Some of the work of this year has been looking for ways to integrate the successes and lessons from my professional life in my day job as a computer programmer with my professional life as a musician. As a musician you may be thinking, gross, I live in the world of art not business, I am no square, I am a hep cat (you also have a mental dialogue from the 1950s for some reason)! I'd like to share why I have started to integrate these worlds. In future posts I hope to share some of these practices in hopes that they'll help you, but I think it's important to be clear about the motivations for all of this.
My day job and my job as a musician have been two constants in my life. These two forces have seemed at times in complete opposition or at minimum, deeply unrelatable. However, one step towards creating a bridge between these two worlds came shortly after finishing my MM in comp at UT when I began to revise my feelings about creativity, writing, poetry and music - that this was the gift of the few, the touched. In hind sight I think this was a natural reaction to the economics of music today, at least - it had me asking questions - why is this one skill that I have more valuable than this other skill I have? Why is one professional space an arena where we will only reward, pay, and recognize those who have that "gift" and yet other places, other careers, other lines of work there is space for everything from those possessed with their work to the most casual of workers. Ultimately - it led me to look at who benefits from ensuring that we all believe that creativity is as unique as a snowflake but as rare as an oasis.
This myth of the divine spark is woven through the stories we tell about prodigy - Mozart, Jimi Hendrix, to how we view the competition for success - the Voice - and finally to how we directly value through money the efforts of the mega successful celebrity musicians to the duo at the local coffee shop competing for that $1.25 in quarters you were going to spend on a breakfast taco.
Ultimately, for me, where that winds up is that its best for the power centers if the culturally destabilizing forces, like art, music, and poetry remain insignificant and unsustainable comparatively. That pointing practitioners at each other rather than society at large sanitizes the impact of their force, like two gladiators fighting for freedom results in one to two dead or injured gladiators while the crowd, promoters, and society that endorses the fight remains safe. That maintaining the facade of art's potency can be and should be done as cheaply and narrowly as possible. Rewarding the few with livelihood, accolades, and impact is a cheap exchange even with the few impossibly successful music deities like Beyonce, Madonna and Lady Gaga whose rarity and separateness allows them to both be called "Musician" but effectively have a life wholly different in execution from the musician. Finally, and applicably to this topic of taking the lessons of day job work, that discouraging methods that increase focus, vilifying the tools of organization and encouraging or mythologizing excess and distraction (preferably destructive ones) will ultimate prevent new voices, ideas and movements from gaining the kind of traction that can truly challenge the equilibrium of power distribution.
I'd like to see all of that change. That's going to be a hard fight. This is a fight worth fighting. Will you join me?