"I'm trying to make a living" - JUST SAY NO TO DIGITAL PAY-TO-PLAY

Because I write music articles (which are mostly tales of every mistake I've ever made), I often get sucked into "music industry" discussions, which, in today's world, is akin to angrily stomping into an Old West Saloon and challenging every single person in the room to an immediate duel to the death.

It sucks, and I hate it. But you know what I hate even more? The predatory, highly suspicious, existing-independently-from-facts-and-reality "indie-economy" that's sprung up around musicians; the one that seems content to milk all of us for $6 or $10 or $25 or $50 per month until we are as bone dry as Northern California's reservoirs. (PRAY FOR RAIN)

The latest in this ongoing saga is not surprising at all. It's not even worth linking to, so I won't. Basically, another person who thinks they know about music, and they know about bands has decided... "Welp, I'm an expert now, so I'm going to set up a ~*~* New Music Community Site ~*~*~* and I'm going to charge people to use it! HOORAY FOR ME!"

I wasn't even going to bother commenting because my words are too valuable for that. And then I saw this plaintive cry for help.

EJ is Right copy.jpg

 Two things pop out at me.

"I don't even have $5 to submit my music to Reverbnation"

Let me ask you this: if your friend came to you and said, "Hey, I don't have money for dinner," would you buy your friend dinner that night, or would you order dinner for two and give your friend the tab? And then would you say something to your friend like, "I know you don't have money for dinner, but if you buy me dinner, I'll tell you how you can have money for dinner next time!" 

If you are the kind of person who would do this to a friend in need, please get the hell off my blog. Yet this is what happens every day in the independent music industry.

People in this industry need to start viewing each other as friends and comrades instead of opportunities for income. I get it - this dude and everyone out here who is offering "music marketing advice" or other variations on such bullshit are trying to make a living. Yes -- I am trying to make a living, too. Most days, it feels like I'm sorely failing at it. 

YOU, as the independent musician, need to make up your mind about whose living you want to support. 

Do you want to support the "marketing specialists" ? Or do you want to support YOUR OWN LIVING?

These people say it all the time.

"I'm out here trying to make a living." 

You know who else deserves to make a living? YOU DO.

YOU.

Why would you trust anyone out here who says, "I need and deserve money for my services" and they don't seem to feel the same about you?

You know who else deserves and needs money for their services?

YOU DO.

THAT'S RIGHT. YOU NEED YOUR MONEY AS AN INDEPENDENT MUSICIAN. BECAUSE SHIT COSTS MONEY. YOU NEED YOUR MONEY MORE THAN YOU NEED TO GIVE IT AWAY TO SOMEONE ELSE. 

If you're not "paying yourself first"* as an independent musician, you have lost the battle before you've started.

If you don't have money to pay for musical equipment that you want, or CDs that you need, then you do not have money to give someone money to tell you what to do with your music career. 

If you don't have money to put gas in your car to drive to a gig, then you do not have money to spend on some kind of mystical advice guru. 

There's so much more I want to say about musicians and money, and I need some time to gather my thoughts about it.

My biggest issue with all this is that the "product" these people are selling is always nebulous and undefined. They want to sell you "success in 9 weeks," instead of selling you a book with ideas to help you. They want to sell you "a sense of clarity" instead of a realistic assessment of the quality of your music or performance. They want to sell you freedom, and freedom can't be bought or sold... BUT freedom is a lot easier when your bills are paid and there's food in your belly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have to say that there are a lot of people out there who give away free stuff who are awesome, and who also have clearly defined products. My favorite astrologer is one example. 5 days a week, he does an amazing astrology video. It's totally free, and totally awesome. He also sells astrology readings. After a year of watching his videos, I bought an astrology seminar recently. It was $10, and I really enjoyed it. There were NO PROMISES made about the quality of my life, or my creative expression, or my love life. I was not guaranteed ANYTHING except that I would see his astrological forecast for the month of February. And because of that, I really enjoyed spending the $10 on the two-hour forecast. It was clear what I was buying.

He sells astrology readings - he doesn't sell guaranteed success or clarity or freedom. Do you see the difference?

What are you paying for? Are you paying for something that's clearly defined, that will help you, or are you attempting to find a good, happy feeling inside yourself by paying someone else to help you feel that way? I think the second thing is what I have the biggest problem with....

You need to take care of yourself first. More on this later.