its been a busy and musical few weeks here in Michigan. First was Thumbfest, with a few solid days of live music and camaraderie. The next two weekends saw many songwriters heading above the bridge to a writing retreat to hone their craft. During that second weekend’s activities, and some of the FAWM members that remained in the southeast during the second weekend gathered at my place to swap songs and build enthusiasm for the coming 50/90 challenge.
What does a that have in common? People. Lots of people, sharing their love of music, and coming together from miles around for their love of that music.
We may not always agree on genre, style, or even what “good” music really is, but most people would have a hard time imagining a world where it didn’t exist. No movie or tv scores to tug at the heartstrings or boost the adrenaline, no workout tunes to keep the blood pumping, no travel music to keep the gridlock from driving us all beyond insane. Even in the age of silent movies, they piped in music to underscore the events on screen.
Music matters, it impacts our lives. Long after events fade into history, the music we associate with those moments brings the memories alive once again. Whether we remember a perfect date or a disastrous one, a cool party, funeral, breakup or any other significant moment, songs are our personal record keeper and take on a life of their own once they leave the songwriter’s care and are sent out into the world. Songs live on, enduring, years, decades or even centuries after their creation.
Worth far more than the sum of their parts. A hand full of chords, a melody and meaningful words can impact and change lives. Why is it, do you suppose, that something so precious and so powerful can be devalued to a fraction of a penny, and no one seems to mind beyond the creator. Songs may not be tangeable, lacking taste, touch, smell, or sight, though the best invoke these within the listener, but that doesn’t make them any less real than your morning coffee, gone forever with the stress filled commute during which it was consumed.
Spotify pays out $0.006 per stream, and Apple’s new service is set to do even worse, at $0.002. To put that in perspective, it would take a songwriter between 2500 and 7500 listens to pay for the guitar strings used when crafting the song.
Just a single set of decent acoustic guitar strings, not band gear, not recording equipment or studio time, not all the years of experience that went into learning how to make that song so special.
This is not sustainable. This is not realistic, this is not right. Until songs regain their pride of place in our world we can hardly call ourselves civilized. Efforts to create have worth, have value, have meaning. Corporations stealing music and making profits on the backs of those songwriters is just plain wrong, and has to stop. If they want to distribute our music, let them pay for it. Membership fees fatten the corporations while destroying their future harvest of songs.
Trickle down doesn’t work when the torrential flow becomes nothing more than a drop when it reaches the end.