Being a musician in today’s world is equal parts easy and difficult. Kind of a weird statement, I know, but if you think about it, it makes sense. Twenty-five years ago, if you were a musician or in a band, you had to go to where the music was to be heard. You had to hustle, sacrifice, and compete against hundreds of other musicians to get noticed. Once you did get noticed, you had to really work hard to climb your way to the top. Once you got there, maintaining a level of quality was a matter of touring and writing in order to be relevant. Even ten years ago, you had to really do some ground pounding to get heard, but because of the ever-shrinking attention span of the consumer market, you could be the greatest thing since the Beatles in one minute, then a has-been the next minute(almost literally). Guys like me, working class stiff with a family and a mortgage, didn’t stand a chance to be noticed.
When I was 17, I had decided that I wanted to have my own recording studio, but that required thousands of dollars and a degree in sound engineering; neither of which I had. Back in the early 90’s, I discovered that it was possible to make music on a PC in the basement of my home. I lacked the proper equipment, but I was slowly learning how to record and mix. As time moved on, so did the technology, trickling down to the masses and allowing people like me to make better quality home recordings. By 2001, I was making CDs for my friends and tried my hand at selling them online. The world was suddenly more accessible. Did this make it easier? Not really. Because you still had to get noticed, and instead of battling it out with hundreds of other musicians, you were dealing with millions of others vying for the same attention.
Enter the age of social media:
With the start up of sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, anyone could become highly recognized if they knew how to market themselves. These platforms allowed anyone to access anyone else anywhere in the world and relate to what ever they were saying. Once performers and bloggers realized the power of these sites, it didn’t take long for someone to become “internet famous”.
The advancements of music technology:
This is where it gets interesting. When Apple released the iPad, I was on the fence about whether or not I needed one. It didn’t take me long to figure out that this device would be the answer to my ongoing problem of needing to make music anywhere at anytime(believe me, this does happen). With the right tools, I could sit at a table in a café or on a train to Chicago and make music. The apps and peripherals have become increasingly more portable and advanced to a point where you can carry an entire music making studio in a knapsack. Once this happened, I had begun making music again, like I did back in the 90’s.
Putting the two together:
Through Facebook, I was able to connect up to like minded people who were making music on iOS devices. This group of people ranged from the hobbyist to full on professional musicians and developers. The greatest thing about this was I was able to learn a lot from the collective knowledge of the members, encouragement to try new and different apps, techniques and even collaborate with others across the globe. This led to me creating a YouTube channel and doing performances, reviews and demos of apps and gear. Once I was established, the network grew and I ended up meeting people who have been helping me along the way. The result of all this work led me to signing with Apptronica Records and doing an interview with a fellow vlogger, Ralph Baumgartl. I also met Jason Donnelly(aka DJ Puzzle), a sound designer and producer who has worked in music software, making loops and sample packs for use in DAWs, created scores for TV, film and video games, and is also a YouTube content creator and reviewer. Jason has really helped me a lot. I learned about him early on in my music making career and eventually made a great connection with him. I’ve also met some great musicians and fellow YouTubers, such as Jakob Haq and Flux. These people were my inspiration and motivation to take the step and do something I had only dreamed about. I mention these folks because I remain in contact with them regularly. That’s not to say anyone else I have connected with isn’t important. If I name-checked everyone with whom I have connected, my list would be endless. These folks have really shaped my current events. I hope some day to collaborate with many of these people and even the ones I haven’t mentioned. Thank you to all.
I’m still not famous, but I am getting noticed on a much larger scale and at my own pace and control. I get to make music and market it in a way that I couldn’t otherwise have done. It’s still hard work, but it’s also keeping me at home and working, so it’s easy as well. As long as I keep going, someday, my work will end up in someone’s hands that’ll say, “hey, this guy is onto something…he created it on a what?!?”
So go forward, my friends, create your art and put it out there for the world to see. Market it and make some money. You may not be living the lifestyle, but you’ll be living the dream.