How to Survive the Musical Apocalypse
By: C h a y n e s
“I want to be part of the resurgence of things that are tangible, beautiful and soulful, rather than just give in to the digital age. But when I talk to people about this they just say, ‘Yeah, I know what you mean,’ and stare at their mobiles.” - Jack White
Most musicians are currently starring in their own real life versions of the Walking Dead, Escape from New York, Jericho, 12 Monkeys, or Demolition Man type dystopian NON-FICTION. The future is now and it’s insane. I wanted to write a piece on how to navigate these waters in these end of the world times for the musician. It’s not hopeless. Remember that.
Let’s assess the situation. (I’m about to complain, but only a little bit.) Radio stations are mostly monopolized and are basically being run by robots. The few surviving actual human DJ’s seem to have less and less freedom to play stuff they actually like. Most people don’t buy music. Cassette tapes and compact discs served as the great equalizer to the rich and the poor. Now, there is only Vinyl sales on the physical medium which is not cost effective for the indie artist. There are vultures and zombies everywhere trying to kill the creative spirit. Musicians get ripped off constantly. Live music is scattered or non-existent. Bar owners don't trust songwriters to perform their own material. Everyone is scared and trying to figure out how to survive in this new world. I’m done complaining. I have a saying, “Criticism without solution equals rudeness.” I don’t intend to be rude. Let’s talk about how to survive this musical apocalypse.
1. BECOMING THE HUNTER: WRITE, RECORD, AND RELEASE
A common dichotomy is the hunted vs. the hunter. Given the choice, I’d rather
be the hunter. This is why I encourage learning to play multiple instruments.
Learn how to use recording software. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is freedom. Everything we digest, whether it be movies, commercials, or video games contain music. Recognize that songs are commodities just like silver and gold. To survive as creatives, we need to create. As hunters, we have to find the story that needs to be told, and capture it. Once we can capture the song, we release it out into the world. Then we go out and hunt again. Writing songs is our hunt. Recording is cooking the food. Serving the song to other people’s ears is our release.
2. GET A TEAM
Small spurts of isolation will make you strong, but too much isolation will make you weak. We all need a team. You need a group that makes you feel safe. If your group is the threat, you will be eaten alive. (Zombies are everywhere.) A good inner circle not only keeps you safe but also encourages you which will make you strong. Remember that other people need encouragement just as much as you do. If you want admiration, surround yourself with people you admire. We’re all the star in our own movie, but your friends and family are starring in their own movie too. Be the action star. Be the supporting cast. Find your role. If the casting director says you’re not right for the part, audition for another movie. You might survive alone, but you’ll never thrive alone.
3. BECOME A WARRIOR
Navigating this Mad Max musical wasteland dystopia will be impossible if you don’t become a warrior. The first step is to have the motivation to fight. Without love for yourself and those around you, there will be no motivation to be the warrior you need to become. In my song, “Smiling Now”, one of the first lines I wrote was “Love yourself because everyone else does. Everybody loves you and you should start too.” You can never be a warrior if you don’t have anything to fight for. The next step is to find what you’re passionate about in life and do that. Hone your skills. Navigate your action movie montage of training and enjoy the process of learning. Lastly, you have to choose whether to surrender or fight. Realize that you won’t win every time, but each battle will make you stronger.
4. DIVERSIFY YOUR TALENT
About ten years ago I decided to become a full time musician, but had all my eggs in one basket. After signing with an indie label in New York, I was hanging around a bunch of successful rich famous-types and I thought I was going to be just like them, but I had zero income, a whole lot of hope, and absolutely no plan. Three years later I went from playing shows and signing autographs to cleaning toilets at a flea market where they let me play an old piano for customers if all my janitor work was done.
About two years ago, I decided to start my own business as a musician and quit the service industry. This time, I had an actual plan, to diversify my talent to maximize the possibility that I won’t ever have to work a job I don’t enjoy again. Below is what has worked for me.
Teach Piano Lessons- If you play an instrument, teaching is extremely rewarding.
You’re helping someone else nurture a skill they use for a lifetime.
Moragne Group Projects- During the past two years, I co-wrote Memph’Eks Graphic Novel and wrote and performed on multiple songs for the Memph’Eks Graphic Novel Soundtrack. I recorded a full length solo album, Just Me. I also wrote and recorded a jingle for DM’s Signature Tea as well as the theme for My Purse is My BFF.
Home Recording Projects- I recorded a full instrumental album for massage therapists to play during massages to help people relax. I plan on doing a follow-up in the coming year.
Director of Music for New Life Community- As director of music, I write a lot of the songs for the church. Within the next year, we hope to record a full gospel record.
CHAYNES and the LINKS- I started a band that is focused on 100 percent original music. No cover songs. We are working towards starting to play shows online and live whenever it is possible.
51 Stones- I joined 51 Stones as a backup singer and a keyboardist and recorded on their debut album. I was a writer on two songs for the album.
If you are a musician thinking about going full time, I would encourage you to become involved with as many aspects of the music industry as possible. Start saying YES to projects. Start saying NO to things that waste your time. Spend more time on things that make you happy because life is too short to waste it.
5. KEEP MOVING
In life we either progress, regress, or stand still. The only good option is to progress. You can’t allow yourself to be predictable in a musical apocalypse. Don’t stay in the same place too long. Don’t stop growing. The road is long and hard sometimes. We can’t control where the industry is going or if people will like that new song we wrote. Focus on what you can control. Become the hunter. Become the warrior. Surround yourself. Say yes. So no. Survive.