I grew up in a golden age when Dad had one paying job and Mom had a boatload of unpaid positions: day care worker, laundress, tutor, personal shopper, taxi driver, scout leader, EMS worker and, occasionally, correctional officer. Today, most households need two jobs—even single mothers must put in extra hours to pay for day care, laundry, tutoring, etc. Times are tough.
Tough times have hit the music business too, and if it hasn’t exactly collapsed, the business has sagged to barely recognizable proportions. Major labels consume one another like a snake eating its own tail. Former record executives turn to PR, cut back on their lifestyles and eventually retire. Promoters lose money on ticket sales but make fortunes on service charges and hot dogs. Digital recordings, virtual concerts, click tracks and Auto-Tune, whole orchestras of performers who will never meet, sweet-faced boys on YouTube unable to cope in the real world—all these funnel down to an audience via the ephemera of an MP3, which is cheaper than anything at a dollar store, but still costlier than nothing, which is what some consumers would like to pay. Times are tough.
The constants are people and music. Today, Dad has two jobs and maybe Mom pays for day care out of her bookkeeping job, but they’re still keeping on. Today, talented musicians no longer have faith they’ll be discovered by a hardworking A&R guy, but they’re making music, and it’s good music. Unfortunately, as John Lennon said, “Christ, you know it ain’t easy.” Times are tough.
This issue of Elmore addresses ways to improve tough times—your own and others’. Help an artist achieve his or her dream (via crowdfunding or otherwise), and you’ll neither forget nor regret it. Nothing can beat hearing an artist thank you from the stage, even if he or she doesn’t say your name.
Give. Buy that bake sale cupcake, then do yourself another favor and give it to someone skinnier than you are. Attend a legitimate benefit concert like Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam. If you can afford two tickets, bring a kid who couldn’t otherwise go; you may change a life. Go visit someone ill or elderly for half an hour—we spend more time than that on a drive-through burger with fries. Find a cause that means something to you, and mean something to that cause. Warren Haynes chose Habitat for Humanity, and I chose the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, but whatever you choose, it just has to matter to you.
It’s been said, It is better to give than to receive, but I think the same book advised, Cast your bread upon the waters, and that’s where I’m headed. Who knows? The band you support today may later play Christmas Jam, help fund a house, meet Warren Haynes backstage and, because of you, they may make Warren’s day. Then, when Warren thanks everyone for helping, he’ll mean you too, even if he doesn’t say your name.