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Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

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Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby hobbyist » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:54 pm

Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.
Read the whole story here:
https://mixerman.net/all-hobbyists-now/
summary after this philosophical aside:

How would you go about making it in the biz with your music?

Can that strategy work for more than a handful of people who make it big and sit at top of the long tailed pyramid, where many others barely break even, and the majority do not recover their time and expenses?

I see two ways. None of them guaranteed, as luck is always a big factor. But so is talent, training, and sustained effort.

You can start early like Gaga learning your craft and then building up your following with hard work. Or you can start early like Bieber and go viral then use a good manager to keep going. You know any others who have recently succeeded with another method?

What would you suggest to some new kid thinking of doing music?



The exec summary:

It isn’t enough to just produce a great record. You have to sell it too. There are so many options available for delivering and distributing music, and things are changing so rapidly , how can anyone keep up.

Distribution of [mixermans] book and the audiobook are in the domain of Hal Leonard.

The four fully produced songs and their videos? That’s on him , and while mixerman made records for decades now, selling them was always up to someone else. Not so, anymore. Which begs the question: now what?

He could try and get a Label involved, but that’s no guarantee of success. After all, an Indie label is unlikely to garner radio Spins. And let’s face it, no Major Label executive in their right mind would have anything to do with a one-off by two aging MCs, and their equally aging DJ Produsah. If the book takes off, that might change things. But for the now, that makes him the Label.

He is also the publisher, the Artist, the Songwriter, and the Produsah, and is even operating as an entire marketing and promotion department! All by himself. Sound familiar?

The goal is to get The Song(s) on terrestrial radio. That’s where the big money is for Songwriters because Congress passed the Copyright Act of 1976 which dictated robust statutory rates to Songwriters paid by radio stations for Spins. There is no reasonable and possibly lucrative per Stream statutory rate.

[Is it any different in UK and Europe?]


There are few viable paths to radio play. You can’t just send the track to radio stations for them to Spin it. They won’t give you the time of day.

Set up company as a publisher, get administration, get PRO, register copyright first, and we’re ready to put it online. But where?

So, there he is, with 4 songs, 6 streaming sites, 3 music sales marketplaces, 3 music and video sharing sites, 2 fan page sites, and a whole bunch of questions.

[There may be changes since he first wrote this piece.]

Comments and criticisms are welcome. Advice is appreciated.
We’re all hobbyists now.

What would you tell him to do or tell that kid I noted at the start?
What are you doing and how is that working out?
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby desmond » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:09 pm

hobbyist wrote:What would you suggest to some new kid thinking of doing music?

"Do it because you love it, and for no other reason."

Yes, the environment today is different to when we grew up in the 80s/90s, in some ways better, in some ways worse, but definitely with different variables.

Having said that, there were plenty of acts back in the day doing Top of the Pops who could still barely afford the train fares to get there, so it wasn't all champagne and yachts back then either.

If you're an artist, work hard to find your voice, embrace opportunities, finish things you start, be serious and committed to your craft (which means a proper work ethic, assembling a good team, working as hard on the business and marketing as the art, work on multiple revenue streams) and keep your expectations realistic (no champagne and yachts!) and you'll probably be able to do your art and sustain your business.

That might be as good as you can hope for, for the most part - and sounds better to me than spending your career enslaved to a record company who own and control everything you do...

But it all starts with loving it, imo...

Edit: Oh, and Mixerman has a typically direct US-style. I get what he's saying, and I kind of agree with him, but you need to not take his exact words too literally. There are still all kinds of pros, but the democratisation and availability of technology has really changed things over the last few decades. Like many things, it's all down to how you choose to look at it...
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby Arpangel » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:25 pm

"Who really cares?"

A note left in a friends book we discovered a few weeks after he died. He was a very famouse writer, we accidentally gave the house clearance guy his manuscripts, which he took to the council dump
No one cares about your music, mine, or anyone else's, and yes, we are all hobbyists now in the eyes of the "masses" but what do they know?
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby hobbyist » Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:38 pm

desmond wrote:
hobbyist wrote:What would you suggest to some new kid thinking of doing music?

"Do it because you love it, and for no other reason."

Yes, the environment today is different to when we grew up in the 80s/90s, in some ways better, in some ways worse, but definitely with different variables.

Having said that, there were plenty of acts back in the day doing Top of the Pops who could still barely afford the train fares to get there, so it wasn't all champagne and yachts back then either.

If you're an artist, work hard to find your voice, embrace opportunities, finish things you start, be serious and committed to your craft (which means a proper work ethic, assembling a good team, working as hard on the business and marketing as the art, work on multiple revenue streams) and keep your expectations realistic (no champagne and yachts!) and you'll probably be able to do your art and sustain your business.

That might be as good as you can hope for, for the most part - and sounds better to me than spending your career enslaved to a record company who own and control everything you do...

But it all starts with loving it, imo...

Edit: Oh, and Mixerman has a typically direct US-style. I get what he's saying, and I kind of agree with him, but you need to not take his exact words too literally. There are still all kinds of pros, but the democratisation and availability of technology has really changed things over the last few decades. Like many things, it's all down to how you choose to look at it...


I would agree.

You do it because you like it.
If you make it big then that is a lagniappe.

But is it worth starting early and working full time to try to make it big? Can anyone really make it after 25-30 if they just then start?

How long should you try before you switch to hobbyist mode and get a job that can actually support you and a family.

washpost had an article about a 'successful' usa group that had toured Europe a number of times , had put out several CDs, but packed it in because they could not make enough to support their family. that was some time ago. It must be worse now.

Consider millions more are able to try to compete with digital and the internet now, and that there are fewer consumers with all the other entertainment options competing for their time, the chances of making it are fat slim and none.
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:21 am

hobbyist wrote:But is it worth starting early and working full time to try to make it big?

Generally, starting early is good because you usually have the time and passion to dedicate to music making, and you can make your mistakes in a relative pressure-free private environment, so by the time you're more ready to take things seriously, you've already got many years of being crap/learning behind you. ("Paying your dues").

hobbyist wrote:Can anyone really make it after 25-30 if they just then start?

As an artist, it will be difficult. You'll have pressure be be instantly good as you're starting late, and probably have money responsibilities etc. I'm not sure when you mean "starting late", you mean, this person has been making music for years, but are only starting late to try and make something of it, versus starting actually doing music late.

That will be partly genre dependent, of course, and also dependent on whether you are actually any good...

If you're brilliant, then anything's possible. But brilliance is rare (and usually has a lot of work and effort behind it - it often takes many years of work to produce an overnight success, etc...).

hobbyist wrote:How long should you try before you switch to hobbyist mode and get a job that can actually support you and a family.

That's a personal decision. I suspect far too many hold on for far too long... and when that fails, there's always pushing that dream onto your children instead... :?

hobbyist wrote:Consider millions more are able to try to compete with digital and the internet now, and that there are fewer consumers with all the other entertainment options competing for their time, the chances of making it are fat slim and none.

Yep. But hasn't it always been that way...?
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby ManFromGlass » Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:17 am

It’s always been that way from what I’ve seen.

I read 2 of mixerman’s books. Even bought them. Amusing stories and anecdotes, some good chuckles. Then what? Collecting dust on a bookshelf in the house? No, actually, his books have been repurposed, they hold my fat ass up in my chair as they are the right size to raise the back legs of the chair to a correct height. Thanks mixerman, for your supporting role in my quest for good posture!
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby hobbyist » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:06 am

ManFromGlass wrote:It’s always been that way from what I’ve seen.

I read 2 of mixerman’s books. Even bought them. Amusing stories and anecdotes, some good chuckles. Then what? Collecting dust on a bookshelf in the house? No, actually, his books have been repurposed, they hold my fat ass up in my chair as they are the right size to raise the back legs of the chair to a correct height. Thanks mixerman, for your supporting role in my quest for good posture!

I just looked at his zen of mixing again and then put it in the box to give to goodwill.

Nothing in it that you could not get from other mixing books without all the other less relevant stuff he threw in.
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:12 am

Mozart, Beethoven and Berlioz had exactly the same problem. We had a little 80 year blip there, where you could sell a physical product for huge money, but now music is back to normal. Ephemeral, requiring performance. A lot of work and no budgets for idiots to buy mansions, coke and hookers and still be millionaires. Which means either being brilliant at artifice, stupidly beautiful, or freakishly talented (like the three gentlemen I mentioned at the start). Preferably all three.

And be careful not to confuse any of those three qualities with narcissism, which can often present as similar :beamup:
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:33 am

I'm sorry to be so negative, but IMO I think there is too much music around, and it's now very difficult to break through and make a viable career. I'd be happy just to make "a living" but even that's something that seems a million miles away.
I cope with the market situation by adopting an atitide, people don't need my music, fine, but we as musicions "need" to make it, and if anything comes of it, then that's purely icing on the cake.
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:50 am

I'm with Desmond on this. It's hard to make a living from any art or creative activity, it always has been. The environment is massively different to how it was thirty years ago but that brings as many advantages as it does challenges:
- The cost of entry has never been lower, but that means you have more competition.
- There's more music entering the market, but you can market globally and the potential audience is huge.
- The major labels aren't taking the same artistic risks that they were, but you have more tools to build your own niche unconstrained by someone else's idea of genre.
- etc.

But to make the most of the new environment you need a very different skill set, if you don't have those skills you need a team who do. You need to be every bit as business-focused as if you were starting your own company in any other field, which seems to be something a lot of musicians don't want to consider.
Starting young helps in a couple of ways of course, firstly we're in an industry that is still very youth-obsessed, and secondly we're willing to put up with a lot more sleeping on floors, living hand to mouth, getting evicted because we can't make rent, etc. etc. etc.

A related aside, I went to the last gig of one of my favourite recent bands 'Augustines' a couple of years ago. They were touring their third album, were on a major label, had filled places like Shepherd's Bush, but were packing it in because they could no longer afford to do it. The big payments from major labels are really only going to the same tiny percentage of acts that they always were.

I've read a few things by Mixerman and followed his blog for a while but his writing is very glass-half-empty, myopically so in some cases I would suggest. Which I understand completely, the whole democratisation of the music production process has pulled the ring out from under his previous career; but that happens everywhere and to everyone, and he's adapting his business model accordingly.
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby CS70 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:09 am

The differences between hobbyist and professional boil down to whether or not you are trying seriously to earn money from your craft. When you stop trying to make money from your craft, you no longer are a professional. If you never tried, you’ve never been.

It ia self definition and an attitude, not something which comes from outside.

Is it possible to make money out of music? Yes. This forum is set up by an organisation which does just that. There’s still pro mixers? Yes.

So no, we are not all hobbyists :)
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:26 am

blinddrew wrote:I've read a few things by Mixerman and followed his blog for a while but his writing is very glass-half-empty, myopically so in some cases I would suggest. Which I understand completely, the whole democratisation of the music production process has pulled the ring out from under his previous career; but that happens everywhere and to everyone, and he's adapting his business model accordingly.

I'll probably come across as a reactionary Luddite, but that's a risk I'm not afraid of. I will say that it's easy for an old person like me to say the things I do, I haven't got a life ahead of me to fill with a career.
I'm a big advocate of the views of Aldous Huxley, and I completely dissagree with the "democratisation of the production processes" (even the terminology is dehumanising) be it music, cars, or baked beans, and we nead less choice, not more.
I think it's time to take stock, it's difficult to exist outside of the system, we are all good consumers, and music technology is up at the top when it comes to emptying wallets.
I'm constantly at war with "stuff" in my studio, I try and make do with the minimum, my piano gets the most use these days. But as musicians looking for a market, we have to resist being forced down a narrow path that's being shaped by the convenience and the computerisation of modern technology. It's no exaggeration, I think there will come a time when composers will become superfluous, just like check-out assistants in supermarkets have been superceeded by auto-tills, there really is no difference, some jobs just take longer than others to be eliminated.
We must retain humanity in all aspects of our lives, and we must resist the pressure to be like machines, to admire their inhuman speed, which forces us to work beyond our means.
We need to slow down, the tools for making music have been with us for hundreds of years, we must not be seduced into thinking the envelope always needs pushing, we need to step back and use our own minds in this respect.
We need to reestablish what's neccasary, and what's important in our musical endeavours, and not be pulled along and trampled down by mass opinion.
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:49 am

It's always fascinating the way that two people can see the same thing, and have very similar objectives, but end up with very different conclusions. :)

Arpangel wrote:I'm a big advocate of the views of Aldous Huxley, and I completely dissagree with the "democratisation of the production processes" (even the terminology is dehumanising) be it music, cars, or baked beans, and we nead less choice, not more.
There's two bits I don't understand here, one is why the term is dehumanising? I would suggest that by making it available to more people it is inherently more human?
Secondly I don't see why more choice is bad thing? Too many compressors in your DAW may slow down your decision making, but being able to look across the whole market and choose one or two that work perfectly for you is a good thing in my opinion.

Arpangel wrote:I think it's time to take stock, it's difficult to exist outside of the system, we are all good consumers, and music technology is up at the top when it comes to emptying wallets.
I'm constantly at war with "stuff" in my studio, I try and make do with the minimum, my piano gets the most use these days.
I see where you're coming from but it's not a problem I have, there is a time and place for both simplicity and complexity. Deliberately creating these conditions, either in a composition or in an environment, are choices.

Arpangel wrote:But as musicians looking for a market, we have to resist being forced down a narrow path that's being shaped by the convenience and the computerisation of modern technology.
I guess my point is that no-one is forcing anyone down any route. If you want to hire a traditional studio and an engineer you still can. But now you have other options, including ones that no-one else has figured out yet. From where I sit it's not a narrow path, it's an open field.

Arpangel wrote:I think there will come a time when composers will become superfluous, just like check-out assistants in supermarkets have been superceeded by auto-tills, there really is no difference, some jobs just take longer than others to be eliminated.
We must retain humanity in all aspects of our lives, and we must resist the pressure to be like machines, to admire their inhuman speed, which forces us to work beyond our means.
We need to slow down, the tools for making music have been with us for hundreds of years, we must not be seduced into thinking the envelope always needs pushing, we need to step back and use our own minds in this respect.
We need to reestablish what's neccasary, and what's important in our musical endeavours, and not be pulled along and trampled down by mass opinion.
All of this I completely agree with! :)
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:28 pm

Hi Blinddrew, yes, I think how we perceive things is based solely on our experiences a lot of the time. Also, age is a big factor, and, if you're young and just entering the world of home recording/music, a lot of people won't have the experience of, or be aware that alternatives exist. And sometimes, these alternatives to the mainstream, are expensive, and automatically exclude some people, but that's where democratisation can be seen as a bad thing, I said "can be"
If the means of production are expensive, it only allows those through with enough determination, talent, and drive, to succeed, they will succeed anyway, whatever system they operate in. I disagree with this theory ultimately because it denies opuurtunitys to people who would benefit from democratisation, cheap gear etc, to actually find out if they have these abilities.
I'm not sure about this whole thing, is talent enough on its own? These days we have to have a combination of talents and abilities, I'm a lousy business man, I'm not a computer expert or web expert, all I want to do is sit here and make noises.
Years ago I would have benefitted from the big record company machine, and I still believe it's the best way to nurture talent. Musicians aern't businessmen, or marketing people, nor do we have a PR department, our job is to stay at home and make the music, not be out doing all these other activities.
If musicians aern't allowed to do that, or earn royalties, as sales diminish and music is expected free of charge, and not valued anymore, then those very people we admire and love just won't be able to afford to stay at home and make it anymore.
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:36 pm

Arpangel wrote:I'm not sure about this whole thing, is talent enough on its own?

No. It's never been enough.

It's a good start, for those that have it, but they still need to apply effort, learn, have courage, present themselves, network, and luck (and time!). And any of those things can compensate for any of the other things... it's not a science equation.

There are plenty of bitter people with talent who never made anything of it... it's really the motivated application of talent that can bring results.
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby CS70 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:39 pm

blinddrew wrote:There's two bits I don't understand here, one is why the term is dehumanising?

The idea that everything is a product is very recent, O remember well when that attitude spread thru all businesses 15-20 years ago.

While it’s a very effective approach, because ut allows the lessons learned in industry to be applied somewhere else, it implies that everything is industrialized or industrializable and everything depends on its economic value. And sometimes lessons that shouldn’t apply are applied regardless.

I started being annoyed with the language myself :)
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby ManFromGlass » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:53 pm

And that is the interesting question. If you can’t earn a living creating music then who will do that?

Music will always be needed.

So amateurs and artificial intelligence machines will have their day. Most of it will be crap or derivative, some good. The current generations growing up with it won’t know the difference. The old grumps will complain about when real composers created music and actually made a living at it. The Rolling Stones will tour again. :D (sorry couldn’t resist)

but

Music will always be needed.
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby CS70 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:45 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:If you can’t earn a living creating music

But you can. There’s plenty people who do. Not as many as the people creating but honestly everyone can create it so it’s not a surprise.

A lot is about which living you want to earn tough. Like many more adventurous lifestyles, it suits better younger people, who often expect less material comforts, and have few commitments.

It’s only natural that as they grow older, many move to lifestyles where the likelihood to earn a good living are higher. A few make it well enough, or keep their needs low enough, to continue.
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby John Egan » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:38 pm

CS70 wrote:
ManFromGlass wrote:If you can’t earn a living creating music

But you can. There’s plenty people who do. Not as many as the people creating but honestly everyone can create it so it’s not a surprise.

A lot is about which living you want to earn tough. Like many more adventurous lifestyles, it suits better younger people, who often expect less material comforts, and have few commitments.

It’s only natural that as they grow older, many move to lifestyles where the likelihood to earn a good living are higher. A few make it well enough, or keep their needs low enough, to continue.

I think this is spot on.
When you are young, you can afford to rely on a more hand to mouth existence - and enjoy it! A bit later in life you may need more certainty, and want marriage and a family. At this stage, playing one night stands all around the country and beyond (which was my norm between 1963 and 1966) may be difficult to reconcile with your future responsibilities, however enjoyable it may be. Also, there are nothing like the number of gigs for a performing musician/band as there used to be, so it was necessary to adapt to a different format (for me it was big band jazz), which might be possible to do either pro or semi-pro and might co-exist with a different career.
The great thing today is that the tools to pursue music making are readily available, either alone or with others - and they don't cost a fortune. I can afford to do it for my own pleasure, rather than a living. It's not so many years since producing high audio quality releases was the sole province of the big recording studios. Not so now.
Regards, John
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Re: Can someone still make it now? What are the odds? Mixerman says we are all hobbyists now.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:18 pm

John Egan wrote:
CS70 wrote:
ManFromGlass wrote:If you can’t earn a living creating music

But you can. There’s plenty people who do. Not as many as the people creating but honestly everyone can create it so it’s not a surprise.

A lot is about which living you want to earn tough. Like many more adventurous lifestyles, it suits better younger people, who often expect less material comforts, and have few commitments.

It’s only natural that as they grow older, many move to lifestyles where the likelihood to earn a good living are higher. A few make it well enough, or keep their needs low enough, to continue.

I think this is spot on.
When you are young, you can afford to rely on a more hand to mouth existence - and enjoy it! A bit later in life you may need more certainty, and want marriage and a family. At this stage, playing one night stands all around the country and beyond (which was my norm between 1963 and 1966) may be difficult to reconcile with your future responsibilities, however enjoyable it may be. Also, there are nothing like the number of gigs for a performing musician/band as there used to be, so it was necessary to adapt to a different format (for me it was big band jazz), which might be possible to do either pro or semi-pro and might co-exist with a different career.
The great thing today is that the tools to pursue music making are readily available, either alone or with others - and they don't cost a fortune. I can afford to do it for my own pleasure, rather than a living. It's not so many years since producing high audio quality releases was the sole province of the big recording studios. Not so now.
Regards, John

Lot of sense there John, well said.
But I do meet so many young people these days who aern't prepared to live a frugal life while they are establishing themselves. I lived in a bedsit and ate spaghetti and tinned tomatoes when I left home, but it was exciting, fantastic times, I didn't even think about creature comforts, I was too busy saving up for my VCS3 working all day and saving to start my business. I don't know many young people here now that would put up with what we did. Shoes!? SHOES!? we aspired to SHOES!? :D
"But seriously" I know a couple of visual artists who say things like "I wasnt put on this earth to be a waiter, I have to have my hair cut at Toni And Guy, that sort of thing, I can't take it, any job these days is worth its weight in gold, and what's wrong with Top Cuts at £8!
And why can't you take photos with a £500 Canon, why do you have to have a £5,000 Nikon? what's wrong with your phone for gods sake? That's like saying I can't make a record unless I get a Moog One and an cupboard full of Nuemanns.
Our future is in the hands of the young, and I'm not full of confidence, a friend said that they will make a better job of it than our generation, well, I won't be putting money on that one.
Oh dear, I know......I'm there aern't I?

:beamup:
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