OTHER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAN MUSIC > Everything and Nothing

Editorial on "forced entrepreneurship" in music (NY Times)

(1/3) > >>

ffcal:
Thought this editorial (and the responding comments) in the NY Times about "forced entrepreneurship" in the music business was fascinating.  As one who places promotional activities slightly above a trip to the dentist, I can especially relate to the author's distaste for having to engage in self-promotion.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/the-end-of-quiet-music/?hp&_r=0

Forrest

chris23:

--- Quote ---What I missed most about having a label wasn’t the monetary investment, but the right to be quiet, the insulation provided from incessant self-promotion. I was a singer, not a saleswoman. Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur.
--- End quote ---

Interesting read. It isn't always clear what point she really wanted to make, but the essay was thought provoking nonetheless.

The irony is that she is quite good at self-promotion.

ffcal:

--- Quote from: chris23 on September 26, 2013, 08:07:17 PM ---
--- Quote ---What I missed most about having a label wasn’t the monetary investment, but the right to be quiet, the insulation provided from incessant self-promotion. I was a singer, not a saleswoman. Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur.
--- End quote ---

Interesting read. It isn't always clear what point she really wanted to make, but the essay was thought provoking nonetheless.

The irony is that she is quite good at self-promotion.

--- End quote ---

Hi Chris,

What I get out of it is that she makes a careful separation between creative act and the promotion of it afterwards.  It might blurred sometimes, but being skillful at one doesn't equate to a skill at the other.  I think that the rise of social media has raised the expectation that artists be fully accessible and engaged with their audience most if all of the time.  For those of us not fortunate enough to be doing this full-time, this is not really feasible.  For many of the bedroom musician-types in our genre, touring and live performance may not be a practical solution to replace falling revenue from the gradual decline of paid music.  From my perspective, since a lot of what I do involves layering different instruments and takes, a "live" performance for me isn't such an exciting prospect, as it might easily devolve into a "music-minus-one" sort of thing.

I would give the author more credit--she is clearly not promoting her own music.  Even her calling as a writer is not really the focus of her opinion piece.  I think she is understandably concerned about how the web age's emphasis on self-promotion might leave a lot of quiet but talented musicians in the dust.  I am, too.

Forrest

chris23:
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. 

APK:
I enjoyed the article and many of the comments that followed.
But I think I'm in general agree with Chris' conclusions:


--- Quote from: chris23 on September 27, 2013, 07:14:18 AM ---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.

--- End quote ---

For many decades you had to do lots of self-promotion just to get a record released with a label. You had to show that you had something worthwhile musically (and on the stage) and had serious commitment. Now we can release albums easily enough ourselves, and thousands of people are ... probably every week. But apart from their family and friends lending an ear most of these drop into obscurity, whether good or bad. Promotion is an essential part of releasing if you expect to be heard farther afield. But of course, this is not just true in the world of music, it's true for most new businesses. You can be a great car mechanic or have written a great app, but if word does not get out you will not be reaping many rewards for your expertise.

This is one of the purposes labels still serve today. If you do fine work but you do no self-promotion (I won't mention Robert Davies) (oops) you are still in a stable of related musicians and that can bring listeners your way, plus the label generally does some promotion each time there is a new release.

APK

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version