Those who hung around this site in the old days may remember that when not venting through my alternate personality at this site I spend my days exploiting people’s artistic vision as a music producer. In that role I’ve had experience and training dealing with the commercial side of things. I accept that everyone wants to make a buck, live comfortably off their art, etc, etc. The problem is that so often that aspect forces all else to take a back seat in the process.
The number one, most important thing in music (perhaps in art as a whole, however I am no expert) is innovation. We don’t see too much of that these days. Maybe it comes down to the fact that all music is now done in some fashion on a computer. I can tell you from experience, at times there are few things more tedious than the recording and creative process in the digital world. All the technology that is there to help ease the process and create new possibilities often ends up just being another obstacle on the path to realizing ones vision. Ever-changing technology and specs make keeping up with the times a bit more than daunting. Don’t get me wrong. I love the digital music world. It’s my bread and butter. It’s just that faced with all the trials of modern music, I wonder if musicians aren’t often too tempted by the ease of the “copy, paste” phenomenon.
I’m not just talking about sampling. Sampling may still be a bit of an artistic grey area in the minds of some people, but that’s an entirely different monster. When was the last time you came across a sound that literally stopped you in your tracks? These days so many people have forgotten what music can be and settle for what is available. We consider “great” music something that stays in our head, a beat that has a hook, a lyric that you can relate to, or a repeating melody that grabs your ear. The problem is that this is just marketing for the music. There is no artistic vision to back it up. It may be solid as entertainment, but nothing more.
Music as art has so much greater potential than what is being settled for. Perhaps this is clouded in the era of all musicians being referred to as “artists”. Musicians are not all artists, the same as artists are not all musicians. An artist is something you strive to be. You work and commit to your vision until one day you can look back at it and confidently say, “I created art.”
There really are some innovators still out there, sometimes you just have to dig to find them. Then again, some of them are basically household names. Consider what Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross recently created for the Social Network. That score will have an impact on electronic music for years to come. It just seems there is so little of that these days. I’m not saying that if you don’t become a legend like Trent Reznor that you are a failure. It doesn’t matter if no one ever even hears the music. As long as it was made and put out there and a person tried to express their vision in a unique and real way. Then they can hire someone like me to distort it into something commercially viable and charge them seven percent.
Oh hell, we’re all sellouts.