I'm an artist first and foremost, which means that sometimes logistical details elude my attention...such as the time, just now, when I realized that I had not enabled my last EP, Spirits Drifted, to be sold as a digital download. Whoops.
Well, that particular problem has been fixed, but it raises a few interesting thoughts that are heavy on my mind and heart right now.
First of all, there's a multitude of ways to respond to our own failures and short-comings. My default tends to be frustration and self-loathing. I wrestle with the desire to just give up and go lay down in defeat somewhere dark and quiet, until the self-critic in my head stops making me feel worthless. Everyone deals with this, and we all have our unique weak points that trigger a version of the shame reaction.
However, if I am real with myself, I can see that what is at the root of it is pride - an expectation I have for myself to be something I am not, for myself and others. I want to seem like I really have it together, I want to be impressive, and I am afraid that I won't be loved or well thought of if the reality of my life is exposed...so heaven forbid I make some kind of mistake that might reveal my frailty and humanity.
It's much better for me to lay pride aside and embrace humility. A lot of what I try to do with this website and distributing my work to the wider world is not in my wheelhouse. I'm a musician, and not a particularly tech-y one at that. And yet, it falls on me (with the help and encouragement of my wife) to manage all the stuff related to my career. If I am honest, I don't feel very good at MOST OF IT, so there's a lot of opportunity to feel like a bonehead who often needs to be sent to the shame cave for time-outs.
With that in mind, I'm striving to be humble and more light-hearted...to try and see my shortcomings with clarity and compassion rather than fear. Fear isolates me from other people and gets in the way of actually learning anything from my mistakes. It's better to say "I blew it, but I am going to fix it and learn from it than to waste time on a downward spiral.
So, if you struggle with all of that, too...please be kind to yourself. Own up to your mistakes and take heart...failure is the best way to learn and is ultimately the precursor to growth. Be brave. Keep going.
Secondly, we live in an amazing age where anyone can get their music "out there." The resources for being an independent artist are more plentiful than ever before.
Here's the thing, though: it means that I am doing almost everything by myself, and most of what I am doing I am not very good at. The blessing of being able to do it all comes with the burden of having to be the one who does it all. I don't NEED a manager, web developer, in house recording engineer, assistant, or a gruff but lovable guy to work in the mailroom...but I occasionally long to have the infrastructure that those people would provide so that I can spend more time making music and less time weeping quietly as I bang my head against the keyboard of my laptop.
I'm grateful for the resources that enable me to live this life (like the wonderful Bandcamp), but I also can't help but feel that things have swung a bit far in the opposite direction from where we were with the behemoth record labels of the 80's and 90's. Maybe things will course-correct and we'll find a middle ground where there are more artists being facilitated in life-giving ways for the benefit of a greater number of music appreciators. That would be nice. I'm an idealist.
Speaking of Bandcamp, and of independent artists...here are some links to musicians and albums that I am enjoying a lot these days. Please visit their sites and support them if you like it.
Jeremy Flower - brilliant, brilliant writing - a rock band foundation fused with layers modern strings and horns.
Deep Sea Diver - one of my favorite bands anywhere.
Black Guru - world cultures crash together. Great grooves and arrangements.
Lastly, a bit of house keeping: you can now sign up to be alerted when post something new to my site. You can do that at the bottom right of this page.
Thanks and be well,
P.S. the photos in this post were taken by the brilliant Cary Norton.