Oct 21, 2013

Inspiration, move me brightly

"But no matter, the road is life" 
- Jack Kerouac

Everyone is, rightly, talking about the wonderful and heartfelt and authentic essay by Macklemore about the incredible year they have had. It's that good, it should be read. It is a measure of how, sticking to your principles can lead to wonderful things.

But something about it bugged me, something I couldn't quite figure out. Then I realized it. Macklemore writes:
To date we’ve sold over 1 million albums in the US this year.  We’ve received platinum plaques from counties I’ve never even been before.  We have 3 multi platinum singles (Thrift 7x, Can’t Hold Us 4x, Same Love 2x).  We’ve performed on Ellen, Conan, Letterman, Leno, Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live, Billboard Music Awards, Good Morning America and the MTV Video Music Awards.  It was just announced today that we’re nominated for 6 American Music Award’s, and yesterday it was announced we’re performing at The Grammy’s nomination night.
What confused me was that while, yes, he and his band deserve to be rewarded for all the hard work, using as metrics millions of albums sold, multi-platinum singles, performances on late night television, awards shows, Grammy's, are only one measure of validation. More so they are all *analog* measures of validation. That is, they all existed before the advent of the Internet. 

In this new, DIY, direct to fan, social connected world, there are many many more measures of what one can now aspire to. Indeed, isn't the promise of the Internet in part the broadening of who can create, and what the results of that creation can potentially be? Isn't the promise of the Internet the allowance for the actualization of many different types of goals. Macklemore's is, in fact, not the only one. Maybe it isn't the important one.

For example, Jonathan Wilson seemingly plays live and on record with anyone and everyone. He has released only 3 records in the last 6 years but is seemingly omnipresent.

James Jackson Toth, Wooden Wand, on the other hand, has released dozens and dozens of records, under different names and formats. He is very active on twitter where he tweets about his partners' PhD candidacy as much as anything else.

Yo La Tengo tours and releases on their own schedule, just the same as they have been doing since 1986, 25+ years. Bob Dylan has been on the Never Ending Tour since 1988 - touring continuously according to whatever strange rhythm he sees and in venues varied and random. Lyrics Born is one of the best lyricists of the last decade, and he makes e-books and is Kickstarting his latest tour as Latyrx. Jay Babcock decided to bring back Arthur Magazine as a broadsheet.

Most of these artists will never play from the Barclay's stage, they wouldn't know how to get to an awards show, and for the most part late night TV means something very different. But they each, and many many others, seem to find their inspiration in a very different output, but by also going directly to their listeners, their supporters, their friends. And maybe they each aspire to a very different path, a do-it-yourself path, to get to that output, using many if not all of the same tools and techniques as Macklemore. Yes indeed, Macklemore is one of the good ones, I'm psyched for all of that. I just don't want to forget the other paths and results afforded to other artists, who only aspire to traveling their own road with their own form of results that don't get measured on charts, but who are just as worthy of attention, and are also just as successful. Just search for them on the Internet, you will find them, they can be found.

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