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The nakedness of ambition


Well it’s good to have aspirations and goals and seek to improve your lot. But I have to say I’m more than a little ambivalent about the world view held by the ambitious type – those who proclaim a singularity of purpose and clarity of vision that (they say) are prerequisites to success. I think it might be that singularity of purpose, and a lack of an account of what the criteria for success are, that troubles me the most.

For my part, I keep a weather eye out for those folks who fail to conceal their desperation for success. Those for whom their own self-esteem is defined by the applause of others. I see them occasionally at the day-job and (sadly) more often in folk-clubs and other music venues. In a way, it’s hard to be too critical because there’s no question that you must be focused and driven if you’re going to achieve your goals in any highly competitive arena. But there are some who see and value little apart from the achievement of these goals and who notice little and care less about the impact their striving has on others. And there are those lovely people who will speak negatively of you to others with the conviction this will make them grander by comparison.
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Podcasts – and YouTube?


These are areas of self-promotion that send a shiver up my spine ““ and not in a pleasant way. But I guess I should get (back) down to it. Independent musicians mostly need any tool they can lay their hands on.

I have one experience of podcasting, though. I had signed up to an OMD (Online Musical Distributer) which, as part of their service, distributed (“syndicated” was the term they used) any podcast you would make. All I had to do was record my podcast in my ‘umble studio and upload to their server. They would take care of the rest. To be fair to them, they were as good as their word and I found I had a few subscribers around the world to my podcast.
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Independent Musicianship and Dilettantism


From www.dictionary.com:

dil·et·tante
-noun

1. a person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, esp. in a desultory or superficial way; dabbler.

The part-time Independent Musician’s true character? Further investigation reveals:

des·ul·to·ry
-adjective

1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful.

I would have to face the fact that, taking all of my efforts through the years into a account, my musical life has lacked a certain “constancy” and could justifiably be described as “fitful”.

Well, If I give up the day job (and all that it provides for) and oblige my “dependants” to embrace the consequences and devote all my time and effort to the furtherance of my music, do I immediately become a professional musician dedicated to his art – or a selfish and delusional tyrant? Or do I just accept that I’m having one helluva musical “dabble”? Luckily, it’s not for me to assess whether my fitful output is superficial, too.

On reflection, why should I care? I only have to walk into a bar where there is some jazz playing to see musicians who could play the pants off of me and, furthermore, couldn’t care less it’s not a full-time gig – and of whom most would utterly reject a proposal to go “pro”. Dilettantes? Hmm”¦

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Independent musicianship v. weekend warmongering


I took to the epithet “Independent Musician” with gusto. I like the rank of “Weekend Warrior” less. Still, if the cap fits…

Each term can have a slight air of the derogatory about it, depending on context, and both are used with a perceptible virtual sneer by some professionals – particularly in online engineering and production circles. I care not a whit. We independent musos and weekend warriors do what we can and what we must – sometimes with grim determination, admittedly – but the rewards can be sweeter because they are won without the aid of corporate marketing machinery (chicanery?) and we can be forgiven for preceiving them as ours through merit alone.

It’s not as if full-time signed artists and bands are flooding the record stores and iTunes with great music and our independent status alone is no criterion for making judgements on the quality of ours. Admittedly, our lesser experience in areas of production, packaging and marketing, coupled with, very often, limited budgets can combine to make it very difficult for us to achieve the sheer commercial professionalism of the major record labels and their ilk. But our homespun efforts will, more often than not, compete musically with the big guns for all that. Certainly, I admire more of the music of my independent peers than what comes into earshot from the TV and radio.

Would I sign up with a major? See my earlier ramblings on day jobs.