*After reading this, please see the Author’s Note at the bottom of the post.
Yeah, I’m like Rodney Dangerfield. I get no respect. A few days ago, I overheard a woman I used to date talking about her new boyfriend and literally saying “He works at Sub-Pop records – which is kind of a big deal.”
FUCK RIGHT OFF!
I make music. I’ve been making music for nearly a quarter-century. In that endeavor, I’ve recorded over seven albums, toured and played in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, and Arizona. I’ve recorded in Chase Park Transduction studio – where REM, Drive-by Truckers, Cracker, and countless other “big deal” rock bands have recorded. I’ve had professional touring musicians nickname me “Hero” on tour because of my guitar skills. BUT I NEVER CALLED MYSELF A “BIG DEAL!”
Let’s move on from music. I’ve been the “workin’ man.” I’ve put in my time in the following industries: Retail, Shipping/Receiving, Manufacturing, Fast Food, Military, Call-Center, Health/Life Insurance, and Retail Security.
Then, I went back to college, finished my degree, and became a teacher, which is what I’ve been doing for a career for the last eight years. I change kids’ lives. I’M A BIG FUCKING DEAL. I’m not a big deal because I can play guitar, or sing, or because I’ve toured or recorded in famous places. I’m a big fucking deal because I influence 200 teenagers every day. Mr. Record Company Lackey signs a band or two every now and then who might have a hit one day – if everyone weren’t using Spotify these days. Tell me, what good is a record label in 2021? What can they do for me that I can’t do for myself? Distribution? Nope – I can do that for pennies a month with Distrokid, and I’m on every streaming service that matters. Promotion? Well, maybe. If I really wanted to make it work, though, a few hours learning Google SEO, and watching YouTube tutorials on how to be an influencer, and I could have a big following – or I could just pay some “big deal” lackey to do it for me because I’m a 43-year-old professional and not some 20-something starving-artist who has no money and is sleeping in their car.
Essentially, this “big deal,” is a bastion of the last century – when tapes and CDs mattered. Now it’s stream counts, and sorry, bud, but the record companies lost. If this were 1994 and you were working at Sub-Pop, I MIGHT think you were some kind of big deal, but in 2021? Nope. Fuck right off. I wouldn’t sign a deal with Sub-Pop or any other record company without an iron-clad guarantee of nationwide distribution and a massive promotional campaign – which is all they’re really good for. And even then, if I really wanted to, I could go on UpWork, hire a freelance marketing expert to be my publicist, and then I’d be the boss and get the same services that a bullshit record company would give me.
The days of “Oh, I need a record deal!” ended in the 1990s. As soon as .mp3s, iPods, and now all of the streaming services hit the market, the RIAA as we knew it was doomed. But yeah, your boyfriend who works at Sub-Pop is such a big deal.
And even if the recording industry WERE still viable, Sub-Pop is the most famous “small” record label in the world. They’re not David Geffen, they’re not Epic, or Sony, or Atlantic, or even Disney for fucks’ sake. They don’t have the money to offer artists a Lamborghini for a signing bonus, or pay for a U2-scale tour. They’re a small-time record label making money off of their 90’s indie-cred. Big fucking deal. FUCK RIGHT OFF!
Last week, I taught at least 10 kids to appreciate Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. The week before, I had a student jumping for joy over discovering Ralph Waldo Emerson. THAT’S a big deal. A couple of weeks before that, I played guitar on stage and made about 100 people feel really good that they were alive – THAT’S a big deal.
I can’t understand how working at a dying record-company who’s claim to recognition only works on 40-somethings is a big deal.
*Author’s Note –
I realize that this post is rife with jealousy and is pretty ugly. I’m leaving it up as an archive, but the reality is, if you’re really a big deal, you shouldn’t have to tell people that you’re a big deal, which makes me a bit of a wanker. Jealousy always stems from insecurity and it’s perfectly natural. It’s not rational or logical, but it’s natural. I just thought I’d share some of mine with you. Please don’t judge me too harshly.