Experience is the new luxury

I didn’t say it–Robert Frank did. Robert Frank covers the topic of wealth for the Wall Street Journal, and I have to say that his advice on which $1M watch to buy, or which $750,000 bottle of wine is ready for drinking is a bit too rich for my wallet. But his latest column (which builds on several earlier columns) boils down to this: stuff for the sake of stuff is just not that satisfying. That’s terrible news for people who expected money to buy them happiness in the form of sports cars, yachts, beach houses, and other property, but no surprise for those of us who find happiness in the doing (rather than the buying) of things.

That’s not to say that the super-rich don’t dabble in some personal musical entertainment once and a while. But I feel that such extravagances miss the mark the same way that needless acquisitions do—they are passive activities measured more by cost and marquee than by personal risk and effort. And yet it is personal risk and effort that have made my greatest experiences the most worthwhile.

In the Miraverse model I envision, musical co-producers will have risks and efforts aplenty as they strive to learn, facilitate, and execute their musical vision. They will have to learn to speak up for themselves, and to cooperate and find common ground with others. They will have to learn how to design projects to maximize future options while making concrete choices in the here-and-now. They will have to give respect while they earn it for themselves. But in the end, what is gained is something real, something that is special not because nobody else in the world can afford to buy it, but because nobody else was willing to work in a particular way to achieve that unique result.

And a bit of good news: many practical co-production scenarios are pricing at between $9,000 and $60,000 for one to five day projects, which includes costs for fantastic artists and engineers as well as craft services. Of course if one wishes to hire Tina Turner for a studio session that will cost more that these figures show, but it’s encouraging to see that a program that delivers more creative satisfaction can be done for a small fraction of the cost of a headliner at a private party. This won’t hurt the headliner’s a bit; it will just create a lot more opportunity for artists and producers that are willing and able to work at a human scale.

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