The Sky May Very Well Be Falling
But that’s why someone invented the umbrella.
Last month the quirky rock group Cake set a somewhat dubious record when they found themselves at the pinnacle of the Billboard 200 chart—they sold the fewest number of units for any act ever to do so. As expected, a wide variety of people took to their preferred or assigned vehicles of opinion to rehash the increasingly tiresome subject of the decline of the recorded music industry.
I (in taking to my preferred vehicle of opinion to rehash the increasingly tiresome subject of the decline of the recorded music industry) thought it was pretty cool, actually.
Cake–veterans of one of Rock’s most bombastic decades for the big labels–released the album Showroom Of Compassion on their own. In a recent interview, I heard John McRae, the band’s enigmatic frontman, describe the feat as more or less a positive negative—something befitting of a band that has always dabbled in the fine lines between opposing feelings, sides, or topics. They’ve been a hard working group for quite some time now, and as McRae lamented the fact that it has become increasingly more difficult to make a living off of records alone, he supposed that even he would be hanging it up at some point in the near future, citing the daily grind of life on the road—the only place to really make music money these days—as the main impetus for his revelation. Perhaps he would turn to farming, he said.
I think that’s cool, too. Both of these things, in my opinion, mean that there is a growing market share of success for small, independent-minded musicians to step up and grab.
Let’s face it—these days, if you want to make money in music, you’re more than likely going to have to take your show on the road. For many of us, spending even more time on the road than we currently do is nearly impossible; the bright lights and free beer that were once the allure of many of the music venues across this country lose a bit of their luster as performers age and start families. And so, as far as artists are concerned, we seem to be at some sort of new-model crossroads in the balance between life at home (not making money) and life away from home (making money).
I assume that somewhere along the line you’ve heard the old adage that says something akin to, “from great conflict comes great art.” In the past, it seems that such a statement was referring almost solely to an artist’s output as it pertains to his or her chosen medium. In the future, I think it will also refer to how an artist makes a living from that output (i.e. the conflict of wanting be home more, but still wanting to make your living through the creation of your art).
Artists are, first and foremost, creative people. The ability to make a living from one’s creations is, in my opinion, one of the most wonderful statements about the society that we are all a part of—people have always, and will always want to see, hear, touch, feel, and taste new and interesting things. Thankfully, there will always be people creating such things, and I think that these same people will be the ones who figure out how to continue to make said creations the main source of their income.
Time will tell what these solutions will be, but I get the distinct feeling that we are on the cusp of art, in all of its various forms, but specifically that of the musical variety, being propagated directly from the individuals involved in the creating of it on a widespread scale. I am more excited about what lies ahead than I have been at any other time in my short-lived career as a singer and a songwriter. If you want to survive through your creations it’s going to be up to you to figure out how to do it.
So, rain fell on someone’s head and that person eventually got tired of being wet—introducing: the umbrella.
I can’t wait to see the kind of creative things that are resting, perhaps yet to be conceived, just around the corner—I can’t wait to see the solutions to these problems that have the music industry in a state of panic. I’m not much of a betting man, but I’d probably be okay with dropping a few dollars on a wager that has the artists themselves playing the role of both creator and of problem solver…and I have a feeling that there are a few thousand ways in which they will do so.
- Deremy Jylan: I heard that Jim Lauderdale documentary is some super-duper great movie stuff. Makes Scorsese's THE LAST WALTZ look like Wiseau's …
- Barry Mazor: I'll have to see if Dr. Green's ever read 3 Lives; it's a good book.
- Juli Thanki: Rose is a rose is a rose is a yellow rose of Texas. I smell a terrible concept album!
- Barry Mazor: Pigeons on the grass, alas.. Come-a kai-yai yippy, yippy ay.
- Ken Morton, Jr.: Barry, thanks for the great sentimental look at Winchester. I will admit that he is an artist that was largely …
- Arlene: Thanks for this article, Barry. It's not often that an artist brings another performer to tears during a guitar pull. …
- Leeann: At any rate, I'll still look forward to his next album, because I'm a fan of his music.
- Leeann: Yes, if he had said that, I'd be with him, but e lumped all of country music, including the Grand …
- mrsandy: My understanding is Emmylou's concert was cancelled was because her 92-y.o. mother passed away.
- Erik North: I would have to say that, even though I agree that JTE does generalize about country music excessively, I also …