carl sagan’s ghost/respect

December 27, 2010

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There are two common misconceptions regarding unsigned bands and music not sold in stores.

The first is that the music has no value because it is given away for free, or because it is not commercially sold. I am giving away my music for free, and I can guarantee you that it has a tremendous amount of value. In my estimation, the music I am giving away is priceless. Charging $10-15 for each album is chump change compared to the time and effort I put into these songs. Charging money for something does not validate it, nor does it make someone an artist of worth.

The only validation a song needs is an audience possessing the willingness and ability to listen.

This leads to the second misconception, that an unsigned artist is less of an artist. I am not signed, but I am still a recording artist. Music is not just a hobby. I can, again, guarantee you that I take music as seriously as any signed musician who has ever lived, and I might argue that I take it more seriously than many signed artists. I don’t write and record music because it is my job, or because I need to fulfill a record contract, or because I need to pay the bills. I do so because I love to do it and it makes my life complete.

These albums I am making available represent almost a third of my life, and they are also among the very things that I consider to be most important in my life.

Why do we put such importance on the exchange of money for art, as if currency makes the art more meaningful? Is someone who writes prose and publishes their own work less of an author because they are not published by someone else? Are the words somehow not as good, are they tainted? No, that’s ridiculous, and yet our society says otherwise. Why do we distinguish between “hobbyists” and “professionals” when, often times, the line of skill separating the two doesn’t even exist? One gets paid for his art, the other works in order to support his art, both are artists.

I may not be at the level to grasp all his work, and I may be greedy enough to not share his philosophy entirely, but this demands respect, lots of it. This level of honesty and devotion is a mark of a true artist. And he’s not even being paid.

What we do for money is not who we are.  It is what we do for free, what we do only because of passion, that makes us who we are.What we do for money is not who we are. It is what we do for free, what we do only because of passion, that makes us who we are.

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