SubscribeStar Saturday Post “The TJC Spring Jam” is Posted!

Dear Readers,

I have been writing like the wind today.  I have finally caught up on all SubscribeStar content from the past couple of weekends.

You can now read “The TJC Spring Jam” if you’re a $1 a month or higher subscriber.

It’s a detailed rundown of the concert, including the major tunes played, the in-depth financials, and the organization of the concert.  Learn from my mistakes and successes!

Also, Sunday Doodles LXXXII is up, too!

Thanks again to subscribers and regular readers for your patience.  It’s been a wonderfully quiet day at home—literally, I’ve only gone outside to check the mail and to cut some oregano from my garden—so I’ve gotten a ton of writing done today.

It’s good to restore order to the blog!

Happy Reading!

—TPP

SubscribeStar Saturday: Small-Scale Entrepreneurism

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Last night was my first ever Spring Jam, and my second ever front porch concert.  The first such concert, my Halloween Spooktacular, was far more successful than I imagined.  At the time of this writing—which is actually before the concert (gasp!)—I don’t know how well the Spring Jam will go financially, but I’ll have detailed numbers, as well as an overall review of the event, next Saturday.

That said, in putting together this second front porch concert, I’ve run into a few more hiccups than last time.  Most of these have been relatively minor—and one of them quite major—but they’ve taught me some lessons for next time.

Most importantly, they’ve driven home the risks and opportunities inherent in putting on any endeavor.  Impresarios past and present know well the risks of producing any kind of stage or musical production.  Even at the very small scale at which I am working, some risks are present.

To that end, allow me to share with you some of the learning opportunities putting together this Spring Jam has afforded me, and how these lessons can be applied to future entrepreneurial ventures of any kind.

This post will be finished later; I was slammed with the Spring Jam and wasn’t able to finish the subscriber essay.  I’ll let y’all know when I have it done.  Apologies!  —TPP

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

TBT: Cass on Our Diminished Income

The other day my students and I were talking about the Model T Ford, which in the 1920s ran around $6000 in today’s money for a new car.  It is impossible to find a brand-new vehicle of any make for $6000 today.  Granted, a Ford Focus, for example, is packed with way more technology and safety features than a Model T from 100 years ago, and that technological advancement gets factored into the price.

But consider that in the 1990s, when Kia hit the American market, they advertised a new sedan for around $6999 (in 1990s’ dollars).  What would that be twenty-five years late—maybe $9000 or $10,000?  That price point, too, is virtually impossible.

I managed to purchase my current vehicle—a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV—for right around $9100.  It has around 45,000 miles on it when I bought it, and had been a rental vehicle before I purchased it.  I got a steal on that car—the closest comparable I’ve found since then was a list price of around $8900 (the list for my car was $8000 even).  That’s for a four-year old subcompact hatchback.

I got lucky when I found that car.  I figured it would be easy enough to find a decent car for under $10,000 when I began vehicle shopping in late 2019.  Boy, was I wrong.  Vehicles last longer than ever before, and maintain their value a very long time.  They’re also, as mentioned, packed full of technology and safety features that weren’t present even twenty years ago.  Trucks in particular hold their value extremely well; to find a truck in my price range, I’d have had to purchase a Ford F-150 from 1994 with half-a-million miles on it.

It’s great that cars last longer and are safer.  But those features—many of which drivers will never need or use—drive up the costs substantially.  Such was the point of an illuminating Twitter thread by Oren Cass, which demonstrates that, despite earning more money, Americans’ expenses for basic goods are substantially higher, requiring a whopping fifty-three weeks of pay to cover now versus a mere thirty weeks in 1985.  Naturally, given that there are only fifty-two weeks in a year, that presents a problem.

I don’t know the solution, but as I wrote a year ago, “Something’s gotta give.”

Indeed.  Here is 28 April 2020’s “Cass on Our Diminished Income“:

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TBT^2: End the Income Tax

Well, here we are—another Tax Day in America.  Actually, Tax Day has been extended to 17 May 2021, so all of you irresponsible loafers have time to procrastinate further.

I have no room to talk:  I waited until 11 April 2021 to file my taxes, and apparently filed my 2019 taxes on 11 April 2020.  Unlike last year, though, I actually earned back a healthy refund, due in part to reduced lessons and gig income (though I still managed to rake in a respectable figure there, just under $5000, but substantially lower than 2019’s $9000ish).  The self-employment taxes kill me, but deducting mileage really helps.

Also, thanks to my younger brother review my tax filing information, I earned back a substantial portion of taxes by including the $6000 I invested in 2020 into a traditional IRA.  Unlike last year, where I paid a substantial tax bill, I’m getting back around $1500 from the State of South Carolina and the feds, all of which is going back to the emergency fund, which is need of replenishment after The Age of The Virus.

Still, even though I have reason to celebrate this Tax Day, I dislike handing over all this personal financial information to the federal government.  As I noted last year, “I keep a very detailed budget,” which helps when it comes time to calculate those self-employment deductions, but does Uncle Sam really need to know how much I spent on Spooktacular t-shirts?  I suppose if I want a few bucks of my money back, he does.

So I repeat my call of the last two years:  end the income tax!

With that, here is April 2020’s “TBT: End the Income Tax” (italicized) and April 2019’s “End the Income Tax“:

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Feel-Good Friday: Extreme Generosity

Amid the myriad newsletters and e-mail lists that I promptly delete from my inbox everyday, I stumbled upon this wholesome story, one that evaded swift deletion and digital oblivion.  A seventeen-year old Chick-fil-A employee won a car in a company Christmas raffle, and promptly gave it to her nineteen-year old coworker.  The coworker had to bike to work every day, adding several hours to her daily workday (though no doubt keeping her in excellent shape).

It’s a life-changing act of generosity, and the kind of thing that always seems to be attached to Chick-fil-A.  It’s amazing how an overtly Christian establishment with a strong commitment to quality and good treatment breeds more of the same.  I needn’t list the many examples of Chick-fil-A employees doing good things—we’ve all heard dozens of such stories already.

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The Future of Bandcamp Fridays

[Note–after reviewing my accounting, I realized I double-counted some tip money as also a private lesson payment, so I’ve adjusted numbers down $50.  That caused some minor changes in my calculations.  Those should be updated and correct now.  —TPP, 18 December 2020]

Regular readers will know that since March 2020, Bandcamp has been waiving its commission on sales through its platform on the first Friday of each month.  The company even dedicated a webpage to answering the burning question “Is it Bandcamp Friday?

The promotion has been a real boon for musicians—myself included—who have seen a major reduction in revenue from gigs, lessons, merch sales, and other sources of income.  I just ran the numbers, and I grossed around $4976.18 this year from lessons, gigs (including a play I was in), merchandise sales, streaming payments (only $10.15—and it took five years to accumulate that much!), and Bandcamp sales (around $159.03 after payment processing fees and Bandcamp’s commission from purchases not made on Bandcamp Fridays).  That’s compared to roughly $9099 grossed last year from the same sources, so about 54.69% of the revenue in 2020 vs. 2019.  My lesson revenue fell to 45.34% of its value in 2019, from $7465 to $3385 (but I also only drove 1941 miles for lessons in 2020, versus just over 6000 miles for lessons in 2019).

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Thanks for Supporting Indie Musicians

Back on 1 May 2020, Bandcamp waived its commission on musicians’ sales for the day.  A number of you dug deep and picked up my discography, which was a big help at a time when musicians are running low on funds.

Bandcamp repeated that commission-free day in June, and is doing so again today, Friday, 3 July 2020.  It’s a great time to pick up my discography.  If you’ve already done so, and enjoyed my music, consider forwarding this post to friends and family that might enjoy my work.

If you didn’t enjoy my music, well, that’s fine, too—go ahead and forward this post anyway!

Regular readers will recognize most of the information below from that 1 May 2020 post.  My apologies for another extended solicitation, but I do appreciate your support (and your patience with reading lengthy ad copy).

One other note:  next week marks #MAGAWeek2020, in which I will post daily about an American (or concept) who has, in his or her own way, made America great.  But those posts are SubscribeStar exclusives for $1 or higher subs.

Thanks again for all of your support!

—TPP

The TL;DR takeaway of today’s post:  times are tough for musicians, and you can help.  You can purchase my music on Bandcamp today (Friday, 3 July 2020) without Bandcamp taking their 15% commission.  You can also tip me directly via PayPal.  Finally, you can always support the blog—and enjoy exclusive weekly content—by subscribing to my SubscribeStar Page.

Bandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work TODAY, Friday, 3 July 2020.  You can pick up my entire discography for $15.75 (or more, if you feel so inclined).  To purchase the full discographyseven releases in total—you can view any of my albums (like Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse) and find a button/link that reads “Buy Digital Discography” (unfortunately, there’s no way to supply that link directly).

You can also send a digital tip to me directly, if you’re so inclined, via PayPal.

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Counting Blessings

After writing yesterday’s blog post about our diminished prosperity, I was quite upset.  I am an emotional sort, given my brooding artistic temperament, and I should know by now that complaining about money and the state of the world will only work me up—or, perhaps, down—into a blue funk (or, occasionally, a purple rage).

So today’s post is meant to be a yellow counterpoint.  It’s easy for me to fixate on negatives.  That’s pretty much the nature of blogging and commentating about politics and culture.  And while I am optimistic for the future, I am a declinist:  I can’t help but notice that much of culture is, at best, a stagnant swamp (hiding away the occasional orchid); at worst, it’s swamp draining into a desert.

But enough that.  Today’s post is about counting blessings.

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Cass on Our Diminished Income

Way back in The Before Times, in the Long, Long Ago, before The Age of The Virus, Oren Cass presented a series of sixteen tweets, asking this question:  “How is that our economic statistics suggest workers have been making slow but steady progress in recent decades, while popular perception is that their family finances are coming under increasingly untenable pressure?”

Cass also wrote about the issue in greater detail in American Affairs and in a lengthy paper for the Manhattan Institute.  That question—why does it feel like it’s harder to make ends meet now, even though inflation is low and we’re wealthier?—is one of the gnawing concerns of modern-day America.

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