REALNESS: I’m friggin exhausted. This year has been full on, balls to the wall.
After returning from my 3 month album release tour last December with barely enough money saved to make it to February, I decided to seek other money making opportunities outside of music. I jokingly said to Kaela, “No days off until the wedding”. I didn’t realize how true that would actually be. I’ve *almost* worked 7 days a week since then. As of late, I have 6 jobs. Like most millennials, I choose this instead of a steady 9-5. Because of that, my income varies wildly month to month. I found a fortune cookie that said, “The answers are all around you. Go for all of them, not just one.” And that’s what I’m trying to do. Not only do I continue to try and forward my music career, run a food/music pop up (Serenade), serve/cook in 2 restaurants but now I’m also working as a booking agent for Pilot Light Booking , hustling art/screenprinting for Tour Print and learning from the magic of Tournant.
I think the only way any of us are getting anywhere is by reaching out and lifting each other up. We gotta work together and lean in to our circles. So if y’all need any of that holler at me. My pops has this saying, “Life gets in the way of living”. I’ve never really agreed with it because it sounds pessimistic. “Life is for the living”, I always respond. A lot of folks like to say “you’re living the dream man!” And yes, I’ve been trying to live my dream the best I can. Hopefully you can find a way to live yours too. I know it’s out there for you. From this perspective it’s all music festivals and camp outs in the VW. What Instagram doesn’t see is the hours spent sweating in the dish pit, mopping floors, making endless bowls of ramen, or sending hundreds of emails to no response. That’s exactly HOW the dream is made and I take no shame in that. That perspective shines light on Music and has made me appreciate it in so many different ways. Putting the pressure on my Music to fund life was too much. Now Music pays for itself and it’s future plans and I let all those other irons in the fire fund the rest of life.
The Music world is changing everyday. We spend a lot of time reminiscing about the way it used to be. By the time we think we’ve figured it out or where it’s going or how to get in front of it, it pivots. We can’t possibly keep spending $20K+ recording and producing albums if we’re making $0.008 per stream. It’ll never pay for itself. We can’t possibly keep hosting a Kickstarter for every album or spamming our social feeds with Patreon pleas. Who knows? Maybe we can.
There’s no rhyme or reason. Whether you’re spending 250+ days a year on tour, praying to the Spotify gods that you end up on one of their coveted playlists, going to Music conferences to see who’s ass you’ve got to kiss or beating your head against the wall trying to figure out a social media algorithm. It’s maddening and everything is saturated. And all along, who’s to say my music is special or deserves to go anywhere beyond my front porch? After all, I’m just another folk singing straight white dude and there’s plenty of those out there.
Nowadays being a good singer, writer and instrumentalist almost isn’t enough. You’ve also got to be a really good publicist, booking agent, manager, tour manager, sound engineer, record producer, social media maverick, photographer, videographer, graphic and web designer. If you can even master 3-4 of those you’ll be leagues ahead of your colleagues. I’ve hung out with renowned Grammy winning musicians with the best management in the business and they’ve said that they still have to stay on top of all of these things.
So, I’m embracing that. I’m leaning into all the facets of being that modern musician. I’m reveling in all the art and hard work and effort it takes to do it. And who knows? Maybe someday, someone will help me. Until then I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to keep putting out low budget albums of music that moves through me. Keep creating art that make me happy. Keep slinging emails to play cool shows that take me to cool places. Keep on keepin on.
I hope this hasn’t come off as a pessimistic view because ultimately I’m pretty optimistic. I’ve spent a lot of time this year contemplating and reframing some of the more delusional dreams I’ve had about the industry and turning them into more achievable goals. And that. Feels good.
And hot damn, if you’ve made it this far, you’re either really bored or you’re my parents. (Hi mom) Either way, I’m grateful for you. Especially grateful for my future wife for standing by me as I figure it all out.
I’ll be here if you need me. Grinding away trying to lift myself and those around me higher. I’ll try and be better about asking you if you need anything and you try and be better about asking for what you want. Cause it’s out there. I promise. And I’m here for ya.