A photo essay
As has been noted with some regularity in the music world of late, people aren't paying for music the way they used to. It's driving some people to make guilty confessions. And others to unleash cranky diatribes. Others are making fancy charts. We here at TWBA headquarters hold no illusions that a wee band such as ours can reverse trends or hold back the march of time. Stuff happens. Change happens. But we'd be remiss if we didn't at least try to offer something to the conversation.
We've seen it said a lot lately that musicians should make music strictly for the love of music and worry about profit later, if at all. To that, all we can say is: get real. The only way to make great art, to rise above the noise, to do something truly worthwhile, is to spend hours, days, weeks, months, and years perfecting your craft. You can't do that and pay the bills. Well, you can try. If you're a kid with zero responsibilities, good health, and no material possessions, you can even succeed -- for a while. But nobody stays a kid with zero responsibilities, good health, and no material possessions forever. Eventually, you're going to want to sleep in your own bed, not on your friend's couch. And eventually you're going to want to have that cavity filled before your face swells up with a deadly infection or put a ring on your lover's finger before he/she finds someone more able to commit. Then what?
In the best of circumstances, it takes a hell of a lot of hard work, luck, and moxie to get good at what you do. If you have to work forty hours a week doing something else just to make ends meet, the art will suffer. If it doesn't, your spouse, children, and/or health will. So is that what being true to the music means? Making a devil's bargain between beauty and sanity, between authenticity and solvency?
There has to be another way. It's obvious that recorded music holds less value than it used to, that lucrative live shows are harder to come by, and that even other streams of revenue (licensing, merchandising, etc.) are drying up just as a growing crowd of desperate bands wade into them.Clearly there's no going back. But I hope the way forward involves paying people what they're worth. Because no one should have to be a slave to their muse and an economic serf at the same time.