this evening I have spent hours – and those hours are built upon tens of other hours – updating my content around the inter webs. facebook, reverbnation, hear it local, last.fm, myspace, deli radio, bandcamp, wordpress, youtube, vimeo, twitter, cdbaby, soundcloud … it’s an almost inexhaustible list, because these are only the sites I actively use. (except I think I’m going to officially abandon myspace at some point here …)
this is the less fun side of music as business. innumerable hours at a computer, pretending that I know how to do all these sort of specialized things. they called it DIY (do it yourself) but I call it DEY (do everything yourself).
a few weeks back I had the privilege of speaking on an informal panel at the Oakland Museum of California’s THEN/NOW exhibit about making music in 1968 versus 2012 in the Bay Area, and this was one of the topics that came up. it’s not a new one, and I’m sure you’ve heard me moan about it here as well.
it goes something like this: in the old days the labels stole your content and most of your money but they also did all your promotion, distribution, design, branding etc for you … these days you retain the rights to your content, there’s hardly any money to be stolen, and you are responsible for all aspects of your own career up to a certain point at which you either can afford to or can’t afford not to hire a manager, booking agency, agent etc.
sometimes, I won’t lie, I get so frustrated by the logistics of a life as a performing musician and I want to say fuck it, I’m just gonna sit around in the living room banging on my guitar. but the truth is that I absolutely love the dynamic nature of it all. I love that I am on a path and it is changing and evolving every day. I love getting to play better and better venues as a result of hard work promoting shows and bringing out solid crowds; I love getting to work with better and better musicians as a result of cultivating my songwriting and bandleading skills; I love how progress is like a sine wave, sometimes up sometimes down but always moving forward.
and good god do I love the 45 minutes or 3 hours or however many minutes we get to be on that stage. the lights burning hot on my face. the drums pounding behind me, locking eyes with whoever’s about to take the next solo, hearing the sounds emerge from me and us as if possessed by some magic. time loses all meaning, the world melts away.
and when I’ve done my job right and I see people dancing, swaying, crying, staring, smiling, or feeling anything at all … I’m flooded with this sense that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing in the world.
some people are meant to save the forest, some are meant to save the children, others to build bridges or buildings, cultivate minds or bodies … me, I am meant to cultivate emotional richness, compassion, and empathy, through stories and music. that’s my purpose in life. for now. until I’m told otherwise.