About my retirement from music business

As I am writing this on Friday morning sipping my coffee, many thoughts and feelings enter my mind.
Ever since I published the blog about retiring from music business, many people have contacted me and asked me not to do so. That is why I decided to clarify some things and write some more about it.

First of all, if someone got the picture that I am blaming the fans about the current situation in music business, I am really sorry. That is not at all how I think. I cherish and thank each and everyone that have given me and my music the amazing support in good and bad times.

Secondly there have been some criticism about my decision, even some people have called me a coward.
I know it is hard to understand what is really going on in the business at the moment. I mean globally in the whole world. Not just in your city.
The signs have been there already about 10 years and of course this was expected. People don’t buy records anymore.
Before you rush to say: “but I do”, let me tell you that I have a better vantage point to the whole music business globally to say this. There are reasons for me to act the way I do. This is not even about the quality of music in the vein of if I make bad records and people don’t want to buy them. It really is true that the records sales are down and are going down and more and more changes will happen and they will not be for the better. The remaining record companies are extremely careful what kind of bands and music they will sign and if they sign, they will control the music and the style very aggressively.This will result to a controlled and boring system musically and ultimately could even kill the music as a physical or digital format. In the times of Bach and Beethoven there were no records. The music was only heard live. But also live music suffers from declining sales because people dont have the money to see all those 30 bands in a month that come to the city.

All this made me to think really hard about my future and the next 10-15 years. Having worked extensively in the last 20 years I simply think it is time to evaluate what it is that I have left to say. I always said that I will play as long as people want to listen. But one thing has dawned me in the last few months: it doesn’t matter to me if people want to listen to my music anymore. This means the ultimate freedom musically.

Another thing is that although I have written about retirement from music business. But I have’t written about retiring from music. I believe music is a gift. And this gift must be used. But sometimes it is not easy. I believe that my 22 years in
Stratovarius and 5 CD’s I have released after that, the music seminars I have held all over the world, the productions and all that goes with it are a lot. How much can you give after you have given it all?

Anyway, I haven’t given up music. I look at the scene and understand that I have nothing to do with what used to be so important to me for example when I was 30 years old. I believe in evolution in music and musical career. Evolution as a whole. Not picking a random record and say: “that sucks”. The whole body of work. I think that every record I ever made, has its place in the discography of my life. As I grow older, soon being 46, I can envision my music evolving towards goals and themes that are closer to my soul than the music I wrote when I was 32. I don’t believe in singing about Legions of the Twilight when I am 50, but that’s just me. I think I have a lot of music developing in me but what kind of music it is, not even I know. The future will tell but I think you will hear from me still one day. My intuition is telling me this.

All the best, Timo

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Capturing light of Mother Gaia in everyday madness

It’s been 8 months since I have written anything to this blog. It has been a time of personal growth for me in all areas of life. For now, life has granted me a period of relative peace, so I have some time to have conversations with myself.

Yesterday was the last day of the year 2011. I woke up very early to catch the sunrise. Photography is a very dear hobby to me and especially photographing Mother Earth as she is. That is what I am trying to do in my photos. I have invested a lot of time and money in 3 years for equipment, read and researched the subject only to find out, that much of it is nonsense. Once again I was reminded by the necessity of us humans to “know everything” about everything. I do not deny that certain technical knowledge plays a role in any area of art but I do also think that in much of time, this is the very thing that kills the spirit and heart of the very thing that it was supposed to help. I have seen amazing photos taken by people who have 5% knowledge of photgraphy and I have seen lifeless and mechanical photos taken by professionals who know everything about the science of photography. By the way, did you know that the Greek word “photo” means “light”? Photography means “capturing light” or “writing light”.

Yesterday was also one of the New Year traditions. People start exploding their bombs and rockets and wish each other’s happy new year. That is preceeded by the XMas time, another powerful tradition. That is when everyone is supposed to quiet down and be happy and joyful. XMas is presented by Christians as the birthday of Jesus Christ but if you dig a bit deeper than that, you will find that this tradition is deeply pagan. Xmas has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.It has everything to do with consuming and economy. But a very little seems to be left of that “spirit of XMas” that perhaps, regardless of religions and other nonsense, brought some peace to the hearts of human beings. Now before the 24th, all you find is a massive machinery of this and that and thousands of extremely frustrated and angry people that “have to” buy gifts to their “loved ones”. I am in the opinion that these rituals that we have year in and year out are just there to preserve something so we would not change. If I tell these opinions (and as you remember, in democracy, an opinion can be voiced) to someone who has the opposite view from mine, I usually get a furious response while my response to the person’s views is tolerant. This is a very interesting response. It is called “conditioned response” and that makes life sometimes extremely predictable. Sad as it is, most of us are like this. Condition to respond like programmed. And most of us are programmed by our parents, school, military, church and society. Very few of us have thoughts and ideas that are genuienly our own. But we hold on to our traditions like a lifeboat of Titanic. Which I happen to think is exactly where we are as mankind. Why do I have so “pessimistic” view on traditions? Only because of one thing: they make us blind. To everything.

So I woke up early, made coffee and prepared myself to capture some light of a piece of earth near Helsinki. I go there often and sometimes I am very lucky with the view of the landscape. As I was driving towards the shore at 8 in the morning, I saw a marvellous beautiful sunrise with blue and pinkish tint to it. Clouds looked nice and their shape was perfect. I was marvelling the beauty of the sky as I arrived to a road that leads to the shore. It is lined up with tall pine trees, almost like a long corridor. The first thing what I noticed when I arrived was that the waterlevel was about 10 meters higher than usually. And usually in December in Helsinki there is snow and sub zero temperatures. It was impossible to go to the places where I “normally go” so I had to find patches of land and jump over water, getting my shoes wet, but that doesn’t bother me. In other words, nature forced me to go to different places than I had been before in the same place. Or was it nature that forced me or mankind?

Durban Climate Conference was held in Durban in this November/December. The results have been praised but when one examines the results (and you would want to know what’s happening if you are on Titanic I presume), the whole conference is just a repetition of the old agendas and political writing in another form. The actual results mean nothing to the climate change that is happening. It took the leading economist of the world to “wake up” George Bush and now Barack Obama to the climate change. But all I see from ever single country in the conference is the will to cover their own benefits. These are the people who decide our future. Their decisions or non decisions have a profound influence to the life of billions of people. And most people don’t know about these facts. We human beings have established a system called society and countries and that system is about to collapse in all levels. Jared Thompson has an excellent book called “Why societies collapse?”. I read it years ago but I remember it was very good. The reasons are rational but we are not. Although we have seen some activity against the governments that glue the societies and its so called “principles” and “morals” together, a whole lot more would need to be done so this Titanic where we all are on board would actually miss the iceberg.
Will it miss the iceberg in my opinion? More of that in the later blogs.

-Timo