Goat’s Thanksgiving

Goat_Logo_color_on_whiteAre we thankful for the music that has fueled our lives?  Are we thankful for those who possess the gift that illuminates the love we feel, the pains we struggle with, the memories that bind us to our pasts and keep us moving towards our unknown future?  Are we?  If we’re thankful, how do we honor those whose gifts bless us?

There are those for whom music is a hobby – something to do with family and friends in thousands of garages and basements across our country, around the world.  There are those for whom making music is a part-time job, something to do on weekends in any public space imaginable – for tips or for guarantees that help sustain the love of making music, or to feed families.  And for others it is an occupation, a full time job, a career that pays the bills and allows for a secure future in retirement.

Music is as natural and essential as the air we breath or the water we drink.  Music is part of our spiritual lives as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Voodoo, Native American Indian, and countless other faiths employ music in praise and worship ceremonies.  We have sung to the gods of our lives, and raised the specter of desire and sexuality in the humpity-hump rhythms that permeate dance clubs internationally.  It tells us stories that become part of the history and heritage of our land.  It speaks in languages unique to the diverse culture of cities and towns, bayous, deserts, and mountains across the land.

We, two generations now, have bemoaned the loss of art in our schools, the loss of music programs.  We spend billions on music instruments and private lessons so that our children and grandchildren might appreciate the innate joy that comes from discovering that they possess the ability to sing or play a melody.  We attend school concerts and recitals and cheer on our kids, praising them for the talent they display – regardless of any demonstrated skill; every child’s performance the right of passage to a future filled with stardom, fame, and monetary riches.

In eras past, from our first job in high school through graduation from college, we built and maintained large collections of albums worth of music – some that would become insanely popular globally – and some that only we and a few close friends would ever really know about.  We attended bars where cover bands played the hits of the day, to concert venues of every size to enjoy our favorite bands play their biggest hits, and newest songs.  And then time changed.

MP3.com promised the adventure of as yet broadly unknown songs from around the world – both great and abysmally bad – from gloriously magnificent works of pure art to gloriously bad dog farts and noise …all for free, with the promise that those who owned the work would get paid based on the number of plays – at a penny a pop.  And from there, the gaming was on.

MP3.com died and Napster emerged – another promise of free music to be had and another disaster that couldn’t be sustained, both financially and legally. File sharing became a major criminal offense, as everyone from grandmothers to college kids and even universities struggled with the emergence of new tech. Congress stepped in and established a minimum standard of pay for those who owned the recording as well as the performers on the recording, but only for music “broadcast” on the Internet, not for music aired on terrestrial airwaves.  The minimum far less than a penny per listen.

And then, Steve Jobs and Apple introduced us to iPods and iTunes, and physical cd sales began to decline precipitously.  Pandora introduced us to free Internet radio without commercial interruption … and record sales imploded, in a relentless dive.  Lastly, streaming arrived full blown via Spotify and other sources, and even download sales have felt the impact as people are inclined to stream their favorite records at far less than a penny a listen as it is no longer necessary to actually possess either a physical copy of a recording or a digital version.

The MP3 format and the Internet changed the world – and today the question has to be asked – how do we honor those whose music is so invaluable to our everyday lives?

Today anyone can play.  Here in Colorado alone there are a few thousand acts – from baby bands to solo singer songwriters to hitmakers and award winners. There are several hundred recordings released a year, from singles to eps and lps – in digital, cd, and vinyl.  We have hundreds of rooms for us to see live music, from DIY spaces to coffee shops, from small cap rooms to Mile High Stadium, from the world renown to the barely known about.

Music is not free.  It is not free to learn.  It is not free to perform.  It is not free to present.  It is not free to record.  It is not free to distribute.   Teachers need to earn a living.  Instrument makers need to earn a living.  Stage owners and those who own and run p.a. equipment need to earn a living.  Recording studio owners, and the engineers at the studios need to earn a living.  And countless thousands of our friends and family, who have spent years to perfect their talents, buy the equipment, record the songs, and present themselves on stages need to earn a living.  Music is not free.

Are we thankful for the music that has fueled our lives?  Are we thankful for those who possess the gift that illuminates the love we feel, the pains we struggle with, the memories that bind us to our pasts and keep us moving towards our unknown future?  Are we?  If we’re thankful, how do we honor those whose gifts bless us?

This season I’d like to ask a favor.  Please support the local music scene, the local music industry, the local music teachers, and sound engineers, and stage owners, the instrument makers, and record makers, and the musicians without whom none of this would be possible.

Set aside a little to see a couple of shows and take a few friends with you.   It doesn’t matter if you know the band – just go. Go to Albums on the Hill (Boulder) or Twist and Shout (Denver) or any other location where you can find Colorado music on sale.  Don’t buy one – buy ten and spread the love.

If you need help deciding on what show to see, or what record to buy, read and support our local publications like Westword (Denver), Colorado Music Buzz (Denver), the Marquee Magazine (Boulder), Scene Magazine (Fort Collins), or Bandwagon (Greeley).

Music isn’t free.  We shouldn’t treat it as if it is.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Author: goat

I've been on the air in Northern Colorado since 1978. The Colorado Playlist is broadcast on 30 FM frequencies in the state. I am also a musician, talent buyer and business consultant. Email me at coloradoplaylist@gmail.com

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