Statement of Purpose: Eric
Hey guys. Jer and I each wanted to take a minute in the midst of many happenings to share some of the beliefs and experiences that lie at the root of Future Fields. Here is my reflection. I'm not sure if it is a statement of purpose, a testimonial - ideally not a sermon; perhaps just a story...
1. I love music. It has been at the center of my life for a long time. Through: childhood piano explorations; hazy college basement jamz; opening Park Hill Studio; and launching Future Fields, it has brought me great joy and confidence in who I am. It brings meaning to my life and is a gift.
Like any passion, it has caused pain. In pursuit of my musical dreams I've made many sacrifices, dived into a number of spiritually-challenging situations, and gotten hurt. More than once I have lost sight of who I am and what I believe.
Art is hard. Collaborative art is harder. Inherent challenges are exacerbated by a tough cultural situation in which: a) free reproduction and transmission of music brings its value into question; b) a mainstream industry holds on to social and financial capital despite being increasingly outmoded.
It's hard to make a living in music. I know so many who, while possessing great talent, question their worth because their energy has not been translated into a sustainable career. This questioning is compounded by the guilt that often accompanies such feelings. There is an idea that the pursuit of a career in the arts is somehow whimsical, immature, or selfish. Perhaps related to this, musicians tend to not stand up and say, "we deserve better". With Future Fields, we'd like to take the lead on that: musicians deserve better.
2. Popular music has a rockstar fantasy attached to it. Some make it BIG. Most toil and hold on to that distant possibility. We have a different idea. We work with artists who are willing to let go of the pipe dream. We think that decision can lead to a different kind of success. We want to build something that is sustainable, ethical, and grounded. We ask musicians to turn down the lottery ticket and instead aim for a modest, steady living. Future Fields is about asking artists to redefine success, and asking the public to make the choice to make help make this happen, when they do not have to do so. This is not the dominant paradigm.
The mainstream music market targets profit. You can't blame it. That is what it is designed to do. Like any economic market, human factors are external; "externalities"; a competitive disadvantage. Everything is molded, shifted and biased towards moneymaking for the point of moneymaking. Any other motivation is a weakness; an anchor. Principles and beliefs are things to be suspended, lest someone more willing to suspend them leaves you in the dust. No hard feelings. Those are the rules. If you try to inject meaning into art without changing the environment in which it is created and supported, you lose. You are defeated by those without the ethical ball & chain.
But many of us want to be anchored. We want to feel meaning and connection. We see music as an interaction with something greater. In creative moments we become conduits for energy outside ourselves. We see music as magical and/or spiritual. Future Fields is about valuing music in a way that reflects this. You don't go to the cheapest church. You don't build the cheapest space shuttle. You support these things because you want to live in a world that includes them. And you support them with a different part of yourself than the part that finds the best deal at Price Chopper.
In the mainstream market, artists are "developed". When land is developed, forests are replaced by condos. Most musicians I know don't want musical condos. We want musical wilderness and musical public parks and musical sculptures. We see Future Fields as akin to a land trust. To preserve what would otherwise be exploited, we have to create space - a space where value is assigned not by what one can get away with but by what one chooses to give. We ask both musicians and patrons to help us create such a space. We believe that by doing this we can move towards a real, sustainable future for independent musicians.
Please check out Future Fields and consider offering your support.