Part 8 — The Impossible and The Unknown
Every business has an initial investment of time, money and resources to get going. Being an artist and making a living has to be a compatible endeavor, if we want music to progress. It’s the act of creating that is the unique and valuable thing that we as musicians strive to capture and reproduce. Learning that process takes many qualities, personal and technical, that many people do not possess. I was always told, “If everyone was rich, there would be no rich people. If everybody was special, there would be no special. If everybody was an artist, there can be no artists.”
Innovation is progress, and progress exponentially improves what you started with – If you do it right. I also heard you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take- but I’m gonna add a part to that: don’t “spray and pray”, either. Be like a sniper and calculate your windage.
Sometimes the answer to, “am I special?”, is no, because of lack of context.
“Are you special…to someone?”, is usually yes because of context. But, “is the experience of my music special, and does it have meaning to anyone except me?” is a better contextual question – and now learning about how one can represent oneself to other people can commence. Don’t get the questions confused when deciding what your place as a musician in the world is, or your place in the music community, even. It begins on a much smaller, more personal level than that.
If you aren’t ready to delve into who you are; to hurt to discover how a sound can change what you think you are, what you are capable of and what you know of the world, then for the love of fucks holy sake stop trying to be a professional musician. Right. Now. We need more people innovating in every part of the industry, so you gotta know your strengths, weaknesses and limits. We don’t need drunk, ego-maniacal ignorami running the show anymore.
When Kaspars, Alex and I came to this knowledge, and of the difference of where we were and where we wanted to be, we strove to find that niche of our own.
We went out and shot our first music video with the help of a director of photography in John Rael, and got professional photos from knowledgeable/ published photographers like Drongo, Steven Duarte, and Richard Le’ Abbee.
I re-mixed and re-tracked “Point The Finger” with a great upcoming audio engineering company, Ace Media Clique, and got the attention of label, who signed a 1 year development contract with us 3 months later wouldn’t return our phone calls. We hired a producer, Charlie Waymire of Ultimate Studios, who helped us push ourselves to achieve more, EVERY time- never settle for less than the best you know how.
The only thing exceeding Charlie’s technical knowledge of sound is his ability bring people together. His passion for sound is like no one I’ve ever known or seen, maybe outweighed only by his applied knowledge.
With the recording of the EP, we gained new music under a producer. From that, we can grow our product line to music videos, 3D art lyric videos, documentaries, and short videos for vines. We can now reach our 178.4 million worldwide potential fans, start receiving a profit, and having the legitimacy of knowledgeable business people to help guide us, while still maintaining our message, branding and keeping creative control of the musical direction: a much better product line to compete with the label artists.
We can now build a fan base online from established content, and pay PR companies, Media Companies, independent radio to get the word out. We weren’t able to jump in a van and leave our wives and jobs and still pay for our apartments, unless we knew touring would be profitable. Most of what I hear about touring is, “unless they know you, prepare for a loss.” So, you’re getting to know me. The real money is in Licensing to film/tv/video games, anyway, (and commercials if you just don’t give a fuck about the company’s activities – All money is green but it knows no color, and we all gotta pay a mortgage. Hey, I get it.) But they want studio tracks. They won’t come see you play The Whiskey to hear your music. If you think it’s impossible, watch me. I’ll figure it out.
If it doesn’t exist- watch me create it. Or I’ll find someone who can and learn.
No one can tell me I can’t be a musician anymore. It’s in my bones. I can make music for nobody and still be happy. The music I make has perspectives that are not my own. I tell stories that impart words with meaning that has value to the listener, if you know what to listen for, and make a living by selling the music to the right people.
I’ve learned that much from being a patient with the VA – too many people think “it’s impossible” is an acceptable answer. I can’t help but look at the music industry like everything is possible: we have the controls, and I am not static!
As I looked back on my experience of arguing with venue owners and promoters about the lack of people at a show, talking with “bands” about getting together “to just go out and tour, man”, or hearing the old bullshit about “experience and exposure is equal to payment for playing” and not ever getting anywhere; I knew I had to lead this band by operating outside of that thinking. There is a well traveled road these days for most to find success in things. Sometimes you gotta go off-roading… and the reason? Exclusivity.
Those old ideas were put there as a distraction for musical tourists, and fans, who think that their favorite famous musician got to where he/she is by playing shows relentlessly and never anything else, and it was “so easy for them because they were SO talented at age 6 and stuff”. It was playing out a lot, and starting young helps too, but practicing with the intention to better ones self, at any age, helps more. In this digital age, however, fame and sales as a measure of success is irrelevant: there are musicians who never left their bedroom in making their album, but would be recognized more than me or you if they ventured to the Grammys, but they still have to be home when mother says so.
Having smart people around you to help make the delivery of the artist better than the artist had even originally thought possible is really the surefire way to make your music shine. Many of the musicians from the 60s and 70s still making a career with their music have all said that they just made it up as they went along because there was no music business to study; they WERE the music business. They had integrity, but they had teeth: the best realized they could say what they needed the world to hear, not what they thought world wanted to hear. The man tells you what you want hear, didn’t you hear?
So here I am, about to dive into the first big stage of a rock musician: the social meat-grinder of discovery. Where it does fucking matter if you fuck up. That stage on which you are alone, while everyone depends on you to make it happen. There is no 2nd chance. You got to come through in the clutch. Not let that grounder go. Hit that high note, sing that anthem darlin, blah de blah de blah.
You’re gonna hold your heart, your big balls, your talent and your mind in one hand- and the other hand is an outstretched arm with a sideways thumb, ready to be tilted, swayed only for others enjoyment. Mercy or overkill? #youfuckingsangit
It’s just another day in paradise city, bitch.
Cause that’s what this is. We’re hitting metal strings attached to wood instruments that, for the grace of electricity and quantum physics powers amplifiers, and emits sound waves that can instantly change your mood, your thought process, your way of looking at life, the world, your environment and reality as it exists… and somehow it can be enjoyed by other people! It can inspire people to live a little more, strive for what they have never known. Revolutionize the world, even. Influence is a powerful thing.
And I’m not set to make 100 billion dollars and own sharks with frickin lazer beams attached to their heads and slowly lower Nicki Menaj, Justin Beiber, Lil’ Wayne, and Coldplay into their pool. I’m hoping to make a living doing what I have been training for my whole life. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to make a living. Repeating things. Live and let die, then.
Dreaming for a better life isn’t wasted if one has the courage to try something new. Your intelligence should be your guard, and common sense: your house. That’s how you prepare for the impossible and the unknown.
Listen to our album “Antiquate Hate” online at http://www.TheQuarantined.com