Friday, July 20, 2007

A Song is not A Business Plan

I've heard people talk about our lives as if they were a song. As if the beat, rhythm and lyrics were a metaphor for the rhythm, tone, and values of our life.

I like this metaphor, because it means a couple things. We can orchestra our own song and color it with our values, life story, hopes and dreams.

Perhaps it is within the context of this metaphor that I am attracted to the track "A Song is Not A Business Plan" off the new released album Do You Feel by The Rocket Summer. In this song Bryce Avery poignantly sings about how he's not going to compromise his songs, soul, words, message or himself. He asks: "Do you even know what you're even saying? Or are you just saying it cause someone else said it?"

We are living in a hyper-business oriented world, where corporations are the new countries, and business is the game everyone's playing. Michael Lee wrote a post to indie musicians called "20 things to do while you're waiting for your fans to show up" where he encourages musicians to dedicate themselves in a full time capacity to marketing themselves before they "make it big time" thinking of themselves honestly as a "small business owner." This is a good post with helpful recommendations.

Yet, I think one of the dangers to today's business age is that as we begin marketing a product, we begin to let the marketing change the product.

It is okay if we realize that there are clear improvements that can be made on a product to better suit the consumer (perhaps your spicy chicken's just a little too spicy, or 144 ounce bottle of foot cream is just a little too large for most consumers).

But what happens when our product is our soul. What happens when we change our songs, our art, our hopes, and dreams to make it in the market place? What good will it do for a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul (Jesus' words, not mine)?

The Rocket Summer song makes me think of the scene from Walk the Line when Sam Phillips(Dallas Robert) is listening to Johnny Cash's band play a cover of Jimmy Davis song. Cash thinks this is the song that Phillips wasn't to hear, but instead Phillips wants to Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) play something real, honest, and genuine, even if it's hard to swallow.

This weekend, my wife and I will celebrate our second anniversary. Just as the Rocket Summer says "A song is not a business plan," neither is my life. My commitment, time, and energy to her is not for sale. I will not sell out my integrity, honor, honesty, or relation to God or family in the name of money.

To some people, and under some circumstances this song, my life, might seem trite, unpractical, or staunch. Yet it is my song, and to me this song is not a business plan.

"If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you're dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin' me that's the song you'd sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it? Or... would you sing somethin' different. Somethin' real. Somethin' you felt. Cause I'm telling you right now, that's the kind of song people want to hear. " (Dallas Robert as Sam Phillips in Walk The Line)

Related Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Lorna said...

For years, I was on Boards of Directors for arts organizations,and I made it my job to keep artistic goals in the forefront---there wee always accountants and lawyers and marketers to tlake care of the worries aobut money and bums in seats. Good for you!

Terence Towles Canote said...

I think that is a great line, "A song is not a business plan." I think too often these days people forget art and simply look to make money. What they forget is that last year's summer blockbuster might be forgotten five years from now, last year's hit song might not be remembered ten years from now, and the latest hit TV show might disappear from the air waves after four years. Works made just to make money don't last. Works made for artistic goals do. Would we still be watching Shakespeare's plays if he simply wrote his plays for monetary gain?

nate said...

Happy anniversery!
What you wrote reminds me of the PBS documentary, "The Merchants of Cool."
As I read, I couldn't help but draw a parralel between what you describe in the music biz and protestantism. What happens when the "church" changes its matrix to make it in the market place? I think, as you said in reference to the arts, "the marketing changes the product." Does the marketing goal (metaphor for cultural relevance) then lend itself to self help messages, watered down ethics, shallow song lyrics, and utimately moral relativism?
Either way, I strayed...great blog. I've witnessed this firsthand with some friends who signed to a major label.

Out Of Jersey said...

I'd like to think that he will remain true to the non-business model and write some good music, but these days I am not too optimistic about it.