The best part of the music industry is not necessarily the music. I know that might sound weird, I mean, as Zappa said, “Music is the best.” Like, you can’t get any better than music. But sometimes in the music industry the way that the music manifests itself is not going to be what really excites you on a particular day. I mean, that will always be, and should always be a part of it but it might not be the most interesting part. It doesn’t make sense to support crappy music, but sometimes you aren’t being paid to be a judge of quality. What is cool about the music industry is that it is the ultimate teacher. It gives you a chance to explore yourself and find out more about the world as a whole, even if at first you don’t necessarily realize it. In other words – the music industry, as is, is something of a symbol for all of the rest of this screwed up world of ours.
Relatively early on in my music career I learned that working in the music industry isn’t really a question of listening to songs and deciding if they are good or not. I mean, that’s part of it. That’s how I started, as a music reviewer. It rapidly goes far beyond that if you want it to, from being a reviewer you become a music writer and you have to know about like, y’know, actual writing and grow your tastes beyond whatever genre you chose to write about in the first place. Then from, there you start to learn about other things and if you want to get really involved you suddenly find yourself learning intricacies of weird subjects you never thought you would have to study – like t shirt printing, or CD manufacturing. Of course, these things are obvious, it’s when you start studying old architectural blueprints that you realize that the music industry has the potential to teach you a whole lot, and whether you like it or not, if you want to grow, then you are going to have to embrace it.
The beautiful part of the music industry is that it is tied into so many others. You see – eventually you find that if you are managing bands or part of a record label or in any sort of way associated with product creation that it’s a whole involved process, and even though it might start off simple (After all – printing CD’s isn’t exactly hard) once you start to attack things with a bit more ambition whole worlds are unveiled. For example – if you start to pick apart the world of endorsements and you show a genuine interest in your endorsers (Which you should, because they are giving you free stuff, and odds are you probably want more free stuff) then you start to find out how things like guitar picks are made. Other times you start to find about how clothes beyond shirts are made – it’s all interesting ad it’s all worth knowing about because it can allow you to save money and live better in the long run. It’s just a question of learning.
I know that this attitude of perpetual curiosity can be hard to maintain in an industry that leaves so many people jaded. You just have to realize that the world is a beautiful place. I know better than most that once you get stuck in the world of pure music it’s really hard to talk to people who are outside that world – but you are always going to need to because you need to understand than they have cool stuff to contribute too. If the end goal of humanity is to produce art (Which I’m genuinely convinced that it is) then we have something of an obligation to work together in order to use the resources that we have cultivated as a species an help use them to create a better tomorrow. We are meant to be artists – so if that means that you need to study how speakers work for three days in order to properly implement them at your music festival then you had goddamn better well do it. The thing is – it eventually becomes worth it. Knowing how to learn stuff is an important skill to have. When the time comes that you need to do stuff outside of the music industry for whatever reason (You’re sick of it, you have a life, etc) then all the skills you put to good use in music will come out.
The thing to do is realize that it all is organic. Everything in this industry is an extension upon everything else. You need to rely on the common infrastructure for creating products simply because that’s the foundation for our entire society. You are never going to escape it, so you might as well embrace it as hard as you can an take full advantage of it. Obviously some people will want to give discounts to musicians, but others will never understand. Some people are going to understand the financial struggles and play nice, others are just awful bureaucrats who don’t understand that musicians are crazy and it’s really hard to get them to do anything right ever. The relationship between musicians and the real world is always going to be tenuous – so the more that you can figure out about how industries work and the more you read the more you are going to be able to help create a more beautiful tomorrow for everyone.
So yes – I never thought that my teenage obsession with Slayer would lead to me reading long articles about electroplating in order to better understand my friend Crusty Pete – but it has. I never expected that a passion for Motorhead would take me to standing on factory floors discussing with workers efficiency ratings for different screen printing machines, but it has. It’s awesome. If the music industry was just about music – don’t you think that you would start to get bored after a while? There’s a lot to love about music, but it’s when it gets challenging, when you have to ride the wave and truly delve in and find out more that things become ferocious and fun. It’s a trip -so hop on board for the crazy wild ride.