trade mission to Ireland with the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development.
Penney credits his wife's business-minded approach in making that first step possible.
"If that was me alone, going into that meeting alone, I would have just said, 'Hello, nice to meet you,'" he said.
"But the music business, like any business, takes a team of people to really make something happen, and Angie has been instrumental in making things come around that way. It's a team and it's working very well."
Around the same time as the ECMAs, Wilmot chatted with a promoter from Ireland, Andy Peters, who works with acts such as Blue Rodeo. He took an immediate liking to Penney's music and asked for some CDs to distribute to radio stations.
"Between us sending him the CDs and us finding out we were actually going to Ireland, he only received the CDs a few weeks before we got there," Wilmot recalls.
"He didn't know we were coming to Ireland and neither did we."
Through the Ireland trip, they hoped to make connections with booking agents, Irish radio, festivals, venues and the like.
"We also wanted to research whether we would really fit into that market or not," Wilmot said.
"We determined very quickly that there is definitely a market and they are very interested in the type of music I am doing," Penney added. "I played a couple of times in a club there and did some live radio spots, and people were very receptive."
Every day was jam-packed with meetings with industry representatives, radio interviews, a couple of club performances and a performance at the Canadian Embassy. In the Embassy audience were business people and government representatives from all over Ireland. From that experience came even more connections, including an introduction to Ronnie Norton, a well-known graphic artist, photographer and industry insider in Ireland.
"He said 'Buddy Holly Blues' would be on radio and he wanted to do a review of the CD ('Town That Time Forgot') for his publication," said Wilmot.
"When we checked in with him later to see how things were going and if he was still going to follow through with the review he said yes, 'Terry Penney was my find of the summer.'"
Peters, meanwhile, has taken the couple on as clients and is working on getting Penney a U.K. agent and a work visa.
Penney will be touring Northern Ireland from Feb. 19-March 1, 2010 along, with East Coast artists Dave Gunning, Dave Carrol and Christina Martin.
"I'm looking forward to February being an actual music tour as opposed to earlier this year when it was mostly about business meetings," Penney said.
He worked with Dean Stairs of Bulldog Records on "Town That Time Forgot," and he's working with Stairs on a compilation CD of everything he's recorded in the last 10 years.
"It's interesting to take some of the songs and re-record them with slightly different musical arrangements," he said.
"The thing with the new record ... is I think I found my musical happy place, stylistically."
He's also working on a couple of songs for Stairs' CD project "Hope," in aid of the Janeway Children's Hospital.
Wilmot said they'll be looking for a publicist in Ireland for the tour and they need to do a video.
Penney was recently selected as a finalist in the Kerrville, Texas Folk Festival Songwriters Competition. He was invited to attend that event but it overlapped with the Ireland trade mission.
He was also a semi-finalist in a U.K. songwriting competition and his new CD was reviewed in the Lonesome Highway online music publication out of Dublin.
"In 1981, if anyone had ever told me, You're going to write a song with Ron Hynes and Glenn Simmons is going to be playing on all your records and you're all going to be friends,' that would be the most surreal thing in the world," Penney said.
"It just goes to show that if you keep your nose to the grindstone and keep doing what you're doing, you'll end up getting where you need to go."
Wilmot quips, "I keep saying to him, 'You're going to be sitting down having a cup of coffee with Steve Earle within the next two years, talking about music.'"