Things continue to be dark for the working musician. As a working musician friend noted, ‘when adjusted for inflation, I make less than my father did, by 30%, when he was a working musician 40 years ago.’ It’s easy to blow that off or rationalize it some way; another friend told me that his dad said ‘when the DJ came into existence it was all over for the working musician.’ I agree with that, in some instances, especially the bar/pub paradigm – who needs the overhead of a band when a CD player will do? – Sure, for those of us who think “live” music matters a CD player would NEVER do, but that’s not the masses and the working musician works for the masses not the niches and the sophisticates, except in the rarest of circumstances. The working musician faces a real hustle and Jaron Lanier makes some radical points about the working musician and the challenges they face even with the ubiquity of music on the web and low cost of entry to get the music up there. Things don’t get better for “live” music until we realize, as consumers, that we get what we pay for.
Just like with school’s losing arts and music funding, community’s losing arts and music funding make those community’s much less desirable to live in, but what are we willing to pay to have a cultural community to live in? What’s music worth to you?
What the artists knows, or at least comes to learn very quickly is that nothing ever wraps up into a neat little package.
Creativity and the experience of the artist rarely comes easy. That’s not to say that the artist doesn’t know it’s a perfect fit or feels good right away, but it takes some time and some catharsis to come to terms with the power of inspiration and the hold that it can take.
It makes sense if you think about it, really, because the artist has an idea, a vision or just a passing thought and from that they bring something from the intangible realm of their imagination into the tangible physical world.
Art and creativity is taken for granted, but it’s a profoundly powerful experience.
When put this way the artist’s pain of giving birth to something the world has never known is, understandably, painful, especially when the umbilical is cut and the artist has to release their creation to the universe… come what may.
Of course art and creativity can’t be neatly packaged because no aspect of it is clean or certain.
But that’s also what makes it so exciting.
I probably missed my calling as a preacher, that and I’m not certain enough in my own beliefs to tell anyone what they should believe except maybe about life and the experiences I’ve collected, even then I’m just sharing. I can be preachy, most of the stuff that read is preachy — I feel the need to be empowered; when I write and publish, I write for myself as much for anyone, especially lately. Hey, maybe one person reads something here and says, ‘damn, man, I can relate…’ That’s enough for me. I go forward. I’ll likely never meet this person or people, but maybe I will, I hope that I do. I don’t want to preach, I want to relate to and commiserate with people. We’re all on this same weird trip together and the journey is the best part, even if all of the good is tempered with loneliness, frustration, fear and worry… So maybe I am a preacher of sorts, preaching the gospel of ‘you ain’t alone and we’re all here together.’ I want to be better. Hopefully, this gets me closer.
There’s nothing quite as bad as being over the hill and knowing it, desperately clinging to the once great possibilities that now you barely have the energy, to say nothing of the dwindling passion, to pursue. You want the idea, because that’s easy enough to want, and have, while sitting on your couch watching the world pass you by. It’s like you can taste what’s possible, you’ve been so close that you smelled it, felt the electricity of it so near, but then it was gone and you look and look for ways to get it back, but between the concern that has chiseled lines in your face and your cynicism which has made those lines feel even deeper than they are, like great canyons eroded by time and worry and regret, you do nothing, because you know nothing is possible. Why bother? What’s the point? I know where this leads and it leads me back from here, because at least here isn’t back… it may not be forward, but it sure as shit isn’t back. Doing nothing… stasis, avoid the back button on life, because after all you can never go back. You can dwell there and hate yourself for it, but you can never go back. Where are you then? Stuck.
Inspired by this article’s title, Insecurity is Essential to Great Design, I got to thinking that much of the art that we know, much of the art that’s been put into the world, was driven by insecurity.
The thinking behind this is that the secure and confident artist, isn’t worried about putting their work into the world. They do it, they’re happy with it, and they share it with a few close friends with no intended outcome.
However, most of the artists I know, including myself, if I’m completely honest, share their work because they’re looking for something external, whether it’s validation of creativity, acknowledgement of their vision, or simply because they feel the world might be a better place because of their contribution and they hope to be acknowledged for that.
Some will argue this, of course, but I’m less concerned about judging what inspires the artist to share their work with the world, and more interested in identifying where our need to share our art comes from.
Art and creativity smooth the rough edges of the human condition, whether through the creative process, or through the appreciation of the work done. What’s important is to figure out what inspires the artist to the work and to share the work. As a world without creativity, and something to move us, wouldn’t be much of a world at all.