Letters: "A Sad Nonfiction"


Just read the augmented reprise of your insightful "fuck love, let's make dystopia" piece, and it would be great if your perspective could be cloned 20 trillion times, melted down to ectoplasmic infiltration spores, and spread throughout the globe. As a musician who began his career in the days of no Internet and cassettes as calling card, I've lived through and participated in all of the socio-cultural phases of distribution-promotion-marketing-DIY that have brought us to the present day.

When the whole Napster thing started, I was intrigued, and I used it as a tool to seek out the out-of-print, avant "lost classics" that I'd always coveted. In those cases where I found things that were still available, and I liked them, I bought them. Admittedly, if I couldn’t find it in the “real world” I kept it, and I have a drawer full of dusty zip discs to show for this. Of course, my demographic diverges from that of the typical "freeloader" as you so aptly put it. I'm a collector and have been since I was a teenager; I want the object, the mass of a CD or vinyl, the packaging; a dinky MP3 means nothing to me, doesn't excite me, doesn't feel like I'm psychically linked to the work. I never download now (I used to seek out the strange and unavailable on blogs and got one too many viruses for my sins), I use services like Rhapsody (decidedly lacking) to check shit out. Once again, if I like it, I buy it.

One of the fundamental issues here is who "listens” and who doesn't. To me, the true listener, the person who requires music in their lives as an escape valve from tedium, as an inspirational catalyst, as a form of knowledge importation, who LOVES it, will never be a freeloader. To me, the freeloader is someone who, in the past and pre-internet, may have had some interchangeable CDs in their car and that would be it; music is a lifestyle accessory to these people, not an essential soul feeder.

In respect to my own music making, I've operated in the red as a musician and to express myself for years now. After a time of punk-rock fueled dissolution and absurd rock star pursuits, I came to the realization that if I wanted to make the kind of music I wanted to make and survive, I would have to abandon dreams of supporting myself from it. But, I could never abandon the art itself. So, for the past 20 years or so, I've had quasi-white collar day-jobs that have allowed me to make the kinds of music I’ve wanted to make without needing the money from it. I'm an artist, and why should I give up being an artist just because the chances of "making it" or living off of it are slim to none? Fuck that. So, the entire freeloading issue is a source of complicated ambivalence for me, and one which I could go even more into depth on than this forum will tolerate. I will say that occasionally I feel as if the current state-of-affairs has brainwashed me; I'm so used to paying for making and archiving my work that simple reimbursement is never a consideration. I even feel ambivalent about using the word "art," a moniker which my work certainly deserves.

I've adopted new paradigms in reaction to this, such as limited edition releases, to lessen the sting. I’m also lucky enough to have my solo work (Lid Emba) sponsored by a small, independent Atlanta label so I'm not just floating around with no anchor in the maximum meta-sea out there.

We live in an age of entitlement, maximum saturation, and laziness. In a word, decline. I produce despite all that because I have no other choice.


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