Back to the Drawing Board

I've been in podcaster/blogger/whatever I am mode for so long, I've almost forgotten how to just be a musician. I've been writing about the ins and outs of music, but haven't really bothered to make any of my own for quite some time. As is expected for many long-time musicians, the urge to perform live started becoming too strong to ignore any longer. In response to these urges, I pumped out a live set's worth of music in e.p. form over the course of about two weeks. The excitement has built within me, and I've been trying to spread it around as best I can without being a spambot.

I made a sort of plan to go along with the release, and mostly stuck to it, but I've come to realize a few things since “restarting” this solo music endeavor. First of all, I'm just another guy with “a mixtape” at this point, and that's pretty disheartening to say the least. Second, I took a long enough break from making music, that I'm basically starting over, plus I'm in a different genre now. Needless to say, I'm also making music for art's sake. That is to say that I'm making this music for myself, and those who relate, as opposed to popularity. To say that the odds are stacked against me would be an understatement, but hey, that's music for you.

Seems like just about everyone has some sort of music project now, and I'm just another hat in the ring. Just another body stirring up dust in the already overcrowded desert of independent music. Perhaps some people would give up upon these realizations, but not me, I already gave up a long time ago. Not in a “woe is me” kind of way, but in a “I don't care anymore” kind of way. Caring about how your music (or whatever artistic endeavor you pursue) is received is not only a waste of time, but it'll drain all the energy right out of you.

The days of having “rock star” dreams are long gone for many of us who've come to realize that the music business is far more about business than music. Some of us just want to create great art believe it or not; some of us just want to leave a legacy in sound. I'm one of those people who never really wanted to make what sold; I just wanted to make what spoke to me. If others could relate, that was all icing on a very obscure, but delicious cake. Not all of us enjoy ready-made sweets that all taste alike, some of us enjoy exotic flavors that only a select few can truly appreciate.

The more I think about it, the more I understand that I'm already where I wanted to be as a young, na├»ve musician dreaming of performing live for wild crowds. Every band plays shows for small crowds, but only some actually complain. Every musician strives to create their “magnum opus”, but not all of them get to do it entirely on their own terms. Being a musician not only means that you've got to work harder than everyone else, and still potentially fail; it also means that you define your success. You can choose to have others define your success, and always feel like you're coming up short, or you can stay true to yourself, and never lose.

A lot of us have fallen into the trap of believing the illusion sold to us by giant record companies. If you want to be the same as the top artists on billboard, go rent a bunch of jewelry you can't really afford; pay someone else to write your songs; rent an overpriced car for public appearances; get pros to touch-up your photos; and hire a publicist. If you want to create music that means something to you, go perform it, and meet interesting people that might even actually like your music; all that's free, and entirely within your control. Sure, it'd be nice to make a ton of money just by making music, but that often comes at the price of your integrity, or at the very least, your privacy.

I started this new music project with the hope that people would enjoy it, that's a given, but I'm being realistic. No one likes every style of music, and some people refuse to listen to anything that doesn't have a pristine mix. This is even though a lot of those same people are often downloading low quality rips, but let me not go off on a tangent here. In short, you can't please everyone, so don't bother; especially in regard to being creative. It's important to set clear goals for yourself, and my goal is to make the music I want to hear, and go perform it for anyone who wants to hear it. That's all, it really is that simple.

I look forward to playing for 30 or so people very soon, and possibly even having 24 of them walk out. I eagerly await dripping sweat all over my gear as I pack up, and politely listen to a drunk stranger critique my performance. I can't wait to get my music compared to some artist I don't even listen to, and torn apart by some blogger who can barely write a coherent sentence. I am thoroughly excited for all that this project holds for me; the good, the bad, and the disenchanting. This is what being an independent musician is to me; in spite of all the hardship, and aggravation, I still have love for it, and can't stay away.

No comments:

Post a Comment