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Another Fish in the Sea

Recently I took the plunge, and committed to a monthly membership with Apple Music. Now, if your career (or personal level of music geekness) isn’t exploring the variances of how to access (or distribute) digital music these days, you may not know (or even care) why the platform exists. …or, why it’s even there when there’s also Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, or even Google. Honestly, my intention in this post is not to evangelize anyone to one platform or the other. I simply bring it up because the amount of access points for acquiring music right now is incredibly versatile, making for a very saturated market for any artist; let alone independent artists. And, aside from personal websites, digital platforms like Bandcamp, CDBaby, Tunecore, Soundcloud, and Youtube seem to be holding the market together for where independent artists are making their work available to the public.

(Now just for fun…Remember when 1) you bought 1 CD and got 12 for free from Columbia House? and remember when 2) Myspace was Facebook’s competitor? who knew they’d be competing against all the above. I only wonder if this what Todd really had in mind. You gotta wonder…)

But, I digress… Okay, so I just committed to my streaming subscription to Apple Music. (largely because of its connectivity to iTunes.) And, as I was setting up my preferences, it kept asking me who I preferred listening to, by giving me choices and examples of artists so it could learn and tailor suggestions for me. As this was happening, an ADHD moment of questions rushed my head. No joke… within the matter of like 10 seconds. (just imagine the best brain vomit you can in the truest Vine fashion possible.) And, it went something like this:

  1. Yes, I like listening to Sam Smith.
  2. John Legend? Yes! Make the bubble bigger.
  3. YES, I want to hear Stevie Wonder!! Give me more. Make that bubble as big as you can…
  4. Hmmm… Who is that? Don’t know. Goodbye.
  5. No I do not want to hear a lot of classical music. But, occasionally. Maybe…
  6. Seriously. Does Crowder really represent all of praise and worship artists according to Apple? Sad.
  7. Now… I’m not mad, but is this is what music has become? A computer generated list of suggestions strictly for my consumption?
  8. What if I enjoy listening to R&B one day, but praise & worship music the next? (and you better not forget about my Saturday morning Jazz listening habit.)
  9. What am I missing out on if I eliminate the Alternative Rock bubble?
  10. Yuk. As an artist, how will new music ever be heard?
  11. Yuk. How will music I put out ever be heard?
  12. Yuk. No one will ever pay for my stuff. I might as well just upload my album to Spotify.
  13. I mean… at least my sister will buy a hard copy CD.
  14. I guess it’s okay. I’m not in it for money. But these boys of mine aren’t gonna feed themselves.
  15. I really need a new phone.
  16. (….child screams:) “Dad?!” (…my overwhelmed pause to collect myself:) “Yea bro. What’s up?”

Inner monologue over. Welcome back.

Again, this post isn’t to bash the digital age of music. I’m really just bringing this up to highlight that there’s a lot artists out there. There’s a lot of ways for the general public to access their music. And, since I’m new on the journey of releasing music, I’m experiencing layers of emotions and questions around the amount of investment it’s taking to release a project… and, the reality of work involved to make it available… and, perhaps only to be another fish in the sea of options that people can make go away by the click of a button.

Ultimately, accessibility really isn’t even at the core of my struggle. Deep down, I’m really asking questions like: Why? What does it matter? Does the world really need another artist? And, is another Christmas album really going to matter, when everyone only listens to what they grew up on?

While I don’t have don’t have the profound answers to all of life’s questions (at least in this area of conversation), I’m coming to a place of peace. As I mentioned my first post, staying true to the story I have, and true to sharing the Christmas story is keeping me going on one level. I also have been feeling as though despite the special nostalgia attached to the Christmas season, I’m realizing that story through artistry has historically influenced individuals as well as society in general. Many times art isn’t appreciated in it’s time for a variety of reasons. But giving up on sharing story, and expressing artistry isn’t worth it. Especially when the reality of artistry giving a voice to story, experiences, and emotions will never go away.

As a Christian, I’m motivated my love for God and recognition of calling on my life. I also see this expressing itself through artistry (which is my vocation) as I’m informed by the Scriptures. And, seriously it’s not hard to find parallels or direct encouragements in calling, vocation, and stewardship throughout the whole Bible. It’s also not hard to see how entire groups of people were provided for and protected in order to produce artistry and expressionism. It’s also very hard, not to ignore entire books, like Psalms, detailing very poetically how artistry was used to express deep emotions, periods of change, and cultural celebrations.

So… having a historical and spiritual framework for how artistry has always existed, shared with others, and used to shape culture… really is the motivation for me. After all,

Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it a rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, and flows from heaven to the soul.
– unknown

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