From the first day of this project, we made the decision that we would try our best to pay it forward, to help our peers and the next generation of musicians and artists as they grow. Really, it wasn't even a decision. Musicians struggle with so many challenges, so many set-backs, so many failures, so much heartbreak. There are days when it seems like nothing will go right: those days when you find yourself begging with the world for a reprieve, knowing that it's not sustainable, and that, for now, the odds are stacked against you. Yet, despite all the evidence that says it would be rational to quit, to give up, to do something else, artists choose to continue to create, to imagine, and to give back the world.
It's love and generosity that carries us through the hard times. Understanding how much artists give, we wanted to make sure that did our best to help. After choosing to pay it forward, we had one question:
How we would do it?
The ways we choose, were by taking creative risks, documenting what we learn, and supporting other musicians. Even if it only changes the life of one person, that's enough for us.
Taking Creative Risks
It would have been much easier for us to make a record that was only 10-12 songs long, filled with pure pop. It would have been much easier not to make a concept album.
For us, that wasn't an option: Art is best when it helps you slow down, reexamine and think. It's best when it makes the known, unknown, and the unknown, known; combines the unconnected to imagine different possibilities; and says the words that are intuitively understood, but had yet to be spoken.
We desperately need more artists and musicians to take risks. We need them to take risks to illuminate a path for others to follow, to help give us confidence to continue when the future looks bleak.
For as long as we continue to make music, we will create concept albums that stretch what we are capable of, taking risks that might fail.
There are a few things we always need more of:
Great music -- great art -- helps us find all three. Or even better, inspires us to create something to help others find all three.
Through Sharing Our Journey
As we continue our journey, we will try our best to share any lessons we learn and wisdom we gain. It is our hope that the mistakes we make can be avoided by others. In launching Talking to Myself, we have already made so many mistakes. In retrospect, they seem obvious: easy to avoid, easy to correct. Yet, much of what's obvious often eludes us, the fundamentals that we ignore.
The reason why we want to share what we learn, is because there's a question that drives us: In our lifetime how far can we go?
If we continue to play it safe, we won't make much progress at all. Pop music will continue to be pop music, new starlets will be made, and major labels will continue to shape mainstream sounds. The position won't change, the sound won't change. Life will continue on, as one face is replaced by another. On the other side of that equation is regret, framed in a sing-along that was fun on Monday, got annoying by Wednesday, and was overdone by Saturday -- a repeat that lasts for decades, a state that none of us should accept.
At this point in history, we have a brief chance, a window of opportunity, an invitation to take creative risks, and push the boundaries past what's deemed normal, or safe. For this minute in time, it's possible to exercise creative and business control over more aspects of music projects than ever before. That's an opportunity that is too great to pass up, an offer that cannot be refused.
As we go, we will make available most of what we learn right here on our blog. We will continue to update it frequently in order to keep an ongoing story of the mistakes we've made and the insights gained.
We are in the process of creating a music foundation with the hopes of cultivating and sustaining the independent and DIY music community.
To build its foundation, we are donating $1 from every album we sell towards helping future musicians navigate the ever changing music landscape. Once we start a subscription service, we will transition to giving a percent of our total earnings.
Artists often juggle multiple projects and priorities, struggle to make their work sustainable, and, in the process, can be taken advantage of, which prevents remarkable projects from being released into the world. There are a series of pain points along the way that make it difficult to continue to make music. As we build, we will be creating a series of projects through our non-profit to help ameliorate many of the aforementioned pain points that we have identified. One of the best ways to enable creative risk taking, is by supporting great artists: providing them the flexibility to make mistakes and the confidence to release those mistakes into the world.
That's all that's left to do. To make change of any magnitude, it's takes many years of trying, decades of hard work, but this is our first step. It's a vision that's open to change -- that will inevitably change -- as the community continues grow and evolve, as we as musicians further embrace what we were meant to do. For now, it's a direction and promise. One that we intend to keep.
We hope that others will join us on this journey. We hope that others will take the risks to inspire others to do the same, paying it forward to see how far we can go in a lifetime!
Notes: I'm not fond of the title of the Slate piece. Or, for that matter, stigmatizing loneliness or calling it a disease. There's no question that we need to be more connected -- the real world face to face connected to those that understand us -- but, I think finding creative ways to build community with others that share our interests, focusing on the positives would be a much better approach!