- Nick Drozdoff
I Record and Share, Therefore I Am
I am paraphrasing the famous saying of Rene DesCartes and drawing a different though parallel meaning from my title of this blog.
First my younger readers may not see any point to what I do and that is totally cool. My work and way of working may, indeed, be totally irrelevant to someone in their twenties and "crushing it" with their music on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. However, I hope, in this blog, I can offer something worth thinking about and, perhaps, contemplating for the future.
Second, I am a professional trumpeter and I do make a living with this. However, as a small time classical/jazz artist, my online music sharing has almost no significant monetization, at this point. My income is derived from playing live gigs and teaching and doing clinics/lectures. Yet, I record and share and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
What Prompted This Blog?
I have been sharing a lot of my music, recently. A buddy of mine commented on how much I was posting. he liked it and admired the effort, but he expressed doubt the he could indulge in such "self promotion." I tired to address the issue, but the band leader called us back to the band stand after our break and we never finished our discussion.
It occurred to me that it might be worth addressing this issue with a blog and also settle some other issues I have been bumping into in my work.
Motivation Has a Significant Part In This:
A big piece of the answer to my friend's question is tied to motivation. I wanted to get that out of the way early, but I will specifically address it later.
Building an Online Presence - Existence for over Thirty Years:
I have been working on developing an online presence as a musician, trumpeter, educator and clinician for at least thirty years!! Yes we have been connected that long. For me it all began with ListServs (such as TPIN) and online forums (such as Trumpet Herald). I worked with file sharing sites such as Mp3.com, which, for a while, actually paid decent royalties for plays. Ultimately, I got into using YouTube and even made a smattering of money from Google AdSense.
How Did Some Boomers Stay On Top of Tech?
First, I need to make the obvious point that tech has so thoroughly taken over our lives that even seniors must stay at least partially on top of things just to survive. However, there is a small group of seniors who were professionally obligated to stay abreast of tech development over the years as part of their careers.
I am talking about teachers. For 25 years I was lead a dual career lifestyle - a full time professional physics teacher by day and a full time professional trumpeter at night.
Teachers are professionally obligated to stay on top of tech development. We have to make video and Keynote sort of presentations for our students. We have to be able to do online research on a daily basis to be aware of developments not only in our content areas but also in instructional methodology. Personally, I was heavily involved with Modeling Instruction in Physics and Flipped Classrooms. I learned a great deal about video recording and editing from the latter.
Add to this the fact that my undergraduate degree is in electrical engineering and that I built ham radios as a hobby in high school with the related interest in tech toys all my life and the idea of mixing music and tech in my music work seemed very natural. Building my own home studio has been a lot of fun.
I love making music and I love playing my trumpet. However, music, just like love, has to be shared or given in order to really mean anything. Over 30 years ago, I decided I wanted to record and release my music to the public. Certainly, I hoped to develop some income from it. I am a professional trumpeter, after all. However, first and foremost, I am a musician - an artist. Being a tempest in a teapot is an anathema to me. Musicians can't live in total isolation.
Deep down inside, as I built my own studio and started recording my own music, I knew I was always going to be small time and very much a local musician. I tried releasing several CD's and I did release quite a bit of music via Mp3.com before it fell to the dark side. Most of my projects didn't have enough depth and creative artistry to really take off in any meaningful way. I'm still learning from all of this, and continue to work on my recording work and video work.
Now, after I got into doing home recording, the internet came along and I perceived a new level playing field. That has certainly materialized and even expanded to degrees nobody could have anticipated. So, while the playing field is level, the competition for attention has become overwhelming. Nevertheless, I have kept recording, writing, arranging and, most of all, learning as I go.
In all of this effort, I realized that I actually have a modest body of work. I have hundreds of recordings on my drives. Many are awful. Most are sort of acceptable. A few are really good. The big thing for ME is that I hate to let my work just sort of sit there in digital limbo. I have to share it. This sharing sort of gives rise to my existence as a trumpeter! I flatly refues to let my work vansih into the mistrs of time like tears in rain. Hence the title of this blog.
I Share My Music and My Love For It TO BE:
This is why I share my music - for better or worse. All of our music needs to be heard at least by a few people now and then. I have been noticing more and more people just putting ANYTHING out there on video and audio in order to have a voice - an existence. So, I have stepped up my efforts to get as much of my body of work shared as possible and continue to develop new projects - such as my Variable D Postulate Ensemble - Big Band. A lot of my videos don't show me playing, though I have plenty that do. Just go to my YouTube page and you find plenty there. In any case, I don't care so much about being seen as heard. I am no longer a young man and none would consider me particularly "pretty". I don't look good in baseball caps and my hair is thinning and gray. I can still play and my physical game of trumpet is better than ever. I reject age as a metric of skill or music.
I Record, I share therefore I AM:
So, I am definitely stirring the pot as I develop an Instagram existence. At the same time, I am sharing on Facebook and even LinkedIn. Ok, I still haven't worked out the Twitter thing, but I will! I also would encourage EVERYONE to do this. Playing in clubs is great because it helps reduce the sense of isolation of living in a basement studio to share you work. However, the internet allows us to share with, potentially, the whole world and THAT is a truly exciting thing.
If at least a few people listen to and like my music, I have made some contribution to making the world a little prettier place to be in. This gives rise to my ultimate motivation in all of this.
My primary motivation is NOT shameless self promotion. To be honest, every time I share my work, I worry that nobody will listen to it or even look at the post! Now, is there any element of "self-promotion?" I have to be honest about this, so yes, of course there is an element of it. I am promoting my musical performances and, in many cases, my compositions. I want want credit for my work. I want to "exist" as a trumpeter. However, as mentioned a few times already, music and love go hand in hand and to have true meaning they have to be shared. I sincerely hope and pray that SOMEONE will listen to my work and feel at least a tiny bit better for having done so. I have no illusions of becoming rich and famous from my work.
Broad Skill Sets:
I want to make a comment here about diversity in our music and versatility. When I first got into the business after leaving the road, my dream was to be a studio musician. To a certain extent I did achieve that dream, briefly, before tech killed the jingle scene in the Chicago area. You never knew what you were going to have to play when you got booked on a recording session. It might be jazz. It might be rock. It might be classical. You have to be ready for ALL of it. My most lucrative recording session ever found me playing just piccolo trumpet for several hours.
This made playing both thrilling/exciting as well as potentially beautiful. This is why, in my recording and posting, that I do a mix of classical, jazz and rock, etc. Being able to play anything was part of my professional training and I won't completely let go of it.
Everyone Should Share!
So, in conclusion, I would urge EVERYONE to share their love - their music - online, certainly in addition to playing in halls and clubs. Even if only one or two people can have their spiritis lifted from your work, you have accomplished more than you know!