Sowing the Seeds of Music
February 17, 2010
Farmers are long term planners. Not just from one season to the next, but years in advance they plan crop rotations, equipment upkeep, animal husbandry, etc.. I thought that my background as a farmer from North Dakota only qualified me for… farming. Come to find out it actually qualifies me for the Music Business.
Notice I said “Business” and not “Industry”. It’s not that I don’t believe in the music “Industry”, but rather I feel the industry part of music doesn’t impinge on me. Industry means manufacturing something in huge quantities to appeal to millions. Like industrial farming; large operations producing thousands of pounds of medium grade food to feed the masses, the “industry” of music produces thousands of somewhat substantial and mostly satisfying songs, but it doesn’t create real community.
I grew up on a small family farm, dedicated to hyper-local food (i.e. walk out my front door and eat what’s growing a few feet away and perhaps trade with a neighbor who is growing something else). Our neighbors were the community in which we thrived. We shared ideas, encouragement, helping hands, food, etc.. I am treating the music business in the same way, though with the internet, my neighbor can be thousands of miles away and still be a part of my hyper-local community.
Take tonight’s show as an example of the business of music creating community.
Like minded musicians gathered months ahead of time to plan and promote allowing us to, hopefully, harvest the seeds of a fruitful show filled with people. But the show is not the be-all-and-end-all we’ve got the musical seeds and then we must plant again, thinking long term. We ask people to be on the mailing list to keep in touch with them, ask them to buy CDs which will fund our upcoming album; we collaborate with visual and performance artists on the show to make it a spectacle. We don’t just stand in front of people and sway back and forth, we get the audience involved. We bring them into the community. Food that you’ve grown yourself tastes better than food you’ve picked up at the store. It’s the same with music. Being a part of the neighborhood of music will save the music industry, bring it back to a community based business which affects people in a much more personal and direct way.
I used to think farming was magic, plant a little seed of wheat and in a short time it will automatically yield you bread to feed your family. Now that I’m older, I realize how much work goes into that magic and am applying the lessons I learned on a rural wheat farm in North Dakota to help create a supportive community of music that all can be a part of.
And if we’ve done it right, it still feels like magic – come see for yourself.
Doors @ 8
Artists in residence archive.