Over the course of this column's existence, I've tried to balance the real economics of the industry with an appreciation for the music itself.
And, looking back over the many columns I've written that have painted a pretty bleak economic portrait over the past few years, my regret is that maybe, just maybe, I could have done more to highlight just how important it is to love what you do.
As I write what is unfortunately the last instalment of Enter Sandor, my one last nugget of industry advice I'd pass on to any musician—from the band that's just cut its first album to a kid who just picked up the drumsticks for the first time—is that, to be happy in the music industry, you have to put passion first.
No one is getting rich in this business anymore. That's just the reality of an industry fractured by the Internet. But, I think the worst is over. The resurgence of vinyl is a sign that there are more and more people who want more out of their headphones than tinny compressed files. I believe that there is a new generation of teens who don't see music as a valueless, easily traded commodity. New models need to be built, but an emerging market is out there.
But none of that matters as long as you love what you do.
Last year, as part of a series of articles that appeared in this space, I put out an album digitally through TuneCore, paid a fee to get a bunch of tracks I'd mixed myself at home out onto iTunes. I created a CBC Radio 3 profile. I promoted myself on MySpace and Facebook. I Tweeted.
The experiment was begun to see if you could make an album, at home, and actually sell it. But, because I didn't want the articles to act as a promotional tool for my "band," I kept my album title and artist name out of the article.
Well, I'm up to US$3.20 in royalties. I have a few dozen MySpace followers. I have 58 fans on Jango.
But, you know what? It was more than an experiment. As bad as that final product might have been, I really enjoyed it. It was therapeutic. And I've kept doing it. Maybe there will be a second Poster Tube Killer album coming out soon.
There it is. Now that I am closing this chapter, I can come clean. For anyone who wants to go further and give it a listen, I apologize in advance.
Delivering this column week-to-week has been equally enjoyable. When I left Edmonton for Toronto, I wanted to remain in touch. (Rumours that I kept working for Vue to pay back the publication for a company bar tab I helped burn in one night at the old Sidetrack Café are untrue.) I was here with some fantastic, creative people when Vue was born out of former editor Gene Kosowan's basement. I think I was the only person who didn't have an encounter with the ghost of the Empire Building when Vue had its offices there.
But there is one main reason I've had a byline in almost every issue of Vue that's come off the presses. He's the publisher, motivator, visionary, carpenter, electrician, general contractor and maybe the most punk-rock person I have ever known.
Ron Garth is one of Canada's most passionate supporters of independent media. And, to be a little part of that vision, week in, week out, has been important to me. (Of course, I also have to give props here to the late, great Terry Cox, who would be right up there on the list of people who understood rock 'n' roll was a philosophy, not just a musical form.)
With a crew on board that I think is the most talented this magazine has ever had, Vue will continue to fight the good fight for independent media. And, while my byline won't be in the next issue, I'll continue being a fan. V
Steven Sandor is a former editor-in-chief of Vue Weekly, now an editor and author living in Toronto … er … not any more.