I love spy movies from the Cold War era. There is always an evil communist plot to destroy the whole world. The good guys find out that the world is going to be destroyed but they don’t know how to stop it. The hero inevitably gets help when an overworked and underpaid communist bureaucrat turns informer because he is sick and tired of all the paperwork. The good guys are able to stop the giant bomb just before it goes off and it’s all thanks to a heavily regulated and completely unnecessary paper trail. I bet those commies wish they hadn’t been so focused on efficiency. As payment for turning his back on his mountain of paperwork and his motherland, this disgruntled paper pusher becomes a high paid accountant in Malibu. More paperwork.
I know how he feels. I used to think being a musician would mostly entail making music. Unfortunately, the bulk of my recent work has been in the realm of the paper pusher. It feels like a complete waste of time. Inputting the same data in three different places so that the correct information can be shared with the half dozen government agencies in charge of regulation, the dozen organizations in charge of collecting and enforcing on behalf of those regulations, and the hundred organizations in charge of distributing your music so that it can be regulated. Then there are the thousands of little places that are just trying to grab a slice of all that regulating so that they can charge you for the services.
Although I am very far from being a perfectionist, I do have a tendency to become somewhat obsessive about nagging details. With all this bureaucracy, I tend to get stuck trying to make sure everything is correct. I want to make sure I do things in the right order. I don’t want to overlook anything. I guess I can be a little protective about my songs. I want to make sure they are completely preserved, documented, and secured in all of the ways necessary. I become paralyzed by the task; and, most of my work ends up hidden in a shoebox in the basement.
I am working on distributing all my back catalog. I am limiting my focus to the minimum effective amount of paperwork. My Grandpap once told me that the most important thing to focus on when you are doing something is to make sure your butt is covered. I am doing everything necessary to make sure I am covered in case something I have done becomes a viral hit or someone tries to lay claim to one of my masterpieces (insert maniacal laugh here). After I reach this point, I am forcing myself to stop, so that I don’t lose more time on making it all perfect.
I think it’s important to approach things the right way. I think all the regulations and forms provide an appropriate amount of gravity. If I don’t treat my musical aspirations with a certain amount of weight and respect, I can’t expect to receive trust and support for my songs from any listeners. If I am not willing to jump through the hoops and give my art bureaucratic credence by way of paperwork, I have no right to push my noise on anybody’s ears. Rest assured all of you who are living in the free world, you can safely listen to my music. I have done my due diligence regarding all the proper paper pushers. My songs have been appropriately vetted and are now secure for listening.
Listen to the episode of Brother Jack’s Soapbox on the same topic:
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