Recently I got into a discussion with a fellow musician. I was telling her that I wanted to get a Macbook Air so I could buy Garage Band and record some solo acoustic songs…get some music out there on iTunes or wherever for people to hear.
She is one of these indie rock snobs, which I knew, so I should have known better than to say it to her…but I forgot. Then I was subjected to a long tirade about how “the act of creation is enough” and making music shouldn’t be “just about being heard by other people.”
This is the kind of mentality I can’t stand, this whole “to succeed is to fail” nonsense. I hate to see artists shoot themselves in the foot like that, and it seems like that was ALL I saw with the music I loved in the early ’90s.
Take a look at Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was all upset because the same kind of people who used to beat him up in high school (jocks and so on) now loved him and his music. Eddie Vedder used to whine about being popular because he wanted to be an underground kind of musician like Fugazi. Well if you wanted to be like Fugazi, you jackass, then you never should have made a video!!! These are just two examples of the foolish attitude artists have to deal with…this belief that if you are super popular, then it must be because you compromised part of who you are. If you wrote music that sells well, it’s because you wrote for the masses instead of from the heart…because if you wrote from the heart, apparently there should be only a handful of other people in this world who have EVER felt the way you do.
You see, this is what I don’t understand about the indie world. They think making a lot of money means you have sold out, but what they don’t realize is if they made more money, then they wouldn’t have to hold down day jobs between albums and tours! They could QUIT their damn job at Kinko’s or Papa John’s and just make music ALL THE TIME!!! Can you imagine how BLESSED you would be to do that?
As for me, I feel absolutely NO SHAME WHATSOEVER in admitting that I want to make money from my music, writing, movies or whatever. I do! I want to make a living doing something that I love. Know why? Because then it won’t even feel like a job!
I’d like to quote a movie here: THE FLAMINGO KID. It was made in the ’80s, and I saw it in my freshman year of high school. We watched it in my English class, taught by a wonderful, worldly man named Mr. Eldridge. If he hadn’t shown us this movie, I never would have watched it. So if nothing else, I owe him thanks for that (although I owe him thanks for a lot more). At any rate, the movie stars Matt Dillon, playing a young man who works at a beach resort. There is one part in the movie where his dad says to him, “There are only two important things in living: finding out what you do well, and finding out what makes you happy…and if God is smiling on you, they’er both the same thing.”
That was a profound moment in my life, hearing that line. I have believed in it and agreed with it ever since. And what do I know? I have found out that writing is something I do well, and it makes me happy. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy to make money at it…but I will keep plugging away at it until I do.
And that is a goal I will keep in mind, no matter how many damn indie hipsters try to trample on it or make me feel guilty for wanting to make a living doing something I love.
We should ALL be so lucky.