I’m going to share something that motivates me to do what I want with my music.
In the grand scheme of things…hell, in the MINOR scheme of things, get this….
NOBODY GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOUR MUSIC.
NONE. NADA. NOT EVEN HALF A SHIT.
While this seems disheartening (and if you actually want to make money doing this find another genre to try and “make it” and see how much harder THAT is) it’s actually 100% liberating. Sure sure, even people who say “I don’t give a fuck” actually kinda-sorta-a-lil-bit actually DO care, otherwise they wouldn’t even put out music. Yes, this applies to me. I care a LOT about what people think of my music despite the “oh look at me I’m so gosh darned punk rawk” bullshit I constantly spew. Of course I care. Don’t be a moron.
The difference is that I don’t try and let that dictate what I DO with my music.
Notice I say “try”. While some artists pretend that they’re in some little glowing bubble of creativity and every note and decision comes from their Eternal Artistic Soul….well that’s total bullshit. I’m not necessarily talking Censorship with a capitol “C”, I’m talking simple human insecurity creeping in subconsciously and saying “okay, this will NOT go over well much as I dig it. This alternative will work a bit better.”
It affects some people a little and others a lot, and the longer you do it the more confident you are with your instincts. If you’ve ever been around enough creative people you’ll realize you’re dealing with quite possibly the most fucked up, insecure, low-self-esteem-havin’ bunch of freaks on earth. It’ll seriously make you long to chill out with some fucking accountants for a while at times. But it’s the nature of the beast. As Insecure Artists we generally feel like we have Something Worth Saying and would love the world to fellate our creativity and give us rainbows of accolades. After all, it’s scary as hell to put yourself out there and try and push past Simply What’s Expected Of You as a person and do something that is IN YOUR MIND an extraordinary feat and feel like it’s appreciated appropriately (which it rarely is– creative people are totally egotistical like that.)
If you’ve never tried it, just do this: Simply find a poem you like and go to an open mic. Not even a poem YOU WROTE, necessarily. Just a poem that you feel sincerely speaks to YOU. Announce that it means a lot to you and just READ IT to people with as much feeling as you can.
Easy to say. Easy to contemplate. Not so easy to do for a majority of people.
Now try and write your own and do it. Even harder.
Hell, just think about how tense you got doing a fucking BOOK REPORT in gradeschool. I’m a freakish extrovert and I still recall the dread.
So back to the point: Nobody cares about your music.
I hate to break it to anyone (including myself, because I’m as wacked out and delusional as any artist), but the recording industry will most likely NOT be knocking on your door anytime soon to see if you’ll sign a 10 CD deal and tour with Depeche Mode and Jesus Christ’s awesome new electro project. In fact the chances of you even getting accidentally mentioned in Rolling Stone or Spin is about the same as me winning the lottery in a state I didn’t even buy a lottery ticket in.
Yeah, you’re fucked. And, better yet, not at all.
I look at someone like Katy Perry, who I think is about as low as they go in terms of fleeting pop status, and go “WHY THE FUCK IS THIS IDIOT POPULAR?!?!” Then I think about how this woman is just a “lucky” victim of the industry. She’s ferreted around by the label non-stop doing press, photo shoots, and letting dozens of people craft her image. She probably barely sleeps, can never just gorge on pizza without fear of some paparazzi filming her being a quarter pound heavier, and is constantly criticized by a million pricks like me daily.
And all she probably thinks about is “How long before nobody cares about me anymore and I’m dropped for the next perky-titted idiot?”
She has no control. I haven’t checked but I doubt she even writes her own songs, so she’s at the mercy of what she’s given and what the label feels like PAYING for her music.
See, as artists we don’t have the problem of shelf life or thinking this is a “career”. The only expiration dates that most of us have are when either the band breaks up or we just don’t feel like doing this anymore. Since a good portion of us can and do put out CDs in small runs or, even better, digitally, we aren’t beholden to massive labels desperate to make their massive investments back on someone who they’ve invested THOUSANDS of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars on.
So we’re not going anywhere, literally and figuratively. And that’s a great thing. Use that. Push yourselves harder. Fuck playing it safe.
Or, more specifically: DO WHAT YOU WANT.
Why? If for no other reason because YOU CAN.
And that, my friends, is true creative freedom. Nobody gives a shit, so you don’t have to either.
I love this world.