There was a time when talent in an artist
was actually something that audiences would seek. Audiences wanted to experience a live performance of any kind of Art -through shock, awe, desire, etc. There was a time when cultural entertainment wasn't an industry. It was a business, yes, and it's been a business for a very long time. There was this place you would go to, pay an entrance fee and look at art on the walls, or catch the live performances of a variety of artists. Or, you would attend an event, and musicians would be paid to be there and perform at the best of their abilities.
It was about the money, yes, but on perhaps a lot more of a balanced scale with the execution of the talent.
So what of talent? What defines talent? It's easy to respond to the question What is marketable, but the question What is talent is perhaps harder to answer objectively.
The dictionary defines talent as:
1- an ancient unit of weight and value
2- the natural endowments of a person
3- a special, often creative or artistic aptitude
4- mental power: ABILITY
5- a person of talent
SYN: genius, gift, faculty, aptitude, knack
So talent, in itself, is an acknowledgeable fact. It is not about whether you like it or not, it is the ability you will recognize in someone. This person can sing-act-dance-draw-paint well. You cannot say they don't if you don't like it. Taste is subjective. Talent is objective.
These days, when observing the pop-tart culture, we can definitely state that before talent, the major production companies of any form of art will choose to focus on the money-making potential of the artists they select for the masses to enjoy -or rather, pay for.
Entertainment has become an industry -force-fed, fast-food entertainment; lots of bright lights to blind the general public from the emptiness of the lack of content, the lack of the actual, raw experience of genuine talent. The mass media will provide you with their own specific, financed selection of talent, and you choose amongst what they're offering you what you are willing to spend your money on.
It's not so much that people aren't seeking talent anymore, but it appears that the selection of talent presented on a mass scale these days doesn't account to much. So where can one seek and find pure, authentic, raw talent? In the alternative culture of course, the one place where artists can freely develop as rich of a creative universe as they want, and can. and enjoy their own evolution through their personal creative process.
The days where artists were given free reign on their own artistic development are long gone, and even though it may seem that some of them are given more of a leeway, underneath it all will lie a clause in a contract stating that they have to keep looking a certain way, or to make sure they never write about a certain subject, and above all, that they keep selling and/or endorse this or that product.
The artists themselves thus pay the price for mass distribution, by forfeiting their personal creative evolution. Such is the nature of life, events, and their stories; the double-sided coin.
And money runs the world.
So on one side of the spectrum, you've got the artists that the majors will choose to invest in, and on the other side, you've got the artists who have to pay out of their own pockets to keep producing themselves and releasing their Art for the world to see.
Self-funded shows abound on the underground scenes or every form of art. Artists will pay for venues to hold their events, and charge 5 to 15$ at the door as fair ticket prices -and keep it on the cheaper side, so that anyone can afford it, and even attract a potential new comer amongst the passers-by on the street that night. They will buy all their equipment, supplies and costumes, and pay for every single piece of work they produce -and the more you aspire to be able to live of this talent of yours, the more you will [be willing to] invest/spend on your art.
And the quality of what you choose to produce and release will also, subsequently, depend on the amount of money you'll be willing to invest in yourself.
What the word "industry" instead of "business" when placed after the word Entertainment instituted in our culture is basically how much are you willing to pay for this or that artist; how much are you willing to sacrifice in their name? How can we turn this artist into something that'll make people spend their money, so as to make other people make money, by indirectly making people spend more of their money on other products that they will somehow subconsciously link to these artists-products?
Observe here an entire economy process.
What kind of a culture are we forging here, when basing ourselves on the entertainment for the masses?
The difference between the pop-tart culture and the alternative culture is thus not so much the talent itself as it is, seemingly, finance.
And the execution of the talent, of course.
But this remains in the hands of the artist, so it comes down to what the artist enjoys more: the amount of money they're making out of their art, or the exploration and evolution of their creative selves. The price of making it.
But for whom are you indeed "making it", and what are you making, exactly?
It then comes down to the amount of people who will experience the shape of your name written on the wall of history. And yet, when contemplating said-wall of history, one cannot even begin to count the number of artists who only became truly famous/successful when they died.
They died, but their talent, and its finest executions, lived on and marked a point in history.
So in the end, it is about talent, when considering the evolution of Art History as a whole.
Or culture itself, as a whole.