Art isn't deemed a necessary commodity like oil or coal. And, because of technology, art is even more expendable; case in point - digital camera versus a pen and ink well. Yes, the craft has been lost.....but you can't expect someone who hasn't devoted as much time as you have to have the same emotional attachment to your craft. You can't have all of the convenience that technology and progress has created without having the ill-effects. Utopia doesn't exist.Bermuda, if you want to make money - I have no issue with that. But in my view, money and art should co-incide rather than be directed at one another. Part of the reason that chart music now sounds identical to chart music ten years ago (with some exceptions) is the 'playing safe to make money' mentality.
Look at the art World. Art is a rarified commodity compared to music. A few individuals hold the money, a few more hold the art and it is so, so corrupt. A few months ago there was an investigative TV programme about business practice in the art World. One law states that any company in commodities trading (e.g. oil, coal, etc - but not including art works) cannot own more than a certain percentage of that commodity; that percentage being decided by whether or not their ownership directly affects the retail price. All of these gallery owners (and that's how they got around the rules, incidentally) bid on their own items at auction and artificially inflated the prices. Practices that in most other Worlds would be utterly illegal.
Then there is a choice isn't there; do it the way the label says do it or do it yourself. No one is holding a gun to the heads of the artists who sign with a label. Record labels are just like the artists; they want a return on their investment or they don't get to stay in business for long! Let's see, it is called the music BUSINESS, right? Or does that only apply when it is convenient? How many people get into playing music these days because of the image of being millionaires and not having to be responsible - thousands and they are in schools across the world. And every original band I have ever played in, that has been their goal - to become millionaires by playing their own music. So does this make them a sellout?I feel that music has been the same way now for decades. Essentially three major labels with monopolies over artists and commodities, determining their own terms for success and screwing artists for all they're worth.
It always comes down to making more money back than what they spent. The broader the appeal, the more likely you will have success - sorry to disappoint you, but much of life (and success) is like a bell curve. I think of the guy who invented a machine which he could sell for 1 million dollars. Problem was that no one wanted to spend a million dollars on his machine. Later in life, he invented a fishing lure which he sold for less than ten dollars. He eventually became a millionaire because what he had, had a broader appeal.
I haven't seen the success of the genres you are talking about. Metal tends to be more self-gratifying than pop music. When you are asking someone to pay you for your art, they, in effect, become your boss! The word commercial comes from the word commerce which means money is changing hands.....If you want to deny the commerce aspect of art and choose to be a starving artist, go for it. But don't get upset when you become a self-fulfilling prophecy just because you decided that money wasn't important to you. If you spend your time pigeon-holing your music and promote it to be for only the most discriminating, elite (which there are less of) taste, why should you be suprised and bitter when mainstream (which there are more of) doesn't care?My old college tutor (quite a successful songwriter, at least in UK terms) used to work for record companies as an A&R man and told us the average breakdown of percentage pay. The retail outlets get the most, followed by the record company/distributor (often the same thing...) and right down at the bottom of the pile are the people that make the whole endeavour possible. Now this has been re-addressed with concepts like self-release. Radiohead made more individually as a band despite payment being voluntary on an album. They wouldn't have got there without major-label backing for ten years (their contract eventually expired after 'Hail to the Thief') but I am confident that there is nearly always a market for music - we just don't know it yet. Look at the success of death metal and grindcore in the last fifteen/twenty years. Twenty years before that the very concept was unpalatable and then it reaches (I would argue) fairly mainstream success.
True, some artists become a success in spite of the way things are, but they tend to be the exception rather than the norm.
This is doubtful.....Yes, they can take control but they are always going to need a middleman of some sort just to help them from not going broke. Merch doesn't sell itself nor does it do its own accounting. More importantly, there is going to be someone who knows how to get the band in on a opening slot on a tour! This is the "who you know not what you know" aspect of the business. If you don't have a label behind you, radio play, television the TV talk show circuit will remain a dream (how many times was Rush on Leno?) - and these are still the top outlets for music. As far as the internet goes, breaking into "THE BIG TIME" will be just like trying to find a grain of salt on Santa Monica beach. Markets do have their purpose and that is finding the potential buyers for potential sellers. As far as pandering to a market, every band does it....ever hear the phrase of our sound is band x meets band y meets band z? The band in question is trying to find a sound that their potential consumer already knows and is comfortable with - i.e. their market!With the Internet, bands are not going to have to pander to markets. If they do their research properly, work hard enough and know what they are doing, there is no need for the middle-man to determine what is commercial and what is not.
You just blew up your entire argument - Eno already had made a name with Roxy Music and therefore had the connections and network to help. Here again - who you know and not what you know. You are comparing apples to oranges here when you are comparing two long-established artists to a struggling artist.Do you think 'Music For Airports' was touted as a commercial release? Absolutely not. But it was a breakthrough performance and has changed the very scope of electronic music and the effects are still obvious. The same is true Eno again with David Bryne on 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts' - one of the most influential albums ever released, but released largely independently (Eno had made enough money from Roxy music to fund his endeavours) and without artistic compromise. Independent releases CAN and HAVE broken through even with no commercial pretensions. It's just damn good music and now these avenues are more open than they were when Eno was doing this kind of work.
I think you are being a bit too simplistic here; there will always be millionaire musicans - they will be appealing to an audience not holding them in contempt. They may be playing in cover bands which can break the bank more easily than a successful original act. You also seem to have a contemptuous attitude towards anyone in a suit - and I am guessing that this is a metaphor for business doing what it is supposed to do - make money.The good people now have the means to succeed without having to compromise their music. Self-indulgence? Absolutely. That's what artists have always done. But now there's no need to worry about a guy in a suit telling you what you can and can't do. A lot of rubbish will be made and released under this system - I have little doubt - but the genius that I am convinced is there will eventually make itself apparent - without the need for massive finances. The big money will go; the millionaire musicians will probably disappear, but they will be replaced by a larger field of new artists who earn a good living. And that is a far healthier state to be in.
Money is a necessary evil in this world.
Here again, you are being a bit too simplistic in your rational. To quote a Paiste ad (here is that commerce philosophy again - ads are commercials and generate revenue - commerce), yes any cymbal company can produce a cymbal model in which every duplicate will sound exactly the same. But such high tolerances require the use of highly specialized machines, the type of which are used in other industries and costs exceed the benefit. I.e. - yes that cymbal can be made, but it is going to cost the customer $36,000 for 16" crash cymbal (and I think that is in 1991 dollars). So let's all get in line and get our wallets our for that perfect, 16" crash!EDIT: Skitch and Bermuda, I can see where our difference lies. I am convinced that a lot of the commercially successful music is that way because record companies promote what they think will sell, and it does - but only as a self-fulfilling prophecy and not because it is any good. People are practically being told what to like. I'm a little less business-orientated and perhaps more cynical and I believe that the public can decide for themselves without the need to be told what is good and what is not. If you had a car dealer in the UK with adverts everywhere, but they made crap cars, they'd sell far better than a dealer who doesn't have adverts everywhere who makes great cars at the same price point. I see record companies as those adverts and nothing more.
Maybe the public can decide for themselves and maybe they can't. I mean, maybe the public is busy trying to other menial tasks like trying to stay employed in this crazy economy, got a bad report form the doctor, or just trying to make it through college before the pell grant runs out instead of trying to being up to snuff on being musically educated!
The leg up a record label is going to give band A who is signed on their label over band B who isn't signed on a label is a higher platform to stand over all of the other artists on the level below them.