Any of you out there trying to get it together as a musician, either pro, semi-pro, or just getting started in the basement, the days of becoming a massive, wealthy rock star are all but over. So what is the motivation now? Well, for most of us, it is simply a matter of necessity. The overwhelming love of the creativity almost compels us to do it. In many cases, we simply have no choice than do it; the alternative is unbearable. Unfortunately, folks have to eat and pay bills. So, like many of the genres of music that never really hit the ‘superstar stratosphere’, rock joins the ever-growing club of genres where journeyman status may be the best life you can ask for.
Blues musicians have been doing it since the music inception. Hell, many of those old pioneer blues guys jumped freight trains to ‘tour’. Going from one town to another with just a guitar on their back, those old dudes lived like hobos to spread their sound. Many jazz musicians will sit in with other players 6 nights a week, possibly getting paid, but possibly not as well. It’s about the exposure and that overwhelming need to play. When the last generation of ‘rock stars’ start talking about the death of rock and roll, it probably has more to do with the death of the elite status of the rock star. Sure, many artists still reside in this stratosphere of fame and wealth, and even some of the lower level acts get to feel this way while festival season is open and the pay reflects that, but to play the kind of rock and roll that gets me off – the bar needs to be set a bit lower.
While listening to our podcast’s conversation with writer and musician Eric Davidson, he expressed his satisfaction in knowing that many of the bands he mentioned in his book had the chance to tour Europe. I’ve been to Europe, and I love that place. If I had the chance, I may even want to go live there someday, but to think that I could have a trip planned for me where I got to showcase my music to fans who really dig it, and get paid to do so – that would be the highlight of my life. Some of the younger bands that I know personally have not only done this, but are doing it multiple times within their careers as musicians. In an age where anyone with a computer and the right software can produce songs and potentially have the world hear them by the simple click of a mouse, the age of the ‘rock star’ is dead. What we have now is the life of hard-working musicians who know how to network efficiently, get tours organized in places where people absolutely love the music, and get the opportunity to travel the world playing their songs. What more could you want? To travel the world, even if you only break even, will do so much for your soul that only positive can come from it. And, if you learn the dark arts of the internet and utilize those networking skills, only good things can come from that. When Eric Davidson spoke with pride about getting over the drink to the land where music still really matters to the everyday person, he may have been talking about the best possible outcome for the punk rock and roll world we live in today. As this is still a distinct possibility for many bands today, it goes further in favor of the argument that rock and roll is indeed not dead, only thriving – you just might not end up a millionaire doing it anymore. I’m okay with that. – FATS