Bluetech On The Current Value of Music
Bluetech recently expressed his concerns on the current value of music and shares the voice of so many others who work endlessly to provide quality music :
"I'm super thankful for the discussion and responses regarding my previous post about the numbers with my new EP (http://bluetech.bandcamp.com/album/basement-dubs-ep). After discussing this with a few other musician friends, I feel that it is necessary to point out some of the faulty logic inherent in peoples approach to music, and perhaps ignorance of how the industry is functioning these days.
I started studying classical piano when I was 5 years old, and I am now in my late 30s, which means I have spent 30+ years dedicating myself to one path. I did not go to college, I do not have a backup plan, music is my life and it is the one thing that I have given all of my resources and learning to. I'm not trained or skilled in any other trade. Music is it. Music seems to be the one industry however, that although I am highly skilled at, many people do not consider a viable and financially supportable cause.
The guy who makes your sandwich gets paid to make the sandwich, the barister who made your coffee, the bus driver, the telephone operator, the bartender, etc. etc. Most of the people you interact with in your daily life have significantly less time invested in their career, yet you do not think twice about handing over a 10 spot for lunch, or a few beers, or a magazine, or a video game, because its just accepted that if you took those things without paying you would be stealing. Yet, somehow, for less than the price of a sandwich, people have no problem taking my EP and then telling me that Im doing it wrong, despite my 30+ years of training, and actually assuming they understand my industry and are teaching me a lesson about how economics work. This is the part that is most shocking, is that people not only feel entitled to my work for free, but actually make assumptions that I am whining, or doing it wrong by asking a small financial consideration for the work I put into it. You pay $6 for a sandwich that you enjoy once, or a beer (or two), yet my music gets constant rotation and play in your life and somehow it isn't valued at the same price?
Here is where the faulty logic comes into play. "Music should be free, go tour". Well, thats an interesting sentiment, but why is it always non musicians who have never tried to make a life or career out of music that are so adamant to instruct us musicians as to how we should approach our business?
Have you looked at my schedule this year? Or for the last 10 years? I have been touring, endlessly, around the world. Yes, there is income in touring, and this is how I've been able to pay my bills and keep myself afloat, though I have way less time to work on music than I need, and the music suffers as a result. However, I can't complain. I have a job, and have found a way to monetize my music. How does this work for all of the musicians who are unable to tour for whatever reason? If music has no value other than for live presentation, than does that mean that all of the musicians who are unable to tour have no value in what they are doing? Extremely faulty logic.
Now, lets look at some specifics of the touring life. I spend 5-6 months of the year on the road, in fits and starts. This means I am never home longer than a few weeks at a time. These are the things that I sacrifice to pay my bills: Dinner parties, birthday parties, weddings, time to take a meditation or yoga class, ability to have a garden and grow food, nights out with friends, long camping trips or vacations, ability to be in a loving relationship without _constant_ upkeep and very difficult work to manage the time away, time to train and enjoy my dogs, time in the studio to really dive in and let the magic happen, because I'm always packing bags and getting ready for the next trip.
I rarely get enough sleep, I'm never anywhere long enough to really enjoy it, instead flying in, soundcheck, play set, have maybe a few minutes to connect with a couple of fans, to hotel for a few hours of sleep, off to the airport for the next show. Rinse, repeat.
Still, it's a living, I can't complain. I get to travel around the world and share my music, which is an amazing reality. But here is where it gets difficult... During the last year of touring my father has been in the hospital twice. Both times I was faced with the reality that if I wanted to support him, I had to quit my tour, which means I literally can not pay my bills and rent. Or, I take the chance and stay on the road, and something drastic happens. It was a balancing act, on the phone every day, waiting hour by hour for updates, trying to decide when the right time would be to cancel the tour and fly home, and trust that the money would somehow work out to pay the bills.
I have another family member who was diagnosed with a brain tumor this year, which begins to threaten my ability to be on tour at all. If I want to support them, and be present during the hospital visits, test, recovery times, then touring goes out the window. Oops, there goes my job, since people feel that music should only be supported when played live, my whole livelihood becomes threatened if I want to do the things a normal person does in their life, mainly be physically available for friends and family.
So, this is where I am at. 40 is just around the corner. I've been touring for 11 years now. What happens when Im 50? What happens if I have health issues? I don't have savings or a retirement, because even though touring pays the bills, it certainly is not slathering me in benjamins. My plan was this, get land somehow, build a sustainable cabin, find a way to live on the smallest amount of money possible and cross fingers that no ill health destroys the whole thing.
I have a small mortgage, which means I "own" a few acres now. Awesome, great start! I'm trying to raise enough funds to put a sustainable solar cabin on that land, which means that I will not have power bills, I will not have water bills because I use rain water collection, I can hopefully grow enough food to support myself (which means not being on tour), and best of all: I will actually have some time to work on music in a deeeeeeep and meaningful way again, since I will not be dependent on going on the road to finance my life.
So, I put out this new EP and explained my intentions, and frankly have been completely shocked by the arrogance, and complete misunderstanding in many of the responses. How can someone who doesn't walk in my shoes tell me that I am doing it wrong and don't deserve support for my work? Are they going to finance me when I break a leg and can't tour? Or if my family is in the hospital and needs me? I don't think so.
What if I want to get married and raise a family? Am I supposed to miss out on exactly half of the year watching a child grow and develop? Just because you think music should be free, and I'm not getting the picture by believing that my work is worth something?
So, long story short. Touring is not the answer that everyone seems to think it is for why it's ok to take my music without giving something back. Next time you have a drink at the bar, think about how long the enjoyment of that drink lasts and compare it to how many hours, days, years music spends in your life.
What if I want to get married and raise a family? Am I supposed to miss out on exactly half of the year watching a child grow and develop?
All in all, I am super thankful for you and all the responses, since it brings to light issues that need addressing. I've received personal messages from so many of you apologizing for the arrogance of others, and showing your support that my heart is literally overflowing with love. This music is for YOU, because you have heard my heart and it has aroused something in yours. I continue doing this for YOU. May your family and friends be surrounded by love and blessed by deeper connections than you ever thought possible."