I was scrolling through Twitter the other day when I saw a Verizon ad for their #WeNeedMore campaign. I don’t usually pay attention to Twitter ads, but I saw Karl Anthony Towns was in it, and when the second greatest Timberwolf of all time asks for my attention, I give him my attention. The ad begins with several children talking about what they want to be when they grow up. One kid says he wants to be a soccer player, another says she wants to be a model, and a third says she wants to be a singer. So far, so good I thought. I had similar ambitions as an elementary schooler.
The rest of the ad shows Drew Brees, Karl Anthony Towns, David Villa, and Adriana Lima telling us “we don’t need more Drews”, “we don’t need more Adrianas”, and “we don’t need more Karl Anthonys”, as statistics about how few professional athletes, musicians, and models there are in the United States flash across the screen. Verizon’s angle is that there are currently four million available science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs in the US. Therefore, kids should give up on their unrealistic dreams of becoming athletes, musicians, or models to pursue these lucrative, abundant careers. The ad is part of Verizon’s Innovative Learning initiative, to which they have committed $160 million in free tech, free access and hands-on immersive learning in STEM for students in need.
Verizon. BRUH. BRUUUUUUUUUUUH.
I’m all for encouraging young people to get involved in science, technology, engineering, and math; it's a necessary and noble thing to do. There are many good reasons to commit $160 million to making it easier for low-income kids, girls, and kids of color to get into these fields, but the fact that kids want to play sports, make music, and be creative is not on that list. One of the most important things we can do for kids is encourage them to follow their dreams and do something they are passionate about. According to Verizon, dreams of a career in the arts or athletics are silly, unrealistic, and not worth pursuing. Who made this commercial for you? Who directed, shot, edited the video? Who did the hair, makeup, and styling? Who wrote, produced, recorded, and mixed the music? I’m willing to bet it’s a bunch of kids who dreamed about careers in the arts.
I’d like to offer a few counterpoint to Verizon’s debatable and misleading statistics about employment.
In 2013, the production of arts and cultural goods added more than $704 billion to the U.S. economy. This amounts to 4.23% of GDP. The arts and cultural sector contribute more to the national economy than do the construction, agriculture, mining, utilities, and travel and tourism sectors. (National Endowment for the Arts)
America's nonprofit arts industry generates $135.2 billion in economic activity every year, resulting in $22.3 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. (Americans for the Arts)
For every arts job created in America in 2012, an additional 1.62 positions outside of the arts were created as a result. (National Endowment for the Arts)
There’s enough stigma about pursuing creative careers, let’s not let a cell phone company mislead kids any further. There is no greater reward than making a career out of something you truly love doing. Even if the arts or sports don’t end up being your full-time job, there’s a lot more to life than having a job, and the skills you learn by being a self-motivated, ambitious, entrepreneurial person will translate to any career. Plus, what’s wrong with being creative, expressing your self, having fun, and staying fit?
P.S. I love you Karl, but...
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Order my new LP What If It Doesn't Get Better? now and not only will you get an MP3 copy of the record emailed to you instantly, but your record will ship tomorrow. That's two full weeks before the release. You'll also get some sweet extras.
Here's a brand new song and video from my upcoming record, What If It Doesn't Get Better?.
The album is available for pre-order right now, and each LP pre-order comes with an immediate digital download.
My new record, What If It Doesn’t Get Better?, will be released on March 25th. You can listen to the title track, featuring Lydia Liza right now. It’s my first real solo record since For My Mother in 2012, and I’m really, really excited to be able to share it with you all.
It’s a weird record. It’s more experimental and ambient than anything I’ve made previously. There’s no rapping on it. Eric Mayson, Lydia Liza, Gen Devine, Nelson Devereaux, and Claire de Lune helped me make it. A few of the songs are about astral projection, being in multiple places at once, time travel, remote viewing, ufos, conspiracy theories, space travel. One of the songs is about the Moon possibly being a giant spaceship. Most of the tracks started with me, a piano, and a tape recorder. I’d just let the tape run and play and sing for a while. I then pulled samples from that tape. I recorded all of the primary material for this record on the same cassette tape. I’ve been blurring the line between my producing, songwriting, and DJing lately, and the way these songs are written and arranged definitely reflects that.
The album’s not as dark or depressing as the title might imply. The phrase What If It Doesn’t Get Better? is actually motivating for me, it helps me avoid complacency. I’ve been making records for over a decade, and I’m finally at a place in my career and my personal life where I feel like I might know what I’m doing. That’s a nice feeling, but it can also be dangerous. If you stop seeking out new experiences, trying new things, taking risks, you stop growing. That’s how you end up making the same record over and over or working at a job you hate.
You can also pre-order the album on iTunes and instantly download two of the songs.
Finally, I’m throwing a release party at Amsterdam Bar & Hall on Saturday, 3/26. My friends Lexii Alijai, Sloslylove, Claire de Lune, Chance York, Eric Mayson, Lydia Liza, and Nelson Devereaux will be joining me. Tickets are on sale for that now.
I think that’s it for now. If you like the song, please share it. If you really like it, please pre-order the record. You guys rule.
I'll be playing with the one and only Eric Mayson at First Avenue next Friday, 1/15.
It's their annual Best New Bands show, and the lineup is killer.
Aero Flynn, Baby Shel, Bruise Violet, Eric Mayson, Lexii Alijai, Murder Shoes, and Perfume Monster.
Come hang out with us?