Tuesday, March 27, 2012
I've been watching the Ken Burns documentary on Jazz and it was amazing how many great musicians made so many great advancements in the early twentieth century. It was not only the dawn of a new American art form but it was also the birth of the music BUSINESS. The only sad thing is that the musicians were getting ripped off at every turn but the way they fought the system was by innovation. It was always about the music first. All of the musicians wanted to be great at playing their ax and they would stop at nothing. They practiced and practiced and the bar was raised extremely high. Even though with every innovation came criticism from the media because they didn't understand the genius that was at work in the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstong, Flecther Henderson, Benny Goodman and many others. The music industry grew because at the core, even beyond the corrupt accounting practices, was the musicians commitment to excellence and innovation. It seems that today we have gone in the opposite direction. We now make music to sell out by. What I mean is that we are not creating art to challenge the status quo. We are too concerned with endorsements and marketing our brands, more so than we are concerned about making great music. Most artists are now only interested in making money and they will sell out to ANY corporate entity that will pay. This attitude has rendered us powerless against the forces of a capitalist society. It used to be that artists fought against the system and wrote songs and created art that endorsed change or the betterment of ourselves and lives. In this system, we will NEVER make the money that a banker or record executive makes because the system is not designed for us to do so. We no longer control our own message because we are more concerned about selling records than we are about sharing innovative art and challenging our audience. This power can be ours again if we just go back to focusing our craft FIRST and seek out new innovative ways to push the musical envelop. It is up to us as artists to effect change in society. We can truly give voice to the voiceless or to those who have chosen to sleep walk through life being guided by a corporate structure that means them no good. It's time to take our industry back! Enjoy the journey.
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