A few days ago, Matt sent me a link to this thing called the Indie Band Survival Guide. It was okay, but for me the best thing about it was that it referenced an ancient article by Courtney Love which I'd read years ago, then lost track of. (They also mention Steve Albini's classic "The Problem With Music", which you should also read, but that one I already knew where to find. There's a lesson there about easy-to-remember URIs, but that's a rant for another time.)
Some of the parts of her article that resonate with me the most:
Music is a service to its consumers, not a product. I live on tips. Giving music away for free is what artists have been doing naturally all their lives.
I get really freaked out when I meet someone and they start telling me that I should record 34 songs in the next six months so that we have enough content for my site. Defining artistic expression as content is anathema to me.
What the hell is content? Nobody buys content. Real people pay money for music because it means something to them. A great song is not just something to take up space on a Web site next to stock market quotes and baseball scores.
I also feel filthy trying to call my music a product. It's not a thing that I test market like toothpaste or a new car. Music is personal and mysterious.
Being a "content provider" is prostitution work that devalues our art and doesn't satisfy our spirits. Artistic expression has to be provocative. The problem with artists and the Internet: Once their art is reduced to content, they may never have the opportunity to retrieve their souls.
I've been trying to think of a way to explain why I'm not really too keen on making SFoT viewable in order of the date I wrote each song, and seeing this article again made me think of one explanation: for me, even trying to associate a single date with each song would be treating art like content. I write down dates next to things in my notebook sometimes, but that's just something I do for myself. It's personal. That doesn't mean I'll never discuss it, because I can and do discuss personal things sometimes. But it also doesn't mean that it belongs in a database. They're songs, not kernel modules.
You want to know what my "versioning system" is? I started the notebook I'm on now in March of last year. I've used about 50 pages so far. The first several pages: Some stuff that went into "Practice"; a bunch of stuff I haven't yet used in anything; some stuff for "So What Are Yours?"; some proto-stuff for something else I'm working on now; big pieces of "Practice" crystallizing; a bunch of stuff I decided to scrap completely; bits of "Reverting to Type". That's how it goes. I finished "Reverting" in November, but I was writing things that went into it since, oh, looks like at least June, quite possibly since I was in the womb. Versioning systems are for software. Shoebox Full of Tapes is for you. My notebook is for me.