“Inside this new love, die. Your way begins on the other side. Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape. Walk out like someone suddenly born into color. Do it Now, You’re covered with thick cloud. ” Rumi
I don’t sleep that well when I know I have to wake up before dawn. I wake every hour or so to peek at the clock to see if the time has come for me to rise as I know I will be ascending the same darkness into which I made my descent many hours earlier. My dreams are wild and I don’t quite enter a full restful sleep on nights like this. Lately, because I’ve recently committed to a pre-dawn start time for yoga several days a week, this pattern continues. As I lie in bed these mornings, I’m a strange combination of eagerness, resistance and exhaustion.
It seems like this is how I feel about spring too. The oaks are dropping leaves, the pecans are sprouting leaves and the flowering trees evocatively display their luscious hues of red, pink, white and purple blossoms against naked limbs. . . I’m amazed to witness the death and rebirth, the bare, wiry branches of my lantana bushes seem lifeless while sunshiny buttercups and strange chartreuse weeds populate the lawn. I’m ready to kick winter and all its fatty, lazy henchmen to the curb, but certainly not ready for the oppressive heat of a central Texas summer.
This is also, strangely how I feel about SXSW excitement, dread and fatigue. There is something so overwhelming and bittersweet about this monumental pilgrimage. This pilgrimage is not exempt of the ancient ritual and reverence that accompany such a phenomenon, but akin to other pilgrimages of its size, one may often feel as though the essence of its grandeur is lost inside the madness of the swarming of the pilgrims, sloshing booze and false sincerity (ok, maybe the latter are exclusive to the sxsw phenomenon). I am intrigued by the film and interactive parts of the conference as I believe those industries are still growing in many ways, but then comes the music part. . .
With the music industry in so called “shambles,” one wonders how artists, managers, agents, labels, magazines can afford to make this yearly pilgrimage to the center of Texas, if it’s worth it to them, if it pays off, if anyone ever gets discovered in a city where every parking lot, shopping center, front yard and shot bar becomes a live music venue.
Major popular acts showcase and headline exclusive and impressive parties while mid level and independent bands fight feedback and play ten or twelve shows for free in 3 days hoping to be discovered by a new scout. I am perplexed by the entire parade. Sure, the city of Austin and local businesses and service industry professionals make a killing, but what happens to the bands and solo artists? Do they get discovered? What does that even mean anymore?
All the articles and experts say that major labels are losing their footing. There is such a small amount of available retail and piracy is at an all time high. These articles also give kudos to innovative independents who can swiftly modify their plan of exposure to fit the trending social media and collect money through digital sales and live shows. . . A large percent of radio is pre-programmed corporate mess geared toward teens while adults gravitate to xm and public radio to find new artists. Most consumers feel entitled to free music. It really is a big mess, despite the fancy martinis and plane tickets and exclusive stuff.
There is a lot of doom and gloom talk amidst the pilgrims. There is also a lot of hope and faith that propels them to take the risk to come to Austin despite what the articles and experts prophesize.
There are panels that navigate professionals into new paradigms, but as in all triumphant journeys one must be willing to release the construct and discard the artifice of the old and embrace a little naked tree limb on a cold windy day. . .
I met some really nice people doing really empowering work this SXSW. I saw a big party on every corner and witnessed great music being made. I heard a few songs that moved me to tears. My ears did not bleed from as much feedback as years prior. I guess it was a good SXSW for me.
I’m bringing a new baby/album into the world this spring/summer. . . It’s been 9 months in the making and has required most of my focus and resources. I’m fully invested. Like lots of mothers to be, I worry about the state of the world into which my precious new creation is being born. I don’t know what that will look like as every day new obstacles present themselves and new solutions appear.
I’m exploring what it means to let go of the past, release old experiences and the very real fear of future disappointments. I don’t have the answers, but I’m committed making choices out of love and not fear, decisions out of trust and not desperation and to building a team based on integrity and the love of the music.
It’s mid morning. I’ve finished yoga. The cloud is not so thick. I’m breaking down the walls. I’m a sensual little purple flower on a naked tree limb being born into color. . .