Singing for your supper is a common theme in fantasy stories about bards; it might be cliché, but for anyone trying to make a living, or even to supplement one, on their creative endeavors, it is literally true. It’s not as simple to get cash from your paypal account to buy groceries as it is to sing and then sit down at the table and have the innkeeper bring your already-cooked food, but it’s the same principle.
But the cash is symbolic of more than just one’s daily bread. It is a tangible way that an audience lets someone know that their life’s work--the current performance, the carefully-crafted song, the story that they labored over, the hours spent on a painting or recording--was enjoyed. That your hard work, both in the moment and the years that led up to that moment, was appreciated.
One of the joys of live busking is that you get feedback. You see children’s eyes follow you as their parents walk by, you see people’s expressions change as they listen, and their feet tap in time to--you. You see the people who could have taken this train, or that one, but who lean against a wall or sit on a bench to listen to a few songs before continuing their day. Sometimes you even get applause. Other times you simply see that someone who arrived looking stressed and upset is smiling as they get on their train. (Of course, you also get people who think folk music is deadly boring, but hey, not even Mozart or Elvis could please everyone.)
And all of it, all of the positive feedback, subtle and overt, cash or applause or just a smile—all of the feedback feeds the artist’s soul.
Cyberland is different. You put out your work and then wait. It’s hard to tell if people are even reading your words. They could be smiling, even laughing out loud, or reading your story aloud to a friend or child, but unless they take a moment to leave a comment, the artist will never know it.
As readers, the feedback loop--there’s that feed word again! Once the artist posts their work, oh reader, the feedback loop is in your hands. In this economy, many people can’t afford cash. But other things feed the artist too. Your smiles, your laughs, your questions, your referrals to friends, all these things are welcome.
If you enjoy “free” fiction, or poetry, or music, or any artistic endeavor online, whether it’s my work or someone else’s, please take a moment, open that comment box, and let your fingers do the tapping. Even a single word lets the artist know they are not, in essence, singing on an empty El platform, with only the echo of their own voice to keep them company.
Copyright 2009 Deirdre M. Murphy
Busking in Cyberland is the continuing musings of the artist on her experiences with crowdfunding.