“Today’s indie musician spends more time on the Internet than they do on their instrument.” Jill Krasnicki (aka Animalia)
I’ve never really had the infamous ego of a musician. I mean, I was a bass player originally, so I’m pretty sure it only applied to guitarists anyway. Playing music did seem cool when I was in my teens but now I’m heading towards being a 30-year-old woman, and we’ve all heard (and enjoyed) the classic mother talking to her son joke that goes:
“Mom, when I grow up I want to be a musician.”
“Well honey, you know you can’t be both.”
Yet to my surprise, when it’s revealed that I am in fact an indie artist, I notice people still feel a sense of ill-placed awe regarding what I do.
In a world where we value transparency, I’m here to set the record straight—I’m not cool—musicians aren’t cool—and here’s why:
Although most musicians that I speak to wish it were, it’s just not the 60’s or 70’s anymore. Those were the golden days of simply picking up a guitar, getting a record deal, going on tour, making money and getting laid. Back then musicians were cool—they could do whatever they liked and they did. But those days are pretty much over—today if you want to build any type of music career, you need to be on top of your game.
With the growth of the Internet and professional recording equipment becoming cheaper and better, the music industry has undergone some dramatic changes. Musicians have been given more opportunities to get their music heard, but those opportunities have created more people making music, and artists are left battling one another, trying to scramble their way to the top of the heap.
With the insanely fast turn over of “what’s hot and what’s not,” musicians need to constantly reach out to their fans and keep them engaged if they wish to maintain the attention.
With more bands, artists and music, musicians need to be self-reliant since landing a big record deal has become far more difficult. Today’s indie musician is not just a musician—s/he is a promoter, a publicist, a booking agent and a manager. Most musicians will also edit and shoot their own videos, record and produce their own music and develop and design their own website. Today’s indie musician spends more time on the Internet than they do on their instrument.
To speak personally, I spend hours on the Internet updating my Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Youtube and other social networking sites. I send out endless emails connecting to other bands, venue bookers, record labels, music blogs and online magazines—95% of which will not be responded to. I will then get a text from my pal who wants to meet up for a coffee and I’ll decline because I need to spend the next hour using Photoshop to make a poster for an upcoming show. I’ll then upload the video that took me a few weeks to shoot and edit, spending a few more hours directing as much traffic to that video as possible. In a notebook next to me I will make note of what I need to do during the week and slowly come to terms with the fact that the sound I’ve ignored for the last 10 minutes is actually one of my cats hurling up a hairball on a pile of patch cords, which I’ll clean up just before I go to work as a server.
So, as you can see, the cool factor is quickly declining. But there is one thing that saves me from hitting rock bottom: I love what I do.
I absolutely love being a musician and I love creating stuff. In a world where there is so much sadness and pain, I often can’t believe I am free to live my life the way I want to. And it’s amazing that there is this incredible platform—the Internet—where I can connect to thousands of people.
I may send out endless emails and play small shows, I might have to work in a restaurant to pay the bills and politely decline creepy dudes that think my Facebook band page is a dating site, but when I connect to someone that offers me an opportunity, says kind words of encouragement or when I get a new die-hard fan, it’s all worth it.
I picked up my first bass guitar when I was 15 and it became my life. OK, OK, I’ll admit it—I thought I was pretty cool when I carried it in a soft case on my back. But a lot has happened between then and now and any misguided conceptions of my own coolness have been shattered by the reality of being an independent musician. But hey, if I wanted to be really cool, I wouldn’t have chosen music. Nah, I would have chosen something awesome like being a photographer or a writer. Now that’s cool…
Jill Krasnicki (better known as Animalia) lives in Toronto. She will be performing for NXNE at Czehoski (Queen St. West) on June 14th, 8pm.
Related Posts: In the Winehouse with…Animalia
Photo Credit: Image of Jimi Hendrix performing in 1967 is the property of Linda McCartney (McCartney Family)