My friends, who I adore, keep asking me what I want to do to celebrate and this year … well, frankly, I feel like I’ve been given a lot already. My mom beating cancer, for one. Getting closer with my family over the last year. Truly amazing friends who are supportive, creative, hilarious, and bring all sorts of goodness to my life. A good year at work. I honestly have everything I could possibly want or need.
So I started thinking…what would I do if I had extra birthday wishes? Beyond health and happiness for everyone that I love, what are the things that make me happiest? And the answer was easy: Music.
I have taken so much joy, love, comfort, camraderie, strength, inspiration, hope and happiness from music. I wish there was a way I could give back to all of the artists whose songs have done this for me. I try to find ways to do it…they are small, but I like to think every once in awhile I make a difference. It will never balance out, though. It always seems like I’ll take more than I’m ever able to give back.
If you’re not into music, let me tell you this: it is not easy to be a musician these days. There are more artists than ever fighting for a piece of the pie. Audiences listen to a greater number of artists than they’ve ever listened to – and that also means their dollars are divided up into smaller amounts for each artist. If you ask me, I think the days of the superstar musician are over. We’ll never see another Michael Jackson again. Musicians now are like the rest of us, going out there and making music just to earn a living. Yet music is the one “consumable” that no one wants to pay for. We think we’re entitled to get it for free. Honestly, how fair is that? Do we expect to walk into a Best Buy and just be able to pick a Wii up off the shelf for free? Then, add in touring costs. Think about it – my car costs $43 to fill up; what do you think a six-passenger van costs to fuel and maintain? Add in food, lodging, and equipment costs (guitar strings are NOT cheap!), and the fact that on a Tuesday night in East Bijip, North Carolina you might play for an audience of 20 people, and have to split the cover charge with the opening band. Then there are the costs of making a record (studio time, getting it pressed, art, photography), promoting yourself, and buying merchandise which you hopefully can sell back and maybe make a buck or two for every CD or t-shirt you sell. Add up all of this and you can see how being a musician must really be a labor of love – because most artists aren’t making money. Most are losing it. To make music. For you to listen to.
Which brings me to my birthday wish. One of my favorite bands of all time – Alpha Rev – is making a new EP. They’re doing it on their own. No record label support. Just a bunch of guys making music because they love it and they want their fans to hear it. And they do make beautiful music. Music with meaning, heart, emotion and depth. They’ve asked their fans to help fund the record, and they are 81% of the way to their goal. They’ve got 26 days left to raise the rest of the money, or they lose it all.
So…that’s what I want for my birthday. I want Alpha Rev to reach their goal. It’s a selfish wish, really, because in the end, I get new Alpha Rev music. But it’s also a gift to you. Because if you help them, they’re going to give you their music. It’s a totally win-win situation. Oh, one more thing (they’re just that awesome of a group), the guys are also giving part of the money they raise to two charities (read more about them here). So I guess that makes it a win-win-win.