It was a cool summer night in Ukuleletown. I had a gig at Louie’s and was walking home late. It had just rained and the streets were slick. The reflections from the streetlights were stark and dramatic.
No one was out. My footsteps did that cliched echo thing. As I passed an alley, I heard a strange sound from a dumpster sitting behind one of the burger joints there. You know I had to stop.
Proceeding cautiously down the wet litter strewn alley, I stopped in front of the offending dumpster. Clang! Thump! The huge metal container rocked. What the…? I grabbed the metal lid and flipped it up.
I was greeted with the horrifying sight of a huge, bloated creature rooting pig-like in the fetid restaurant remains, gorging itself on the garbage there. It was immense, though still vaguely human. The tiny red eyes barely registered any signs of intelligence as they focused on the scraps of discarded food it clutched in its tiny claw-like hands.
The wrinkled and stained linen sportcoat and Gucci loafers gave it away: it was a Record Company Executive! I relaxed. There were many of these in Ukuleletown and, for the most part, they were harmless if kept away from Musicians.
Disgusted, I slammed the lid back down, plunging the creature back into its own darkness. I found a grubby, stained towel on a stair railing a few feet away and wiped my hands clean; leaving the alley and continuing on my way.
The big record companies are Corporations. Their bottom line, like all Corporations, is profit. What makes the Music Industry different is that the product it promotes, markets and sells is Unique. It’s not a widget, or a skill that anyone can learn. It’s something only a few individuals can do. This doesn’t necessarily make them wonderful or god-like…it just makes them unique. It CERTAINLY does not make them rich!
My young daughter and I play an old game sometime. She will ask me if I would rather be the “fly or the windshield”…and I answer based on how I feel. Then we think of new comparative examples: the Butterfly or the Net, the Dog or the Leash, the Stopsign or the Truck, the Wind or the
Sometimes I think that musicians have to think about where they are, what they want to be. Would you rather be the Playing Card or the Poker Chip?
Hell. I’m in. Hit me.