AA: When did you know you would ultimately create a life in music?
JS: Music has always been an important part of my life. My parents are both big music fans and our home was always filled with joyous singing. I was very sick from the brain tumor that took my sight and left me with no adrenal function just for starters:-) But music was always a great source of solace and comfort when I wasn’t feeling well, which was most of the time.
I never thought too much about music as a living as a kid because most of my effort was focused on survival. However, one summer I had pneumonia and it was so bad I had to be put in the hospital. They beat the pneumonia back, but the medicine they used made me start to vomit blood—maybe not the best trade off:-) I spent the entire summer bedridden. I discovered 2 things that summer. The first was that if I had patience, I could learn how to play Super Mario Brothers, even though I was blind. I should be clear, that while the force is strong in me, I am blind, and at some point, that will stop me from ever beating the video game. However, over the summer, I counted and timed things on the screen and managed to make it to the third board on Mário with all my lives and with flower fire power.
I know some of you are wondering, can he still play SMB? Well, years later, my wife and I were walking through a local festival and they had a video game system for about $50 that had over 100 classic games on it. We bought it because it had Super Mario Brothers on it. Now, it had been a good 20 years since I was that sick child trying to play. I got the game system home and plugged in and I could still get to the second board, but with no fire power and only one life.
The second thing I discovered was old time radio where the stories were told using music, dialogue and sound effects. I thought, I can do that for TV and film. I mean a blind guy knows sound!
So, after that, I got my first job at the local planetarium as a sound tech when I was 15 and then other young people started coming to me and saying, “I heard you have some recording gear, will you record my band?” I said sure and so by the time I was 19 I had moved from my attic into a building in downtown Macon.
Once I had recorded that first garage band and then heard one of the bands, I recorded writing their own music, I was hooked. I knew that recording music and writing and performing it was going to be what I did with my life.
AA: How do you balance the life of a musician with the normal day to day?
JS: Well, I don’t, I am a full-time music and audio professional and have never had any other job except for music and audio related services. I don’t have any children of my own, but my wife and I do take many of my music technology university students and interns under our wing and act as surrogate parents for them while they are with us. I am my own boss, so my schedule is whatever I want it to be and of course that depends upon what my clients want or need, so daily life takes on a new meaning almost every day. I don’t try to do things that I can’t do or that aren’t healthy choices for me. For example, I will not perform more than three hours a night. I put on a very energized show and more than three hours putting out that kind of energy isn’t something I can sustain for long amounts of time.
AA: If you had to describe your new music in only 3 words what would they be?
JS: For a verbose man, you are presenting me with quite a challenge, but here goes.
Honest, Live and Fun.
AA: How do you feel about the current modern musical landscape?
JS: Oh, I could talk about this all day, and I often do as my university classes and master classes I teach are heavily lecture based. Well, we must realize a few hard truths right off.
First, streaming is the future of music. We must deal with it. Last year, digital downloads saw their first drop in demand since they were introduced. And we also saw last year a significant increase in music revenue, all driven by streaming. Even the band Tool, who has long been a hold out on having their music available digitally, finally gave in and released their catalog on streaming services and digital downloads. Second, if by 2024, as is being promised, we move to 5G cellular data, then streaming will really eat the market and downloads will mostly dry up. We will have boutique formats like Blu-Ray audio, allowing us to hear 96K and 24-bit recordings. But the streaming service Tidal already has this and other services will start to offer that kind of quality as well. So, CDs might still be a novelty like the download, but Blu-Ray audio and vinyl will be your more expensive items and streaming will be cheap and ubiquitous! We also will most likely see VR and music formats like Atmos take hold in a way that 5.1 and other formats still haven’t. Third, streaming royalties must be brought up as this is how musicians will be making their livings. Right now, it isn’t even what you would get with terrestrial radio. The CRB (Copyright Royalty Board) must be lobbied, along with Congress, to increase their rates! Finally, we must define what things we want as artists and music consumers. Do we want AI making music or being a large part of the process? What is the future of music and intellectual property? If you are interested in such things, please visit my blog at http://www.joeystuckey.com
and check out some of the music biz and music tech things I discuss. Bottom line, the music business is in flux because technology is in flux. These things are linked and always have been. Many years ago, with the phonograph or player piano, people said that the musical world was ending and of course it didn’t. You just must be aware and able to change with the times. If you do that, there are a lot of amazing opportunities for content creators of all stripes.
AA: If you could tour the world with one artist (living or non) who would it be and why?
JS: I have always hoped I would get the chance to work with Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Oscar Peterson. Sadly, they are all no longer with us, so I have missed out on those jazz icons. From other walks of music, I always wanted to work with George Michael, Michael Jackson and Prince. But again, I missed those guys as well. Now, I would so love to meet and work with Stevie Wonder, or Neil Finn, or Dave Grohl. But, If I had to pick just one artist, to tour with as an opening act I would say it would have to be Austin Collins & The Rainbirds. And If I had to pick just one artist to work with as a band member/side man, I would love to play guitar/back up vocals for Zara Larsson.I honestly believe I could add something special to her show!
For more on Joey Stuckey, you can visit http://www.joeystuckey.com