I think it is extremely important to make clear to ourselves just what
we mean when we say we want to make it in music.
Some years ago I asked my guitarist what exactly did he mean when he
said he just wanted to "make it in music". He replied with something
similar to your response, though in his case he wanted to sell 10,000
copies of his CD. He felt that that would indicate a strong following
that would enable him to continue his professional involvement in music.
Alas, it never happened. He ran out of production funds and his
lifestyle nearly killed him (not an exaggeration). And btw, he is a
tremendous player, a truly gifted musician.
I'm more and more convinced that his problems have to do with an
entrenched "Old School" thought-process, and in my estimation that just
isn't going to cut it anymore. Touring, doing the road gigs, club-work,
etc., it's all getting more and less viable unless you've got the money
to burn (I believe it was Zappa who remarked that he couldn't do a tour
without the backing of a major beer company). Newer ways of
dissemination have opened new paths to lucre, but his thinking prevents
him from appreciating them (one of his more egregious comments was
something like "I'm never going to teach anyone who plays Guitar Hero
!". Nothing like cutting off your own nose just to say "F*ck you!" to
your own face.
When gasoline reaches $4 per gallon here, as it certainly will before
the end of summer, the economics of performance are going to restrict
players to local venues, and unless you're living in a major
metropolitan area you're not likely to make enough money to pay the
regular household bills. OTOH, perhaps musicians will wake to the
situation and start to organize themselves into owning their own clubs
and running their own shows. IOW, if they want to "make it" they're
going to have to come up with new ways - maybe lots of new ways - of
doing so. The old ways are fast fading.
I teach kids who are considering going into music at university. I make
it clear to them that they *must* diversify and that they need to take
every possible opportunity that presents itself. It's gratifying to see
and hear how sharp some of these kids are, but at the same time I fear
for them. The world is changing fast, and the US is headed into a very
uncomfortable period. I routinely suggest that my students get their
passports before graduating and keep their minds open re: employment
abroad. I don't know how they'll make it in the world, much less in
music, but I'll do my best to prep them for both.
> Couldn't get there in music, by any means I could pull off credibly. That says: time to hang it up.
Sad when players of your caliber are forced to such decisions. Years ago
I asked Pharaoh Sanders about various players, what they were doing, and
his response was "Oh, they're just scuffling". And I was asking about
players like Dannie Richmond, not minor-league players. Buell Neidlinger
told me a similar story about Cecil Taylor, that Cecil couldn't make
squat in the US, so he did almost all of his playing in Japan, where
they adore the man and pay him something more like what he's worth.
I like the US re: artists because we're free to do whatever we like. I
hate the US re: artists because we're utterly ignored here.
Say, this thought just occurred to me: The club down the street is going
to have a band that plays a mix of Poison and Motley Crue covers. I'll
check 'em out, will let you know if I think there's an opening for you. ;)
Anyway, seriously, don't stop playing. You'll get psychically impacted.
Bad condition. And the rest of us will suffer from Restivo-deprivation,
a malady for which there is only one known cure.
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