Saturday, April 06, 2013
Thank a musician week
There's a lot of hand-wringing these days about how the old model of compensating musicians is breaking down under the pressure of file sharing, piracy, and 99-cent downloads, and about how nobody has figured out yet just what new model might arise to replace it. As interesting and important as all that is, it's worth remembering that there are plenty of talented working musicians out there right now trying to make a living, driving themselves from gig to gig and hoping that their next royalty check — assuming there still is one — will help cover their medical bills. If those of us who make up their audience — because we get some kind of joy or consolation or amusement out of what they do — want them to continue doing it, we're going to have to keep supporting them, and that means, one way or another, supporting them financially.
Fortunately, there's still a way of doing that that benefits everybody. You purchase a CD (or a download, if you're so inclined), maybe go to a gig if you have the opportunity, the artist gets some cash and a reason to keep going, and you get some music and the feeling of having done your part.
One thing the musicians in the list that follows have in common (other than demonstrating my shameless musical prejudices) is that most are now either producing and marketing their own music or recording for small boutique labels, which means that if you buy music direct from them there's a chance that a fair portion of your dollar might actually go into their pockets. And although I derive no financial benefit from promoting them, I can't say that I do so entirely for selfless reasons; I promote them because I enjoy what they do and want to make sure that they're able to keep on doing it.
— Peter Blegvad and Andy Partridge, Gonwards, available from Ape House Records.
— Peter Case, Wig!, available from the artist.
— Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ashes and Roses, available from Bandgarden.
— Lowry Hamner, American Dreaming, available from CD Baby.
— Robyn Hitchcock, Spooked, available from Yep Roc Records.
— Andy Irvine, Abocurragh, available from the artist.
— Leo Johnson, It's About Time, available from CD Baby.
— Freedy Johnston, Rain on the City, available from the artist.
— Los Lobos, Tin Can Trust, available from the artists.
— Kelly Joe Phelps, Brother Sinner and the Whale, available from Black Hen Records.
— Amy Rigby & Wreckless Eric, A Working Museum, available from Amy Rigby.
— Zachary Richard, Le fou, available from the artist.
— Chris Smither, Hundred Dollar Valentine, available from the artist.
— Syd Straw, Pink Velour, available from CD Baby.
— Gillian Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest, available from Acony Records.
— Scott Wendholt, Beyond Thursday, available from Double Time Records.
Finally, here are two excellent music documentaries by independent filmmakers:
— Tom Weber, Troubadour Blues, available from the Connextion.
— Fred Uhter, Wide Awake, available from New Filmmakers Online.