I don’t make much money doing what I’m doing, but I don’t give a fuck. If I cared about money then I’m sure I would have studied finance. It’s not that I think money or having it is bad because money is definitely necessary, but I definitely don’t need a lot of it. I don’t need a nice apartment, the one I have at Bed-Stuy does right for me. A Moog would be nice, but I’ve learned to design software synths and have tricked classical composers into thinking they’re listening to a live orchestra when it’s really just me in my bedroom fucking around on Logic. I write for this website and they pay me; I compose music for a few clients and their films and they pay me. Sometimes I get big paychecks and sometimes I get next to nothing. But for me, there is no difference between a paycheck that pays for three months worth of rent and a paycheck that barely buys me an appetizer at Todd English.
It’s not about the money and it will never be about the money. I’m not writing for Revive/Okayplayer for the measly-ass paycheck I get (no diss to the company). I’m composing for people’s films because one person pays me over a grand and the other gives underpays me egregiously. I don’t haul keyboard and amp over to Queens to play for a fucking meal that I can prepare for myself because I can’t afford food. I do all of this because it because my writing, compositions and my music is an extension of who I am as a person.
If you truly want to know who I am as a person and if I’m being honest to you, then who I am as a person is clearly revealed in all my articles, the few films I’ve scored, and in my playing. My work is a direct expression of who I am at the moment and judging from my work then I would say I’m where I need to be.
My writing, compositions and playing show promise. It has a voice and it has flair. I definitely think that it can be spotted from a mile away and anyone who would be familiar enough with me will be able to recognize that it’s me. I have a distinct taste for things and it shows in my work. But having good taste isn’t half the battle, it’s a quarter. The execution, technique, and language still sounds like a 25-year old trying to get better and that’s where I am right now.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see six figures in my lifetime, but I don’t give a fuck. I would rather live my life a thousand times over - thank you eternal return - and fail each time in pursuit of what I believe is my calling than betray myself. That last sentence is really fancy talk for the colloquial, “I gots to keep it real.”
Some people can work for money and have their paycheck be their end goal. There’s people I know who like the idea of what society ascribes to being a prestigious job. This is all fine and dandy and to each their own. I’m not attacking anyone’s life or life choices. I’m merely writing this for me. This for me to remind myself that when I see my name on an envelope from Blue Note Records and in the envelope contains tickets to a show that I’m supposed to review, I get happy. When I see my name plastered on Revive/Okayplayer’s website - a website that I’ve followed for years - I feel pride. When people come over the apartment and I record them in my living room then show them the final product a week later and see their face go “that’s us?” gives me validation. When I turn in my work to the director, producer, writer and s/he says “You really helped bring out my film,” a part of me wants to hug that person for 10 minutes and not let go. When I’m playing and I hear the crowd go “WHOO,” I forget that I’m not getting paid for this gig. It’s not about the money for me and it never will.
The law of diminish marginal utility states - in a nutshell - that the first bite into a burger will be the best bite you’ll have of that burger and each bite you have won’t be as good as the first. I’m not so sure my obsession with music is the same way. I’m at the height of my musical prowess and I can’t stop. If 25 year old me played for 18 year old me then the teenager would say “If I could just get to where he is at 25. I’ll be set.” The 25 year old is wise enough to know that there isn’t a “get to where s/he is” ever. The first time I ever played there was this feeling I got and that feeling has never left me. I still feel it when I listen to The Roots and I still feel it when I write - even now.
It’s not about the money and it never will. I don’t care about prestige. All I will ever care about is the chance to live my life in its fullest capacity at every waking moment. What matters to me is being the best I can be at the moment while pushing the envelope. I’m okay with living like this for the next few years. I know that this is temporary and I’m working to attain a higher goal. I also know that the day I get to where I want to be, I’ll enjoy it for two months and start figuring out where I want to be again.
That’s the joy of music. There might only 12 notes I’m working with, but all the possibilities with those 12 notes…