I’ll tell you as a disclaimer right now that I vowed to myself that in my musical career I would never get political. My reasoning is twofold. One, I don’t ever want to isolate a valuable part of my fan-base. Secondly, I never want to boost my own ego to think that I know more about right and wrong simply because I’m a musician with a microphone. To me that seems manipulative in the same way that cult leaders are manipulative. Being given a stage is a dangerous responsibility, and I try to protect myself from letting it get to my head. Why is my political perspective any better than anybody else’s? Let me assure you right now that it is not. Don’t ever let me fool you into thinking otherwise.
Let’s have a little fun. I really don’t know if have a “sound”. In the musician world we talk about finding “your sound”, some elusive part of your soul that has to be opened up through a variety of spiritual musical experiences and suddenly you’ve found your place among the spinning planets in perfect harmony with all of creation. Is there a Brent Ryan Sound? I don’t know…you tell me.
Perhaps I do write this post to poke at my fellow Texans a little bit. But I do it out of love. Why? Because I want Texas to continue to generate and value unique off-the-grid music. Alongside the exploding Texas music scene comes money. And when money gets big, a gold-rush of money chasers follow suit. When that happens, the sincerity of organic songwriters with a unique voice can get left behind, lost in the crowd of screaming college kids that worship a supposed unique “Texas Country” performer who is really only regenerating a 1990’s sound, and brag about how rebellious it all is simply because it isn’t Nashville.
Alright, so I’ve been filling up my page with all of these heavy-handed articles on the music business, revealing to all of you the vast reaches of my critical nature. So, let’s have a little fun.
I’m going to share with you guys a major pet-peeve of mine in the songwriting world. Here is the basic structure of the annoyance: Roger Rockstar begins a music career. Roger posts all over social media and proves that he is an ambitious “in-it-to-win-it super serious musician”. Mr. Rockstar talks about chasing his dreams, craves international fame and glory. Roger achieves a small corner of that goal, gets picked up by a good management company or label, and gets sent on tour. The following year Roger Rockstar releases a new record, and it is chalked full of songs of him whining and complaining about how hard it is on the road and how much he misses home.
The satisfaction of getting your music heard is easier and more accessible than ever. Labels used to be the only avenue for mass distribution. One reason why so many musicians are broke is because they are shooting for mass distribution without a label, and that takes an office of people who light up cigars rolled in 100-dollar bills and laugh villainous laughs at you crazy hard-working types. So, maybe don’t think about mass distribution. Maybe think about how you can get 100 people in your town to come out for a show. Maybe think about how you can use live streaming to be a part of people’s weekly lives in a meaningful way. Maybe work on the craft of writing songs that folks will keep coming back to when they need those sounds and lyrics to speak to them again. This industry is filled with people who are suggesting last century industry strategies in a new century market.
When I think about genres of music in America that are traditional, few genres come to mind that would outperform Country-western music on that specific characteristic. Perhaps Blues, which traces its origins back to slaves singing old spirituals while working crops in the fields. Otherwise I would think Country-western music is high on the list of traditional genres that American music listeners enjoy. As a good American boy from Texas, it’s easy for me to think that country music has just sort of always been here. But lately, I’ve been learning some history that has caused my perspective to change.
It would be easy to just assume that my career should follow the path template that is provided by the apparent successful in my industry. But I think that blind following of another person’s path is what leads some of us to achieve all of the markers of success, only to find ourselves depressed and empty inside.
I write this post as a huge thank you to all who were involved in the process of recording these five songs. The collaboration is part of the reward for me, and it is a spiritual reward. I am better because of the contributions of these other creative masters.
It’s weird, you know, because most people, myself included, tend to always want more. We think some long-awaited accomplishment will fix some of our major problems, or solidify our personal success. Then we reach that long-awaited accomplishment, and lo and behold, there are still problems! Seems to be a defining characteristic in the human condition. At least it is in mine!