This Business Will Chew You Up and Spit You Out

IF IT WERE ABOUT THE MUSIC, these guys would still be a band, touring, and making records. But it’s not, and more’s the pity. There’s a good deal more business than music in the music business. Some might say it’s best that way. Only the strong survive. The problem is that the wrong strengths are selected for. The talent, sensitivity, creativity, ability, and heart get abraded away until all you get are the ones who can stand that, or have only that which can withstand all the bullshit you have to go through just to work at your art.

I love this song. Of all the numbers on their eponymous album, it’s the one that can make me cry, singing along with Natasha: …When going home feels like movin’ on. But the rest show an abundance of talent, sensitivity, creative ability, and heart on the part of everyone in the band. Watching their concert footage makes you understand how much joy they took from playing music together.

It was their misfortune to get caught up in a time of transition, in a foreign country, held hostage to corporate maneuverings, and so ground down that, I would suspect, the tax that the business side levies against the creative side just got to be too much. I’ve seen it happen a brazilian times over my forty-plus years in the music business. You have to be tough to make it in this business we call show — not even to the top: just to make it to where you can earn a living at it can take all you’ve got.

Of course, things are better, now. For one, it’s becoming possible for musicians of independent spirit to make a living without a major label contract. Not easy, mind, but possible. In fact, the members of Bering Strait are building careers, together and separately, either as independent artists or on boutique labels, courtesy of the Internet and the indie music scene.

Which bodes well, I think, for all manner of artists. The future seems bright with promise for artists and those who would partake of the art, the music, the cinema, the literature. In the future, we may look back on this as a watershed moment when everything changed in ways we couldn’t anticipate beforehand, but saw as nearly inevitable afterwards.

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