Friday, February 10, 2012
Family Ties and Bindings
I know a very talented composer/song-writer. Like so many in the music biz who blow my mind, he is versatile and able with a whole mess of instruments and can, all by himself, compose, arrange and record a full score's worth of music all by himself, playing every part, with a little home-recording equipment and mixer. Amazing. Because he insists on having ridiculous extravagances like uninterrupted health insurance and paying his bills in a timely manner, he teaches and manages in addition to composing, but he longs for a day when he a score gig, theme-song or recurring jingle pays well enough that he can devote his working days to music full time.
He landed a commercial, a national commercial, which doesn't equate to suddenly living in a beach house in Malibu but is, nonetheless, a monster big deal, especially to those of us still on the breaking-in side of any creative industry. He excitedly shared this fantastic news with his family, explaining that he'd sold an original song that would then be recorded and played, nation-wide, on multiple channels, etc. Very exciting stuff. Through it all, his mom uh-huhed and smiled and listened, and then said, "I don't see how this makes you money, though." He explained again about copyright and pay-per-play and rates varying by channel and exposure and repeated play. "Uh-huh," she said, still confused. "But why do they pay you for that?"
His big news fell like a stone. It was kicked around a little through dinner. Finally, he stopped trying to make his mom understand not only that he would earn money every time the song was used but that he deserved to be paid for each use. He returned to SoCal and LaLa Land a little heart-broken.
Family is such a funny thing. Nothing means more or is harder to get than a ringing family endorsement, and no rejection by colleagues, friends or strangers stings quite like an unenthusiastic, "it's nice but--" from a relation. It's especially problematic when your work is outside the familial expertise or taste. Help-books and friends tell you to harness these feelings, channel them into your work, because they are potent and real and universal, feelings rooted in the deepest love and respect --
These are the feelings that make lifelong careers!