LivingArts: Living the Dream


I have been cleaning house, lately.

That’s not a figure of speech.  I have actually been clearing junk out of my house over the last few months.

More specifically, I have been cleaning out our “garbage room” to make some room for my forthcoming LP (little person).  Everybody has a garbage room: it’s where you put slightly valuable stuff like old chairs.  The chair may be broken, but it’s fixable, so you tell yourself that you can turn it into a future Kijiji sale.  Time goes on and eventually, you realize that those are wounded chairs.  Put them out of their misery.

I have also been working on all of the vanity projects around the house.  For instance, lately I’ve been thinking about replacing the vanity in the bathroom (teehee).

Homelife is ALL about cleaning house, tying up loose ends and then after everything is done, you put your feet up and watch Netflix for four straight hours.  It’s the Canadian dream...

In my art-life, a clean house is a boring house and so I have become a packrat.  Every dirty scrap of an idea is worth something to me, forever, so my artistic garbage room is full of half-baked ideas and unfinished projects.

There was a time when those little ideas were actually worth something, too.  The hooks and riffs that I held onto were nuggets of gold with the potential to climb the charts, driving record sales and eventually landing me a big, fat royalty cheque.  When I started writing my own songs in the early 2000s, P2P sharing network was starting to become popular, but the world of Platinum-selling records was still very much alive.

I dreamed that dream pretty hard and after about 15 years of working at it, I finally hit it big with a single.  A friend that I was co-writing with got lucky and Katy Perry tweeted out a favourable shout-out for the song that we wrote together.  Finally!  One of my nuggets was going to pan out and I couldn’t wait to see how big the big payday would be.  The song climbed the charts, as I hoped, and it was getting some major love in the American media.

I won’t tell you how much I made on the royalties for that song, but I will tell you that it was barely enough to cover the legal fess that I paid to protect my rights to that song.  The royalties that I earned on that song might be enough to pay for the gas to tour to Halifax and back.  In other words, the most valuable idea I have ever had is nothing compared to the expenditures in this business.

There isn’t much cash to be made these days and although that’s unfortunate for people who try to make a living in the industry, I can see a silver lining.  Whereas there was a time when you could actually be a millionaire rock star, making music is not really about making money anymore.  Without the financial incentives pushing us to make music that we think will sell, it frees us up to make what we WANT to make.  It’s about making art.

Hamilton is still very much an industry town, with kids growing up the same way that I did.  They will  chase the rock star dream, just as I did, but hopefully they realize quickly that there is a much more fruitful life to be had as an artist.  They will learn that it is so much more rewarding to make what you want to make and get a job to pay the bills.

In my eyes, that’s living the dream...