Look, it's hard out there for a recording artist. Period. On a label/off a label:
Trying to make full-length records in this particular climate is pretty dumb.
It may seem like everything is fine to the average consumer (the number of visible superstars hasn't been largely effected), but it's not really been fine for everyone else for a long while now. The numbers three years ago said 90% of online music transactions were pirated. That'd be like going into work tomorrow and having your boss say: Man, you're doing a great job. Fantastic. We LOVE you and what you do. But you're gonna need to keep doing the same job for about 10% of your paycheck. Is that cool?
It wasn't just some combination of Napster and RIAA greed that got us here, streaming was coming regardless of the financials. The consumers wanted it, the big businesses wanted it, it happened. Nobody asked the artist. But on it spins. I could spend this time telling you that it takes 9 million Spotify plays in a month to make the equivalent of a full-time minimum wage job in the same month. And that you'd have to do that EVERY month for YEARS just to afford the production and promotion costs of your next record (without accounting for living expenses).
Needless to say, it just doesn't add up.
But this isn't that blog.
I'm not trying to convince you, or urge you in any way to take pity on all of us. I don't wanna beg you to pay for the music. It's not only uncool, it's also really ineffective. Look, I get it, nobody has a gun to our head telling us to make music. No one thrust this life upon us. We chose it, (partly) knowing, and (mostly) understanding what it would mean to our prospects at ever having a semblance of a 'normal' life again. We knew that resumes would become a thing of the past, or for some of us they'd be kept updated as we pursued our dreams on the side of a 9-5 job in whatever career would be understanding enough to know that they'd always be our second love. We'd work super long days and then try to muster up the energy to create at night. Or hold server jobs at night and work til' 3am, go home, get a shower, maybe cook yourself come dinner, sleep enough to be somewhere at 8am for your part-time morning job 'til noon, write from 12:30-4:30 and then start the whole cycle over again.
The amount of expense and toil that goes into paying bills, and creating art, and then creating content for people to interact with based on that art is like having 3 full-time jobs. And we do. We all have a million jobs. We wear a million hats. Very few of them being the one we set out to do in the first place. It's absolute madness. It's silly. It's fiscally irresponsible, tiring, soul-crushing, and thankless. Why would anyone...?
Suddenly, it's all worth it.
Look, making a record is hard. Its REAL hard.
I had many an industry insider ask me why I was doing a record instead of an EP, or releasing a single and trying to get some traction. Dip our toes in the water, so to speak. I completely understand it. I see their point loud and clear. It was the sound, responsible thing to do. But my answer every time was: "Because I want to."
I've done a lot of things in my past because it was smart, or safe, or sound. I think an audience can sense that. If you show trepidation, they sense that. They don't know whether to love you or think you're gonna change on them in a few years' time. Are you sold out to your craft? Because they certainly aren't going to be if you aren't. At least not the kind of audience you want.
A record puts your flag in the ground and says: 'I'm Here Now'. Right. Here.
It gives the people that do interact with it a rallying point: a thing to gather around and identify with. The more specific you can be, the more content you can produce, the more they can get on board with it.
And as beautiful as this process has been, and as proud as I am of this project, right now it's mind-numbing to think that I'm ever gonna have to do this again. Swin and I have given everything that we have to this one. We're exhausted. We're stressed. We're strapped. And it's weird to think that still, after all of this, this may not work. The dream may never become sustainable. We'll let you know in a year or so.
But there's a glimmer of hope in thinking that if you make something good enough, you can stop doing all of it, and you'll have the life that you wanted. You'll get to start handing off some of the less-than glamorous jobs. Or paying someone else to do them. (They still need done, mind you, you just won't have to be the one to do them).
But while it's ours, we're going to be proud of the work, and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something so good. So true. So us.
Knowing all of the above, it should cause all of us creators to take pause and realize just how high the stakes really are. For every project you put out, you can't half-ass it. You can't put out a baby project to get you to the next one. It has to be the very best you can be every single time you do it.
You may never get to do it again.
Maybe this record will be the one that makes it all 'Real'. Maybe it won't.
But I promise you this: