There’s an old adage that time is money, but this is America in the 21st century, so vague-ass statements like that don’t fly anymore. Everything needs to be super-specific now. You can’t just find out how many people are visiting your website, you need to know how long they spent there, what pictures they looked at and what their dog’s name is. No longer can we settle for simply equating time with money, we need to figure out exactly how much money every second of our time is worth so we can bill accordingly. The fact that I’m adding a superfluous sentence to this paragraph has probably slightly enraged someone reading it right now because it just took up a few seconds of their billable time.Read More
That’s right, I said it. Success, as most of us define it, is total BS. Think about it: it’s a completely relative, absolutely arbitrary measure we create in our own minds to judge ourselves against. And when you set that bar high, you end up spending a good part of your life, or even your entire life, knocking your self-worth down a peg when you’re not reaching your own subjective and lofty standards. It actually doesn’t make any sense and is directly related to the innate problems of perfectionism that seem productive but are actually self-destructive. And that’s why it’s bullshit.
Look, it’s great to be ambitious. I am. But it’s so easy in our culture of things and money and “being cool” to have your ambitions misplaced. You set a goal to be the best at something, when realistically you’ll never be the best. You want to revolutionize without realizing that many of the greatest innovations weren’t made by people who specifically sat down intending to innovate. You want to record a classic album only to realize that doesn’t actually solve any of the problems of the world. You want to make a lot of money, then find that financial success doesn’t fill the voids in your life.Read More
I was very fortunate to have grown up in relative comfort as a kid. While my family wasn’t exactly wealthy, there was never a question of whether there would be food on the table or bills would be paid. I was encouraged not to live wastefully and to be smart with my money, but it was never a situation where we were conserving energy for fear that we wouldn’t be able to cover the electric bill.
Then I went to college.
Many of us get a pretty good dose of living the “poor college student” life, then graduate to join a workforce that pays a reasonable—if modest at first—salary and holds the promise of future growth and prosperity. But I didn’t do what most people do. I chose to pursue the artist’s life, one that all too often lives up to its “starving” cliche.Read More
Money is a pain in the ass. Even wealthy people are bothered by it constantly. I chose to pursue music in college, and among the many risks of being a musician is a huge financial one. I happily took on that risk because I never really cared all that much about money, but I did care quite a bit about making music, so it seemed like a no-brainer. But we all have to make ends meet, and the rite of passage to a creative life is to take on jobs that have little or nothing to do with your field of passion. Every day, my heart aches a little more when I’m not able to devote my time 100% to what I love to do. But no matter how little I care about money, I still need (and want) it, and it sure would be nice to have a lot of it. Because maybe money can’t buy happiness, but there is one thing it can buy: Freedom. Sweet, sugary freedom.
Sell Yourself, Sell Your Soul
The music-money relationship is a tricky one. To make money from music, you inevitably have to turn it into a business, and turn your band and your CD into the product you’re selling. Someone once told me, “make it fun, don’t make it work.” Well, the point of trying to make music my “work” is because it’s always fun. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. Don’t we all want a fun job? That’s all I’m trying to get for myself. When I make it work, it’s the most fun work I’ve ever done. It makes me want to work.
And so we come to the ubiquitous phrase: selling out. It’s one of the most over-used terms in the music business, particularly by fans. The problem is that there is no actual definition of selling out, because it’s totally different from everyone’s perspective. For a lot of people, selling out has simply become a synonym for success. As soon as a band makes it big, they’ve sold out. As soon as they sign to a major label or appear on MTV, they’ve sold out. But accepting money for your work isn’t selling out, even if it’s a big fat sum of money. The artists who have become rich are well-off because they have a ton of fans who shell out cash to buy their music, a T-shirt, a concert ticket, etc.Read More