I have a chub for spreadsheets these days.
God knows why. I’ve never been very organized. I have a sign above my desk that reads PROCRASTINATE NOW. My procrastinative tendencies engage in 3rd degree black belt level jiu-jitsu matches with my desire to, quite simply, GET MORE SHIT DONE.
So here we are.
I have a lot going on this year. You could say I’m making up for 2016, which was far less than stellar for a number of reasons I won’t go into right now. There’s DISPATCH, my monthly Patreon litcom about a 9-1-1 emergency dispatch agency on the brink of collapse after a series of mishandled calls. There are weekly heavy metal album reviews for Ghost Cult Mag. There are novels and novellas, and old stories published on Wattpad, and new stories written in the fire of the moment with no consideration or concern as to where they will end up.
I just couldn’t keep track of it all.
Hence the spreadsheet.
At my day gig (yes, I have one of those, as discussed in my last post about diversification and branding), we sell lots of stuff. Lots of very, very expensive stuff. And we live off of spreadsheets. Because when you sell lots of very expensive stuffs, you naturally need to keep all that shit in order. You have to know what you sold. What isn’t selling. What has the potential to sell. Who is buying. Who is not buying. Why aren’t they buying? FOR GOOD GODDAMN SKYWALKER’S SAKE, WHY AREN’T THEY BUYING?!
Ahem. Sorry. Off my meds today.
So. Yes. I brought my work home with me, in a sense. I’ve taken that day gig reliance upon spreadsheets and carried it home in the brown paper bag I use to steal the toilet paper from the restrooms.
What? No. Forget that last part.
But, seriously now, I’ve found spreadsheets to be a legit godsend for a disorganized procrastinator like myself.
When there are too many irons in the fire, you lose sight of the irons and burn up in the fire.
So here’s a glimpse of my personal editorial calendar—in media res—until the end of May, 2017. My chore list, if you will. It keeps me motivated, it keeps me on track. Perhaps it will help inspire you to make your own. Perhaps it won’t. Maybe you’ll look at this and say aloud in a bold, Game-of-Thronesy voice, “Shame, Korolenko. I’ve been making spreadsheets since before Al Gore invented the internet.” Or maybe you’ll be so disgusted with these embarrassingly basic and infantile attempts at organization that you’ll poop in your hand and throw it at the computer screen in disgust.
Whatever you do, do it quickly. Then get the fuck back to work.
- Published in Uncategorized
Two words for you today:
The former: that sacred and cardinal rule of investing.
The latter: the process of establishing an identity that reflects you, your business, your work.
Les Deux: my sacred and cardinal rules of advice when publishing in this chaotic modern world of bits and bytes. And with the ‘net and social media conditioning us all to have attention spans shorter than Tom Cruise, the trick is never allowing people a chance to forget your name.
Because they will, if you let them.
Don’t let them.
As with any piece of writing or publishing advice, your mileage may vary. What works for me may not work for you. But it also might. Maybe it will give you an idea or three. Maybe it will inspire you to try something new, something no one has ever done. Maybe it will make you want to turn off your computer in disgust and spit on the floor because nobody tells you what to do, man.
But this is what works for me. (And sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it feels like no one is reading anything I write. That will happen to you, too. Don’t stop.)
There is no such thing a “typical” career in writing. (Many grumpy old farts who’ve failed more than they’ve succeeded may tell you there’s no such thing as a career in writing period. [Period period? Who writes about periods, anyway?]) The “traditional vs. Independent” argument is dead, long ago replaced by a sort of hybrid approach.
Publish traditionally when it makes sense to do so (and is possible). Publish independently when it makes sense to do so. In short, your goal is simply to get your work in front of as many eyes as possible.
This is both easier than ever, and harder than ever.
Easier, because the internet gives us access to the entire world.
Harder, because the internet gives every writer access to the entire world.
That means there’s a lot of noise to cut through.
And also a lot of work. Every time a new publication medium is launched, I sign up and publish something. Anything. But I try to make it original, a piece that hasn’t been published anywhere else. I’m on Patreon. Prose. Medium. I’ve published platform appropriate essays on LinkedIn. Nine months after I created my Wattpad account, I finally launched the first chapter of a new take on an old story just a couple of days ago. I also write weekly album reviews for the online heavy metal zine Ghost Cult. All this is in addition to—not in place of—writing two books a year.
Some writers will tell you to NEVER AND I MEAN NEVER NEVER EVER give your work away for free. From a professional’s perspective, it’s good advice; your work has value, so if you give it away for free, you’re devaluing it.
However, in this industry, that argument is like an incontinent old grandfather: it doesn’t hold water.
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “You have to spend money to make money.” It’s one of the ten commandments of marketing. It might even be the first commandment. Promoting your work is tough, even without all the online noise we sift through every day. And while I don’t advocate spending (read: wasting) money on Facebook ads or Google ads or Spamazon ads, I absolutely believe in occasionally giving work away for free.
Say you have a trilogy of books for sale on Amazon. Your sales have hit a slump and you have zero ideas what to do. Why not run a campaign where you give the first book away for free? Everyone loves free stuff. And here’s the bonus: if they dig that first book (which they will because you rocked that shit), perhaps they’ll buy the second. And the third. And then everything else you publish after that.
Don’t think of it as “devaluing.”
Think of it as “promotion.”
(And stop with the “shameless self-promotion” phrase; it makes you sound needy even while you’re trying not to sound needy.)
So. Stamp your name everywhere you possibly can. Which leads me to…
At my day gig (yes, I have one of those, and unless some magical unicorn of popularity trots along and gently massages your bumhole with its horn of life-altering success, you probably will too), I work in digital marketing for a global biotech company. What is our driving initiative every year? (If you said “Eat more tacos,” oh how I wish you were right [although I don’t know why you’d say that because it’s totally random].)
Strengthening our brand. Increasing our brand’s visibility.
A brand is more than just a logo. It’s your identity. It’s your voice. It’s how you interact and communicate with your audience. It’s the look and feel of your website. It’s your Facebook and Twitter banner images.
As a writer, your brand is you. What do you want people to think when they see your name? More importantly, how do you want them to feel?
You’re the only you in the world (and thank god for that because more than one of you would be too much). Exploit your individuality.
And don’t be shy about it.
“But Jay,” I hear you say (since we’re already on a nickname basis, you and me), “how can I do that without annoying everyone on Twitter?”
Easy. Don’t be annoying.
Spread your work like a virus into every corner of the web. Offer quality work on a consistent basis, align your social profiles, and treat every aspect of promotion as but one piece of a greater whole.
Don’t let anyone forget your name.
- Published in Uncategorized
DISPATCH. Patreon. A match made in some place where matches are well made.
tl;dr – I’m publishing a monthly serial called DISPATCH at patreon.com/jasonkorolenko, where you can fund the series creation by subscribing on a “name your own price” basis.
What Is DISPATCH?
DISPATCH is a project that has been marinated and simmering in my brain for many years. It is the story of an emergency dispatch agency on the brink of collapse after a series of mishandled calls, and–more importantly–it’s the story of those people on the other end of the line when you dial 9-1-1. They are human, just like us, and they are fallible, just like us. Inspired by the mockumentary format of programs such as Derek, The Office, and People Just Do Nothing, and the single-room setting of Cheers and Taxi, DISPATCH is a literary sitcom, a litcom if you will, that blurs the line of genre. It is comedy and drama, it is emotional and irreverent. It is about people and relationships. It’s about everything, yet like Seinfeld, it is also about nothing. But that’s life, isn’t it? If I do my job correctly, DISPATCH will make you laugh and cry and seethe in anger and clench your butt cheeks in frustration and hopefully just duck and run through a gauntlet of emotion in every episode.
What Is Patreon?
Patreon is similar to Kickstarter or IndieGogo in that the platform allows for artists of all creative persuasions to crowdfund their work. The difference is that Patreon projects are funded either by project or by month, which means you can support artists on a continual basis as they create. It is the perfect platform for DISPATCH, as this project will be ongoing and long-term, with new episodes posted on the first of every month. And you pay what you want. Cool, right? $1 a month, $2 a month…whatever you feel it’s worth. There’s no risk; cancel anytime you want, and you can even check out a sample “pilot” episode for free at Patreon.
So pop on over to the DISPATCH Patreon Project and take a taste. Let me know what you think.
And as always, thanks for following along.
- Published in Uncategorized
My therapist tells me to be more honest. That people respond to honesty. I’ve been debating whether or not to post this (whiny) missive for (attention) a while. The post editor here on my website says I’ve revised the draft fifty-three times (fifty-four, now) over the last couple of weeks, so I hope it has crept closer and closer to honest with each rewrite.
You may have noticed my absence on the socials. Don’t worry; it’s not you, it’s me.
Wait. No. That’s not right. It’s not you or me. It’s them.
You know who I mean. Those mouth breathers who spew lungfuls of negativity with every post, tweet, or comment. Those annoying little social seagulls that craw and shit all over everything, then fly off to circle some other unsuspecting target before diving in to pick at a fresh scalp. (True story.) It’s an epidemic. Social media is the world’s biggest playground, populated with besties as well as bullies, except the besties are often only okaysies and sometimes Idon’thaveanyideawhoyouaresies, and the bullies in real life usually leave you alone if you crack ’em once or twice with a good old Stockton slap. Real life bullies don’t like it when you fight back because they feed off of fear. Show them you’re not afraid, show them you’re willing to fight back, and all of a sudden they gotta go because their mommies are calling them home for dinner.
There is no fear on the internetz because the internetz is not real. Well, it is, but it’s a strange, distorted sort of real. A Twilight Zone where likes and hearts are priorities and pics or it didn’t happen. You fight Negative Nancies on the socials and all it does is encourage these douche spigots. (That’s right, they are like faucets full of douche. Problem is, once you turn them on, you risk drowning in gooey pools of douche because THE HANDLE IS BROKEN AND THEY NEVER TURN OFF.)
Now, I’m hardly the first person to point out that social media is infested with pinheads who talk shit because there are no repercussions. And I’ll be among the first to admit it’s kinda silly when people announce that they’re leaving Facebook or saying Bye Felicia to Twitter because of this, that, and the other thing.
I get it.
It’s just as narcissistic as posting ten selfies a day with your tongue waggling out of your face. Akin to showing up at a party that’s not so much fun, and instead of just slipping away quietly, you jump up on the coffee table and announce that you’re splitting because this party SUCKS and HARRUMPH. Or like writing a thousand-word essay about the illusion of social media, and how it’s not really social at all but just one big mess of self-importance that bleeds into itself and becomes a cesspool of nonsense, on your website that only a handful of people will read. I know. Guilty. Put the cuffs on and holster the taser. Don’t worry. I won’t try to run.
Sure, there are plenty of good, normal people out there. But it’s exhausting, don’t you think, sifting through all the garbage to find the gems? Filtering it out. Unfollowing. Blocking. Deleting the apps from your phone one day and then reinstalling them a few days later because, goddamn, Instagram tastes just like crack. Go ahead, lick an Instagram post if you don’t believe me. (And then Snapchat it ’cause EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE YOU LICKING YOUR PHONE.)
Sure. You can quit anytime you want. You just don’t want to. And so could I, but I learned it by watching you!
As a writer, I used to think it was necessary to have an active social media presence if I wanted to sell books. And publishers will often demand that writers have an active Facebook fan page (even though Zuckerberg’s Edgerank algorithm has strangled organic post reach to 3% – 6% of your fan base, forcing you to buy ads or “boost” posts (for cash money honey, of course) if you want anyone to–GOD FORBID–see them). They’ll say you have to tweet a certain number of times a day, and they even give you a formula – 80/20, meaning that only 20% of your tweets should be promotional in nature, while the other 80% should be spent “building relationships.” They tell you to adhere to the Fair Follow Policy, whereby you immediately follow every single person who follows you, therefore, you can promote your work to the same 5,000 people who are actively trying to sell you their work to you.
While some of my books may have been sold through social channels, I’m not convinced the number is substantial enough to really matter. In a recent post about this very subject, author Chuck Wendig wrote, “Social media can sell some books. Publishers, however, don’t want to sell ‘some’ books. They want to sell all the books.” While I’m certainly leagues away from Chuck’s level of notoriety, I do have five of those little word collections available in various parts of the world. And though I’ve done *some* online marketing (GAH, THAT WORD!), I’m just not sure they would have sold much better if I’d spent more of my time “building relationships” on the socials. And I’m not sure they would have sold significantly fewer copies if I hadn’t promoted them at all.
Reading this, you may be thinking I’m a hypocrite. You may be saying, “You’re responding to online negativity with a post that reeks of negativity.” And you’d be absolutely correct. Positivity is contagious, and negativity, for me anyway, is even more so. It’s difficult to remain clean when you’re bombarded with trash at every turn. And as someone who naturally tends to reach toward the half-empty glass, I find it all just making me angry and depressed.
So I think I’ll step outside for awhile.
In the meantime, I will be finishing up the second draft of a novella that is very quickly expanding to novel length, and continuing to work with my agent to see Relentless – 30 Years of Sepultura published in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Bookmark this page and check back frequently for updates, rants, ravings, and revelations that will hopefully make my therapist proud…
…or at least stop shaking his head with disappointment.
- Published in Uncategorized
Or, How Hollywood Ruins Everything Eventually
After I graduated high school in [YEAR REDACTED], firmly convinced college was a waste of time because I was going to be a rock star goddammit, I got a job working third shift at a factory that made desks and chairs for schools. Budding rock stars, I knew, did not go to college while practicing their chops and growing their hair; they worked in construction, they worked in factories, they worked in fast food joints. Jobs that were easy to get and easy to quit.
My weekends began on Friday mornings at 7 am. I’d leave the building covered with grease and stinking of oil, skin pricked with metal splinters and raw from welding sparks. Quick shower, and then back out to spend a rather large percentage of my paycheck on guitar strings, comic books, and tacos. I’d stay awake sunset to sunset, and at 8 pm, switch off the lights and on the television. This was pre-Netflix, pre-torrent, pre-On Demand, remember. If I wanted to catch the latest episode of The X-Files, I had to watch it when it ran. The only other option was to wait until summer hiatus to catch the rerun. Which, for my whiny and impatient little 18-year-old self, wasn’t really an option at all.
I recorded every episode, bought every magazine that featured Mulder and Scully, clipped out every TV Guide article about The X-Files. Considered cutting my hair and wearing a suit and tie. Desperately wanted to get my hands on one of those slick navy blue windbreakers with FBI printed on the back in huge yellow letters.
Yeah, I have an obsessive personality. I’ll cop to that.
So when I heard David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were returning for a mini-season eight years after the last X-Files movie and nearly fifteen years since the final episode of the television series, I tried to temper my excitement with trepidation because, well, nostalgia is a drug that raises expectations to unrealistic heights. We’ve all been burned by it before. (Don’t even speak to me about KISS’s Psycho Circus album, their first after “reuniting” in the studio with original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. I will plug my ears and yell LA LA LA LA LA in your face until you stop talking or I pass out, whichever comes first.)
No spoilers here. However, if you haven’t seen the new season yet, you might want to move along because these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. I don’t want to influence your opinion one way or another until after you watch, at which point I will then completely denounce and decry your opinion if it varies even slightly from mine.
After watching the season finale, and the godawful episode that preceded it, I spent some time collecting my thoughts. Actually, I spent some time (a lot of time) spewing my verbal diarrhea on Twitter, that place where the art of verbosely shitting all over everything has been taken to a new level. Mind you, I’m not a troll (at least, I don’t think I am), and I’ve never been the type to cut down others for no reason. That is, I’ve never tweeted to a musician, writer, or artist YOUR FACE IS STUPID AND YOUR ART MAKES ME WANT TO DIE. But my disappointment with The X-Files–a show I loved so much that I’d set my first aol email password as sculder1313–was too great. I had to let it out, lest be consumed by it like a human/fluke worm hybrid creature.
While gathering my thoughts (read: barfing all over the X-Files hashtag), I came across Kaly Soto’s piece in the New York Times that read as if she had plucked the words directly from my brain computer. I also began Netflixing and chilling with the original series, starting at the pilot, to make sure my teenaged enjoyment of those old episodes wasn’t just a byproduct of extreme boredom and crippling loneliness.
Nope. The old episodes (especially once they hit their groove in season two) worked just as well as I remembered. Which got my writer gears grinding, wondering, It worked back then; why doesn’t it work now? And my Holmesian conclusion is thus:
They’re trying too hard.
More specifically, they’re trying to mold the show (mold it, or as the English might write, mould it. So they’re moulders. Moulders. Geddit? MOULDERS?!?) so it fits in with the current style of dramatic programming–young, sexy, snarky, modern. They’re trying to fit in with the Lucifers and the Sleepy Hollows. And that’s fine, as long as it’s genuine. (Never mind that I personally can’t stand those shows, but hey, different strokes and all that). But it doesn’t feel genuine. It feels forced. The original X-Files was all that–young, sexy, slightly snarky, modern (for its time)–and naturally so because of the writing, the characterization, and that strong chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson. They didn’t have to force it.
Let’s chat a bit about Mulder’s psychotropic trip in the penultimate episode. Yeah, how can I not go there? (Please forgive me David Duchovny, if you happen to read this; I sincerely have nothing but the utmost respect for you as an actor, but…) That scene was embarrassing. In the context of, say, Californication, I might have enjoyed it thoroughly. In the context of this show? Sorry, but no. It felt like I was watching a Saturday Night Live X-Files parody sketch.
And I guess that was my main problem with the new season, in the shell of a nut. It just didn’t fit. There is talk of possibly filming another. But if the writers continue down this path, turning the show into some sleek, soulless dramedy full of quick-cuts and punchlines over paranoia, rather than keeping with creator Chris Carter’s original intent to “scare people’s pants off,” then I’m tapping out.
In other words, the truth may still be out there, but I’m not sure I want to keep looking for it.
- Published in Uncategorized
It’s times like these I’m glad I don’t make my living as a music journalist.
Because many music journalists, whose work I otherwise read and respect greatly, seem oddly silent and unopinionated in the face of a controversy that needs to be written about, discussed, debated, argued, and quite simply, talked about.
Journalists report the news, they don’t shy away from it. Still, these writers–who in the past have loudly and boldly broadcasted their sometimes scathing opinions about an artist’s work–now appear timid and reserved, unwilling to comment.
Because they are afraid to lose their meal tickets.
Allow me to set the scene…
FADE IN: A small, dank club in Hollywood, California. It is January 22, 2016, and a slew of heavy metal musicians and fans have gathered for DIMEBASH, an annual celebration honoring the life of PANTERA guitarist Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott, who was shot and killed on stage by a deranged “fan” on December 8, 2004, while performing with his band DAMAGEPLAN. Alcoholic beverages (including Dime’s trademark Black Tooth Grin, a deceptively intoxicating mix of Crown Royal with a splash of Coke) are flowing freely. The music is loud, the smiles are many. Everyone who had the pleasure of knowing–or even simply crossing paths with–Dime knew that the guitarist dealt in smiles and laughter as much as he dealt in riffs. The evening goes off like a heavy metal 21-gun salute…that is, until former PANTERA vocalist Philip Anselmo, who had been performing his band’s classic tracks with handfuls of metal dignitaries, ends the night in what appears to be fury, thrusting his right arm out in a brisk sieg heil, and then shouting from the edge of the stage:
I’ll let Machine Head’s Robb Flynn, who also performed at DIMEBASH (with Phil) and had previously shared the stage with Pantera a number of times, take over for a few minutes. Watch the whole video. It’s quite enlightening.
It begs the questions:
Why do we allow our heroes to get away with such disgusting, reprehensible behavior? Why do we ignore it or find excuses for it? Is it because, in our admiration, we’ve elevated these people to such levels where they have become untouchable?
Whatever the reasons, there is a disturbing lack of professional musicians speaking out against Phil’s behavior, as Robb Flynn mentioned. And understandably, if wrongly, so. These are working musicians. Their livelihoods could be affected if they publicly shamed such a high-profile figure as Anselmo (who has become a sort of metal Mel Gibson, at this point, though not yet as ostracized). Flynn himself acknowledged that fear.
Equally, there are a number of music “journalists” who are avoiding the topic completely.
Because they’re afraid of losing that big interview with Anselmo when his next album comes out. They’re afraid of losing the headline. They’re afraid of losing their bylines.
They’re afraid of losing their meal tickets.
Me, I’m just a writer and a lifelong heavy metal fan. I love Pantera. Their music provided the sonic background, the soundtrack, to my high school years in the early 90s. I own one of Dime’s signature guitars. He’s one of the main reasons I starting playing back then, and continue to play today. But I’m glad I’m not a writer who makes his living covering music.
Because all I want to say right now is FUCK YOU, Phil Anselmo, you ignorant cunt.
And there aren’t many working music journalists who seem to be saying that.
- Published in Uncategorized
- Published in Uncategorized
Every other day, I think about quitting.
I’ve written four novels, hundreds of short stories and articles and essays, and a book about a world famous metal band that has thus far been published in five languages worldwide. I’ve been interviewed by media in the US, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, England, and Spain, and one of my books–mentioned in the same breath as Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes–was selected by Ukraine’s most-read newspaper as a Book of the Month in late 2014.
Yet, every other day, I think about quitting.
I’ve been working at this writer gig for over 15 years. I started out submitting my work to agents, editors, and publishers before the digital shift took hold, mailing stacks of hardcopy manuscripts with SASEs enclosed, and was summarily rejected over and over and over again. Demoralizing, maybe, but it felt right; I always had this romantic impression that a true writer’s skin was covered with the scars of rejection.
And every other day, I thought about quitting.
I knew where I wanted to be, even if I didn’t know how to get there. I enrolled in an MFA program to learn how to, in a sense, write right (though I soon learned there is no such thing). My mentors, all of them amazing writers and human beings, highly respected in the world of traditional publishing, with countless awards and accolades and bestsellers to their names, told me the fight was fruitless. “Teach for money,” they said, “and write because you love it.”
But I was defiant. There were no thoughts of quitting then, only thoughts of proving them all wrong. I didn’t enroll in a writing program because I wanted to teach. I enrolled in a writing program because I wanted to write, goddammit.
“Why not write for money,” I said, because there is no fucking shame in that, “and write because you love it?”
But maybe they were right. The industry has changed. Reading habits have changed. People have changed. You’ve changed, I’ve changed, we’ve all changed. Success, as an ideal, is an illusion.
This morning, just like every other morning, I thought about quitting. I woke up thinking it was all pointless. My words didn’t matter–and wouldn’t ever matter–to anyone.
Then I had an idea, and I started writing.
I wrote all day.
And I couldn’t help myself.
- Published in Uncategorized
I spend well over a couple hours on the road every day. It’s always the same roads, passing the same vehicles that carry the same people going through the same routine as me. I start to feel a certain affinity for them, a sense of community; if I don’t see the gray 2005 Nissan Altima one day, or the bright yellow pickup truck, I wonder if that guy got fired or quit his job. Maybe he called in sick. Did he die in his sleep?
This morning, while zoning out on the road, I was listening to the French singer Camille. I’m a big fan. It was her most recent album, Ilo Veyou, and I hadn’t heard it yet. Before pulling out of the driveway, I’d sliced my fingernail through the CD shrinkwrap and pinched the disc out of its mini-gatefold cover, careful not to get my greasy fingerprints all over it. I enjoy this routine. It reminds me of being a kid, peeling the plastic off of a new vinyl record and sitting cross legged in front of my stereo speakers, absorbing the album art and reading the lyric sheet – even the credits and list of thank yous – while the music plays. It was ritualistic. It was sublime.
And it got me thinking, on the road this morning, of that two- or three-year period when I’d lost my passion for music.
I was always that kid who would sit down with a new cassette tape and get his rocks fucking off over hearing a cool riff or a clever lyric for the first time. I’d sometimes lay down on my back with the speakers pressed up against my ears, trying to hear every note, every harmony, every subliminal message. I felt it. These feelings inspired me to learn how to play drums and guitar, and start bands, and spend my science class labs designing logos rather than studying the periodic table because it wasn’t enough to feel it. I had to createit. I had to be it.
I’ve spent so much money on music it almost makes me sick to think about. When Amazon’s web store first opened, I would spend half of a paycheck on CDs, completely drunk with euphoria when an order came in and I’d tear open the box and pore over these discs – many of them imports – that a few short years earlier I would never have been able to get my hands on.
Something happened around ten years ago. Torrents. Albums regularly leaked long before their release dates. I downloaded everything and, at first, I loved that access. It was a drug. How was I supposed to wait for an official release when I could download a leak two months early? I was too passionate to wait.
But the more I downloaded, the less I listened. The ritual was gone, and slowly, the passion went with it. Why? Because music had become a commodity. It had become fast food.
I kept it up for a few years, downloading mostly leaked albums before their release, but always buying the actual disc when it hit the stores. But even that got old. Before the Internet, I would drive to the record store, buy the CD or the cassette, then sit in my car and listen to the whole thing, straight through, before even pulling out of the parking lot. After the Internet, I would drive to the store and buy the disc to the support the band…then file it away because I had already heard the leaked copy a hundred times.
The ritual was gone. The passion was gone. The magic was gone.
It has something to do with the perceived value of a product. When you receive something for free, over and over and over, your perceived value of that something will eventually be reduced to zero. This is why, I believe, the Internet generation is less passionate about the music and more intrigued by the celebrities behind the music. But even the celebrities lack value; they are faceless and generic, just different incarnations of the same reality television character, and sadly, as Michele Catalano suggested, there really are no more rock stars.
Anyway, sometime in the last few years, I managed to reinvent the ritual in this digital world. Maybe I missed the anticipation of waiting for a new album. Maybe I felt guilty about all the music I downloaded but never actually got around to buying. I don’t really know.
But zoning out to Camille’s latest, while driving to work this morning and wondering if the guy in the 1998 Ford hatchback had slept through his alarm, I felt that the magic had returned.
And I was grateful for it.
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