Quite rightly, some of you will be thinking, “What the fuck are you up to? You already rage quit, what are you doing bringing it back?”
Um, yes, legitimate question. While I won’t go into all the precedents over the last five or so years of Around The Sound, because that would be boring and self indulgent, when I shut it down, I’d reached a point in my life where my mental health wasn’t good and I just needed to go away and work on myself. When I posted such on the Around The Sound Facebook page earlier this year that prompted a laugh emoji from one self-appointed mental health campaigner and local industry…something. Well, you and the people like you, are part of the reason I’ve decided to return, to challenge the hegemony you represent, your grip on the industry.
What I am ready to do, though, is write about some of what I’ve learned along the way. Over the next year or so, I’m going to write a piece a month covering Western Australian artists from a range of genres and career stages. These pieces will profile bands that are still in embryo, musos that are just about at the ceiling of what they can achieve in Perth, outfits that are redefining what it means to make it in the music industry, and everything in between.
In a life full of not being that good at breathing in, what I experienced was not much more than a hiccough this time, but I’ve learned that mental health hygiene is important, so I took a break and did the required work.
I spent some time figuring out what is important to me and, unsurprisingly, music was still in my top three. I told myself for a while that I should cherish the feeling of being able to go to gigs without having the nagging thoughts about what to write in the review the next day. I should enjoy talking to musos without having to worry about trying to get the killer quote to fall from their cherub-like lips. I should just enjoy being a punter again.
I started to scratch my writing itch by working on other projects. They began to turn out all right, as well, after years of being unable to produce anything more than the mawkish and the entirely lumpen. I felt like I was onto something.
But, every now and then, some muso would say something along the lines of, “Hey, that piece you wrote about us, that really gave us some encouragement. We really appreciated it,” and I would think for a moment what it might be like to start writing about music again. And then I would dismiss the idea. Until the next time.
I didn’t want to re-inherit all the baggage that had accompanied Around The Sound. The people who just wanted money. The organisations that didn’t pay their bills. The ‘reviewers’ who would only talk to me if the value of the tickets on offer was more than $100. The people who just wanted to be in charge. The aggressors, the bullies and the industry power brokers who questioned my right to have a voice just because I dared to disagree with them. I couldn’t conceive of how I could put myself in harm’s way like that again.
Then it came to me. There’s no need for any of that. I just need to stick to my own vision. Doesn’t matter if no one else gets it, I’ve got my own website, I can do whatever I like with it.
So, this is what I’m going to do…
Over the last few years, I’ve learned a bit about the music industry. As Les McQueen from Creme Brulee once said, “It’s a shit business,” but that doesn’t stop chancers like him and me from falling in love with its endless charm and possibilities. The music biz is like an abusive lover, gaslighting you into believing it’s you not them, but I’m not yet ready to release myself from its clutches just yet.
What I am ready to do, though, is write about some of what I’ve learned along the way. Over the next year or so, I’m going to write a piece a month covering Western Australian artists from a range of genres and career stages. These pieces will profile bands that are still in embryo, musos that are just about at the ceiling of what they can achieve in Perth, outfits that are redefining what it means to make it in the music industry, and everything in between. I aim to write about a range of genres, including music that I don’t particularly like, to try to get behind what it is that motivates people to create the way they do and to celebrate the diversity of output.
Each piece will focus on a particular band or artist, but I have no intention of helping to promote anyone’s upcoming release, video or the like. I want to learn and write about the lives and motivations of the people who create music. If that means that after reading about them you go and listen to their output, attend one of their shows, buy a t-shirt, etc. all good, but promotion in the normal sense of the word is not my aim.
Part of what drove me away from Around The Sound was the realisation that I had become part of a promotional treadmill, publishing turgid media bites for uninspiring PRs representing mostly unremarkable musos. It stripped away at my soul. No more.
This time around my aim is to write something akin to a monthly short story revealing the lives of musos in all their kitchen-sink wonder and intricacy. The pieces also will be linked and, when read as a whole, will be an examination of what I’ve learned about our industry.
It’s time for the music industry to change. I came in believing that and I believe it more than ever now. If what I publish over the next twelve or so months helps prompt some thinking about positive change, I will be quietly satisfied. If people can’t see or share my vision, that also will be OK, but my light will not be extinguished. I’ve experienced too much to allow that to happen.
Keep your eye on the Around The Sound Facebook page for more. I hope you enjoy.