Can you have a sustainable career or life in music? Is it possible?
Artists and musicians run around selling themselves short for record deals and/or large tours. Music managers, executives and A&R men and women cut unequal deals to make their own ends meet (often a lot more superfluously). But can we blame them for wanting a bigger piece of the pie? Wouldn’t you want to own a bigger piece of the pie?
There is a line I am trying to walk while running The Sound Gaarden, one between artistic integrity, genuine love and passion for music and a capitalist mindset of extracting the most value from an equation.
My heart leans towards artistic integrity but the math leans towards the capitalist regime of cutting my loses and reaping the selfish benefits. The truth is that I need to walk the line because I will not be able to continue discovering amazing local artists and giving them a platform without keeping an eye on the books. The only way I can help, is if I can keep running.
Now, all these issues can and will be ironed over as we test more business hypotheses and optimize our business model, customer profiles and marketing strategy but the truth is that through our journey as an early stage start-up, I realized that I was not upset about the decisions that I have to make but the way the world responds to music.
I still remember every gig as a teenager in Dubai would have a similar mix of people all supporting their friends and enjoying music made by the people living in their city. People always search for a similar perspective in the music they listen to and nobody can provide that better than local artists.
When a local artist plays at a show or venue, you are a part of the experience. To them, you are the 25,000 person crowd. You are The Royal Albert Hall and they should be your Adele. People forget but all the biggest names started somewhere.
I encourage everyone to support their local music talent, from singer/songwriters to DJs. Every single person who plays music in your city. Go to their shows. Applaud when they finish performing and ask for their names and their stories. One day they could be up somewhere, all thanks to your support.
We love buying local coffee and supporting local baristas but people seem to abuse the right of music. We assume that because the song I am listening to was free, that the artist that is playing it must come free as well. I say this, if we are now saving money on CDs and iTunes cards, then we should use that extra change and go to local performances and support our musicians.
My qualm with our consumption of music is that we love great, moving music, but are willing to exploit the same people who create such experiences for us. This is not a call for a movement to have a minimum wage for live performers. This is a request to understand the musical ecosystem that we live in. No side has power over the other because without music, we would have nothing to feel and without an audience, musicians would have no-one to hear them. We work together, as a collective to keep the music playing and to all be wealthy in monetary and emotional terms.