Playing for Pay or Artistic Exploration?
I was talking the other day with a guy I play music with, and we were talking about where we'd like to go musically together. We played a couple of CD's we were into at the time. I was listening to Chris Thile's solo project "Deceiver", he was really digging Wilco's "Sky Blue Sky".
We got to talking about the accessibility of the music, and he wanted it to be really relatable. I wanted to push the boundaries, and explore tonalities in an out-of-the-box sort of way. That led to talking about John Mayer's approach to writing. John is an amazing musician, but writes music that's more pop centric, and my friend was admiring the fact that John has sold so many records that he could basically do or buy anything he wanted.
I've got another friend who is on tour with a major act, and just loves his life. He's making a really good living as a musician. I've got several friends that have done that, and are doing really well in the session/touring with an artist scene. It's really hard to make it in that world, and it's a great life for those who thrive there.
I, on the other hand, made my attempt at being a session guy/sideman. After several years of doing this, I happened to be headed back home one weekend from a road gig, and popped in an old recording of mine. Listening to it revealed something about myself that turned out to be instrumental in understanding what drives me. I was playing music full time, but was not satisfied. I didn't really connect with the music I was playing. I was playing for pay only. Listening to these recordings hit me with a realization; I had lost my passion for music.
About a week later, I left the band I was with and decided to head the only direction that made sense for me: I could only pour myself into music that inspired me. I could become average really quickly if the music I'm playing does nothing for me, or is for money only. I'm the type of person that needs to be engaged fully with the music in order to bring out the best in my playing. It's a good thing to know about oneself.
Of course if you're one of the lucky few that loves the music you play, and gets paid for it, God bless you for that! That's got to be the best.
As it turns out, this same drive is why I started this company. I had worked so many years with a low GSF (give-a-shit-factor) that I just became used to it. I needed to jump out and do something I really cared about.