Another Ranty Rant on How Music is Undervalued

My cheerful optimism (still not pictured).

So after writing a ranty rant on how music is undervalued I really wanted to write something else to kind of bring everything around to a more positive space. I want to talk about good things, about feelings of renewal and optimism—but really, I’m not in the mood yet.

I’m still in a funk.

This. This, y’alls:

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Exhibit A: The RudeMusicFan.

This is a Twitter feed that one of my (need I spell it out? full-time working, touring, song-writing) musician friends created as an outlet for all the weird, gross, misdirected things people say at shows.

People say shit like this. And they mean it. And they just don’t get it. People can be really ignorant about art and music and not realize what they’re doing hurtful or sexist or racist or just plain asinine.

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Exhibit B: A a friend of mine (need I spell it out? an incredibly beautiful, lovely, surreally talented person), mentioned doubting that doing music is worth it. That doing music is the right choice. The right life choice.

At first I was confused. Like, are you for reals? Of course it is! How could you let anyone tell you otherwise?

Then I remembered what the world is constantly telling us:

You can’t make a living doing music.

As in:

Can you play for our thing? We can’t really pay you.

This gig doesn’t pay, but you can get exposure and can sell CDs and stuff.

The 3-hour-long sets your band is supposed to play for $125 where you’re basically background noise and no one gives a shit. Focus: Music? No. Beer sales? Yes.

I remembered that, and I understood what she was saying.

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It’s also weird because the world is simultaneously telling us the opposite: that it’s really, really important to be a famous, supertalented pop star, and that you’re gotta work really hard to get to the point where millions of people adore you and you can sell out stadiums. People don’t seem to get it—you can be a successful musician without being famous. You can also be a “successful” musician without even making enough dough for rent. The cultural narrative is really fucking schizo in that way, and it’s totes annoying.

Yeah, we musicians are all a little bit counterculture. We don’t wanna do the prescribed thing, probably because that would be boring. And stifling. We wanna be out on our own. We want to do things the wrong way, the not-standard way.

But there’s a time when you just gotta call it bullshit.

Photo courtesy of Lucie Provencher.

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  1. An ex-friend of my piano teacher said to him, “I didn’t know you worked. I thought you just played the piano.” An EX-friend.

  2. Ah, Elene! You feel me, you totally do.

    My sister, who is currently in grad school for piano performance, told me that some classmate of hers (who was definitely not a music major) didn’t even believe that music could be majored in. “Doesn’t music just… happen?”

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