For a musician, musical instruments are a pretty wonderful tool, but they can be expensive.
There are a lot of strange contradictions in the musical profession. One is that you’re working in an industry that basically collapsed many years ago. Another is if you’re making a living, you’re probably making a lot less than the average plumber, but the tools of your trade are so much more expensive.
I can make do just fine with one guitar, and I already have two of them. I don’t need any more instruments. There are lots of other things I don’t need. But if you want to help me buy more instruments, I promise they will be beautiful ones, and I’ll make good use of them. I’m not a collector, I just want one of each, so I can use them to make and record music.
My goal right now is to pay for a nice octave mandolin. I’ll readily admit that I already have a mandolin and a mandola, but this is different.
Raised so far: $185
Contributions of all sizes are most deeply appreciated, but if you (or your group) can donate $50 or more, I’ll do a little concert on your Facebook Page (or other social media account), tailored to you or your organization. Just let me know in the comment section when you donate, and we’ll make a plan!
If you’re still reading past the donate button, you’re presumably a serious geek of some kind, which is lovely. So I’ll just get right into it. Some people will say that a good musician can make great music out of a plastic barrel, and they’re absolutely right. But if you have a nice selection of medieval instruments, you can definitely sound more medieval.
Most people aren’t reading this far down on the page because they’re busy with other things, perhaps, but others wouldn’t get this far because even if they’re friends, fans, and/or supporters, they’re not interested in the details. And that’s true for lovers of film and other art forms. Most people don’t want to know or think about the fact that all of those lines those actors are delivering that appear to be live were actually recorded after the scenes were filmed. Most people aren’t interested in hearing about how much time and effort went into recording the music that’s supporting the song, they just want it to sound good, and fresh, but not so loud that it’ll drown out the words. They’ll like it better if there are drums and bass, but mostly they won’t know why, or consciously notice if these elements are there or not.
Any artist knows that this is just how it is. Most people don’t notice the details, and that makes sense — they have other professions, there are probably other things they geek out about, like astronomy or history or plumbing or whatever else. Those of us who are into music are the ones who appreciate the difference between, say, a mandolin and a mandola, or why anyone would spend hundreds of dollars a day to record in a professional recording studio when they have the chance, instead of in their homes, with the refrigerator humming in the background.
But since the collapse of the music industry — for those who missed it or were born too recently to know, it was about five times as big twenty years ago as it is now — most people who used to do music for a living now don’t. The vast majority of those of us still in the game are doing everything with less. Recordings happen at home more often than in studios, concert tours involve a lot more house concerts than they used to, and everyone has an active Patreon account.
Although I’m so glad to report that thanks to a crowdsourced support program I set up as the industry was collapsing, I’m still paying the rent despite it all, having disposable income for musical instruments is not the norm. When I have acquired new instruments in the past fifteen years or so, it has generally been because of the generosity of supporters, such as the electric cello that features in my 2015 album, Punk Baroque, or the ukelele featured in my children’s album, Har Har Har. More recently-acquired instruments can be seen on livestream broadcasts I’ve been doing (they’ll be on albums, too, eventually).