So, something popped into our ask box while we were on tour, and I (Hi I’m James) didn’t see it until after it was answered (which obviously happens when four people are running a social media thingy). But it’s a question that I’ve been thinking a lot about.
ANYWAYS, this was the question:
How do you all feel about working towards making a career out of something you’re so passionate about? Do you think that will take away the passion for what you’re doing? Or will the fact that you’re passionate about it take away the feeling that you’re working a job?
And here was the answer we posted:
I think I can safely say that none of us are attempting to make a career out of this. We’re just trying to share the art we make with as many people as we can. The commerce of selling merchandise and physical copies of our music comes out of trying to lessen the financial burden of sharing the stuff we make. Almost a necessary evil, if you will. Our music is free online for a reason. We just want people to hear it, and maybe connect with it in the same way that we do.
A perfectly respectable answer. I try to respect the opinions of most people, and I definitely respect the opinions of the other three guys in the band. But I cannot necessarily say that it is my personal opinion.
There’s a very cheesy saying that goes something along the lines of, “if you’re doing what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Obviously, we’re doing what we love. Being able to pay my rent and other bills by doing what I love would be AMAZING.
I truly cannot express how difficult being in a band that does a little bit of touring is. Small Parks just wrapped up a two-week tour, so this is my second time being in a quasi-touring band. Trying to do that and hold a steady job (and this a steady income) is HARD. It’s pretty tough to find a decent job that will let you take 2+ weeks off several times a year. And, with what we seem to know about the “music industry” so far, it’s pretty hard to become a “successful” band without touring. I hate using a lot of these phrases, and there are exceptions to every rule. But, it is what it is.
I want nothing more than to be able to be a “full-time” musician. It’s been my dream for years. But, I understand the difficulty and sacrifices involved. I’ll understand if that that dream never becomes a reality, but a part of me will always resent myself for not making it happen.
To answer the questions we were asked, I don’t think the passion would ever go away. When you want to do something with all of your heart, and have wanted to do something with all of your heart for years, a loss of passion isn’t a HUGE concern. At least not for me.
I was talking in Columbus last week with Corey of Secret Grief (our dear friends and tour-mates for the last couple weeks) about, well, music. He’s been playing in bands for a decade, and I’ve been playing in bands for six years. I think we’ve both seen a lot of things happen, and I think we’ve both learned a lot.
There’s this weird mentality in the DIY scene where making money means selling out. I have NEVER understood that. Capitalism is troublesome, but it isn’t going anywhere. Accept it for what is, and continue to live your life within your values. While I shouldn’t make definitive statements, it’s pretty tough to get by without a job. But take your money and support things that are important and meaningful to you. Buy your food locally and cook with your friends. Go to punk shows instead of movies. Learn how to brew coffee instead of shopping at Starbucks. Or do the opposite of all of that. It’s your life to live, not mine.
The basic point of me wanting to write this is that I think it’s okay for bands to sell merch to make money. I think it shouldn’t be uncommon to pay for something that cost thousands of dollars and SO MANY HOURS to put out. I plan on always putting out music digitally for “pay-what-you-want,” but I think there is still a lot of value in a physical release. It’s special, and it’s worth some dollars.
I feel like if I write any longer I’m going to start rambling more than I already am, so I’m going to stop. These are just my opinions, take them for what you will. I’d love to discuss yours with you.
Also get off your fucking phone