So here I sit, at the end of another brief tour, watching the sky get lighter outside the windows at the St. Louis airport. Listening to a bit of the new Bon Iver record, which is beyond terrific to the point of being maybe the record of the year for me. We'll see.
It's not that I haven't had much to say (though I haven't had quite as much to say), it's just that the time in which I used to say it has been filled by the consequence of my prayers for work being answered. I've been very, very busy this year and not a moment too soon. I jumped off my last gig in desperation; desperation at a job that I just wasn't feeling anymore and that finally qualified itself as being the wrong path. To wander that far down a path such as that one and then decide to bushwhack my way back up to where I could see the landscape again was a life/career move I'd probably have considered a bit more carefully had I known just how hard it would be. The undergrowth was dense. The way was dark. Had I not found the way back to be already overgrown I'd probably have turned around and asked for my old job back. Or maybe not.
Forgive all the flashy metaphor, but I've just driven 4 hours to the airport after a gig in the middle of Nowheresville, Missouri and I've got the perfect balance of coffee buzz, time, exhaustion, and an itch to write.
So anyway, I get the title question a lot this year. In short -
I split RRE with grand ideas and a grander mouth to broadcast them. The crusade was to put together the solution to the music industries problem. Because there weren't enough smart, capable, connected people working on the issue already, apparently. Part of last year's journey was a pretty extreme pruning of my ego, and it hurt. I had (and still sort of have) a pretty good idea about an open source angle to the music business that hasn't been done before, in my opinion because it explicitly doesn't make anyone any money except for the artists who implement the solution. I had a few other people convinced it was at least part of a good idea, and a few of them were kind enough to trot me in front of business types who could give me some feedback. The conversation generally ended shortly after they asked me "so how does it make money?". Well, the idea is that it doesn't make you money. Kthx.
I understand of course, and learned a hell of a lot about early stage startups in the process of all this. Chiefly, I learned that I was seriously lacking in the ability to implement any ideas that I might have, either now or in the future. So I decided to fall back and work on what I could work on, which I chose to be the technical end of the equation. Always was good with computers.
I picked up a very few clients last year, those who were desperate enough to hire me. I went to a few networking things, mostly centered around Drupal, and went to several job interviews. I received some fairly harsh smackdowns at these interviews, typically during the technical part of the interview, and did not receive any jobs.
Somewhere around last November I was pretty damn close to the edge of "all I could take". That's when I saw the ENB gig up for grabs, so I grabbed it. It wasn't much (by design) but it was a direction, it was good music with guys I already knew, it was at least a tiny bit of income. I started in February.
About 10 days into my tenure with ENB, I got a couple of emails on the same day that have turned out to be all the work I need. But it didn't stop there.
Somehow in the process of all this, I've become a fairly well-rounded, intermediate programmer, and one who has a pretty good sense of how to figure out the infinite number of problems that he's never encountered before. I've learned more programming languages, acronyms, protocols, tools, toolkits, best practices and shortcuts for being an effective (hireable) programmer than I could've guessed I'd be capable of. In April something amazing happened. I had a technical interview for a freelance gig based out of Austin TX that went astonishingly well. We talked about Git and Drupal and Ruby and handwriting SQL for half an hour. It was fun. I got the gig, and that was the little gig I got that month. I've been getting gigs left and right all year. It's insane. It's wonderful.
So basically, I'm making about 90% of my income on this computer here, and I do the ENB thing for fun and to stay connected and relevant to the scene I really care about. I've been in technical woodshedding mode all year, but I sense that it's about time to start trying to crack the nut that beat me this time last year. I've had a few things fall in my lap in the last couple weeks that are pointing me in that direction again, to try and see what I can come up with that could contribute to the music scene. I'm not trying to "save" it anymore. I'm not really sure that "saving" the music industry is what needs to happen right now anyway. As much as I am completely in LOVE with Spotify for the last month, they pay the artists about 1/10 of a piece of dog shit for royalties on the tunes that they stream. Nobody could make a living on what they pay out. Excuse me, no artist could ever make a living on what they pay out. I hear the labels have found a way to keep making nice profits in the midst of all this supposed bloodshed. So the brass ring is still sitting there, waiting to be grabbed.