This week I reflect on my Barry Ashworth interview, for the latest Tonic Music show on Totally Wired Radio.
Listening back to Barry’s interview last week I was reminded of my own perspective on longevity, community and my long evolving journey through music. As in all walks of life, there comes a time when we experience a definite shift for those of us that have had fluctuating levels of success over our career trajectory.
During the ‘Tonic Music’ interview, Barry talked openly about the inevitable tensions within the band, the rock n roll lifestyle and the feelings of camaraderie throughout the band’s history. One thing that struck me was the sense of community and family-esque nature of both the band and the fans (although he doesn’t like that term - I do agree as the people that put energy into my own music are often more than ‘fans’ but for the purpose of this writing – I’ll use that term).
He described how, over time the band has become a family of mutual support, a similar sense of being on a reciprocal journey together. He views these (fans) as a family that have managed to stand the test of time and grown into something bigger than product and consumer, far different to the normalised extension of a corporate domain.
This feeling of community was also summarised by one of the musicians in my own research who suggested how he now sees his own musical output as an avenue to ‘caring and sharing’. Despite this, he is also able to view the interaction through a compassionate ‘work’ lens at times. In my own study the musician talks about how ‘we’re all in it together and we’ve all survived’ in regard to his community of followers. I think that the key term here is survived! As we get older, we lose people close and we are more likely to value those that have shared our journey, especially if it’s a musical one that started at grass roots. All the support, the buying of records, the attending our gigs, the interest and belief, it does become a highly valued cohesive group, despite them only really seeing parts of us.
I’ve recently started a small social media group for my own music as I move out of academia and back into my core home of music. I consider myself ‘a lifer’ and was most grateful to see a foundational group of people that have always supported my own solo music which has now meandered along for over 15 years. With time, my own desire to ‘make it’ has become more pragmatic and shifted into a more community focused sustenance to enable me the financial privilege to make music and release it commercially. For me and many other ‘lifers’ there is no big drive for commercial success, radio plays, magazine covers or sprawling performances, the allure comes from the slow building of a community that understands the musical nuances I create, the nuances of the genre and the perhaps (archaic) world of ‘how it used to be’ before the visual dominance and transient nature imported from social media.
Despite my own take on this, I don also understand the benefit of having a more ‘business’ perspective in order to boundary and perhaps deliver more of what is wanted from a fanbase. Like other areas, its complex!
But, with the advent and division of technology and modern times, music can prove to be a glue that sustains the artists and the communities built around a mutual love alongside being a fully functional, mutually beneficial business.
For those of you interested in musicians and their unique position in the music industry and more insight into being a DIY musician and building communities I would also recommend this podcast series by Hookings management.
Also, don’t forget to check out the amazing interview with Barry on the second episode of Tonic music on the Tonic Mixcloud.
Adam Ficek hosts a monthly show 'Tonic Music' on Totally Wired Radio, where he talks to various guests about music and mental health.