Americana musician Josh Ritter has been around since the late ‘90s, so he’s learned a thing or two from watching the Internet take hold of his industry.
“I find it’s an incredibly amazing time to be an artist,” the 39-year-old Idaho native says. “I can put a song I wrote that day on YouTube or Twitter that night. I’m all for technology.”
He adds, “My first record came out in ’99 when things were just taking off with the Internet, before people were ripping things off or were able to get them for free. But that’s never something that’s worth complaining about. The world moves on from different things, and I feel like there’s still a chain to make great music and go on tour, it’s just different.”
Ritter is on tour starting this month to support his October release, “Sermon on the Rocks,” and is packing up his wife and their 3-year-old daughter for the ride. He doesn’t suppose he’ll do much writing while traveling —“My writing works best if I don’t put a specific time on it.” — but he knows the pressure other singer-songwriters feel when trying to crank out new tunes for the on-demand world.
“Sermon on the Rocks” is Ritter’s eighth full-length release, and he’s been on innumerable tours, compilations and musical projects over the span of nearly two decades. So what advice does he have for those who want to make it in this utterly saturated market?
“The most important things are goals and perspective. I think people are often too embarrassed to admit them, or haven’t thought enough about what their goals are. Pick up your guitar for the first time, and then say, '10 years from now I’m going to be on the cover of Rolling Stone.’ And then go back from there, and ask yourself all the steps you need to do to get there. ‘What do I have to do in six years? And what about in a week?’
"Then there’s perspective. There are always mountains to climb and people who will be more successful, but know that your work as a musician is not only affecting your life but the lives of others. It’s a tremendous privilege to be a musician, whether you’re selling out stadiums or playing for your friends. Treat it well, and it will be good to you.”
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