Q. What is the Music Business, and what does it mean to get involved in music?
A. Here's some thoughts and reflections on music from various people through the ages, about the business of music, about music itself, about music critics, and about the commitment of various composers to their music. Keep these various things in mind if you decide to get involved in the music business, or in music as a hobby, or in some other way between these two extremes.
Hunter S. Thompson is quoted as having said: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long
plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
Duke Ellington said: “Music is my mistress and she plays second fiddle to no one.”
Gunther Schuller wrote about Duke Ellington, "Ellington composed incessantly to the very last days of his life. Music was indeed his mistress; it was his total life and his commitment to it was incomparable and unalterable. In jazz he was a giant among giants. And in twentieth century music, he may yet one day be recognized as one of the half-dozen greatest masters of our time."
“I’m sure critics have their purpose, and they’re supposed to do what they do, but sometimes they get a little carried away with what they think someone should have done, rather than concerning themselves with what he did.”
“Playing ‘bop’ is like playing Scrabble with all the vowels missing.”
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to decide where jazz starts or where it stops, where Tin Pan Alley begins and jazz ends, or even where the borderline lies between between classical music and jazz. I feel there is no boundary line.”
“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”
“Gray skies are just clouds passing over.”
“What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music (cicadas in the tropical night). The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infinite. It is the ‘esperanto’ of the world.”
“I never had much interest in the piano until I realized that every time I played, a girl would appear on the piano bench to my left and another to my right.”
“A goal is a dream with a finish line.”
“If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!”
“There is no art without intention.”
“By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.”
“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”
“The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen.”
“There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.”
“Put it this way: Jazz is a good barometer of freedom… In its beginnings, the United States of America spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that man people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country.”
“Love is indescribable and unconditional. I could tell you a thousand things that it is not, but not one that it is. Either you have it or you haven’t; there’s no proof of it.”
“I don’t believe in categories of any kind, and when you speak of problems between blacks and whites in the U.S.A. you are referring to categories again.”
“There is nothing too keeping a band together. You simply have too have a gimmick, and the gimmick I use is too pay them money!”
“The measure of a man is not whether he falls down, but whether he gets up again.”
...and in closing, let us please add this:
The music business will for sure knock you down many times, but if you have the strength to keep getting up, eventually you will quit falling down!