To say that the last six months have been a whirlwind for me would be a huge understatement. Hundreds (if not thousands) of hours combing the internet, looking for the next great group of musical performers and trying to spread the word about those I have already found. My entire life, my entire routine has been forever altered by this maniacal drive to help indie musicians get to the next level and be able to succeed. I know that I fall far from my personal goals with all this, but I continue on, in the hopes that just one thing I do can help the career of a single musician in some small way. It is that hope that keeps me going, and it prevents me from just closing up shop and fading into the background (which has crossed my mind more than once).
Just last night, my wife commented on how I have changed as a person, how my mood changes when I put on the headphones, the smile that overtakes my face when listening to my indie music. I often worry about what she thinks about my endeavor, as it does occupy a very large chunk of my time, time that we could be doing other things. Her support of my ‘hobby’ is critical to its success. I’m smart enough to recognize that this is not something that will ever make me rich financially, but rather something that enriches me personally. I do what I do for the love of the craft and a love of the art form. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, there are those fantasies of “hitting it big” and becoming the next huge social media influencer, someone who’s name is known and opinion is constantly sought after. But those dreams are met with the very real understanding that obscurity is the more likely option, and I’m fine with that. In effect, I have modeled myself after the life of the typical indie musician.
I’ve been doing this long enough to realize that while there may be visions of wealth and popularity running through the brains of many of the musicians I follow, the sad reality is most of them will never know that success on a scale large enough to financially survive on. The art they love so much and work tirelessly to perfect will never occupy a spot bigger than a serious hobby in their lives, something they devote countless hours to when they are not working to pay the bills. It doesn’t take a doctoral economist to understand that the entire musical microcosm is in serious need of a financial facelift, but that is a topic for another article down the road. Suffice it to say the vast majority of those who create and perform do so solely to express themselves and the contribute to the art. They do what they love. I do what I love. Life is good for all of us. No matter how frustrating it can be at times, we all continue on, in the hopes of making a difference. But it also begs the question- what if we were all to just throw our hand up in the air and say, “Forget it”?
That may seem like a silly situation, and you would be correct in that assumption. The great majority of musicians I encounter are simply not capable of walking away. For some, they have tried and failed miserably, going right back to the routine of constant practice and playing the local VFW halls to get exposure. They can’t walk away, because their music is a vital part of their very being. Hell, I tried to put it behind me, and yet here I am, a part of the music world once again. I don’t perform (I learned some time ago that performing was not my place), but I have found a place where I can contribute (hopefully) to the success of others in my own small way. For the true musician, life does not exist without music. But the world of music extends much further than the musicians themselves. There is an entire ecosystem of support, promotion and engagement that is vital to the continuation of today’s music. And it is to those people that I direct the question, “Are you ready to suffer along side of the musicians you support?”
Today’s music world is a tangle of very disjointed, seemingly opposing and competing forces. There are thousands of bloggers like myself and probably ten times as many outlets where music can be heard. The days of the big media outlets are being replaced by a group of smaller entities, who’s reach may not be as wide, but who’s passion for the art exceeds that of the mainstream by a factor of a hundred times. And despite the appearance of competition, I find that the entire community is comfortable and eager to be working toward the same cause- promoting indie music and doing whatever necessary to help these incredible artists succeed. The movement is bigger than any single piece of the pie, but the pie is not complete without the efforts of every single piece. Honestly, the pie is made up not of pieces as we would normally think, but rather a collection of thousands (if not millions) of individual crumbs that complete the bigger picture. Lose enough crumbs, and eventually there is no pie left to dine on. In order for any of this to show any kind of success, we need as many crumbs as possible to complete the pie.
The role of the non-musician in this movement can be extremely frustrating at times (if not completely frustrating most of the time). We worry about how impactful our reach is. We worry about how effective our method of communication is. We worry about our abilities to truly drum up support for the musicians we have come to love. But, despite all of the worrying, we do each make a difference, in our own small way. The frustration and worry is counter balanced by the smallest of ‘thank you’s’ received from those we treasure most, and any measure of ‘success’ needs to use this as the standard. The goal is not to conform to any standards or sets of rules, but to create the kind of commotion that draws peoples’ interest, which then draws attention to the artists we are all so desperately trying to bring attention to. Much like the musicians, we have made a conscious decision to not conform and to do everything we can to create a new mainstream, one that highlights the true talent in the music world.
So, I implore those that support these incredible artists to dedicate every second to being a crumb. The world is hungry for great music, and the pie needs to be as big as humanly possible to satisfy that hunger. As frustrated as I get, and as defeated as I sometimes feel, I am happy to be a crumb, doing my very small bit for the greater good. I’ll never apologize for how I do it, and I’ll be very happy with any positive results, no matter how small they may be. I’m in it for the long run. Are you?