Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Things Were... and How They Are.

I have in my possession an antique melodeon. It was hand-built by my great-great-grandfather. It doesn't work, the vacuum bellows are in need of repair. Someday I hope to find someone who can fix it. But I have something that is directly connected to my own roots, my family, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it… I run my hands along the cherry wood that he sanded and stained. I can play with on the keys that he carved. It is an heirloom.

When I was a teenager, one of the things I loved about getting a new album was that it came with a big cover, often with a lyric sheet, and I would just sit and read over the lyrics and look over the artwork while listening to the music. It was an overall experience. It was a journey. Many from my 80's generation and older are just like me, but I do also know that some young people (and I HATE using that term, but, eh... I'm the older generation now, no denying that) are wondering what that was like. These records, some of them I have now 20+ years later, and the smell of them, holding them, it takes me back to those times. I love that...

We are locked into this high-tech, lightning-fast age and it gets faster every year…  which devalues all aspects of creation and Art as it now can be turned into digital media: visual arts, music, books and films. Younger generations grew up with and therefore always expect instant gratification. That also makes for a feeling of being uncentered and out of balance. The faceless world of the internet allows for no knowledge of action or reaction to what one does on the computer. Apathy prevails. 

I know that people will be able to download my next album free, and torrent sites will pretend that they are "promoting" my music, but really... once someone downloads it, the chances are nil that they will then actually buy it once they get it free. And what hurts Underground musicians is that our music is hard to find anyway, you have to really search to buy our music, I get that. So people just hit the button and download, then they have it and it's done. 

This is really affecting us, causing us to now to be forced to cancel tours, stop recording, or take years longer... because the source of our small supplemental income is now drying up. It's always cost to be an Underground musician, but now it is costing so much more... We used to sell a couple thousand of each release. Now it is a couple hundred. It affects us deeper than you know, especially when each downloader thinks "I'm just one person, my download won't matter." Times that by a few thousand, and there you go.

Here are some facts about what Underground bands get paid, and why it is so important to support them:

• If you buy something directly from a band's website, and you spend $10, they get the whole $10, minus only the processing fees from either the credit card company or Paypal. 

• If you purchase something from iTunes, the band gets about 67 cents for each dollar you spend. 

• If you purchase a CD from someplace like Amazon, they get about 45 cents for each dollar you spend. 

• If you download something from a torrent site, they (WE - as musicians), of course, get $0.

Possibly, there will be some sort of a Renaissance towards slowing things down. To spend some time in Nature, to enjoy your food, to take time out to read an actual book, or just lie in the grass.  With the insane amount of audio and visual input overload at every turn - the idea of waiting for anything seems so strange. So I ask you to take a little walk with me to an earlier time, when you wait patently for a new release, and you sit down, put the music on, and take the journey with me!

This is why I decided to go for a serious hard-cover book for NAIADES, so that fans will really have something solid to own, to hold, to keep forever, and years down the line, they can return to read and read again. I am doing this by the very seat of my pants, with the hopes that fans will really understand the value of my choice of music and art.

Love and thanks to Patty Hele, and kaRIN and Statik of Collide, who began this conversation with me...

Downloads die off with old computers and ipods, but Art is indeed forever.