If Nobody Listened, Would I Still Make Music?

December 18, 2016

Going through my blog feed, I noticed an article from DIY Photography entitled "If nobody cared, would you still take pictures?". That's a pertinent question and something I've often asked myself from a musical perspective.

I started seriously making music in 2010 after undertaking a Music Tech course. I released 9 albums between 2011-2013. I was in the zone and enjoyed making the music, promoting it and the feedback I gained. My highlight was ranking #11 in Potholes In My Blog's Top 50 Instrumental Albums list which I didn't see coming at all.

But from late 2013, I hit a slump. I had less time to make music, a long distance relationship to maintain and found myself in a motivational rut. I tried forcing through it and that made it worse. Music production became repulsive to me; my body started rejecting the keys and the pads. In 2014, I released 2 albums. In 2015, just the one. Music was holding less of a place in my life and while I continued listening, even that was reduced.

Part of the demotivation came from a lack of listeners. There was no sustained support after release apart from a handful of friends which I was eternally grateful for. I wasn't expecting a swathe of interviews and features but the ego within me had hoped for more. I understand now it's not just about sending a link and everyone flocks. I don't think I fully appreciated the support I was getting, looking for new followers instead.

I'm out of that mire now and I'm on 3 albums and a single for this year, with a new full release slated for 2017. The important thing I take away from the experience so far leads me back to the original question: If nobody listened, would I still take music? And the answer is yes. I'll be honest and say part of me makes music for the validation in my talents. Music was never a career path I set myself from the get go. I've had to work to get as good as I am but I need external feedback to know exactly how good that is. But ultimately, I enjoy being in that zone making music; creating something from something else or seemingly nothing at all.

One test of how well I've done with a record is whether I'd listen to this by someone else and the answer has always been yes. There's a lot of samey music out there, copies of the same aesthetic without pushing any kinds of boundaries. I've become a victim of this ideology and I'm definitely not a trendsetter in any way but I reckon my music is unique enough to stand out if it's heard. And sometimes it isn't. But that's okay because I'm listening and I'll still make music if no one else will.