If you thought you were never going to be published, would you still do what you do?
One thing I’ve noticed in the process of self-producing and self-releasing my album is how much the landscape has changed. Gone is the day when artists sat around waiting for the agent or the publisher or the record company to call. Instead, we now have the ability to do it for ourselves. Now this is not to suggest that everyone should run out and start self-publishing, forgetting about the major publishing houses. But, simply to point out that there are other options available to us that weren’t there as little as 5 or 10 years ago. Without social media and the internet, I wouldn’t have been able to release my album because it wouldn’t have been able to reach a global audience in the way that it has. But these tools are there – not just to get us published or to get our CDs on the shelf – they’re there to help our work find an audience. And, after all, at the end of the day, that’s what this is all about.
After all, there is the dreaded fact that we may not be published – at least, not by one of the majors. So, this begs the question, why do it at all? The short answer is, it’s not just about publication. You could say you work towards publication, but this brings up another interesting question: how much do you work towards publication or how much do you just work towards the completion of the project? At the end of the day, I think, you’re just inspired to write.
As a kid, I was always writing; stories, comics, novels that ran the length of a 120-page copybook. The, I discovered songwriting. From the age of about fifteen or sixteen, to the age of about twenty-five, that’s all I did. I wrote the bones of about 150 songs. Then I started to think seriously about writing a novel.
And how much of all that songwriting or novel writing was done with an eye to it seeing the light of day? Of course, that’s always at the back of your mind. But, certainly with the songs, I don’t think I thought about it at the moment of writing. I just wanted to write songs and then I wanted to write better songs. And I wanted to say something, to wrestle with whatever was going on in my head. And I think that’s true of the novels as well.
Maybe that’s how we need to think about it. Write because you want to write, sing because you want to sing. The tools are there now to get your writing or your music or your art out to a wider audience than ever before. And if along the way, the big publishing house or record company signs you, then happy days. But it certainly won’t be the be-all and end-all.
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