Monday, March 28, 2011

What The Future Holds

I. Don't. Know.

Neither does anybody else.

Full. Stop.

Things happen so fast right now in the music world. It's the future of all arts. Even painters are getting in on the live act. Have you seen David Garibaldi paint his funky portraits live? Sure, he's using other people's music, but he's paying tribute with it, not exploiting. And it's really about the live act right now, anyway. Recorded music is fine - and necessary, too. It's also a bit like sewing - the only risk is error, which can be quickly corrected. Live shows, by contrast, are all about jumping off a cliff and seeing if you can fly.

Which one is more exhilarating? Sewing or cliff diving?

That's the question in my mind when I'm looking at all these live music apps on the iPad, and a few for Android. They're all geared for realtime interaction, but they've also been programmed to remove almost all the risk of sucking. How do you push boundaries that way? Where's the excitement there? Watching guys fiddle with knobs? Can you even create enduring music with these tools?

Well, I think somebody will. Will it stand the test of time like some of today's legacy catalog? Unknown.

It's such a free-for-all right now: so many listeners, so many creators. Why does anyone need to be "on top?" Can we calibrate our expectations in such a way that the simplest rewards are all the fullfillment we need?

I'll confess: I'm not immune to the onset of depression when confronted with one's YouTube play stats. I want to be noticed, too, just like every one of you. I think I deserve it, too. I work hard at my art. Almost everybody does.

The problem seems to originate in an conviction that the only measure of success is public accolades, a point driven home by decades of television programming. I fight with this, too.

We forget sometimes that public attention and opinion are a bit like the lottery. To "win", a high number of probabilities need to align in one's favor. Eighth-grader Rebecca Black took a spin earlier this year and came out a huge winner... in a way.

We Are All Rebecca Black

(Note: This is the last time I want to write about this.)

I don't know about the rest of you, but I had to take a step back and seriously examine some of my expectations. Yes, I got schooled by an eighth-grader. But I'm ok with that now.

I saw that smiling face and heard that horrible song, glanced at the YouTube play count, and went ballistic. Who was this person with the audacity to share my dreams of receiving effortless and unconditional public affinity? How dare she sit in on MY deservedly-earned place being interviewed by The TODAY Show?

Wait a minute...have the last 20 years of my life in this business been driven by an adolescent need to be loved unconditionally? What am I, a fucking puppy? Deep down, are my career's needs on par with a 13 year-old girl??

Truth is, no. My frustration is not rooted in adolescent emotional needs, even though it's an easy target. The truth is, I'm committed now - I'm all-in. That can be terrifying. Especially in a business where everyone's a player now... even eighth graders.

I don't think there's any real lesson for people in the pro music scene, other than realizing that today's youth are far more connected than we are, and because of this, their culture can seem as if its dominate. It's not. Connect your fans, do your thing, and don't worry about the train wrecks.