Thursday, 5 July 2012

An easier life?

So I just had a moment of marvel and deep thought after something I just let slip-out to my fiancee about 10 minutes ago (pipe down...):

"Man, wouldn't life be easier without the internet?"

As soon as I said it I laughed at how ridiculous it sounded. Obviously, the internet is hugely beneficial in endless ways. Getting to a location, streaming music, reading thoughts, views and reviews, staying in contact with people. The way that it has become the core of many millions of peoples' lives is a testament to how useful it is and how much we rely on it in society.

For a musician, the internet has come to be a huge part of our lives. I use my Mac to sell my music, to organise rehearsals, to practise seemingly-impossible solos, to upload videos to and watch cats falling off tables on YouTube, to maintain and update my website etc etc. The opportunities it has created for musicians all around the world have been amazing and it has, for good or bad, brought the gap between experienced high-level players and fresh, young up-and-comers much closer. In some cases you could say that there is no gap whatsoever when it comes to the ability to promote yourself or push your product (whatever it may be).

But doesn't it get exhausting sometimes? I'm sitting here having got in late from a rehearsal last night (got home at about 2am) and having woke up I turn on my iPhone to read all my emails, notifications on Twitter / Facebook and check any new texts. After dragging myself out of bed I'm then on the Mac taking part in a worthy and high energy debate on Facebook about musicians not being paid for Olympic games gigs (see here to read and sign the petition if you agree with the sentiments), updating my web site and engaging in Twitter to not only connect with people but also for the cynical, self-promoting side of social media. I know that I'll spend most of my time today tinkering with my phone,  be it Tweeting, or most definitely to find the rehearsal room in Tottenham I'll have trouble finding later.

So here it is - what if we didn't have the internet? Imagine if for a year, say, the internet was taken away. Think about musicians 20 years ago; how many hours on average did all the musicians in the world spend on a computer, or a piece of technology with the intent of self-promotion (or other internet-related musician feature)? The answer is of course zero. Were there tons of successful musicians during that period? Damn straight, of course there were, you just had to work harder. These days, musicians from semi-pro to super-successful pro have to spend a significant amount of time EVERY DAY using their smartphone or computer to help further their career, and as useful as the internet is, it can get exhausting. The feeling that if you're not tweeting / posting / commenting / downloading / liking / watching something somewhere out there, you'll miss the boat. That merry-go-round doesn't stop just because you need to go to the toilet! Wouldn't it be nice to have someone say 'Right. No internet for a year. Let's see what you can all do now'.

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