Happy New Year – 2014!

Wow how long has it been? A year just went past without me noticing much of it. Too much done, too little achieved. Seen a lot, caught a few. Spent the time, not everything reciprocated. Introversion increased, perfection decreased. Wrote code, abandoned; wrote music, unsatisfied. At least I brought my wife back to US to remind myself of the years gone by, so that the trajectory of the new year becomes clearer.

Following the global traditions of planning for the new year, I’ve done my high level thinking. From a prioritisation perspective, the anticipation of a new family member makes this pretty straight forward to gain the top spot, and yet extremely hard to nail down the exact resources required, especially not by a couple who has never had to give 24/7 attention to anything before, notwithstanding doing this in a foreign island.

Between asking around for pass-me-downs and doing the math of medical cost in disbelieve, I was also resolute in either ramping up or killing this time sucking business of curating music for band. Originally, I thought the decision would be simple – if Useful Music’s simple business model is valid 7 years ago when it was formed, I would have quitted my job and live by its decent return by now. 7 years of working in the enterprise ocean taught me the meaning of focus, and why the grey area between “success” and “failure” is as wide as the appraiser’s visible spectrum.

The good thing is, things have changed in the past 7 years. People changed too, both literally moving in and out the island, as well as changing their minds about their needs and wants. Dealing with new motivations, new customer segments, and new markets energises me. However, when people ask me why am I in it, I usually gave the same old story of where I came from and why this is important to for an amateur to perform and be respected by their respective audience, the lot of which loves them because they are family, friends, teachers, and/or civil servants in charge of music education.

While that story is true, what intrigues me intellectually, and probably millions in the world, is how the vast majority of the money (and thus people) in the “music industry” is in distribution and patronage, and so little into defending culture, engineering mood and happiness, lifting people out of poverty, forming new identities, etc. The intersection of the science of sound wave, mathematics, sociology, history, and even modern technology, was not brought to the fore by government R&D or public/private enterprises, and we continue to rely on some madly creative person meeting a grand dose of luck to break through the noise generated by the “distribution” and “patronage” people.

Don’t believe me? Who’s your idol? If you blurted out a fancy singer’s name you’re probably the customer of the “patronage” people. It’s not that it’s bad, but music plays an important role for your well being – you, as in the community of homo sapiens – just like the societies of the past. Do you think twice before what you put into your ear that same way you think twice before what you eat / see? Put it another way, if there’s legislation against porn and restrictions against swear words on TV, why not music? Do governments not want to educate the public about music so much just in case they need to harness it’s potential to control you like how Christmas music is doing to retail sales?

Back from the tangent: this tall order, of placing music where it is supposed to be in society, was spinning around my head for many years, with no way of pulling it back to earth such that it becomes a family-feeding stream of revenue. In between, we scrape bits of marketing dollars from shopping malls, celebrate a break-even recital with money we don’t have, accept whatever music education system that pays and just keep the kids struggling with the fingering on their instrument, hoping that one day they will find their calling in music, or their parents will alleviate them from their agony. While the majority live by education dollars by parents and MOE, some would bite the bullet and go into “distribution”, which brings us back to square one.

Thus, 2014 (up to 2017) is a chance I’m giving myself, to see if I can reconcile some of these thoughts, into something that can eventually create jobs, new types of jobs, knowledge worker type jobs, and not the printing and renting and shipping of badly edited manuscripts by dead people half way across the earth. A world where we place importance in music like we place importance in the grammar of speech, the colours of the rainbow and the accuracy of the CPU clock; a world where music guides you to meditate, to cross the street, and to make sense of your own identity.

I hope to be able to share this with you – through my blog still – when I figure it out.

What’s your new year resolution other than slimming down?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top