The Manifesto of a Voice

I am not a revolutionary. I am only a Voice, just like you.

I did not begin as a Voice, I began as a listener. Like many music fans I spent my childhood plugged into radios, tapes, even an old 8-track. I listened to the music that was given to me by those who controlled me: Parents, teachers, preachers, radio stations, and record labels. Back then I thought I had no choice.

I became a pianist because, even at age five, I wanted to become more than just a listener. For twenty years, however, I learned to listen and repeat. Bach, Mozart, Rachmaninov- they were all Voices, not listeners. I learned to mimic them for two decades or more, learning how to be a better Voice, if I ever became one.

Meanwhile those with power used their Voices every day. The message remained consistent: Practice well and someday one of Us will let you be a Voice. One of Us will anoint you and make you famous. Us chooses who climbs the charts because we make both the Voices and the charts they climb. You can become one of those Voices eventually, but first you must please Us.

I’ve never been good at pleasing Us.

I listened as best I could to my teachers and professors, earning a degree that made me a Better Musician™. Still, I was not a Voice. I worked for a record label that made the music I listened to, but still I was not a Voice. I played with some of those who had been anointed by the record labels in venues anointed by the Us of the media. Still, I was not a voice. I thought I’d done everything I was supposed to, just as Us had been telling me since I was five.

Then, in 2005, I met You.

You, like me, were taught that you were not a Voice unless Us decided you were. You listened and listened until finally You grew tired of the Voices that Us fed you. Like me, You saw technology as a way to reach more of You. Like me, You no longer wanted to wait for Us to make you happy. You learned that You were everywhere.

I did not find You, You found me. You anointed me because You made yourself into a Voice. You created podcasts and internet radio shows, You invited me to become a Voice along with You. You lived in virtual worlds when the world of Us did not suit you. Us taught me to understand and mimic the Voices, but You finally made me one.

Now Us is not pleased. Fewer of You listen to their Voices, but still Us fights to maintain control of You. Us will tell you that the Voices you choose- even your own -are the “Cult of the Amateur“. Us will tell you that only through their Voices will anyone else listen. A band is “just an indie” until Us makes them “legit” or “famous“. A show is “just a podcast” until Us broadcasts it with an hour of advertisements to weigh it down. An idea is “just a blog post” until Us prints it on dead trees.

Us wants you to listen quietly, but no one can stop a Voice. Us needs You.

We cannot destroy Us- we must not. Us is our past and our foundation. Like King David, Us is an example of both good and evil. We must learn from Us even as we free ourselves from its control. We do not fight to silence any Voice, we create them. We transform listeners into new Voices even as we teach old Voices how to listen.

Us taught me to listen, You made me a Voice. We must not stop fighting until all become listeners and Voices.