Before The Music Dies (film recommendation!)

I want to tell you about a documentary that has lots of good going on in it (the movie has plenty of Art Of Hustle concepts), focusing primarily on how music artists have been affected by cut-throat labels and how some are ultimately taking back their careers. Whatever your field, from visual art to theater, no matter how “real” you keep it, if you plan on advancing, if you plan on staying relevant, at some point or another, you’re going to have to deal with it – the Industry! My friend, literary artist Barbara Jane Reyes has aptly dubbed the machine that runs the poetry world: Po Biz. Given the countless parallels in our respective arenas, there is a lot that we can learn business-wise from paying attention to genres that aren’t necessarily our own.

While the first half of the film illuminates what most of us might already know about the negative effects of business on art, the second half of the film I find more inspiring – the story of a slate wiped blank and a field leveled by that omnipotent and mysterious thing that we call the Internet. The featured artists, which include such greats as Erykah Badu, QuestLove, and Branford Marsalis, talk about going back to the basics – like art for art’s sake, but they also talk about (as I did in the post Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion) leaping on this never-before-seen artistic advantage in consumer technology in order to actually helm the business that governs your art! In both designing and disseminating your work!

And speaking of technology, go ahead now and pick a time this weekend to see this film at your convenience. It’s playing for free at Hulu! Watch the trailer below. And follow this link when you’re ready to view this great film, “Before The Music Dies”.

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4 responses to “Before The Music Dies (film recommendation!)”

  1. bjr says:

    thanks for the shout out! first, i didn’t dub the po-biz such. it’s what it’s called, and i don’t know who named it. but yeah, i am thick in it, and i am not sure how our community feels about this. (also, can’t watch the video on my work computer).

    but i agree w/ you re: longevity, etc and navigating the industry, if only because – for me – the publisher and distributor have already demonstrated longevity and their established networks are what gets me into bookstores (who generally order from distributors and not directly through authors) and readily available for course adoption. so that’s one less thing i have to work at.

    i still have to promote the book as best i can, so that educators and readers who are looking for filipina poetry can find me and find out about my book (which they can then order via BOA or its distributor, consortium; via tinfish or its distributor, small press distribution).

    and i am glad there are bodies who can commit the $$$$ to producing and printing my book. i can’t afford that myself. definitely, digital print on demand is changing and challenging the model, making publishing more affordable. so then we have to talk about the value, or whether there is value in curation, and editorial process. professionally i think there is, esp. with bodies that already have a proven track record of propelling poets of color into major literary spaces, etc. so back to living long in the industry as an artist, there could be something of value in becoming part of a catalog.

    i’ve been wanting to teach a class for young/emerging writers of color on the literary industry: how to write a cover letter, how to research journals and chapbook/book publishers, how to submit poems to journals, how to query publishers for book/chapbook manuscripts. maybe we can team up on this?

  2. great thoughts all, bjr! I personally like the quote “the better you get, the better you’d better get”. and when it comes to remaining in the game, there’s something to be valued in actively hustling, elevating, and educating oneself on next processes and maneuvers. it’s almost as if starting as an artist is easy – even with the countless hours of honing one’s craft. it’s building that longevity and customized strategy that we’re both talking about that defines an artist’s ability to “be”.

    • bjr says:

      thanks anthem, agreed on all points! so i am thinking about all the folks that say that as long as you have a pen and paper, then you can write a poem, hence you are a poet.

      but what if i said, as long as you can move your body, then you can dance, hence you are a dancer. i think dancers who’ve spent their entire lives in the discipline, who’ve practiced a life of education, conditioning, teachers, form, rigor, rehearsals, who work their asses off as professional dancers may take umbrage to this statement.

      am bringing this up to underscore your point about customized strategy and unpacking the term, what customized strategy entails.

  3. oh, and YES to teaming up! definitely.

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