Tuesday 10 January 2017

Keep Making Art, and Support the Underground

Allow me to start this year pondering yet once more upon the future of the music business.
Allow me to point out that any business, at one point or another, crashes.
Over the past few years, I've been finding myself caring more and more about making art, and less and less about turning my art into a business.
In a way, I find myself seeking out ways to make my art sustainable, instead of making it a sustainable business. A play on words, perhaps, but the subtlety lies in the words themselves.

On a rather lazy New Year's Day, I found out through Twitter of Mariah Carey's devastating performance, or lack of, at  New York Times Square the night before. I ended my New Year's Day with some friends at their place, and we watched it, in awe of its decrepitude and underlying apathy.

I watched it, taking in every single detail of the broadcast -the lights, the stage, its setup, the crew, the dancers, the performer herself, and the crowd. All I could see was money, spent and wasted.
The money and the sadness of it all.

Perhaps it's the forecast of the downfall of an era, or perhaps its actual beginning.
I was thinking How can you to this to people.
How can you do this to Art.
To Music.
Mariah Carey had nothing to do with this, of course. Mariah was just a pawn, a token of the underlying apathy. Somewhere down the line, clearly, somebody didn't do his or her job properly.
I'm not here to downgrade this singer at all. And as a singer myself, I have been explained the reason why in certain circumstances, it's a good idea to have a track to fall back upon.
I don't do that kinda thing, and would never do it, but I understand why certain artists do it.

But the point isn't the lip-synching here.
The point is the mediocrity of the music industry, and its carelessness of money spent into  a disastrous performance, and ultimately its absolute lack of respect of people.
Here's a product, here's money to invest in a product, let the product entice people into buying more products.
Even massive music festivals are becoming, year after year after year, more and more about everything else besides the bands.
The bands are selected so as to bring in as many people as possible. They're either legends or the latest It-Thing.
Whatever the lineup is, it's ultimately background music for the people on festival grounds, who have bought clothing, accessories and makeup especially for the occasion, and will spend most of their time taking selfies on the festival grounds.

Of course, many people are actually there for the bands, but many others are there for the "festival experience". Festival experience = business = money-making machines.

Now, let me tell you something about real art.
Real artists, real performance art.
You find it in the underground scenes of the world, in every city's local pubs and venues. That's where you'll find real art.
Us real artists, we care.
We care about what we put out there. We care about what we do. We care about who we are, and we care about making art.
We care about art, simply put. We are about its past, and we care about its future.
In conversation, recently, a musician I know told me "It's crazy how much money people will be willing to spend on an act, or the shadow/clone of an act they've heard and seen a million times, and to witness the reluctance in paying $10 for anything new."
There are many reasons to that, which are not to be discussed in this editorial, but the point here is that we the artists of the underground, we will play the gig anyway, even if it is $5 a head, and if there's only 10 people in the venue.
Because to us it matters to release this art, and it matters to us to keep our underground scene going.
The truth is a situation such as the Times Square NYE would never ever happen, should any underground artist be put there to perform his or her art, right there and then, on a night/platform such as this. We are as raw, and as real, as you're gonna get, and we are here to make sure art itself keeps going.
There is the reality of the masses, and there is the Other reality. They have both been coexisting for the longest time, and I know myself to be right in stating that the first reality was the raw, honest reality - the one where people made art to express themselves and share how they experienced Life, so as to try to understand themselves, and others, and find others going through the same kinds of situations.

Lemme tell you one more thing.
Art isn't about money. Art is about connecting humans together through an expression of human experience. Whoever is out there making art, keep doing it.
You're doing something right, and it's the greatest thing.

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