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Just watched this doco “Before The Music Dies” through following a link on twitter.
It was a good watch, but it did raise my sensitivities because I see this a lot in the music blogosphere - a lot of passionate musicians and music lovers who make a big deal about all these lofty values emobodied in music as an art form.
Which is all fine, but I thought we were talking about business. Well, I am anyway.
If you expect to make money and even a living or a whole career out of music then you’ve got to be ready to embrace the business side of the equation. Otherwise, just sit in your home and enjoy and play, and don’t whinge about the loss of cultural values like old people always have when you’re not willing to address that value as a commercial proposition.
But that’s just me. To me, it’s my job to work out where to make money, and y’know how you make money?
By giving people what they want.
There’s a lot of emphasis in the documentary that talent has been forsaken in favour of other more superficial elements, but at the end of the day who ever your fans are they want to contribute their money where they see value. And value comes in a complete package.
The musician has grown into a cultural stereotype. For kids and grown ups alike, the musician is a modern day hero, I person who follows their dreams and speaks from experience and with true, uncompromised spirit.
To me, in the 21st century, a musician - as a commercial entity - is no longer a dude with a couple of great songs, or a phenomenal player. In this era of hyper connectivity and interaction, fans are looking to music and musicians the way they always have, except they are demanding more.
This doesn’t mean essentially you have to be phenomenally good looking. As long as you represent an essential character that is authentic then you’re going to be fine, because let’s face it, the world has become a very superficial place, and many people see music as a refuge where they can connect with a lot of the feelings that are glossed over by every day life.
So yes, the music industry has changed, but rather than being reactionary and alarmist and suggesting that music itself is somehow in danger from rampant commercialism, I see the opportunity for artists to embrace their brand as one of the central elements they provide in a commercial sense.
Great songs are only one part of what makes up a powerful brand. A powerful story, powerful messages, powerful images, these are all essential parts of what fans embrace about the music they love and the musicians they follow.
If the world is really tired of teenagers with work done or rappers that have been shot 9 times then you’re going to have to come up with something that’s going to compete with that in the hearts and minds of your audience, so that they become willing and receptive to the suggestion and persuasion of them to engage in activities that will lead you the artist, and what ever commercial music business model or interests you represent to create revenue.
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