Sometimes I imagine there was a golden age when being a musician mostly meant creating music and writing songs, going out and performing at shows, and and then going home to practice and get better. But it’s easy to look back through the rose-tinted glasses and forget that making a living from music has always required a lot of other work to support the creative side of what you are doing.
Since the invention of the internet being a musician means you spend a lot of time in the virtual world. As of writing this article, I maintain 9 websites –
- My official website
- …and of course, this blog
And the only reason it’s 9 and not more is because I had to put a limit on it somewhere, otherwise ironically my plan to leave my desk-based job and do music full time would still leave me sat in front of a computer screen all day.
But there are new sites coming along all the time to draw me in and are hailed as THE site you must be on if you want any presence on the internet, just a few suggestions include; StumbleUpon, Digg, LinkedIn, and Flickr.
Once you start looking into which sites your videos should be shared on, how to get your songs on internet radio shows and podcasts, where your blog should be hosted and how to connect with other bloggers, how to make sure search engines like google and yahoo know your sites exist, and how often you should be updating all of these sites with new and interesting content, your head starts spinning until you feel you would be lucky if a short thunder storm passed through and caused a temporary power cut to shut your computer off and give your brain some temporary relief!
The huge upside of all this is that there are now so many new ways for musicians to connect with their fans and to reach new people who will also hopefully become fans. I really love the ease that comes with having a Twitter and Facebook page where I can chat with the people who came to my show last night, or recently bought my CD. And it’s a great way of letting people know about a new song I’ve written, a video I’ve made or a show in their area.
But what’s the cost of all this time spent communicating virtually? I was discussing it with a musician friend last night and we were wondering whether we are all forgetting what it means to connect with someone on a personal level, look them in the eyes when we talk and take the time to listen to what’s going on in each others’ lives, instead of scanning through short bursts of impersonal information posted to computer screens each day. I’ve believed for a long time that if you spend a lot of your waking hours passively engaged – whether that’s on the internet or watching TV, it’s not a good thing. It makes it a challenge to suddenly try and engage your mind and imagination, to write songs, or to take an active role in what’s really going on in the world around you.
And perhaps even more sad than that, as a good friend of mine is always lamenting, the internet has killed the art of the well told joke. No one can ever remember a joke they read on an email, no matter how funny, hours later sitting in the pub with friends.
I guess like many aspects of life, there are downsides and upsides that have come with the invention of the internet. So, I’ll just have to remember not to overdose on internet time. Like the super indulgent Thomas Keller brownies I made yesterday, everything is good in moderation.