Travel Day. I boarded the plane about half an hour ago, I wrote on my phone yesterday afternoon. We were just told we will be held back for another half an hour before the flight can leave for Boston. I try not to think of the senseless carbon spewage. Life will have to change. I am not sure what the best way forward is but will explore any idea.
One possibility might be to do only virtual performances and to play locally. Another option would be a B&B. I keep coming back to that idea. It could be nice. It would eliminate my need for travel and I could do a mix of teaching and playing guitar… and bake bread, of course. A bed & breakfast with an art component. But that wouldn’t mean no travel because guest would have to travel to come to me.
What a time this is for musicians. First the CD gets killed, then piracy becomes a huge thing, with people wanting to amass large personal music libraries and not caring about the quality. Remember how shitty 128kbps mp3 files were? Some people had tens of thousands of albums in the form of those mp3s on their hard drives. Then streaming happened but it’s so little money that it’s meaningless for 99% of recording artists. So everyone changes the business model to make touring profitable – that wasn’t a necessity in the 90s because artists could make enough money with the sale of CDs. And now the state of the world really underscores the need to stop traveling.
Maybe making a living from selling music was just a strange blip in history. It really only started a few hundred years ago with the sale of sheet music. And that benefitted only the composers and publishers and not the musicians. Selling recordings, that’s only been happening for a little less than a century. Touring musicians have existed for thousands of years. Walking from town to town, perhaps traveling on horseback, in a coach even. I’d want a donkey-drawn cart, myself. Or perhaps a bicycle-powered wagon. Recorded music, that’s the blip, perhaps. For many years Glenn Gould stopped touring and only made recordings. The idea that, not unlike a writer, one could stay home and make recordings that would then travel the world and sell in many places, was probably only viable for a few decades.
So, what are the options, realistically?
- Touring w an electric truck or van?
- Performing only locally
Performing via Twitch or Zoom seems to be a necessary component of the future. It could be interesting and could be done beautifully, I am convinced, but it would never be the same as experiencing a live performance together with a few hundred other humans.
That’s the end of what I wrote on the plane yesterday. I don’t have answers but I have a lot of questions. Our lives have to change. Not just musicians’ lives but all of ours. And please don’t say it is too late for that. We are responsible and now we have to do whatever we can to lower the impact as much as possible – no matter what the result of that will be. Did you know, the ostrich never puts his head in the sand in the way we claim. It just fits human psyche in the same way that the boiling frog story fits… that never happened either.
If I was in my twenties I could see myself becoming a traveling musician, living a life in motion, perhaps not having a base at all. Traveling slowly from town to town, from gig to gig, as musicians once used to do. The advantage would be that now the internet exists. One could set up things in advance. Touring would have to be a long haul, going on for months, in order to cover enough distance.
PS: it is so nice to see the comments come in for my post about Dan McKinley. He was loved.
Twitching and Zooming cannot substitute for live. I need the life-giving juice of being in the theater seeing, hearing and feeling the presence of the performers.
I like the part about the donkey cart, by the way. I wish I could fit one into my life. :-)
I’m changing my life all around. I know it is necessary in order to stay fully alive. It is hard and scary at first, but then smoothes out and succeeds as you keep working it. Right?
…I’m with you, Jane, about the Life-Giving Juice of a Live concert!
Actually all of it sounds great, the MusicB&B (with your bread), touring by electric van, only performing locally, and being a bicycling-drawn cart musician too!
What does Your Heart tell You?
Then Your Brilliant Mind can be put to wonderful use following what brings You true HeartJoy, figuring out a Creative and Innovative plan, that I am sure will be inspiring others to “Change” for long past Your Time on the beautiful planet!
I don’t have many answers either.
I agree with the above, there is no substitute for live human interaction and the energy of performance. I’m zoomed out but at least it’s an option. There is a place in the world for a Flamenco Bard;)