Sunday, March 2, 2008

Kill the Song, Kill Yourself

You can now buy Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory at my Web site.

Two profiles on me and the above projects are coming out this week in AZ newspapers: the Arizona Republic and the "Get Out" section of the East Valley Tribune. I don't know when they'll run, but I think "Get Out" comes out on Thursdays. Keep your eyes peeled. I'll be looking for them online, and I'll post links here.

And I'm in AZ this week! If you're in the area, come say hello:

March 5-Tempe, AZ-Changing Hands Bookstore 7 PM
March 8-Phoenix, AZ-Borders Books and Music-Arizona Biltmore 4 PM
March 8-Tempe, AZ-Last Exit-Full band performance supporting Shurman 9 PM

I'm all out of copies of Stuck Outside of Phoenix to sell online. There will be a few copies available at Changing Hands this week, so get one before it's gone for good!

We've added another show to our late March tour! March 25, Atlanta, Smith's Olde Bar. Get all the details at my Web site. We're going to be talking a lot more about this tour after AZ and CO.

In case I sound too gruesome, the title of this blog, combined with the title of my last blog, is an ancient saying as quoted by Joseph Campbell. The whole saying is:

Kill the bird, kill the song

Kill the song, kill yourself.

I love Joseph Campbell.

The current state of affairs in the record industry (by most accounts, it's "suffering") I see as a correction, not necessarily a deviation from the way things should be. Really, it's just that the music industry is coming (somewhat) back to earth. It's not an outrage that the biggies are now selling merely a billion units a year as opposed to a kajillion. What's amazing is that the record industry sold a kajillion units a year in the first place.

The same argument is being made about the current decline in interest in reading. The argument goes: it's not a travesty that fewer people are reading every year; it's amazing that that many people ever read in the first place. (Of course, they're wrong; it is a travesty that fewer people are reading every year, but that's a subject for another blog.)

Think about it: the Refreshments sold about 80,000 copies of The Bottle and Fresh Horses in the first few months of its release, and we were told the record was a failure.

80,000 copies.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: if you're selling 80,000 copies of anything and calling it a failure, there's something wrong with the way you're doing business.

For centuries, artists have had to build their audiences in much smaller increments, little groups of people, even one person at a time. Watching the way artists conduct their businesses is a pastime of mine, and it's taught me a great deal about how I should conduct mine. Namely, it's taught me that, as I move into the business of art, I don't need thousands and thousands of people to like and buy my work. A much smaller number will suffice, but I'll have to work much harder to reach that smaller amount.

Still, there's a great deal of dignity in this process of finding interested people on your own.

Taking this back to our conversation last week, one of the best parts of buying creative works from artists, as opposed to finding ways of getting them for free, is the dignity the process affords both parties. If I make a CD and sell it, I'm not just a hobbiest; I'm a recording artist running a record label. If you buy my CD, you're not a fan; you're a patron. Something about that just sits better with me.

Well, it's time to lay down the law. See you in AZ this week.


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