“Modern Composers have become nothing more than the luxury tools of the capitalist system, dealers in narcotics, and if they wished to break out of their prison they would have to fulfill a new social function” - Hanns Eisler
“The modern composer must change from a parasite into a fighter” - Ruth Crawford
I’ve been asked a lot about my thoughts on patronage, artist survival, the effects of streaming, and the logistics and realities of owning one’s own label. In the end, the truth is I survive because you support me, whether that’s coming to a show, buying a record, or telling someone about my work. I’ve seen a major, catastrophic shift since the emergence and ubiquity of Spotify in our culture. As a fan, a person who loves music deeply and personally and as a maker, I’ve enjoyed access to all the music in the world, but as an artist my reality suffers and my ability to make becomes more reliant on touring, commissions, movie and TV, and less connected to direct support from fans accessing my music. Making a record and releasing it on your own label is insanely expensive and labor intensive… Every time I do it I nearly lose my mind… for real. But labels are starting to own more and more of their artists (including publishing/tour revenue/branding), reaching deeper into their pockets, even the so called “Indie’s”…This isn’t the ethos that the “indie revolution” was built upon, and the notion of “selling out” is virtually obsolete… But in reality there’s not enough streaming revenue to go around and without owning more the labels can’t survive. The split for Spotify is $.003 per stream. So 100,000 streams will get you 300 bucks. vs 100,000 digital downloads which = $70,000… Obviously, 9.99 a month isn’t really enough for access to the entire world of music, but we all now think it is…
The other growth of this phenomenon is that corporations are funding more and more music in direct and indirect ways. I’ll let you in on a secret of mine I’ve never discussed publicly: I turned down A LOT of money a few years ago because of the parent company of the brand who wanted to use “Mama’s Gonna Give You Love” in an ad. I’d been boycotting Proctor and Gamble since I was a teenager and couldn’t reconcile myself to taking money from them… I’ve turned down funds to a make music videos from H & M because I reject fast fashion in my personal life… How can I pair it with my music?… There have been others… I look back on these decisions now and occasionally question my uncommon/old fashioned ethos… Sure I can privately hold my head up, but the scope of my work has been limited by how much money there is to make it…
At this point I haven’t participated in a donor based way of making through Patreon or the like, though I don’t write it off. I know it works for a lot of people, but I think I feel shy about the access to one’s personal life that feels required in this type of exchange.
Artists keep giving up more of ourselves and I’m not sure it’s helping the work. It does, I think, exhaust us and encourage us to be just as skilled at the internet as we are at making art.
All this said, if you wish to support my work beyond the normal means, please… feel free. I’ll send you a postcard, maybe a drawing!
Above all, know that buying a record or a ticket to a show really does mean everything to us. xoxo