September 2020: The Value of Music

As a music fan the past two decades have been revolutionary.  Any song that has ever been created is now at our fingertips.  There’s no clunking around a large CaseLogic full of cd’s or placing a distractingly large faux wooden tower of them in the living room next to the entertainment center. This isn’t some plain nostalgic waxing about the good ol’ days.  It’s merely to point out that we used to have to work much harder at being a fan.  You had to actually go to a record store and purchase an album.  At the height of cd’s, that could mean shelling out $17.99 for an entire collection just to hear the two songs you like. That work made you appreciate it more.  It wasn’t just handed to us.  

The devaluation of music (and art as a whole) is troublesome.

It’s easier to make. It’s easier to share.  It’s cheaper than ever.  That’s great for the consumer and big business.  Not so good for the creators.  The music business has always fleeced the artists.  Oftentimes those furthest away from the creation of the music have seen the greatest profits.  It’s been a flawed system since Vaudeville and hasn’t changed. If anything, it’s only gotten worse. Today’s artists must put in the same amount of effort to create their music, yet only see a return of fractions of pennies from streaming.  When thrown in conjunction with the Covid19 situation and you find yourself in the middle of a double whammy revenue drought.

Those of us who dig this particular music scene remain the outliers.  We have been tipping like crazy on virtual Facebook concerts for six months.  We have been hosting socially distant backyard house concerts.  We have been attending shows at the few venues open and been willing to wear a mask just to hear the music we love.  We have been sacrificing for what we love, but it’s nothing compared to what the artists themselves have endured.

My grandpa taught me a lesson when I was young.  He used to give me a quarter or a dollar just for existing.  Then, one day when I was old enough, he offered to give me $5 if I helped mow his yard.  That inflation rate connected with me.  Earning the extra $4 had been a revelation.  The cliche of if you want something, you must be willing to work for it…and in return the satisfaction of receiving it will be immensely greater.  That’s what happened.  When you have to work for something, you appreciate it, you take care of it.  

That’s how I was as a music fan in my come up and am still at my core. I may subscribe to Spotify and Apple.  My truck may not even have a cd player in it anymore.  But I cherish the music.  I need the music.  Live shows aren’t merely a social event for me.  They’re church.  A place to worship.  If I’ve learned nothing else through this horrid Covid mess it’s that music is as important as it has ever been for me…possibly more. I’ve been able to take in a handful of socially distant shows and the flurry of new releases has never slowed down.  It’s been a small respite of normalcy amid the madness.  

Music is important.  It’s just more important to some of us.  

MINOR CHORDS:

-I wish Billy Bob’s could keep their current seating arrangement forever.

-The Cowboys disappointing me in their season opener is kind of like seeing Christmas lights…it’s nostalgic.

-That first blast of cool air is still the best weather moment of the year. Even though here in Texas it is soon followed by the return of the furnace.  Every time.

-I’ll miss fair food.  But not really the fair.

-I don’t need to watch The Social Dilemma.  I see it play out daily.

-This month’s recommended album is: Juliet McConkey – Disappearing Girl.  McConkey has been a favorite of ours from the first time we heard her sing a song.  She is thoughtful, introspective and abundantly creative.  This winsome release showcases everything that makes her a special songwriter.  This is the type of record that plays well in Americana circles and beyond.

-”Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief