*originally published in Sound Waves Magazine January 2018
Music died the day dawned on the digital age, people say. Nobody buys music anymore, as we all know. There are so many ingenious ways of stealing newly created music I could write a book about it (hmmm….) But when we musicians actually do make new music for people, we sort of want people to buy it so we can recoup the cost of making it, even though we know in our hearts of hearts, that we’re living in a pipedream. We try to make it as cheaply as possible, in our basements and such, and put it out into the universe on an air of hope that it will “click” with millions of people. We dream that one day we can move out of the basement and record on a ranch or something or at Abbey Road. We want better gear. Some of us even want the big stage that comes with chart-topping hits. Or a golden trophy.
Before we release new music, we beg bloggers and media people to review our stuff to up the chances of people clicking or buying when we do release it. We try to create a buzz. We wish we could afford fancy PR people who do this kind of thing for a living, but most of us can’t. So we do what we can.
So with a recent album release, we did everything we were supposed to. We got lots of nice words from some really nice people exalting our musical art, gathered up our mailing lists and social media accounts, and let the thing fly.
I hit send on an email blast advertising our new album, chock full of text from wonderful and insightful reviews of the album, announcing our joyful glee of finally releasing something, and held my breath.
Some people responded – “Yay! Finally!” Or, “Congratulations!” that sort of thing. But my favorite response was from an email subscriber who simply wrote, “blah blah blah.”
That’s it. blah blah blah. Not even in CAPS.
Not one to be intimated by derogatory email list subscribers, I quickly replied, “I know, right!”
He responded that he was glad I had a sense of humor (duh!) and proceeded to ask me where he could go to listen to our stuff for free so he could decide for himself how awesome we were. He said he doesn’t give his credit card number out to anyone even if you’re Van Halen or Toto. He also chastised me for self-promoting, blowing our own horn, that sort of thing. By the time he was done with me, geez, I didn’t want the damn album either!
He proceeded to tell me that he was a musician himself with a record label and that he knew a thing or two. So I, the awesome investigative journalist that I am, looked him up. Upon review, yes he had put some music out. He didn’t have any trophies or hits though. His music was artistic and fine. blah blah blah. I showed him how to listen to one of our tracks for free, because I’m a sucker.
What to do? Accept the inevitable is what to do. NOBODY BUYS MUSIC ANYMORE.
So we, the peddlers of melody and lyric and dreams, must decide: Keep writing, recording and releasing music for the love of it with absolutely no hope for financial return, or, die the slow burning death of giving up on a dream? Keep going about my errands with loads of free burned CDs in my purse to be doled out to passersby as I see fit? Hope beyond hope to be included on some famous person’s Spotify playlist so that each stream nets us $.000001 cents?
We in this millennium kind of get a kick out of getting stuff for free because we’re in the 99 percent. I get that. Gimme gimme gimme, that sort of thing. But we still hope that if we get millions of clicks, we could get into the one percent, and make even more awesome music, and live happily ever after.
But I shan’t forget – to the four people who have purchased the album – WE LOVE YOU!
That guy from the email? Haven’t heard back.
BLAH BLAH BLAH.