I’ve decided to stop compromising. You have to draw the line somewhere, right?
So from now on, I will no longer perform for any organization or venue that I don’t agree with. I’m writing it here so you’ll hold me to it.
That means I will no longer be working for any establishment that uses non-renewable energy. We really need to start caring for the environment so I’ll be doing my part, too.
I guess that means I can’t drive or fly to any gigs because I shouldn’t be using fuel, so I will only be doing gigs that are within walking distance of my apartment.
Also, please no religious messages at your event. I’m non-religious and there are probably people in your group that feel the same way. Of course, I’m happy for you to believe whatever you want but if your event includes prayers I will be unable to attend.
Is it too much to ask people to not wear or eat any animal products during the function? And while we’re at it, I’m not a fan of big banks or tobacco products or gambling or drugs or alcohol or ignorance or bad politics or racism or sexism or misogyny or bad opinions or country music. Please be advised if you choose to book me for your next event.
I mean, I need to take a stand, right? I shouldn’t work for any company I disagree with. I shouldn’t use any products that don’t align with my beliefs. And I shouldn’t associate with people who have a differing viewpoint than my own. If I did, people might mistake me making a living for making an endorsement.
Look, the way I see it is you can either be the guy who drops in for one weird evening in Madison, WI or you can be a barista at Starbucks and either way, you’re still working for “the man”. If you want to make a living at this, you’re going to need to compromise. Even Leonardo da Vinci did commissioned work to get by.
It’s so easy to take the hypothetical high ground when it comes to these debates. But for those of us actually working, traveling, performing, and living off of art alone, it’s not so simple.
This is complex territory. It’s not that we don’t have principles, it’s just that we also need to work to survive. We have to make a living and sometimes that means doing a gig that doesn’t fully align with what you believe.
I know that means a career full of meeting-in-the-middle and deals and choosing my battles so I can get ahead. But that’s where I’m headed and I make no apologies for compromising every once in a while to get there.
I’ve heard people having the same debate multiple times on my travels this summer. They wonder “Doesn’t it cease to be art once you get paid for it?”
No. It doesn’t.
Don’t confuse hard work with a lack of artistic purpose.
After college I slept on couches in shitty apartments in Los Angeles. I took the city bus two hours away to meetings alone and did gigs for $50 just to get my name out there.
As a newlywed, I invested every bit of money I had into a career that my wife couldn’t possibly envision like I did. But I believed in it and knew what I wanted to be doing.
And now I am.
I didn’t sell-out. I just worked really hard to find a way to make a living doing what I’ve always wanted to do.
I know where I want to be and I’ll do everything I can to get there. When it comes to that, I refuse to compromise.