Well? Are you? Oh, you are, you say? Well, prove it to me. Go ahead. I’m waiting. We’re ALL waiting.
Recently in an ongoing (failing) attempt to avoid the news feed on my personal facebook page, I read an article about T- Bone Burnett. If you don’t know T-Bone, look him up HERE. T-Bone is a major player in the american music industry. Famed producer. He has definitely done work you have heard. The article/blog (Don’t worry, there is a link at the bottom of this page to that article) I read was written (i think) because T-Bone made some kind of comment like “self promotion is a horrible thing. As soon as an artist self promotes he ceases to become an artist, he becomes a salesman.”
Boom. That’s hard to read isn’t it? On many levels. It hurts because some part of me feels like it’s true. It hurts because some part of me wants to say “you’re crazy Mr. Burnett, technology helps, hell…makes it POSSIBLE!”. Though I suspect that thought is really from the same part of my brain as the initial reply.
Thing is, I DO think he’s right. But I live on the other side. I can’t lie to you, I feel like a whore about it most times. Nagging, flogging, begging…HEY…look over here! I annoy my own damn self. Surely it annoys other people. Most of the hard core, major, “artists” I dig today lean towards T-Bone’s side. They aren’t on their damn facebook or twitter all day yammering at people. They’re writing, playing, singing, or on their way to do so. I once heard one of my favourite guitarists, and major influences, say something like, “If you live in a cabin and you’ve spent your life learning to play, and you’re good but no one knows about you, you’re still good.” Does that mean if you’re on the other side…if you are on those evil social media thingys, then you AREN’T good?!? That, because you don’t have someone doing that for you, because YOU’RE the one telling us you’re good, you can’t be?!? Is that the equation?
What I perceived T-Bone’s point to mean was this: Make good art. If it’s good, someone else will promote it. They’ll want to. IF other folks are talking about it then it’s more likely to make peeps check it out.
That’s what I hear all my heroes say. They’re all about only making great art. And that’s all they have to do. That’s their JOB. It’s hard to argue with that. If you only do one thing you are bound to get good at it right? And if it’s good, it will get out. In theory. PROMOTIONS. That’s an actual job. It’s a different Job than being a songwriter, performer, manager or agent. Those are all different jobs. Let someone else do that. You pick one of the other jobs
…I do all of those things. I would rather only write, record and perform music. If I had an agent then I wouldn’t have to deal with Johnny-music-biz-guy would I? I would only show up and rock out and then get paid and go back home to writing and recording. I think that’s the heart of T-Bone’s lament. Let musicians/artists be artists. Let managers be managers, agents be agents etc. Lord knows, I would prefer not to do any of those other jobs.
…if I didn’t book gigs and promote them, I would have to get a job doing something else to pay my bills. Then I’d still be in the same boat wouldn’t I? I wouldn’t ONLY be writing, performing and recording music.
What to do, what to do?
A friend of mine once said ‘I think I’m done with the music industry. I’m just going to write songs, make records and tour’.
Man, I’ve sure been thinking of that lately. I feel, as an independent musician, I must:
- post music
- be in contests
- ask for votes
- apply for awards
- kiss the anus of the alphabet societies and associations
- join said alphabet societies
- yammer some more at you.
Do I? Do I REALLY? Do I really need to do all that or have I been tricked into thinking that I need to? I don’t know! It’s hard to figure out isn’t it? Should I say fuck all that and just grind it out? Job it out till my dying day? What’s wrong with that? At least you’d have dignity and have done it your own way.
…then I start going down that road farther and another voice pops into my head…. it’s a wise woman…I’m giving her a ride home from a music festival…I’m telling her about another musician who lives how I described above…not self promoting. Only working on music…she says… “ya gotta play the game”… So should I play the game? More? Less? How much?
OOOOH EEEEHHMMM GEEEEE
Should I delete the comments up there!!!? What if I offend johnny-music-soceity-guy??!! Will I ever get to play his club or festival?!?! Egad! (yeah, that’s right, E frigging Gad).What to do? What to do?
Where’s the line? what do we do? where do we stop? Should we?
What to do? What to do?
I guess I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing. I don’t know if it’s working. People tell me it is, but that’s another blog for another day. HELL, I barely know what I’m doing. Some days I can do it, others I can’t. Somedays I feel good about how I’m doing it, other days I don’t.
No one knows HOW to make it in the music business. All my friends are in the same boat. I know this. I’ve spoken with many of my peers over coffees, late night drinks and candy wines. Most seem to be struggling to get that next festival or manager or agent or make that next record. I guess for now we just “keep pushing up on it”, as the great Morgan Davis would say.
So that was pretty rant-y, I know. I’m not trying to complain or whatever. I’m in the line of work I choose to be. I’m just trying to figure out stuff I don’t understand. I want a little dialogue on it. Anyone else feel like this? What do you think? Social media vs. the hermit genius? A balance? Talk to me. I’m curious about where you stand on it and why. Leave a comment and let me know. Don’t be shy or hold back. Let’s have a little truth in 2014 shall we?
Life is a big mystery and it’s DARK out there in the world right now.
Meet me at the light switch.
PS – if you read the blog that inspired this one, be sure to read the comments. that’s where the goods are including commentary from T- Bone himself.
PPS – If Johnny- music-society-guy is reading this and is offended…don’t be. It’s not about you. ; )
PPPS – To answer my very first question…for me the proof is in the pudding. I don’t care if you spend ALL DAMN DAY online. If I go and see you live and you melt my face or break my heart…You’re Good.
PPPS – watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPZ4Maaed_w