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The Big Question....WHY???
By John Taglieri - 06/06/2007 - 10:51 AM EDT

Hi there. How is everyone doing this month? I hope all is well and everyone is gigging steadily and practicing a lot! Gotta always be ready to give it 110%!!

My column generally deals with today's electronic mediums and how they affect the independent songwriter of today. All of our possibilities for promotion seem endless lately. Just when you think there can't be another website or place for you to promote, you find 10 more that lead you to another 20. The more time you spend on the net, the wider the spectrum becomes for where you can go to promote and the smaller the world becomes as you find that you can reach people all over the world without ever leaving your computer. I try to make my monthly column fun and enjoyable, as well as informative to all who read it and I hope that each month I accomplish this. My recent interview with Mr. Michael Robertson, the CEO of MP3.com, was a great experience and one I hope helped some of you understand what his site is all about. But if you would indulge me for a few minutes, I have something to discuss and share with you this month that is more important than how we promote our music. It's about WHY we make our music.

I recently kicked off my solo acoustic tour. It's my first solo tour and the first show went great. On the same night as my first show, I did a fill in gig for a former band of mine named Bachelor Party. They are a Tri-State area cover band with a solid schedule and a great fan base. I was with the band for about 3 years, and the money that I made while in that band financed my CD. I was still in the band last year when I released my CD, Leap Of Faith. Because of that fact, when I had my CD release party, I drew a lot of my Bachelor Party fans to the show. We had a great time. One of the steady Bachelor Party fans is a girl named Maura. She was at my show, bought a copy of my CD, and loved it. So did her 7-year-old son. She would tell me how he learned the words to every song on the disc and would always ask her to play it. She even made tapes of it so he could hear it in the car.

Last week, when I did the fill in show for the band, Maura was there. I had not seen her in a few months. We started chatting and she told me how her former husband had recently passed away, and how her son was devastated. He is now 8 years old, could not understand why his dad had to go away, and couldn't come back. She did her best to explain it to him, but an 8-year-old mind can only comprehend so much. What he does understand is that his dad isn't coming back.

The more we spoke, the more my heart went out to this little boy*but I wasn't prepared for what she told me next. One of the songs on my CD is a duet named "One More Tomorrow". It is a love song about two people who are together and trying to make sure that the relationship is right for both of them. But to an 8 year old mind, all he hears are the words "One More Tomorrow". Maura told me that he listens to the song over and over again, and says he wishes he could just have one more tomorrow with his dad.

I have gotten great press for my CD, been voted "CD Of The Year" on one website, sold out of my first 1,000 copies of the CD, and have every reason to be happy with what I've accomplished as an artist. But when she told me that this song has gotten her son to cope with the hardest thing in his life*the loss of his father*none of it mattered or even compared. There could never be an award or an accolade that could have ever made me feel the way I did in the moment she told me that. I got chills through my whole body, and had a weird kind of smile on my face. I was torn between feeling terrible for what fate had bestowed on this innocent child and elated that one of my songs could have that kind of impact on his outlook of the situation.

The next day as I sat at my computer surfing around for worthy digital events to write my article about, I couldn't get my mind off of the previous nights events. The more I looked at different sites and tried to promote and think of new ways to get noticed, I started to think of why I do this in the first place. Why do I make music? Why do musicians as a whole make music? We all know that some, even a lot, do it for the potential money and fame it can bring. It's a hard life and we all know that. Even harder on independent musicians who don't have the finances to compete with the big boys. But, is money the reason for all of us? I don't think so. I know that there are a lot of true musicians out there who do this for the love of the music above anything else in the world, and they eat, live and breath their music. I've always known that I write and play for the love of the music. I know, for me, that money is only a small factor in this love that I call music. I'd love to make enough money to be a full time musician and do nothing else and quit my day job. I write from my heart and wear it all on my sleeve for the world to see, like countless musicians who do the same. But why do I do it?? I started my CD for very personal reasons and because I needed to find out some things about myself and my abilities. But I do it for moments like that night when Maura told me about her son. For moments like getting an email from a stranger who stumbles upon your website and tells you that your lyrics have substance and meaning, and that they are not just crap thrown on a page to finish a song, and that they bought a copy of the CD because it spoke to them. When you get told by someone at a show that they really dug the performance, but the songs are what grabbed them and made them a fan.

I'm a singer, guitarist, bassist, keyboard player, and play a few other instruments also. But I am a songwriter first and foremost. If I was ever given a choice and told I could either play any instrument or write songs for the rest of my life, there would be no question*I would be a writer, hands down. Playing an instrument is a great talent, but songwriting is a true gift and one that should never be taken for granted. My songs aren't out there making me millions of dollars, but they've done all I could have ever dreamed they would, and the feeling I get back when I am told these stories by people is the gift I get back from my creations

OK, now that I've told you all of this, I have a challenge for you. Read all of the other articles on this site*because you should*and then sit down and ask yourself why you play and write music. Not the superficial reasons*I want to be on stage, I want to be a star, blah, blah, blah. I mean ask yourself the real reasons you write songs and strive to make a career out of this thing we all do. Let's face it, it's stressful, annoying, difficult, tiring, and a million other things that I can think of, but for most of us, we make little and give lots and lots. Don't you ever wonder why?? Sit down and really think about why it is for you and find the reasons within you. For some it's spiritual, for some it's fulfilling, but for most, it's something much bigger than getting on stage in front of a crowd. I challenge you to find out what that reason inside you is and then I challenge you to write a song that makes a difference. That doesn't mean it has to sell a million copies or even one copy. It just has to be from you heart and soul and from that truest, deepest part of you that makes a good song a great one. If you can truly write a song from that place, to someone, somewhere it would make a difference. SO, do you want to make money, or do you want to make a difference???

Keep The Faith!
-- John

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