by Nate Andrew
Earlier this week, I got a message from my friend asking me for help. Of course, being the gentleman that I am, I prepared myself to accept any request. Little did I know, it would require me to think long and hard about something so relevant to my life and profession. She told me about a project she has been working on that asks artists how they feel about piracy and the illegal downloading of music http://www.artistsvsartists.com. As a musician, this hits home for me. It’s a question I often wonder about, but never to a meaningfully deep level. If I am to finally take a stance on something socially significant, this seems a good place to start.
The positives and negatives of both arguments are blatant. If someone steals my music, I don’t get any money. And yet, I would still feel some sort of satisfaction knowing that more people are listening and hearing something I expended so much energy to create. The obvious choice for me to want financial support seems much less apparent now than it did a few days ago when I actually started to think. I thought about the need for financial stability, the need to support my habits and my profession, and the undesirable yet ineffable want for material things. I realized upon thinking that if those things were of utmost importance to me, I would have gone to work in khakis, with a tucked in shirt, and a clean-shaven face. Instead, I won’t have a white collar job, or maybe even a blue collar job. I will go to work with some sort of tie-dye collar, a scraggly beard and shorts and I will love every second of it.
Because I love what I do, I do it. I do not live my life in order to satisfy some external expectation of what I should do and how I should live (a hipster sentiment, but true nonetheless). It would be a lie to say that I do not worry about the expectations others may have for me, but my individual expectations far outweigh those imposed upon me by friends or family. There are moments when I wonder why I chose to make music my life, partially because I worry about money, but mostly because I fantasize about all the things I could have done by now if I had chosen something different. It takes a bit to reassure myself of my decisions. There are often hours spent in isolation playing my instrument or listening to post-rock albums on repeat. I usually come to the same conclusion after every reflection. I think about the times I have performed for people, whether my family, friends, or complete strangers, and I remind myself of the feeling I get when I see them smile or frown. A feeling composed of gratitude and joy, a feeling of love and of hope, a feeling I don’t want to be without. If, through music, I can help people forget their anxiety and their stresses for just a moment, I fully intend to do so. I can use the talents I have been given to help people forget the pressures of daily life, so I find it my responsibility to do just that.
It’s difficult to remain focused on the reasons I do anything, generally speaking I act on impulse. So, my judgment may often be clouded by delusions of grandeur and unfounded desires. But, if my mind is clear, I’m okay with piracy. The idea that music can be stolen is a fairly new concept in relation to its long lifespan. It is meant to be shared, to tell stories, and to evoke some sort of emotion. It isn’t meant to be a channel for the transfer of money or an industry driven by profit minded companies. I realize in today’s world, the recording industry doesn’t work like a wheel from some sort of utopian machine. People need to get paid. Is there something wrong with that? I don’t think so. I also see nothing wrong with allowing music to be shared freely as a means to inspire creativity and to impart hope upon those who have none. Like most things, selling or not selling one’s own music should be a personal choice. However, in an age dominated by the Internet, it is impossible to ensure that that choice would be respected. Anti-piracy laws help minimally and nothing substantial is ever really accomplished. If one founder of a torrent search engine is incarcerated, another will pop up in no time at all. I urge people to respect the wishes of other musicians, and to support them by buying their music and going to their shows. I am merely giving my perspective as a means to help myself and possibly other musicians think.
I have made the choice to be a musician knowing that I am not in it for the money. So, if anyone wants to support me as a musician, come to my shows, listen to what I have to say, or let me crash on your couch. Tell me how you feel, tell me about what you listen to, and tell me about your life. Music would be nothing without people to share it with, so why should I limit the ability for someone to hear it? If you can’t pay me, fine. Just share it with your friends and hopefully it can stay with you long enough that it affects you in some positive way. For me, there are greater things to worry about than getting paid, and that is a decision I made long ago.
Check it: http://www.artistsvsartists.com