“Success does not come in half-measures and hesitation. I left mywell-paying job, spent my life savings, accrued debt, and with greatdiscomfort entered into a very public arena. I try to never lose sightof the fact that in the end its all about the songs. They either will orwill not carry me forward. I’ve soaked in so many experiences over thelast year and every day I just focus on being a better songwriter,performer, and businessman. I strive to present my music with thepassion of a “real” artist and the hunger of a man with a family tofeed, and hope that somebody out there feels me.”
Like so many of our fellow indie/grassroots artists at our site, blues/rock artist, Michael Tracy knows just how tough the music industry is. Nonetheless, Michaelremains “Hopeful” as he pours all of his time and energy into his musicwith the belief that with a lot of hard work, smart decisions, and alittle bit of luck or Divine Intervention, it will happen. Add the factthat he is openly conservative and he’s just upped the oddsexponentially of getting a terrestrial radio station to play his songsor a major label to show any interest.
Tracy was gracious to spend a little time with me recently to answer a few questions:
What made you decide to pursue a music career?
I had written songs and really had no thought of doing this at thetime…. My wife said, “Hey, those are not bad” and encouraged me to takethem out to an open mic and pretty quickly, I got to record some demosongs for free on a compilation album for a club and the feedback was great so I went into it full time. I approached it like a business and figured you can’t succeed at something unless you do it full time, so I dove in.
What was the coolest thing you’ve done as a musician?
Oh man, everything is cool…this is cool…doing a Breitbart article. It’s been like doing four years of college in one year…so much hashappened and I’ve taken in so much in a such a short amount of time. It’s such a different experience when you’re coming from the outside ofit since I was never involved with it before. I had my songs anddidn’t know what the hell I was doing. Recording the album and havingthe album done, which was a process obviously…having that final pieceof work that no matter what, kinda can’t be taken away from you…to havethose songs. They’re kind of timeless, where my kids or grandkids orwhoever listens to them in the family after I’m dead and gone, hopefullythey’re nothing to be embarrassed about. Hopefully it’s stuff they canappreciate.
How did you find BigDawg Music Mafia?
My mother had forwarded me something about you guys and I looked into it. My mother from the get go said, “You realize you’re kind of a Conservative Christian artist…you are…it’s not like you can call it Christian rock…it’s not that, but at the same time it’s very Christian in a lot of ways and that is really going to be your audience and that’s who you naturally are”…and it never dawned on me until I came across BigDawg’s. It never really dawned on me when I was doing the songs, thinking about what genre or what I was doing…I was trying to write and say things and try to do the best I could. But she’s right…in reality the music and what I do is very Christian and very Conservative in its nature.
I would argue that a lot of what I write about or try to say is…to my fellow Conservatives or my fellow Catholics…the discussion needs to be raised. People need to know themselves and know what it is to be Catholic and why they are a Catholic. If you are a Protestant, you should know why you are a Protestant. I think people really need to challenge themselves with why they believe the things they believe and I think if people did that, the arguments would get better in the politics.
Our politics are a reflection of our culture and politics being a relationship between man and man, if people don’t know the relationship between God and man, that’s going to affect what you think about how man should be with man…and laws…and stuff like that. I just think that the conversation has become very, very vulgar and very silly and that is a lot of what I try to write about.
What do you think it’s going to take for us to grow the conservative arts movement?
I think it’s two-fold. I think no matter what, you have to have the non-musicians out there pushing the public to the BigDawg Music Mafia’s or anyone else out there in the Conservative movement. They should all understand the importance of the power of the culture. At the end of the day in America, pop culture is king and it matters who those faces are in that pop culture, so we have to have people on that end trying to understand that and push that and be supporters of that while at the same time…on the other end…movements happen in music when artists challenge themselves and put together good stuff.
So you can have as much of the top down people trying to do things all they want but if the music’s not good, if the lyrics aren’t good, if the art isn’t good, none of it matters, and so it’ll have its moment and that’s it. It takes the artists pushing themselves and firing each other up, trying to be as good as they can be and everyone feeding off each other like that. If the art’s good then the rest will come.
I truly believe that there are many professional musicians and professional actors and actresses that are conservative but they are keeping that hidden because they don’t want to lose their jobs or their market or their fans. But I would argue that the majority of Americans identify as right of center.
Right, they are afraid of losing fans.
I don’t know if they are worried about losing their fans so much, because they would probably gain as many as they would lose. I think it’s more the business…more like academia. I think it’s the business that they are scared of and those that have control over their careers, which is why it’s going to take kind of a new generation of them. People who already have a lot are counting on the million dollar paychecks to pay their mortgage.
A lot of celebrity types aren’t necessarily great talents. A lot of crap is pushed out there and the less talented you are, the more you need the business…you need the industry…you need them to turn you into a product and so these people rely on those people. It’s going to take a lot more people doing what I’m trying to do.
Conservative art is going to have to be like conservatism in some ways. It’s going to have to be a grassroots thing because at the end of the day terrestrial radio is where it’s at to reach a big market and there’s just no way you get on terrestrial radio unless you’re signed to a major label. It’s hard getting signed to a major label if you’ve spent your time coming up (in music) actively being conservative.
Yes, but it’s going to take Conservatives with deep pockets to start some major labels.
We are in an era where it’s not too much to start a label and record music. It’s distribution, it’s always the distribution. It’s not making the record. It’s the publicity…the push. It’s going to take convincing people that changing our culture is how you change politics and changing the culture is changing the arts at the end of the day. It’s not just music, but in American culture, music is the dominant form of communication.
I think it boils down to…they have the media outlets to push conservative music just like they push books…conservative books. To really understand and know the importance of pop culture you have to have somewhat of an understanding of the importance of art throughout history. You have to see it in big terms, which means some study, some reflection, and some contemplation. All one has to do is study arts through history and it’s always the important thing. When Rome fell, you didn’t find any good art…there wasn’t any. It’s always linked. As your art gets vulgar, the whole country gets vulgar.
Somehow there has to be an understanding that beyond the political (conservative) books that hit the #1 bestseller lists that they push, and beyond even their conservative talk radio…the arts is the answer. I truly believe that. I believe it’s the place where those arguments happen in a way that gets communicated to people in ways they can understand.
What advice would you give fellow indie artists, fellow BigDawgers and other artists struggling to get their songs heard?
I’ve learned that it is a very tough thing to break through and that’s whether you’re a writer or you’re trying to sell a short story or you’re trying to get your first break in music. It’s a tough deal, and one thing that is long gone is the ability to say ‘I’m going to sit in my house and write songs and I’m going to mail them to Nashville and maybe someone else will sing them because I don’t want to…I have my own job and I don’t want to do this 100% or anything.’
Those days are kind of gone. You have to be willing to go out there and sell your own stuff and by that, I mean sing it and perform it and sell it to people and that takes a huge commitment in this day and age. If you’re not just going to go for it and spend a lot of effort and time into it, it’s going to be tough and then you just have to enjoy the art for art’s sake and enjoy making it.
People usually say things like in order to make it, you gotta have somebody who knows somebody…it’s all who you know. That is true, but that’s how everyone makes it. You eventually come across somebody who has the power to do something. Ninety-Nine point nine percent of the time it’s not because it was an accidental meeting, it was work to get to that spot where you met the right person. If you follow the path properly then things fall into place that are meant to fall into place and you’re prepared for those opportunities when they come up.
We could not agree more. Perhaps someone reading this knows somebody…who knows somebody…that might just be the catalyst needed to help launch indie artists like Tracy into the mainstream and help reshape our culture.