Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Ora Marr, YouTune Glitch Me, and The Courage To Try

A friend of mine who I used to go to perform original songs with at open mic nights recently published his first book of poetry.  

He emailed me about it saying he was having those “what have I just done?” thoughts and feelings.

Those are the exact feelings most people would have in that situation, I suspect.  Not unlike playing for the first time at an open mic night, or releasing your first album.  I’ve released 11 albums, and I get that same uneasiness every time.

My response to him was that we all care what people think to some degree, so those feelings are normal.  I reassured him that with books especially, unlike music, people have to buy them and read them first to be able to judge them.  Most won’t, so all they will remember is the announcement that he wrote and published a book.  They might click the link, see the cover, look at the description, then not buy or read it.  

But the word they will spread to friends and acquaintances is "did you hear? wrote his first book...poetry I think" and then the recipients will at the very least remember that.  That's cool in its own right, whether you're out to impress or not, to have people know you wrote a book.  

Personally, I've actually known many people in my life who have written and published books of various kinds, and after becoming aware of it and choosing to not read them, I still remember that fact about those people, and I am indeed impressed they did it.

With music, it’s a little different: they might click the link, start streaming the first song (in the streaming service they already subscribe to), hastily decide it’s not their kind of music, then never stream any of it again…but they can say they checked it out and didn’t like it.  You can’t tell someone to not bother with a book if you haven’t read it yourself.

By the way, that author/poet is Ora Marr, and the poetry book title is "Infinite Eternity."  I haven’t read it, but I can attest to having been exposed to some of the content in draft form, and based on that alone, would highly recommend it:  

Click the link, see the cool cover, read the excellent & intriguing description, take it from there.

People have to start somewhere, and it could be that someday I will be able to say I gave a little boost with my recommendation that helped him gain some measure of fame, fortune, respect, etc.  You never know, but people tend to focus way too much on whether creative works are good or successful in some measurable way.  Art can relay information, beauty and emotion, which is in itself extremely valuable, regardless of any kind of commercial success it may have.

The main takeaway is lots of people talk about the ideas they have for books, or about the in-progress books they’re working on, but they never get finished or published.  At the very least, he was brave enough to not only give it a shot, but actually complete it, and now he’s an author/poet with a book you can buy.

The same can be said for lots of creative pursuits in these times, when the ability to post your creations inexpensively on the web is not only possible, but fairly easy.  From experience, it’s true for songwriting and music recording and/or live music performance.

It used to be that a record, tape or CD was like a book – you had to buy it to try it (unless they played it in a record store or on the radio and/or you could check it out from a library long after publication), but now most people pay 10 bucks/month to be able to listen to all music, so at least they can try your music without technically buying it first.

More and more, people write/record songs and don’t even bother with the formal distribution to streaming services since they wouldn’t make much money anyway.  Instead, they just post them for free – to public access places like Free Music Archive, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, or with visual content in the form of videos to YouTube.  

In a way, you might think it’s sad and unfair that creators don’t get paid, but if you think of it in a different way, it’s awesome that the creative works get heard at all, and that there are free and easy ways to get them out there for public consumption.  At least, it’s possible for them to be discovered and listened to for free, but that doesn’t always happen since there’s so much out there to choose from.

In that spirit, and the real reason I started this post, was I felt like making another recommendation to you by writing about a music website you might not know about that you might enjoy checking out.  It is:

It's called Youtune, but if you google that, you'll never find it, so I think it's better to refer to it as Youtune Glitch Me, so you remember the URL.

What is it?
Snippets of "relatively unviewed original songs" posted to YouTube.  It's a curated random collection of songs that play one after another by a diverse group of individuals with varying levels of talent and skill who have posted video recordings of songs they've written and performed that haven't been played much if at all.  Most are live, some pre-recorded, some acapella, most solo, some bands.

Who created it?
A blogger whose blog is about "finding a more human side of the internet":

How to use it?
Click the word ENTER, then just start listening, and trust me, eventually, you'll be pleasantly surprised and find something you like.  If impatient, you can click to proceed to the next song, but eventually, if you're like me, you become patient enough to wait for it to progress on its own.

Why do I find it interesting enough to share?
  • My first impression, I'm almost ashamed to admit, was that this made me feel better about my own songwriting/performing attempts by comparison.  Not unlike going to open mic nights full of amateurs/novices/hobbyists where you think to yourself that you're better than some of them.
  • My second impression was that there's both people who are arguably way worse than me out there, but also that there are people who are arguably way better than me out there whose songs have gone unnoticed.
  • My third impression was that I was surprised at how much effort went into these songs and videos that were arguably not that good.  Again, I was almost ashamed at having that impression thinking "why did they bother spending so much time on something not very good?" considering I've put a lot of effort into writing and recording songs that are arguably not good either.
  • My fourth impression, or thought, was a realization that it is highly likely that a lot of people out there in the world who have run across my songs have also had the same impression of me (surprised at the amount of effort I put into songs that are arguably not that good).
  • My fifth impression, which may have been my first but took a while to surface into consciousness, was that there are a lot of people out there like me who are passionate about writing songs, and regardless of the degree to which they are aware that their songs are arguably not that good, they did it anyway.  
  • Expanding on #5 above, this gave me a sense of belonging.  Makes me feel less alone.  It also made me realize that what they do and what I do are just a way to have fun being creative and like me, these people felt compelled to express themselves.  In a way, it's all good.  Just a bunch of apparently regular/normal/average people totally going for it and having a good time, whether they know how bad they are or not.
There's a lot of heartfelt passion in here and I love it.  Lots of people from all walks of life having fun making music.  Listen to this long enough, and you'll slowly change from thinking not everything is your cup of tea to appreciating the effort even if it's not the style you typically enjoy.  Indeed, this definitely highlights the human side of the internet.

It's a bunch of people like me who overcame the feeling of vulnerability and fear of embarrassment.  Most are probably aware they're not that good, but decided to write and perform their song anyway.  I realize I'm leading a horse to water here, that water being a book and cool website with videos of original songs you might like to drink in, or not, can't make you.  Overall, I can now understand that what we all have in common is the courage to try, and that is a beautiful thing!

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