"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A brave new world

If you are a DirecTV subscriber (and I'm not suggesting that you run out and sign up), you are able to see a show called Guitar Center Sessions. It showcases musicians in a very unusual way. You get a song performance, then the host Nic Harcourt interviews them about everything from their process writing and recording, to the business end of what they do.

I find it refreshing because, not only does it spotlight people I know, like Joe Walsh, but it introduces me to folks I don't know (sorry, but I've never heard of Kinky).

They recently had All-American Rejects on the show, and while I'm fairly lukewarm about their music, I was impressed by their ability to talk about the process and what fame has brought to them in personal and professional terms. The lead vocalist, Tyson Ritter, won me over with a couple of statements. One was that they would never use canned tracks in live performances, because the blemishes give a live show its personality.

"It's like a beautiful woman," he said. "She's not beautiful because she's perfect. It's her flaws surrounded by beauty that make her interesting."

Thanks, I'll remember that.

The other thing he said struck me as applicable to my journey (and my friends') as a self-published author. They were discussing the band's progress from a small label to a large one and back down again. I was so impressed, I re-ran the interview several times so I could get the quote just right:

"Since the label has weakened throughout the years as far as its power is concerned, we're in this crazy moment in the world where the digital age has wrapped its arms around the singer/songwriter, the band from Stillwater, Oklahoma* where they don't have to be wrapped up by some LA bigwig label to boost their career. You can put your song on iTunes for $200 now and you're in a band that can be bought and sold by anyone who has a computer."

That's pretty much it in a nutshell. Big labels, big publishers, big agents can all point to the way things used to be and tell singers/songwriters/authors that they need to Sign Big or abandon all hope. But the truth is, the digital age is embracing the entrepreneur. Our responsibility is to use it and not abuse it by aiming high with the quality of everything we do.

I feel the need to add an AAR video to say thanks for sitting down with Nic Harcourt and giving me information and ideas and one more uplifting way to look at my world.

*Stillwater, Oklahoma is AAR's hometown.


Tameri Etherton said...

You know, I've always liked the All American Rejects, and now, even more so! That's so true. It doesn't take the Big 5 (or 6 or 4 or 3 or whatever) anymore, it takes hard work and a computer. Rock on, writers! It's a new world out there and our destiny isn't determined by some big shiny label, but ourselves.

Gayle Carline said...

I gotta start listening to them more. Tyson absolutely manipulated me during that interview, whether he meant to or not. When he talked about beautiful women, I was melting. When he talked about the digital age wrapping itself around singer/songwriters, I felt 50-feet tall.

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