Representing a musician’s perspective

I’ve written several blogs over the last while regarding my own position with buying music and how I enjoy it, whether it be through the purchase of CDs or on my iPod or whatever. It’s interesting when we take a step back and see how music tends to be enjoyed by most of us. When we think of a musician, we think of rock stars like Mick Jagger, or pop divas like Madonna. The common idea that these people are somehow above us, enjoy rich lifestyles with lots of booze and drugs, multiple houses, riders with strict rules on what is required at every tour stop, and so many other examples.

But we very rarely ever get to see a proper representation of the musician that isn’t rich, doesn’t have the incredible popular success that these select few are able to get yet they still deliver wonderful music every few years and tour much more than the stars do. Very rarely do we think about how these lesser known musicians live when they aren’t on the road, and even when they are. For whatever reason, we place these people on a pedestal and separate them from ourselves as if they too are celebrities to be worshipped.

It’s interesting. Anyone that makes a living by putting themselves in the public eye suddenly receive a different level of treatment. But despite being in front of audiences, being the focus of news articles and entertainment or gossip blogs, we really don’t know much about these people. Despite our misconceptions about how “famous” these people are and that they must be rich because of how much they travel and because they appear on award shows, or have their songs played on tv commercials, it’s almost numbing to learn that they don’t really make much more than I do now, and I work in a coffee shop.

A few years ago, I took a one-year program at college for Recording Arts. I would have considered my dream job to be able to work in the music industry, if not as a musician, at least being able to play an important role with musicians. Several things turned me off from that by the time I finished the program. One of those things was the shape of the music industry. People buying less meant less funds to be spent on recording unless musicians did their own recording. Of course, that also means fewer people involved in the songmaking process. It almost seemed like an impossible industry to be able to get into. I felt defeated so I never really tried.

In the last few years, I’ve tried to remove my mindset from one that holds the singers and performers I admire to a higher standard than I hold myself. If I choose to stay behind a get an autograph from one of my favourite artists, which in itself isn’t really doing what I try to do, I do try to make regular conversation if I can. Rather than being starstruck, I try to come up with someone normal yet brief to talk about. My opinion is that being a musician is a career choice in the same way working as a financial advisor or plumber would be. One in which they deserve to be paid for their work. Sure, the output isn’t the traditional format that most of us do but they do have certain methods in which the work has to be done, rules to follow, taxes to pay. Why let the few musicians who happen to be world famous superstars dictate how we view the rest of them? They’re the exception, not the norm. I certainly expect want my job as someone who works with food to be represented by a world famous figure like Jamie Oliver.

What sparked this particular blog post? A blog I just read written as a response to an editorial from someone who admits to having only purchased 15 CDs in her entire life yet has a computer with 11,000 songs who suggests this is the norm to be accepted. Would I eat 500 loaves of bread over the last ten years and after having paid for only 10 of them expect the baker to continue making more for me?

Read for yourselves.

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