Running my own record label is a little like being on the front lines of musical worth. What I ask people to pay me doesn’t only impact my ability to pay myself, my band mates, the producer on the album, the printers of the CDs and the artists that make the cover art, it also impacts what other musicians at my level receive. Maybe “frontline” is misleading. It’s not exactly a war, since ultimately a successful negotiation is one where both people leave happy. Rather, when I am negotiating, I am advocating not only for myself but for everyone else who is involved in everything that I do in that project and beyond.
In the wake of Tuesday’s election, I found myself feeling even more fiercely focused on this role than before. We artists simply cannot afford to be “starving” any longer. We can’t let our culture be guided purely by the belief that those with the most money are the most talented, worthy, and capable. We must fight back against the waves not only of hate and bigotry, but of anti-intellectualism and blind arrogance. Art, music, and theater, especially at a small level has the ability to move people’s hearts in a way that not even education can. We must do what we need to do in order to amplify our voices.
So, I spent most of yesterday figuring out what I need to do in order to pay myself a real grown up wage. I want to be able to open up my home as a sanctuary when needed, I want to be able to be incredibly generous. I want to put myself in a position where I have power to leverage to try and shift this terrible heaviness. I can’t do that while in survival mode.
The numbers are terrifying to me. I will need to make more like four times what I want in order to actually be able to pay myself and that number seems impossibly large (even though by business standards it’s actually quite moderate). It’s genuinely hard for me to believe there is that much “loose” money floating around. I’m afraid of taking away from worthy causes. I’m afraid of people thinking I’m greedy. I’m afraid of discovering I’m not good enough. I’m afraid of being rejected and laughed at and failing. Overcoming fear, though, is what growing up is all about.
In many old folktales, heroes go out into the wilderness to find something that they can bring back to the world in order to heal it. They get broken down along the way, but they get built back up stronger and more powerful than before, gathering resources and allies along the way. I think there are a lot of us who have been wandering in the wilderness for a while not even sure why we came out here. This is why. To bring back whatever it is we have learned and gained, to step into our own power to shift minds and hearts. Whatever needs to be done so that we can do this at our highest capacity needs to be done.
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