To butcher a lyric by Leonard Cohen, I’ve been working in the places I used to play.
I’m turning 40 in a few days, and after a rough week on the music biz front, I realize I am done. Not done with music, mind you. I’m finished with being a professional. Where does that leave me? I can’t become an amateur after all these years of dedication to my music. The idea of it ‘just being a hobby’ doesn’t sit right, either. So I’ve decided to pursue music as an ‘unprofessional’.
I’ve got another career outside music that is so much easier on the soul. I use a lot of the same skills in that career that I use in my music career. Marketing, video production, recording, graphic design, social media strategies. And you know what? I’m valued and compensated for my time.
As an independent artist, I’ve done all these tasks and more… I probably spend 10% of my music-related time on the music, and the rest is on this weird loop of digital hustle. The numbers just don’t add up. I’m spending all this time and energy and money to convince an over-saturated market to buy a $0.99 download.
Seems a little silly, to reflect on it.
But as a musician who has taken my career seriously, I wanted to be seen as professional. I wanted to present myself correctly so that I could find my ‘target market’ in the digital world. I’ve gone to conferences, taken courses, and attended webinars. I read articles daily and I followed systems and strategies to the best of my abilities.
But none of this is the magic. None of this is moving. None of this connects me to source energy and transports me to feeling like I’m one will all of humanity. Sounds a bit woo, I know… but when I hit certain notes, even if I’m singing to a couple of people, I feel all of that. And I feel CONNECTED. That is something I never feel when I’m promoting myself online.
Life is short and I’ve brushed up against my mortality too many times in my 30s. I’m starting off this next decade by accepting the fact that deep-down, I do not want to be a commercial artist. I’m going to make music still… make no mistake, but I’m no longer going to pretend that distractions like Twitter are in any way integral to what I create. (I left the Twitter-sphere today! I'm feeling such freedom from that!)
It is autumn now… and like the leaves, the unimportant is falling away. It's such a beautiful season for turning inward and reflecting on what gives our lives meaning.