I finished my last CD at the tail end of 2009. I spent 2010 hitting my computer – as hard as I could – trying to get that work heard and “out there” in the world. I started this blog. I hit things so hard, in fact, that there were weeks when I made my hands and arms sore from hours of typing. In the end, I’m only one person. I was amazed however, in some ways, that I was able to do as much as I did. Unfortunately, to “do it all” is ultimately not sustainable. That’s why things have dropped off with my blog posting.
Despite all of the theorizing that goes on about the “new music industry” and the new “more level playing field” that it has created, I have yet to figure out a way to make my music be a more significant revenue stream. So, I swim in the sea of my music teaching each week – which I am so fortunate to be able to do – until I can get to the little islands of time that I secure in which to do my songwriting. In truth, the writing is what sustains and motivates the whole thing for me. It has been my focus – since the start of the year.
Earlier today, on a Music Think Tank blog post called “Chaos We Can Stand: Attitudes Toward Technology and Their Impact on the New Digital Ecology,” I read the following: Shifts, in the music industry have “changed what it means to be an artist. The traditional record industry strongly reinforced a belief that artists should just be artists. As creators of cultural content, artists were told they should not have to worry themselves with how they are engaging with their audience—these activities were viewed as disturbances to their creative energy. But as we know, the age of the aloof artist, disconnected from his audience or not even knowing them at all, is long gone. It is not that there cannot be artists who center mainly on the process of creation—but for every artist that is not willing do get more deeply involved with their careers, there are many, many more who are willing to do the hard work.”
“There is nothing that prevents artists from just being artists,” writes David Dufresne, CEO of the website management platform Bandzoogle. “However, if an artist wants to make a career out of being an artist, then that typically means that the artist will need to find both an audience that is engaged with the artist’s creative output, and ways to earn revenue from that engagement.”
Would that it were so easy. I continue to struggle to have the energy to “wear all of the hats” that one must wear in order to sustain a living and create a life in music. Although I know, deep down, it has never been easy.
I don’t mean for it to sound like I’m complaining. I am not. I’m merely pointing out the fact that, based on my own experience, it’s no small task to create music, produce it, market it, gig, and engage listeners when, in the end, there is little financial return on that huge investment of time and energy. I am fortunate enough (and crazy enough) to have been able to motivate myself to get this far – but I wonder sometimes whether I’ll be able to make it sustainable for myself.
Time will tell. I’ll keep giving it my best effort. I hope this post, in some small way, explains my absence, here, over the past couple of months.