More on Music

2002-03-22

I'm sitting here enjoying my favorite dessert and the music of Dave Mallett, a Maine songwriter whose music I grew up on. This morning I woke up with his song "Hard Light" playing in my head. Mallett is the kind of musician I had in mind the other day when I wrote about the impact of digital music distribution technologies on working musicians -- he isn't making tons of money as a songwriter as far as I know, he puts out a CD every three years or so, and you can still see him in concert for $7.00 on a good day. At best he's living a middle-class existence in Maine or perhaps Nashville if he's still down that way. In other words, he needs to be just as creative in making money as he is as an artist. Now, let's say there is no such thing as intellectual property, and Mr. Mallett (or a performing and recording composer such as my friend Eric Nolte) can no longer sell CDs. I guess some would say he just needs to get even more creative, set up a tipjar on his website, and start charging more at his concerts. Perhaps -- no one ever said being a musician was an easy life. And I can't disagree with Eric Snowdeal's comments on my post the other day, to the effect that the record companies (of which there are only three or four in the world, other than small independents) are bloodsucking vampires who eat musicians for breakfast. Yet I know enough musicians that I hope there is a way for them to make a little money doing what they do best, be that composing, performing, or recording.

As I mentioned the other day, I don't even try to make money from my music, and for me it's just a hobby. But music is important enough to me that I value the fact there are full-time musicians in the world. Not just performers, but more fundamentally songwriters and composers. In my own experience, it is not money that drives such creativity; but one needs money in order to live, and if one could make no money from one's creative output, one would not long be able to sustain the creative life.

Well, I don't pretend to have the answers, but it's definitely something I continue to reflect on (especially because I'm quite deeply committed to sharing information, as my websites make clear).


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal