Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why we do what we do

Hey Comrades!

I hope everyone did OK in that CRAZY week of earthquakes and hurricanes! Sounds like a Muse song...

Anyway, on Friday, I had the great good fortune to take a day trip with my folks. We all cram in to my mom's green mustang, formerly owned by my guitar teacher. My brother Zakk usually drives this strange vehicle that takes turns being the soundtrack from an unwritten Charlie the Unicorn episode (that would be me, along with my mom providing the humor, and my brothers as Charlie), to high-caliber think tank. Let me be clear - if the brothers had their druthers (haha, it rhymes!), it would always be a think tank. I'm to blame for the Chaaaaaaaalie skits.

Cruising along Route 66 east through the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Zakk deftly piloted the 'stang around slow trucks and silly minivans while I brought a topic to the table.

"Man, I'm noticing how mean and desperate us little musicians can be lately!" I started. As funny as it sounds, I'm really having trouble with the relentless self-promotion and arrogance on display every day on the social media networks. Sure, sure, I've fashioned myself the leader of a movement and commanding people obey the new laws of the land, and some other people are simply asking for friends to come out to a show. So I realize this sounds a little silly, especially since I'm typing this in a blog!

However, I'm noticing that it seems to be less a conversation, and more a shout-off when it comes to musicians using the networks.

Maybe I'm noticing the dysfunction of the musical community because I've been watching my photographer brother Noah. He's involved with a lot of photo sharing sites, and through his excellent photos and savvy personality, has made friends and connections all over the world. Everybody loves Noah, and he's had ultra-high level connections call him personally from overseas to ask his opinion.

Now, granted, I want to give credit to where it's due. He's a stellar photographer, a super nice guy, and he always has dynamite ideas. Plus, he doesn't say crazy stuff like "Off to behead Justin Bieber's hair now in the name of the Revolution!" So he's got a lot going for him.

BUT - it does seem like the photo community is genuinely interested in what the other members are up to. They learn from each other, grow, improve, and network like crazy.

Meanwhile, head over to YouTube, and you get comments like "America beat Germany in WWII" on Rammstein videos. Friend a musician on Facebook, be bombarded with "Yadda yadda has invited you to a show" (usually in another state.) Twitter's no better: "I'm at Starbucks/drinking beer" (Folk musicians/rockers.)

Where's the conversation? This doesn't stop in the electronic format. Pick up a guitar magazine, and read all about how Eddie Van Halen got a flanger to sound like an airplane in 1979.

The Internet presents us with the unique opportunity to engage and network. Spam has always existed, and while social networking makes it easy for anyone to clutter the airwaves, we're missing a really important aspect: The other half of the conversation!

But this is still just a symptom of the disease. Why are us musicians so mean? Are we really that desperate? I know I am sometimes.

Resistance indicates the presence of a challenge, and the presence of a challenge means we're barking up the right tree. If we love the goal, the challenge might be a welcome visitor. After all, it means we've found the door to the bank vault! OK, so it's locked, but that means there must be something good inside!

So what exactly are we trying to do? And most importantly, why? I watched this TED talk, and I've been thinking about it ever since. I highly recommend watching it.

I'm still trying to figure it out. Sure, I love music. But what am I trying to do with it? Why are we so nasty sometimes? To quote Elf "This place smells like mushrooms, and everyone looks like they want to hurt me."

The light gatherers help each other. We're the bringers of sound...Why don't we? I'm working on a speech for Comrade TV that will outline some of the new principles that I want to operate by, but I still have to figure 'em out. I think being supportive, encouraging, and listening intently will be three of them. More introspection on my part is needed before I can deliver the final draft, though.

Let me know if you have any ideas. And let me know what your inner circle motivation is, too! I'd like to hear!

Vive la Revolution!

- Josh

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