This will be one of those ‘my life is about to change posts’ so I don’t blame you if you skip quickly. But if you want to get some insight into adaptation, change and learning from mistakes, read on.
Think of this as Billy Madison, 2.0. I suppose it’s really more like Thornton Mellon, 2.0. Or, maybe better said: change is good.
For those who want the end first, I’m going back to school to study ‘Music and Digital Media’ (MDM) at St. Lawrence College (SLC).
The Basics, Up Front.
I like music. I hear it everywhere. It has always been a part of my life.
I’m 54 and I’m going back to school in the fall of 2022.
The SLC program can be summarized as:
- Practice: picking 1-2 instruments (guitar, vocal, bass, keys, etc) and practicing with them and experts to hone skills.
- Production / programming: getting music into a digital format and then finessing the quality of the sound.
- Promotion: using digital media and other formats to get your art out into the world.
The longer version: what a strange and amazing ride it’s been. In 2006, we packed up and moved to London, ON, where I spent most of my time working on a new digital business. From home. I was an ‘early adopter’ to the remote model and functioned very well. That is, until some partners took my clients and fired me from my own business. The shock of the change resulted in a lot of withdrawal until a sense of isolation kicked in, necessitating a change in business and need to be more public.
I picked the alcohol trade, but after a long decade of lots of trials and LOTS of errors, I came away with a simple summary: don’t try to get between a government monopoly and the suppliers that control it.
When we moved to Kingston, ON, I had visions of changing my approach to the wine business and launched a direct-to-consumer site called Drinky.ca. Sadly, few other Canadians were willing to change their habits and even during a global pandemic and the rush to conquer the home delivery front, many people were still demanding that alcohol sales be declared an ‘essential service’ (it’s not) and they continued to fill parking lots rather than cellars.
So, I pivoted again to taking care of our move, updating our house and seeing that our son and my wife had many of their chores taken care of for them. I’m one of those guys that can tell you the price of almost everything, but the value of nothing.
People are going to hate me for saying this, but life during the pandemic was actually not that bad. It started out with me and my family living together in our nice new place in Kingston and I didn’t feel so isolated any more. I finished up our renovations and sought out some graduate programs that might be suitable for my ‘third act’ in life. My primary focus was supposed to be research and writing.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far. Universities have done a terrible job of adapting to the needs of the world and I’m stunned that so many of them continue to grow, despite being horribly behind the times. Despite being forced to offer programs online over the last two years, their online options really suck and they fail to acknowledge the work history of a mature student (ie. me) and continue to look for 30 year-old transcripts, referrals from dead professors and other antiquated approaches to education. There were a few outliers like Pacifica that have wonderful programs, but I can’t justify them (yet). Coursera offers a veritable moveable feast of courses, but few can be threaded together into a presentable post-grad certificate of MA that people will recognize.
It then occurred to me that I needed to stop trying to please others and focus on what I liked best.
I like music.
My first entrepreneurial and digital venture was in 1999.
It was called BarChord.com and was a music download site. The primary slogan was ‘Play the music, pay the musician’. We created an algorithm that would pay artists according to a sliding scale, where they would get a great percentage of revenue from downloads and other activities as the number of downloads increased. BarChord was one of the first sites that allowed people to create their own shareable page (eg. BarChord.com/mybandname) and had a lot of other unique features that are pretty commonplace today.
To be honest, I still believe it would succeed in today’s climate of paying artists fractions of pennies on the dollar, so if there are some deep pockets out there that want to create such a service, let me know.
Did I say I love music? At last count, I have roughly 29,000+ songs in my own collection of tunes and I have the tendency to ‘geek out’ once in a while if others fuel my need to share trivia.
Music: My Response to the Pandemic.
My response to the pandemic was a bit of a fuck you, I’m going to use this time to try to finally make a mark on the world.
I doubled down on making my own music and found a few connections that might help me with stuff.
Once I settled into what I wanted to do, I used the time period to advance my musical skills including more guitar work, programming my digital audio workstation (DAW), updating mastering techniques and more. I’ve written a range of songs and hope to finalize and release them at some point during 2022.
Oddly enough, the pandemic gave me the much needed boot in the arse that I’ve needed for a while. Even before 2019, I was getting a little more serious about music, but it was more of a distraction than vocation. During the pandemic, I doubled down on a number of approaches to music – songwriting, guitar playing, a new tech setup using Cubase (the best DAW there is!) and even took singing lessons – and have crafted a few songs that some friends are helping me complete.
Music: The First Collection of Songs.
The next stage is set: after putting life off for a couple of years, I’m going back to school in the fall to study music and digital media. It’ll be a couple of years of effort, but I’ve already found a lot of excuses to avoid challenges, so now’s the time to act.
I’ve already recorded 12 of my own songs. They’re based on a single concept related to the Hero’s Journey monomyth as described by Joseph Campbell.
I’m in the process of trying to produce them to a better quality of sound and mastering them.
(Hint: I’m happy to find some people to collaborate with and help guide me through this process. Of course, I’m moving forward with this now by going back to school, but would like to accelerate this over the summer).
I look forward to sharing more songs in the future!!