Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What i've gotten myself into

I recently received an email survey from a certain musicians' organization. One of the questions asked how many hours a week i spent performing music in front of audiences.
I gave a conservative 1-4 hours per week.

The following question asked how many additional hours per week, on average, i spend working on music for non-performance tasks. They gave some examples.

Well, i started doing a rough tally. Between doing live sound, producing, programming, composing, recording, engineering/mixing, learning new songs on bass, practicing bass, band practice, networking, phone calls, emails, expanding my online presence (myspace, iLike, my blog, etc.), expanding my real-life presence, promotion, designing graphics, attending seminars, trying to find my next performance or sound gigs, maintaining my gear & technology, cultivating a professional 'image', reading and research... The list goes on.

It turns out i'm putting in anywhere from 80 to 100+ hours per week.

On a great week, i probably pull in about $200.  And those weeks are rare. Do the math. And that's a great week. I'm usually not pulling in that much. (And to contrast music scenes in Portland and New Orleans, i was pulling in almost that much in one day in Nola.) That's not a livable wage.

And it's not that i'm bad at what i do. All conceit aside, i'm really good at what i do and i know it. The feedback i get about my engineering, bass playing, and electronic composition has gotten better and better.  Some amazing people have gone out of their way to help me because they believe that much in what i'm doing.  

So, my question is, where's the payoff? Bubbles says it's, "Work now, get paid later," and "[artistically] we're rich on the inside." Well, i do work now, and don't plant to stop working later, or ever. But how far away is the later when we get paid? And being rich on the inside is great. I love being happy. But that doesn't pay my bills. I won't be happy for too long when i'm out on the street with nowhere to plug in my computers and, inherently no way to practice my craft.

X24, ever the optimist keeps on telling me we're on the brink. That it's coming, we're right there and doors keep opening.  Well yeah, doors do keep opening to bigger an better things, i agree. Yet, they don't seem to be paying any more. 

Now, i'm not only in this for the money. If that were the case i'd pound out some mind numbing pop songs about melodramatic love loss. Isn't that what the whiny indie rockers are into these days? It's not only about the money. However, call me crazy, but i tend to believe that i work hard and should be compensated accordingly.  


Moving on from the gripe of the week, i recently had a photo shoot with local photographer Victor Fitzsimons.  He takes a lot of tight pictures of a scene and then compiles them to create much larger images. I'm part of his series Working Portland. I suggest checking out his work. I used one of his pictures on the Prophetnoise Myspace page. The other is in my pictures section.

My MIDI controller is on the fritz.  I took it in for repairs once and it was mostly fixed but had to bring it back because the Joystick's X axis, when centered at rest, wavers anywhere from +1 to +5 (of 127).  The Joystick's Y axis only goes from +120 to -93.  For those who aren't familiar with what any of that means, essentially, when i play my keyboard, the pitch bend actually bends itself sharp and wavers on it's own, making everything i play out of tune.

That said, i keep on walking into my studio room staring at my computer for a minute, realizing i can't make music without my MIDI Controller (keyboard), and leave the room looking for something else to do. Repeat every few minutes. For someone (me) who spends 8-12 hours a day tracking new music, I'M GOING STIR CRAZY.  (That's probably why my blog post is so friggin long.)

With all that said, i'm the happiest i've been in years. My life revolves around music.  I do what i love, and i do what i'm good at, and they're the same thing. All the other problems are minor bumps in the road.

Until next time,


Digital EP Orange & Silver
Prophetnoise Myspace
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Prophetnoise Band Radar
Prophetnoise Portland Mercury Band Page

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