Friday, July 31, 2015

Pay for play?

It's been 7 years since I've promoted an album.  Things have really changed.

There are now a bunch of sites that you have to PAY to get a review from...and some artists are actually using them.  Wow.

How do you even have the pretense of objectivity with such an arrangement?  And how, once the source of such a review becomes known, does anyone in the industry take such a review seriously?

What used to be called payola is pretty rampant too: paying for spins on online stations...yet all the while the opportunities for revenue for independent artists are vanishing.  There are even sites where you can register your songs as Creative Commons with no limits on licensing so, in theory, PepsiCo could use one of your tunes in an ad and never pay you any royalties.  And those services, too, have a ton of artists on them giving it all away.

So sad that the arts have become so undervalued, so disposable.

I suppose against the larger backdrop of a planet whose biosphere is spiraling out of control, it's a minor little concern, but it still saddens me to see artists willing to pay large sums of money to give their work away for free, essentially.

I really feel sorry for younger acts who are trying to make any sort of living at this...for a time, it was different.  Me, I'm old and my material is out of step with the I know that I have to make my income via non-musical means...and I mostly always have...but what a massive set of disincentives for anyone getting into this field.  Frankly, if my muse was not screaming at me and had I not had the desire to leave a more expanded musical legacy than what I would have left otherwise, I would not have recorded the two new albums...but I have and it means I have to have at least a minor go at promoting them to do them justice...but what a weird little world for indie artists it's become.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Full Albums on YouTube

Starting with Obsolescence (one of the two new albums I've just released) I will be posting the six current John Ludi releases to YouTube as full albums...with verbal prompts between each of the songs.  I've also yanked the older versions of the are older versions.

There will be more regular writings on this blog in the near future, as well as a lot more Off-Grid John videos and other such output...but as always, my main drive in life is my music, so please give these albums a listen...and if you like them, BUY them!  The more time I have where I don't have to punch a clock, the more time I can devote to making music and writing and such.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hard Lessons

These are some of the items that the past few years have impressed upon me...with the force of an anvil dropped from the roof of a 80 story building, some of them. These are MY lessons though. I am only talking about ME here...your journey is probably don't take this as proactive advice necessarily...I'm not your leader...or anyone's.

It's OK to be alone.I'm codependent. You may not like the's becoming fashionable to deny anything resembling a diagnosis, but that's your problem if that's the case. For me, it's a lasting (if gradually diminishing) byproduct of a ugly and dysfunctional upbringing. Boohoo. By and large for the past 50 years I have defined myself not by who I AM, but by my various relationships with other people...especially in primary relationships...and I have worked my ass off at trying to build value with people that should have spent at least SOME amount of time building value with me. They generally didn't. Obviously in a world as socially Darwinian as this, this is a bad idea. In particular, regarding romantic relationships, over three decades of dating I have given and given and given until there was nothing left to give. That is now my current state. I have become empty. No more room at the inn. My last couple relationships were about as asymmetrical as relationships could be and they left me drained and barren...and I'm actually OK with that. I sort of had to reach a point where I had nothing left to give to realize that I should stop giving to people who don't give back. Now I am celibate and there is NO ONE on my romantic radar. Right now I only have eyes for me. I like it. It's peaceful. My life is as complicated as I choose to make it and my stress level is vanishingly small compared to what it was. I'm going to be staying here for a while...perhaps the longest least until I encounter someone who is really there for me the way I am for them. I'm not holding my breath...but I don't have to...I like who I am and where I am and I no longer need anyone else to validate me as a person. I am enough.

And the above is ample reason to...

Stop saving, rescuing, and caretaking.
Other people are no longer my job. I didn't put them where they are...therefore it is not MY duty to take them out of where they are. That's THEIR job. If someone really insightful and with an unusual degree of self-understanding wants to work on their baggage with me in a mutually loving and respectful way as either a friend or lover, well great, I'm game...but if they want to beat me over the head with said bags, I'm no longer available for such assignments. Find another martyr...I sold my cross on Ebay.

And along those lines...

Avoid the toxic and friendless.I have, in the past, made it a general habit to befriend the friendless. It's that being overly empathetic/sympathetic thing again. It has had profoundly mixed results. I have felt sorry for them and have told myself that they are alone in life because they are special and unique and march to the beat of their own drummer...well, that accounts for about 10% of them...the rest are jerks.

Generally speaking, people are where they are in life because THEY PUT THEMSELVES THERE. Granted, people DO get struck by lightning, so to speak, but by and large, people are the result of their own choices and attitudes...I certainly am...but almost every one of them will tell you the following: it's not their fault. Someone else(s) made them the way they are...they are blameless. You see this behavior in a lot of people with diagnosed (or undiagnosed) personality disorders. Nothing is EVER their fault. The thing about people like this is that they are always in conflict with SOMEONE...and sooner or later that someone will be you. Count on it. They will probably bite you.

Another group of folks I am learning to avoid...
People born into money...they tend to be assholes.
It's true, I've found. Poor people can be assholes too...many are, in fact...but people with trust funds who have never REALLY had to be their own safety net have an arrogance about them that is incredibly galling at the BEST of times. They look at anyone who does NOT have money as “the help” on one level or another. Avoiding them too, has become MY policy.

I have encountered a fair amount of this type lately. They both irritate and amuse me. They abound in the Driftless region (and the natives hate them with a passion...and the natives tend to be heavily armed rednecks...all of which should be interesting, moving forward into the collapse as we are).

It's always a giggle when entitled people expect ME to chase THEM around to do THEM a favor. I don't. Screw 'em. One little social or logistical tryst with people like that and they are on my “do not help” list.

Mind you, not ALL of them are that way...and some of them can be VERY kind souls, so I'm trying to avoid painting them with too broad a brush, but overall the wealthy are not like the rest of us...and they know it...and many of them want YOU to know it too.

Which more or less segues into...

Don't be “nice”, be fair.
Don't help people who won't help you back...don't give to the selfish and self-obsessed. Be fair and judicious in your relations: be a mirror...or a solid brick wall if those you encounter need to be pushed away. Learn to say “no”.

I never used to be able to say that it's my mantra: NONONONONO!!! It feels really good. Liberating, in fact.

And that leads to...

Put yourself first...everyone else does...but be compassionate where you can.

Sadly, the hyper-individualized MeMeME culture we have “evolved” has created sort of a systemic abuser/enabler or user/used dynamic in much of our relationships, whether those relationships are that of a romantic nature, a friendship, or that of employer/employee. We have become a society where uneven dynamics are becoming the norm...almost like some BSDM scene writ large, psychologically-speaking. Don't be part of it if you can at all avoid it, is my approach.

Distance, I find, is best...and I think it always is a good idea to...

Beware of humans in groups.
I have always had a lot of one-on-one friends, but I have never been “in with the in crowd”...and I am OK with that. People's natures change in groups...they become far less genuine in that they have to obey a set of mores and rules and doctrines in order to merely belong to the order to not be ostracized and tossed out into the cold.

All of which leads to the conclusion that one should always...

Be an artist and otherwise...even if people hate you for it.
Speak your own truth and call things as YOU see them...but know that what you see around you is not REALLY there in the way that you think it is...all you are seeing is a MODEL of what is there. The map is not the territory, as they say. In fact, this whole thing may just be a illusion...a teaching aid for the soul, so to speak.

But your subjective model is YOUR model, dammit...and you should defend that model against those who would try to tear it down with their own egotism,


In the end, your integrity may be the only thing you have left.
If you let any group or individual convince you to abandon your principals and ethics and go against what you believe is right, it could result in a mark on your soul that will eat away at you for a long long time...assuming you have a conscience of course...not everyone does, as it turns out. Don't follow the crowd, they are idiots most likely.

And while you're at it, why not...

Embrace the natural world while you still can.
It's going away. We're killing it. When we are not busy committing genocide, we are busy engaging in ecocide. It's who most of us are and what most of us do and it can't be stopped. Sorry. Humans are wired to be short-term and reactive's our basic biology. Industrial and technological civilization turned out to be a bad idea when applied to it's probably a good thing that it's going away.

And as a sure sign of that...

Increasingly, nothing works.
As with the breakdown of such minor things as general civility, the service industry, and the social contract between those who labor and those who benefit from said labor, there has been a rapid decline in practically everything material sold on the open market...and I include software (such as operating systems) in that category. Entropy is at play here...we have reached the point of diminishing returns as a global civilization and we are embracing a new dark age barbarism...that will last about as long as the planet is capable of supporting human life...probably another 30 years or so.

This is all part of the race to the bottom aspect of the general climb to the top. Thank global capitalism for this. Thank also, the exponential function built into that global guarantees that we will hit a brick wall. Along the way, the bottom line becomes everything...and that thinking manifests in cutting corners everywhere possible. Materials, labor, R&D...everywhere. So the brand new must-have latest piece of over-hyped techno-crap you have just sunk hundreds of dollars into will do little more than frustrate and annoy you as it waits to ultimately fall apart a week or so after the warranty runs out.'s the won't be getting any better. In fact, it will be getting far far worse.  Happy birthday.

And that's all I have to say for now. I may feel moved to say more along these lines in the future...or I may just decide to express myself solely by the use of finger paints. It really doesn't matter in the long run, does it?