Monday, December 27, 2010

Mailbag: Context

re: my post "Context"
Hi Jeremiah. I just read your latest post and something didn't sit well with me, and my wife says I shouldn't get too stressed about these things but I really had to say something. You said:

"Even more important, control your presentation. Buskers (street performers) are public music spam. No better than those teenagers paid to shove glossy 5x7 party fliers in your hands."

I'm sorry, but after 20 plus years of playing in public as a street performer, I don't like being called 'public music spam.' No doubt there are plenty of bad perfomers out there to that give us a bad rep, but they don't last long anyway. Give us old badgers a break. We have been in this longer than you've been alive.

--name withheld
Hey Jeramiah! Usually I don't take time to comment, but your post about musicians being public spam was not cool. Even those kids pushing flyers into your hands are signs of a vibrant population. They are part of the arts community just like the artists. What better patronage than your time? I like your blog, but your wrong about that.
--withheld (published without permission)

Monday, December 13, 2010


"But in the Metro, Bell is no one. The context of the Metro fails to authenticate Bell’s music. Everyone can listen, thus hearing offers no distinction at all. And almost no one cares."

I can't say this enough: YOU are your own credibility. If you're trying to book shows in "name" venues with the expectation that an audience comes built-in, get out of this business. Now.

Even more important, control your presentation. Buskers (street performers) are public music spam. No better than those teenagers paid to shove glossy 5x7 party fliers in your hands.

But distinction - that's the secret sauce. Sure, you've got to have songs and performing chops, but even if you've only got basics, you can still create an exclusive experience. And that's what people really want - to be around other people just like them (getting laid doesn't hurt, either.)

And who 'authenticates' you now? Your fans, and nobody else. Not the venue, not a critic, not a radio DJ, not a magazine, not an award, not a TV show. When you're good enough, they'll tell everyone about you.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Last Degree

"Standing on the outside,
Lookin' in." -Cheryl Crow

Imagine standing at a golf tee. The green is not too far away - an "easy up" in golfing lingo. So you make your swing. You connect. The ball arcs gracefully toward the grass, plops just long of the cup, rolls down the green, and stops within inches of a hole-in-one.

What do you change??

NOTHING! The best you can do is make a perfect swing. After that, it's just probabilities: the density of air, humidity, wind. The inclination of the green and the tightness of the turf. One or two things against you, and you come within inches. And inches don't count

In my music life, one of my paralyzing fears is that I'll have done all this work - all the emotional and personal investment, etc - only to be confronted with the reality that I'm not quite good enough; close, but not enough. To use the golf metaphor again, it's (emotionally) easier to never get off the green in the first place.

And it's even harder in this business when you see peers in your 1st degree in The Game. Maybe they're on The Tonight Show, or being quoted in major music publications, or on a major tour.

But you're not. You're sitting at home writing about it. (who is this about again??!?)

Here's another way to look at it: you've been toiling along a trail for God knows how long, and upon finally reaching the castle at the top, the guards turn you away. And here you sit, incredulous as all heck, thinking "Are you kidding me? I walked this whole path, did everything it took just to get here, and now you're telling me I can't get in?"

And the guard just nods. It's not his problem - it's his job.

But here's the rub: if you walked that trail and climbed that mountain to the castle with the expectation you were going to be let in, YOU WERE WRONG! It's not about the castle, because that castle doesn't exist. It's like a mirage...something your brain creates out of the chaos so you don't feel lost.

It's about the PATH, you idiot! It's about the journey and those who make it with you. The castle? FUCK the castle. They're terrible homes, anyway.

If you find yourself relating to the Lone Monk On A Mission story, you've got this all wrong. That's the test.

Because the truth is: YOU DO NOT WALK THIS PATH ALONE. And if you forget/ignore those who walk with you, they'll abandon you, and THEN you'll know what loneliness is.

So here's today's big insight for you: take a moment to stop that narcissistic artistic nonsense and appreciate all those who are making the journey with you. They count more than any mythic castle dweller. They make the journey bearable and ultimately, worthwhile.