Saturday, July 28, 2012

Support What You Love

The other day a musician friend was trying to explain to me that whenever someone illegally downloads a song of hers, she obviously loses money. And that money could have been used to go back into the studio to make more music.  That really hit me.  I would rather have musicians be able to keep making music than a free song.  The combination of having friends who are musicians, living in a social networking world where there is less of a wall between performer and audience, and in general liking bands that seem to be reasonable people, it has become easier to see musicians and performers as real people, not just product producers.  It’s not like they are leaving their families, and maybe really good paying jobs with benefits to tour because they think music is a really cool hobby.  They are taking a risk with each song, every tour date. I admired that a lot. But admiration alone doesn’t pay the bills.  Bands or the solo music maker all  have the expenses of making and recording music, tour expenses (a van, gas money, hotel rooms, etc.), and instrument/equipment upkeep,  but as real people they also have families (and themselves!) to feed and utility bills to pay.

Because I am very, very selfish, I want the bands I like to keep making music, keep touring, keep doing that they do, AND be able pay the rent.  So I’ve made 5 resolutions to support music and music makers more.

1. Buy music in the format that best supports the band. The most important word in that sentence is the first one; buy.  A lot of bands, in hopes of getting their music into new ears, will offer a free song or two on their own website or on other sites such as NoiseTrade. This is great. I have found a lot of new music this way. However, there comes a time when we kinda have to become upright music listeners. You don’t do your job for free, we can’t expect others to either.

And the format thing I have been thinking a lot about lately.  I love music on vinyl. I love putting the album on the turntable and moving over the needle. I love pulling out the liner notes and reading all the lyrics (huh, that is what they are really singing), and all the dedications and thank yous. I love the little crackles in between songs and the sound of the arm moving back over when the music is done playing.  There is just something about seeing all those records lined up neatly on the shelf. However, I also know that sometimes vinyl or cd pressings aren’t the most affordable means for the band.  There is the disc itself, the liner notes, commissioning the artwork, the cover and case, and then there is mailing that sucker. All that takes money. And sometimes for an independent band that’s money they don’t have.  And if an MP3 version of the song or album, without all the packaging, puts  more money into the pockets of the band, I can do that.  When I need a physical copy of the album, I have been trying to make more of an effort to seek out local record shops or buy it directly from the band. Every penny I make is hard earned, so I kind like to know that my money is going other hard working, music living, souls. (P.S. you can find locations of local records shops on Record Store Day.)

2. If I own more than two songs off an album, I will buy the whole album. The digital age of music has given us the convenience of being able to cherry pick our music, one song at a time. There are pros to this, but I feel that we are losing the idea of an album being a story that progresses with each song. The musicians specifically picked these songs to go in this order for a reason.  Each song by itself can be grand, but I want to hear the whole story.

3. Spend a little extra money at the merchandise table at shows.  I used to be so much better at visiting the merch table.  But now, my old age curmudgeon heart sometimes struggles between stopping by the table at the beginning of the show, and then have to hold whatever I buy for the whole show or waiting  until the end and have to wade through the exiting mob. I just need to get over my curmudgeon heart.   I know that sales from the goods at the merch table  (at least in the case of smaller touring bands, arena shows I have no problem passing right on by the tables) are most likely helping the band get to the next gig— paying for gas or greasy pizza or both. Depending on what I can spare that day, sometimes it is just a pin or a sticker and sometimes it is a t-shirt, LP (see point #1) or one of the letterpress posters more and more bands are making (thank you!).  I want people in the next town over to experience the show that I just did. I want the band to come back to my town because they know they have supportive fans here.  And while the cost of the concert ticket is divided between all the bands, the venue, and probably  5 other people, the money from merchandise goes right to band.

4. Support more Kickstarter projects.  I think Kickstarter is a pretty well-known fundraising platform these days so I don’t have to explain it in detail.   Many bands are using Kickstarter campaigns to help fund the making of new albums. This is a beautiful idea. Fans can directly support the band and their music, and a band can make the album they want to make without restraints of outside (marketing, corporate) influences. The last couple physical copies of albums that have entered into my collection have been because of participation in such campaigns. This month I pledged my couple of dollars towards a new Ducky Boys album. I have posted about them before, so I won’t gush, but I do encourage you to look at their project site and watch their video to understand their musical philosophy  (and to know they are truly from Boston), and if you can, support them or any other of the creative projects on Kickstarter.

5.  Invite a friend to at least one show a month. This is going to be a hard one. Pretty soon most of my tried and true concert buddies will be concerting in different states. And sometimes it is hard to find someone to go to a band they have never heard of. I have also come to the {sad} realization that they are just some people that don’t like my music and will always tell  me to turn it down. And that’s ok.  But I won’t give up. No siree. I’m going to keep bugging you guys.   Listening to music in your car or on your iPod is great, keep doing that, but there is just something about live music. To see the performers doing what they were created to do,  to be a crowd of people all clapping and singing along,  there is just an energy there that you can’t find anywhere else. 

1 comment :

  1. I think we may have to plan some concert roadtrips that meet half way between here and wherever. I'm sad just thinking about it! (And let me add another shout out for the Lumineers as per a couple of posts ago, great stuff!)
    Btw, how did your pickles turn out?