The first time I heard that money didn’t grow on trees I thought it was a brilliant metaphor. Granted, I was just a kid and the more I heard that money and wealth have less to do with photosynthesis than hard work the more it started sounding like a conspiracy to make me put my guitar down…
When I started out in music I felt that we offered something of value for which we needed to get paid. Our drummer said to our agent, who wasn’t getting enough gigs for us, that he didn’t have enough money to live on. The agent’s mystifying response: get a job. It was mystifying because I didn’t get why he wouldn’t just book more shows. We were perfectly willing to do a lot of them.
It didn’t even enter my mind that our product might not attract enough customers for the value chain of band-agent-promoter-venue to make it feasible.
I also felt, as many young musicians do, that stakeholders in the value chain of music – manager, label, producer, etc. – had their own money trees to pick cash from, so that I could be the well deserving recipient of their time, attention and resources. Not once did I ever think about how they made a living, let alone care if I contributed to it.
It’s unhelpful to externalise such problems. The ability to look at problems from the other guy’s perspective is a good skill to have. Never more so than in today’s world of music where music either sells a lot or not at all – with not much else in the middle.