A New Way to do Music

I’m not a musician. I’ve always been passionate about music and I have some rudimentary musical skills that I’ve really only developed in the last few years, but I wouldn’t call myself a musician.

However, I’ve always been surrounded by music and musicians.  (When I was really little, my dad would play Barry Manilow records over and over and we’d sing along into a microphone that didn’t really work.  Later, I’d realize that there was better music being made in the world and would seek out years of therapy for the torture that my father put me through.  I should forward him the bills.)

Over the years, I’ve found myself in friendships with a great number of musicians.  Some of them were in the music industry; more of them were trying desperately to get in.  All of them inspired me in some way by the courage it took to put their hearts on their sleeves and so vulnerably share themselves with the world.  Through all of this, I came to understand two very important things:

  1. Music is a fascinating/amazing/wonderful/beautiful/painful/joyful expression of life that I cannot get enough of.
  2. The “music business” is not set up to make my first understanding happen in a way that makes any sense.

The problem with the music business is that it’s a business.  I mean, of course it is.  It has to be.  Somebody’s gotta pay the bills!  But, whenever you try to combine something subjective and unpredictable like art with a business model designed to generate a profit, there’s going to be a battle.  As is predictable in these types of situations, business has won the battle against art.  The music industry has ceased to be a playground for creative people to come and express themselves.  Instead, it’s become a machine that controls careers and artistic expression and discards anything it doesn’t understand or isn’t widely accepted.  (A miniscule percentage of artists have broken through this barrier and have reached levels of success where they can pretty much do whatever they want.  But, unless you’re U2, I wouldn’t plan on taking four years to perfect your next record.)  I really don’t blame anyone in particular.  It has just happened.  In any case, something must be done.

For years, I’ve wanted to see the music business and creation process reinvented.  Creating and distributing music needs to be more accessible to the average person who doesn’t have great connections or endless resources.  Musicians shouldn’t have to go into great amounts of debt or become slaves to a record company in order to get their music made and heard.  In short, someone needs to fight like hell for a fair balance between business and art.  We need a truce in this battle and a middle ground that works for both sides.  So, I’m fully supportive of anyone who’s got a new approach to this conundrum.  That’s why when I heard about Idle Tuesdays and what Emily Hibard has been doing to shake things up, I wanted to be involved.  I’ve never heard of a non-profit recording studio before.  It seems kind of genius, actually.  Is this the big answer to all the problems of the music industry?  I don’t know, but I do know that it’s different and it’s getting me and others to think about music a little differently.

– Written by Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes likes ideas…a lot.  He’s gone to school way too much and now he’s ready to school the world on all the things you didn’t know you needed as the co-founder of Rogue Idea Development.  Rogue is his dog and she’s awesome…just like him.

Posted on March 12, 2014 in Music Blog

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