‘Making it’ in the music business – what’s up with that?
Is there a clear definition these days?
Is there an age limit to ‘making it’?
When you can pay your bills making music – is that ‘making it’?
Or it is utter stardom? Or the many ‘descending’ tiers of stardom (whatever that is)?
My outlook on this has certainly changed from 20,15, or10 years ago. Yeah, great to be admired, and PAID, for what you do as a skill, vocation, and mission, but for me, now, the ridiculous nature of a Judy Garland - like obsession for the applause and spotlight not only doesn’t cotton up to my current being, but really is about as far-fetched, outrageously shallow, and a dangerous path to some sort of perdition. In fact, I’m looking at why, in a clear fashion, I want to make music (much like the 15 year old kid, but with some codge – like wisdom). The ‘making it’ part ebbs and flows in different directions the definition is NOT the same as a 25 year old musician, and NOT the same as someone hanging on, and riding out past glories to eek out a living. The ‘making a living’ part is even tough, because I don’t miss Saturday mornings on the floor of the music store, shouting over the din of trying to sell guitars, amps, and p.a. gear, nor do I miss trying to make several deadlines of fixing broken gear to make customer gigs on the weekend. Could I do it again if needed? Well, I could try, but I don’t think I’m needed there any more. Time to move, anyway, but if you don’t have to thread in the same water, why do it? We’ll see…
I guess if you’re looking for any links to music scenes or people from L.A., Nashville, New York, or any of the internationally recognized music hot spots in these pages, I’m sorry – I can’t fulfill that need. I’ve come to the epiphany awhile back that this is who I am, and this is what I know. Experience and advice – oh yes, I’ve got some, but it’s back through the kitchen rather than by the side fills on stage at Madison Square Garden. Blue-collar-what can I say?
Why keep going in a business? Why not be like pro athletes – when you’re done, you’re done? Maybe it’s the illusion of perpetual youth (although if I tried even two 9 p.m. –2a.m. gigs in a row now, I would need an IV of fluids and medical attention – yep, the brain says ‘you’re 20’, but the body is reading ‘Prevention’ magazine…). Maybe its’ an unfulfilled need that never does get fulfilled. Or just maybe…. you still want to play music: perhaps the music of 20 years ago, perhaps a new direction. This is all good, but it’s different when you’re trying to draw a crowd and garner some cash for a club.
Soon, I’ve have a website to ply my wares and thoughts on. There are gigs to play, and students coming up to teach, amps to repair, and guitars coming in to set up. A year ago, I was wondering if I’d get any business, any recognition – I appreciate anything that comes down the path, because the path isn’t always open. Is this ‘making it’ in the music business? If not for many, it is for me. It’s work – usually, it pays (as it should all the time) – and it’s honorable. Long - ago dreams of that elusive ‘hit single’ have given way to different dreams. Doesn’t mean anybody that’s my age shouldn’t pursue age-old dreams – I know a few, and the few people that I know who are in pursuit are doing it well. I’ve just decided on a different route….
“Making it” has a different tinge, hue, and phrasing for me now. “Making it” is knowing that, even playing to a crowd of five people, I performed and created music that satisfied myself, then others. “Making it” is when I can get a business of mine to have legs and generate income – if it’s $20 one day, or $500 the next week, and you can clear a good net after expenses, that’s business, and it works. If you get your creative fill at any level, and can make a living at it, well, in my book that’s ‘making it’.
I admire people who ‘busk’ – that is, make music on the street. Seen ‘em all over – sports events, shopping centers, park gazebos; folks are just trying to keep it going and be heard in any fashion. Most towns have some sort of busking law, and it’s usually in favor of the buskers (provided you’re doing your job and not being a menace to the ‘hood…).
Some of these people are perfectly content in their jobs!
My concern lies in that anyone who sings, picks up a guitar, bass, or drums, is suspect to audition on “American Idol” or looking to post a hit some day on “Guitar Hero”, the new rock aesthetic. Andy Warhols’ prediction of everyone’s 15 minutes of fame certainly holds some water now, as it has for awhile. What ever happen to having a job at a certain level, being good at it, and enjoying just THAT??
Given the economy these days, ANY gig would be a blessing!
I think I’ll cut it off right here - we could wax for awhile on this topic, but I’ve said all that needs be said. It’s taken me a long time to get to this mindset, but I think I’ve made it. I can still create, and I’m surrounded by good friends and family, so what else do you need? Nope, like I said, it’s taken me long enough to enjoy what I’ve achieve so far in my existence. I’ve turned 50 today, and decided that this was one of my changes of philosophies, axioms, and outlooks for the upcoming journey.
Work hard and enjoy the fruits of your creative labor at any level! And to quote Viv Savage from the infamous Spinal Tap,” Have a good time ALL the time – that’s my philosophy, Marty!”