A Fast Walk Down a Dark Alley

I used to live in a big apartment building.  The best pizza place in the world was in the middle of the block on the next street over.  They served those big foldable slices with the super hot cheese that was just greasy enough but not too greasy. They would spin the pizzas around on their hands right there in front of you while you waited.  It was completely cliche and perfect. 

The only problem was the alley connecting our apartment with the pizza place was also very cliche.  It was a stereotypical dark alley.  It came complete with an awkward dumpster in the middle for the bad guys to hide behind. It was not uncommon to see a wino sleeping against one of the buildings.  

Despite the foreboding alley, I would regularly make the journey.  I would bring home a large pizza that I would stretch out for three days.  That was how I did grocery shopping.  

I have started doing regular Facebook live videos. It feels very similar to the pizza walk.  

In the current music ecosystem, Facebook has been the last holdout to pay royalties due to songwriters.  They are getting on board now but it has taken awhile.  My reluctance is not about cash.  Given the current per stream royalty rate, it will be a long time before I see a check that is worth more than the cost of the ink to print it.  My reluctance is purely on principal.  If you factor in the recent data breaches and the potential election tampering, it just feels dirty.  There is also the theory that social media is degrading society and replacing real tangible relationships. I recently decided I no longer wanted the negativity of social media in my life and I went so far as to delete Facebook from my phone.  I enjoyed the freedom that came from not looking at all of the mess.  I think my dopamine levels had actually started to return to normal. 

But then I heard an interview with a guy that convinced me to explore Facebook live. I don’t know how it happened but I may be addicted to playing on Facebook. This is a digital form of busking.  I know that the image of a guy on a street corner with his hat in his hand might have some negative connotations.  However, all blue collar musicians have to find a way to show up everyday and do the work.  It has been hard in the past to find places to play the music that I play and Facebook is basically an open stage. Also, it provides a fantastic way to practice and get better everyday at what I do.  At this point in my life, nobody is hunting me down and demanding to hear one of my songs, no matter how good. It is up to me to get my songs out in anyway neccesary, to anyone that will listen.  Maybe the right person will hear it and it will be that perfect slice of pizza at the end of a dark alley.

All the experts talk about “fan engagement.”  I don’t like this term.  I think this new structure for delivering music is deeply rooted in connecting with the people that I know.  This world has become so disjointed and dysfunctional. I used to think Facebook was part of the problem. It probably is. However, I have had to come to terms with the fact that social media isn’t going away.  We need more connection.  Facebook should not be a substitute for community but it can be a great tool to help us build more community. We can connect and look out for each other and take care of each other.  Maybe we can walk down this dark and slightly foreboding alley and find some amazing pizza to share with our friends. 

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