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.
Remember the famous sociology study where academics studied trends on the East Coast of America and noticed that statistically eating ice-cream was a high predictor of getting shark attacked? The statistics were accurate. But the conclusion missed the point. The unidentified factor was the heat. On hot days people get ice cream. They also get in the water, making it more likely that they get shark-attacked. If people ate ice cream on cold days, the statistical connection would vanish.
I’m in the process of building a new resource for musicians who are ambitious, creative, and passionate, but who recognize that their best musical contributions are contingent on developing a healthy, balanced, responsible approach to their music career. In other words, musicians make good music when they stay alive, and when they stay musicians. So, I want to work together with other musicians to keep more of us alive and making music.
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.
Despite all of this, I used to love being on social media, and I spent countless hours building myself up on Facebook and Twitter. Circumstances caused me to move away from Smart Phones into more basic stuff. And as I’ve done that, I’ve honestly enjoyed the direction of my life. When I go to restaurants, airports, or peruse the sidewalks of my small town, I become grateful that I’m not one of the Walking Dead who are buried in their Instagram feed. I enjoy the fact that, when I go to see some beautiful morsel of creation, that I don’t get distracted by snapping a quick selfie and seeing how fast I get to 50 likes on my post. I can be in the moment. I like that.