It seems to be a known fact that the music industry is tough, perhaps one of the most difficult fields one can choose to enter. It seems to be agreed that it is a struggle to be the “starving artist” type. But it is a harsh reality for those of us who actually walk down this path. We are persistently faced with the toll it takes, not just financially, but mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Though I can never truly articulate the sacrifice or the obstacles or how completely taxing music is on me personally (and fellow artists I’ve worked with), I want to attempt an explanation.
I am writing simply to help all who love music understand the pain-staking work that goes on behind the scenes to make music possible for all of us to enjoy. I think it’s worthy of attention, and it’s important for outsiders looking in to try to grasp what it is that us musicians do for the love of music.
The best way I’ve come to understand my relationship to music is this: music is my lover. I feel so passionately towards music. I would give just about anything (short of compromising myself) to sustain my musical career. I give, sacrifice, and am always willing to do it again. I do all of this without promise of return and sometimes at a detriment to my own wellbeing, because love gives selflessly. There are some days I’m in love with music, because it feeds my soul in a way that nothing or no one else can. But there are other days that I despise music for taking so much out of me, and placing this burden within me to create music, no matter the cost.
In spite of having a college degree and having a number of promising career prospects, I’ve picked music. I’m still trying to make music happen, which is equal parts enriching and completely demoralizing. Some days I feel utterly defeated and financially crippled; other days I have the greatest natural high from the work I do and how much I enjoy it. It’s a bizarre back and forth, and one that takes an immense toll on every part of my being.
So, why keeping doing it? That’s just it! As with a lover, when you love, you sacrifice. When you desire, you pursue. When you are passionate, you give every piece of yourself.
Music is a part of who I am; it is not just something I do. It is in me to create and share. It cannot be denied, nor will it allow itself to be denied by me. It is like a lover that soothes my soul in a way beyond what anyone else comprehends, but also knows how to crawl under my skin and take the last ounce of sanity I have at the end of the day.
Music is something that I breathe. Nothing can ever change that. And while it sometimes sucks everything out of me and leaves me wondering where I will find the strength for the next day’s challenges, it is also my reason for getting out of bed in the morning.
Music is an integral part of what makes me, me. I would not be the same person if I just decided to ignore the musical need within me. I would not have the same zest for life or the same passion towards loving people. Music is what makes me tick. Like a lover, it is imperfect, but loves me unconditionally and gives me what I need to push forward and dream bigger. Music is why I feel I can reach seemingly unattainable heights.
Even as I write this, I’m brought to tears by how strongly I feel towards music. I believe that music is the means by which the intangible connects with the physical world. It is the greatest of joys and the deepest of sorrows lay bare. It can be used to communicate when even the sincerest of words fail. Art, what we create, is the only true connection of our three parts: mind, body, and soul; it is an adventure to which our whole being is invited. Art is beauty and truth uncovered through the expression of the human condition.
So to all of those who understand this need to create and choose to march onward: dream big, live loud, and do not give up. We have no guarantee of success or return on our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual investment into our art, but we don’t need one. All we need is to keep the fire burning within us, even on the days we feel we have nothing left. All we need is to keep creating, keep loving, and keep persevering. Despite what everyone else may think, I know we can chase the impossible!