« on: September 27, 2013, 07:14:18 AM »
It is a reasonable concern and, as a highly introverted person, I can relate to it. But she started to lose me when she began blaming the digital era for making it more challenging for the "quiet musician" to thrive.
It has always been the case that musicians who were actively self-promoting, mailing out demos, integrating themselves into the "scene," and performing live were more likely, on average, to get noticed, get contracts, and see financial returns on their work compared to so-called quiet musicians.
The digital age doesn't fundamentally change that pattern. If anything, I would argue that the digital era is a godsend for quiet musicians. Artists can now record a high-quality album in their living rooms, release it on Bandcamp or other platforms, and have instant world-wide access at little cost. And, although an artist can choose to self-promote that album via social media and other outlets, there is certainly no contractual obligations that require the quiet musician to do so. Simply put, the contemporary environment is much better suited than the old one for enabling the quiet musician to focus exclusively on his or her art.
Can a quiet musician make a living off his or her music? I think that's a separate issue and I won't expand on it here except to note that there is little reason to believe that being a musician has ever been a lucrative occupation. There are, of course, many salient examples of wealthy musicians and artists. But they represent the tip of a large, deep iceberg that now exists and has always existed in unprofitable waters.
In short, although I fully understand why an artist might be frustrated over the idea that building a fan base may require more than simply recording a great album, I think Simone's claim that the digital era and social media are responsible for "forced entrepreneurship" is misguided. Being a successful artist has always required some degree of entrepreneurship. But, at least in the current environment, one can actually record a record and distribute it worldwide with little investment and no contractual complications. No one is "forcing" artists to do anything. And that, in my view, is the beauty of the digital environment that she holds accountable for her woes.