by: Charlie Shafter
People buy a lot more Miller Lite than any craft beer made in this country. There are giant beverage companies that share the majority of the market such as Budweiser, Miller, and Coors. Large, medium, small, and local beverage companies share the rest. My friend, Mike McCall, pretty much drinks Miller Lite exclusively. Every time he tries one of the beers I have lying around my house, he cringes.
What does this have to do with music and songwriting? Everything. Most people who think the music business isn’t about commerce have a day job or got popular in that brief time when it wasn’t. The rest, they complain about how much money they are making on daily basis. This is my point.
I’m definitely not the first person to say this. If you play live, you are a beer salesman. I’m not saying that is all you are, but that’s where you’re money comes from. Try to make a living playing in venues in which they don’t sell alcohol. Unless you are a Christian artist, it most likely won’t go well. If the venue has a good night you’ll be invited back and even get a raise if you’re lucky. Hell, you could even get a door deal on top of your guarantee. When the night is over at every venue across the country…the best beer salesman wins.
Why isn’t the music world the way it was when Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Townes, The Stones, Otis Redding, and Buck Owens came around? Music as a business was in its’ infancy back then. In many ways, it still is. The fact that you are good at something doesn’t make it profitable. As far as I know, poetry has never been a particularly lucrative endeavor and if you’re in it for money or fame, I don’t know what do tell you.
Back to the beer–if we ever left it. I personally enjoy a craft beer. I spend my money on it. I’m glad they are there doing what they do. They make a lot less money than the big ones, but it’s so good. A lot more people stick with the big three and they’re completely happy. Neither is wrong. So, what do you want to be?
There is no wrong answer.
Do you think Fat Tire is complaining about how they make a much better beer than Coors? No. They’re just two different things.
Charlie Shafter is an accomplished singer-songwriter living in Denton, Texas. The former Lubbock artist has released a few albums–including his latest–2013’s Charlie Shafter. Like Shafter on Facebook here and follow him on Twitter here.