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Thursday, April 26, 2012

MUSIC CULTURE AND THE INTERNET


A question for fellow musicians: Have you ever relied on advice from a new type of professional called a music industry/social media consultant?

I have. Several years ago, social media platforms were starting to gain some buzz, while record companies were either going bankrupt or slimming down. I felt I needed someone to help me determine how I could leverage new developments in the industry to my advantage. So, I hired a consultant, a title I’d never heard before in the music industry but one that sounded promising nonetheless. A year and tens of thousands of dollars worth of consulting fees later, my online presence had changed little, and I’d actually offended and even lost relationships with several colleagues due to a few decisions I’d made with the advice of my consultant.

I’d been tricked by a title. Unfortunately, it’s a title that more and more people with very little experience are adopting.

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When I recorded for Rounder Records as a teenager in the ‘70s, for Warner Bros. in the ‘80s, and for Sony Classical in the ‘90s, my “consultants” were the record producers, A&R executives, radio promoters, art department employees, and so on. These were people who had significant experience in the music industry, people who worked hard for years or, in many cases, decades to earn respect from their colleagues. I had my battles with some, but most were responsible for doing some great things in music.

Today, the Web is flooded with purported music industry consultants in social media, with scant experience in the old music industry. They often write well and have a good education. Their web pages look slick. In clean and clear English, they tell us musicians where we went wrong in the old industry, and how we have to change to fully adapt to the new one. But they’re usually people in their late 20s or 30s who lack performing careers, or lack careers in artist management, the record business and in radio as well. They have few, if any, strong connections in the music industry. And perhaps most alarming, with the help of some good writing and good web design, they convey to the public a sense of expertise and professionalism without having had to earn their authority. With this criteria, most anyone can be a consultant or “expert” in the new music industry.

Many of these music industry consultants have chips on their shoulders and don’t hesitate to use their new platforms to tear into artists they don’t work for. They’re perhaps too familiar with the world of YouTube and Spotify, in which music is devalued and consumed freely. They never stocked the shelves of Tower Records or played for the door at a club. They lack any conception of the value in music, since they don’t have experience in the system that best supported musicians, songwriters, publishers, talent developers, and so forth.

It follows that the field of music industry and social media consulting is swirling with negative energy. Music product is devalued, so the people who create that music are devalued as well.

I will point to an unpleasant blog entry by music industry consultant Drew McManus. A couple months ago, he wrote:

"It is frustrating…artists approaching the medium with as much subtlety and finesse as email spam peddling penis enlargement pills…[musician] has unfortunately become the benchmark for social media insincerity…It’s like an unsavory Pacific Rim sweatshop production line churning out impersonal promotional tweets."

This, after receiving eight tweets as a new follower – each with a unique video link or text entry – over a three-week period. Yes, he was writing about me.

I disagree with the point of the criticism, of course. The number of people following me on Facebook (and “talking about this”) as well as Twitter has grown significantly over the last year, both old fans and new fans have been liking what we are putting on the sites. I’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the YouTube videos featured on my YouTube channel (the same ones that were being compared to annoying ads above) and these are shared by fans and retweeted around the world on a daily basis. All in all, I believe the internet has been a good experience for disseminating music. I have always maintained that it is never bad to spread good music around and we can do that with the internet. I was one of the first artists to have a website in the early 90s. I had a web site before my then label Sony Classical had a website! I was also the first artist to offer downloadable sheet music over a dozen years ago.

Negative and verbal attacks by some on the new social forums and blogs though is concerning for several reasons. It is the egotism in, and the destructive nature of, the criticism itself. For instance being compared to “an unsavory Pacific Rim sweatshop production line churning out impersonal promotional tweets”? This is utterly disrespectful and demeaning. As a person who wears many hats in the music scene, from directing camps to making recordings to authoring a string method, there is a lot of stuff I am responsible for getting the word out. Keep in mind that McManus is a “consultant.” His job description is to help musicians, not to damage their relationships with fans and employers.

I see this kind of negative commentary escalating in the new music/social media sphere, and it’s frightening to think that great musicians should not be allowed to have their own voice, and reach out to their fans in their own unique ways like they have always done, with the fear of hate language being thrown at them. Musicians must reach out and continue to find their fans without getting shouted off the page by antagonists. We need intelligent, experienced musicians and music professionals developing new business models for the music industry on the internet today.

There is perhaps no stronger bond in the music industry as there is between a musical artist and his/her fans. I want our best musicians to have more of a voice in social networking as words/text/status updates/tweets become a significant part of a musician’s presence in the new music industry. Perhaps great musicians can lead by talking about their music, their projects, their goals in music and what drives them to succeed, and can attempt to drown out some of the noise and senselessness that is permeating the music comment boxes and forum posts these days.

Great musicians led the music industry for the last 100 years as artists, writers, producers and record label heads, and so it must happen again on the internet for their to be a viable music industry going forward that supports fine music. Musician’s voices must be heard through the noise, so they can begin to steer the culture back to valuing music materials and great musicianship, otherwise it is a kind of musical anarchy – what is up is down, and what is left is right. The above blog quote is a good example of this musical anarchy. In all of my years, I have never seen that kind of reckless verbiage contained in a bad music review from the old-fashioned newspaper writer. The bottom line is that there are hardly no record stores left, and musicians must use social networking to reach their fans with their music in their individual ways.

While major media and social networking attempts to take over the music industry, I would hope that great musicians can continue to direct the musical culture and not have it hijacked and thrown under the bus. With a steep decline in record sales and with digital sales not making up the difference, is there a way to sustain the music industry on the internet given the current environment? The music industry for the last century has been largely about the music itself. Consumers purchased a turntable player in order to play a record album, or a cassette payer to play a tape. Now it has flipped somewhat. Today companies use music as a way to entice people to purchase their latest gadgets, or to subscribe to an online company. In this process music becomes more disposable, and therefore it is seen with less and less value.

The fact that the internet culture has placed less value on the whole album as a piece of art in order to make individual tracks available, is a part of this new environment. I view the long-play album or CD as the modern day masterpiece or masterwork and I believe that most artists felt similarly. The model of making every tune a single has not compensated the musicians, has not made up for the lack of album sales, and it has driven the art of music recordings back decades. To the point where I am not at all sure we will be seeing too many full-length albums by young artists in the future. We used to labor over what should be the single or 2nd single to be sold separately. Now it is the let's toss everything out there strategy and hope for the best. My last album 'An Appalachian Christmas' was not available for iTunes because I could not make available a couple of the leased tracks to be sold individually from other labels. So therefore, the entire album was disqualified from being sold on iTunes - no way around it! Luckily the sales from Amazon and B&N were big enough that it still made five Billboard charts! But not having the top distributor of music today on board of course was not good for the music and the musician. All good questions for our time in music.

I welcome your thoughts and questions!

-Mark O'Connor

26 comments:

  1. Mark. Just facilitated a board retreat last weekend with gnoyo. Your social media efforts were a hot topic. They are all still all vibrating from your recent appearance. Best, Jeff Levenson

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  2. Jeff, I loved my time with the GNOYO! Can't wait to visit again! MOC

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  3. Dear Mark,
    You made some extremely important points and have taken a courageous stance as ever in presenting your qualified opinion as one of the cutting edge artists in the US/World today.
    Much of what you are expressing is about audience building in the 21st c. and it reminds me of my past. Growing up in LA, the head critic for the LA Times, Martin Bernheimer, did more to destroy the audience for classical music in that small town than all the hard working musicians and music lovers could compensate for. He would senselessly rip apart concerts to promote his own self-importance. LA's not-so-informed audiences began to mistrust their own good taste. Audiences shrank, concert programs became conservative, artists were hesitant to play "new music" etc. It was difficult until he finally retired.

    With platforms like FB and You Tube, web sites etc. it is now possible to get direct contact with artists and artistic content and I see it as a huge advance. I suppose a site like MySpace was supposed to be an impartial platform for artists to present themselves without the "help" of an internet consultant. I sincerely hope that you and your great colleagues won't become victims of the egomaniacs who don't create but destroy in the name of promoting art. Criticism can always be positive to increase productivity, not frustrate it. I hope you continue to take a stance for the arts and keep us all aware of the light and shadow sides of the latest media. After all, you see it from the top!
    Take good care,
    P Lindenauer

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  4. Hello, I hear you on those reviews of classical music. If all the concerts have something wrong with them, why would a general audience reading the newspaper bother paying a top ticket price to see a flawed product! For nostalgia sake, I think of the record store and how magical that was. It was full of music and wonder, but that place was free from somebody tearing the music down at the end of each bin. In the days of stereos in homes, some of us used to gather together and group listen to a new recording, but now we are largely on our own with our iPod and ear pieces. I am hopeful and I do see great things, but it needs attention from the best musicians and artists to feel our way through it. The culture needs nurturing and we have to find the soul of this new era. I do think that people who are relaxing some, and believing that at least there will be live music, that there will always be live music... Hmmmm....there has always been live music for thousands of years! The music industry really only began in America when Tin Pan Alley songwriters started to sell sheet music. The last 100 and some years of a true music industry is a mere blip, if we are not careful!

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  5. Reading that part about McManus brings to mind a quote by Jean Sibelius: "Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic."

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  6. I wonder if Sibelius knew he was going to get a statue put up of himself when he said that quote! But here is the relevant thing... I wonder if "consultants" believe they will have statues put up to themselves! It all depends if they will give the Pulitzer to bloggers one day!

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  7. Mark, your enlightenment is very much appreciated and I will be sure to pass it on to my fellow musician friends! I am also a fiddle/violin and piano teacher and am aiming to have my beginner students ready to attend camp next year, as I deeply want them to experience the richness of your camps and the world of knowlege the instructors offer. Speaking of which, do you have any intentions of having a camp somewhere other than Boston in 2013? Keep up the awesome blogging! -Ashlen Jackson

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  8. Ashlen, thank you...The string camps I host really benefit from getting the word out on the internet, and have since '94 when I started them! The other camp, especially for beginners is the O'Connor Method Camp in Charleston early August. Here is the link for all of the information. Berklee Camp also has this beginning track on the Method too! Hope to see you at one of these! http://markoconnor.com/index.php?page=about&family=fiddle&category=Charleston_O-squo-Connor_Method_Camp

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  9. There is no music industry. There are only musicians and audiences who appreciate them. The arrangement, communicative, financial or aesthetic, between the two parties should be decided by them and them alone. Any extemporaneous influence peddling, critiques, or resentments are entirely superfluous. Keep making and distributing wonderful music and the people deserving of it will allow it to flourish.

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  10. I understand the sentiment, and I do think we are heading back to the idea of a non music industry environment. I am a child of a thriving industry that employed recording engineers, 2nd engineers, photographers, album notes writers, mastering engineers, equipment rental folks, studio owners, secretaries, the list of jobs within the "industry" is quite extensive. Many of these jobs are in fact disappearing and in jeopardy. Of course I have many friends in all of these areas. I took a certain amount of pride that music was so valuable that it attracted all kinds of talents to our environment. It was fun getting to know many people working in music but who were not players. In addition, the songwriter depends on the music industry for a living - if that songwriter is not a performer. It is all very interesting, but like you, I see it all simplifying down to basic elements and essentials. When something is in trouble, you have to take a step back and work it out again. I think we should have done it on the internet 15 years ago, but missed a great opportunity - should I say, the record labels missed a great opportunity to establish the culture of protecting and honoring music and its musicians. The music industry allowed record labels to give healthy recording budgets to their signed artists. With that largely gone, it will be interesting to see how young artists will record albums with no budgets. Or is it only the rich kids who will get to record the albums and spend a couple months in the studio? These are answers that I think no one has quite figured out. Like I said in the blog, maybe the long play album will be a thing of the past very soon!

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    1. The other day I showed my 19 yr old daughter the 1970 copy of Clapton's Layla double LP I still own and was listening to. She was fascinated as I was at her age with the music, the artwork and the band photos during the recording on the inside, as well as the whole story of Clapton's motivation to produce an album of love songs dedicated to a "secret" woman. She has at least 2000 tunes on her computer and I pod, which she listens to indiscriminately but with enjoyment. The passion we attached to the LP or even CD is gone in the internet age and like you, I doubt if it will return. I think artists will not produce magnificent "concept" albums like the above and your Nashville Cats, Heroes etc. but rather singles for downloading. Maybe CDs will endure as concert souvenirs, I really wonder. I still buy CDs by the way!
      Hope China is booming for you!
      Paul L.

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    2. Yes, my feature spot at the Hong Kong festival that composer Bright Sheng puts on was last night. My 3rd Quartet and it went great, played two encores. I gave away 200 CDs on this trip for promotion. If you can't sell 'em, give 'em! I do think that the packaging helps to establish product value though. We are losing that advantage.

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  11. Mark, I believe that what you have mentioned here is almost a double edged sword. On one hand, it builds the artist/fan relationship directly and makes the artist more personable and easily reached through the social media outlets. On the other, it also nearly devalues the artist to mere mortal status since the unobtainablity and mysteriousness of an artist is what drew fans like a magnet as well. Also, I think the record labels are very much to blame for the quandary that muscians and artist are in now. Instead of embracing the coming future with the advent of Napster and some of the first file sharing sites, they fought it, which in turn allowed Apple to step in and create a "solution". Now, it is rare to even find a record store where one can buy a tangible album which one can take the shrink wrap off and open up and read all the liner notes and appreciate the album as a whole piece of art. Maybe I'm one of the shrinking few, but I like albums, and if there is a chance I will buy it in tangible form, not through iTunes.

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    1. Joe, I know...the mystery of a recording artist was very attractive. Also, artists did not know exactly what fans were thinking as well. The Social Media is about being in touch with everyone at once. It is a new paradigm and quite a bit different than before. We will have to see if being so available will help artists. For instance big Hollywood stars tweet their thoughts everyday. It is a different playing field now... and musicians will have to make it work I think, or we will get left behind again. This, after being left behind 15 years ago when the internet proved a force to be reckoned with, while the record labels were not there to seize the moment and help create a new music culture that could protect musicians and their intellectual property. My label told me that in 1997, out of 140 employees, that only one of them was assigned to the internet, and that was mostly email and website design for the company.

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  12. Hi Mark -- Thanks for the great post. I'm sending it along to many of my friends.
    One thing you didn't mention that really annoys me about this 'new music industry' is what it's done to the quality of audio. I can't stand mp3s. And they have become the standard of delivered audio. Yuck.
    -- Mitchell

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    1. Yes, another thing that the labels guessed wrong, in the short term at least... is while they were trying to record at more bits than you could ever hear, the internet culture was going for expediency with audio. Less bits and tiny ear pieces was the way things were going. As bandwidth improves over time, better audio will be available in the future I believe though. Audio quality is something that will get better, but it is obvious that most people don't care as much about the sound degradation. Some of the worst sound I have heard is the iPod adapter into a car radio. That is as bad as it gets, and lots of people listen that way! I would rather take the big radio compressors coming out over the airwaves any day...

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  13. Wow pretty deep issues facing the industry I am a long time fan of yours and many others artists. So many are trying to make a mark in the industry that is evolving and changing so quickly. I am sure that Music is still a very large part of almost everyone's daily lives. I just went to a Jack Johnson, John Cruz, Paula Fuga show and live performances are still IMHO the best venue to appreciate great music. Wish I could see you here in Honolulu. I did see your show in S.F. and another in Berkley Both Wonderful shows (Thanks for the improv that we yelled out Chicken Reel and you included it at Berkley) My question to you is do not the musicians control content delivery in a way? Is Live performances not the best way to connect. I typically buy CD's at Concerts yours included. Are CD's dead now? I only buy Music in a Hard Format. I still heavily utilize my iPod and Walkman but I do not look for "Free Music" All my content is backed up with the actual Disc. Maybe I'm old school I buy my content in support of the artist since my Daughter Passed away and her favorite band the Mermen wrote 2 songs in her memory I had the opportunity to meet Jim Thomas and even more now I understand the plight of those that make a career with a very small income while working Longer than Farmer's Hours for little reward. Like Joe above i guess I am old school as well. I have purchased most of your C.D.'s - P.S. my Son is a Fiddle player also now without a fiddle as he smashed his Violin after playing at her "Celebration of Life" he said that it would never be played again after he played Ashokan farewell to her in her casket. He had the whole church crying so then he played Chicken reel what a crazy thing how he changed the whole packed church of about 500 friends and family. Wonder where this will all lead. Hope that this industry stays healthy....... Hope to hear that one day you will have a date in Honolulu let me know if I can assist in any way Aloha My Bruddah

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    1. I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. Your son playing the violin for her at the memorial and the emotion he had... It is too much to contemplate what a loss that is for you.

      With regards to your questions for me, we control our content somewhat... these days a number of things can get up on the internet from a live show for instance that we didn't want up, for what ever reason - bad playing, bad sound, bad camera work, bad lighting... This will be a subject of another blog. I am in favor of each artist having their own YouTube Channel and controlling their content more so our best stuff is out their circulating and not our worst. It can be more organized with proper weight given to where the artists want to direct traffic. We have been really happy with my YouTube channel and how it has helped to shape my video presence on line. It is doing pretty much what we had hoped it would, short of a video going viral yet - which is a pie in the sky for most of us these days with the level of saturation now. Saturation has changed the potential view amount in most cases. A thousand views today, is equivalent of getting 10,000 views 4 years ago on a YouTube. Where this is all going with endless information being uploaded is anybody's guess!

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    2. Thank You yes loosing a Child is Traumatic and Sean's emotions took control over him he only now has his old Suzuki left to play sad to smash a wonderful violin. ( I bought the Violin and Bow and will not replace it )

      I do a lot of business with SONY Hawaii Company ) both sides push against each other on the software side (what they call Music/Movies) and the hardware ( the actual electronics that we can hold ) side battle against each other over licensing of the Music / Movies etc. It actually hampers them If these guys are having a hard time how can a 30 something see the changes in industry over a whole large company that is trying to keep on the bleeding edge of delivery. Yet they also seem to want to stream everything now. I still want a CD for Music and a DVD for Video somehow I feel it will be in my hands should something get hacked what if the "Cloud" rains etc.

      I am not a big You Tube guy but I'll try and find your channel.

      Still hope that I can see one of your shows here in Hawaii is there a Chance of this? :-)

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  14. Hi, Mark:

    You've raised some interesting issues and questions. From my perspective as a teacher, I think there are a few statements that are representative of a generational phenomenon, not limited to the music industry.

    You mentioned the proliferation of self-proclaimed "experts" among the 20 to 30-something crowd. Since this is the age group most familiar with internet applications, they're pretty much at the forefront there. I think it goes a little deeper, though. These are the kids who, since birth, have been told they are "special", who have played in sports leagues where there are no winners or losers, whose educational standards have been lowered in favor of fostering self-esteem, and who have come to expect rewards for simply showing up. To put it another way: if everyone is "special", then no one is. Thus, the subsequent devaluation of people and things.

    I think the negativity in social media is connected to that mindset as well. This generation typically sees no reason to pay their dues or "earn authority" (or to respect others who have), because they are already the most important people in the room. The nature of electronic communication has diminished interpersonal skills and reinforced the idea that, 1) they're entitled to say anything they like, in the interest of "self-expression" and "honesty"; and, 2)whatever they say is of paramount interest to everyone. For all of their creativity and resourcefulness, they are very much at the center of their own individual universe!

    Given the collective narcissism, it may be hard to say how much of their commentary is specifically targeted at individuals, and how much is merely self-indulgent delight at their own cleverness. In many cases, sarcasm, snarkiness and snobbery seem to have become acceptable substitutes for thoughtful analysis.

    I don't know the answer. If anyone has one, there's an entire high school faculty here in town that would like to hear it! As far as the future of music is concerned, though, I agree with Shorepatrol's comments. I think that the "great" music and musicians will rise above the rest, and that those musicians will be successful to the degree that they can use social media to connect personally with their fans about their art, current projects, and creative process.

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  15. Laura, amazing commentary on the way it is now. It's fascinating how this change as you describe it, has taken place in a single generation. When I tell stories of how tough it was for me as a kid (like I will have to do in my upcoming scheduled autobiography) I am sure that many young people will think; how can this be true?

    Despite some of the "entitled" examples, many young people have it together and got a good head on their shoulders - some retained a good work ethic model from their parents maybe. Many are talented and can make their talents work for them and for others. But even so, there is an invincible quality that is slightly different than my generation. The "entitled - self expression - honesty" tract as you describe, has perhaps replaced my generation of the "hard knocks and looking for the lucky break" way of living out each day. I see this in the music business job market. In my parents life, having the same job for 25 years was seen as normal. A musician might stay with Porter Wagoner or Johnny Mathis 25 years. My generation, it was President Clinton who talked about Americans retraining and having as many as 5 different jobs in our lifetime. Today, I feel that for some young people, that has doubled again. There is a quick turnover especially in the music business with the new generation. The "company" man or woman, or the loyal employee is much more difficult to come by today. Work and work relationships have become devalued and are more easily expendable. One of the big agencies I have worked for has agents who have been there for 35 years and some of them worked their way up from being mail room clerks etc... Contrast that to the amount of young secretaries, and assistants who get a job there today, and are gone in 2 or 3 years, having no care to see if they can work their way up the ladder eventually. Which seems probable to me because the old guys are going to retire eventually!

    Like you said it: "if everyone is "special", then no one is. Thus, the subsequent devaluation of people and things." I have seen this a lot just in response to musical artists. Where singer-songwriters of my generation were deemed "brilliant" only if their song became an iconic hit heard the world over. Otherwise they were categorized for the most part as wannabe stars - good - talented and looking for that lucky break. But today young people will tell me about a local singer-songwriter who is "brilliant" practically just for having written a good song. Stay tuned!

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  16. This reminds me of an argument I had years ago with a young man who was into computers who told me that the days of live acoustic music were over, because computer geeks could simulate all musical sounds on their computers, and this therefore made live musicians and their acoustic (or electric) instruments obsolete. I told him that no computer could make the feeling expressed by musicians, and being a computer geek, he did not understand. He could not compute that. Music? Feeling? wh? This was only a few years before the whole grunge movement brought guitars and acoustic music back into vogue, and MTV had everyone unplugged. He was an "expert", in computers, not music. He was talking about something he had no knowledge of, as if he was an expert, because he was under the impression that it's the way the sounds are made that counts, and not the fact that music is communication. Both a speaking and a listening heart are needed. when I listen now to the electro pop synth yuk that I still have, in vinyl, I am amazed how barren it is. With every new technology, there is always someone who, because they cannot hear, believes the new makes the previous obsolete, instead of seeing the new technology and capacity as an adaptation of an older tool.-and often, they are like the Khmer Rouge, they want a scorched earth to work from, because they are ignorant of what went before.

    These people are always technicians, not artists, (or businessmen) and you can suss them because when you talk about musicians making feeling music they go eh? wh? They have no context. They are IT support, and should not be fiddling with content. They are the ones who believe that a monkey typing forever will eventually type shakespeare, because they are just that thtupid.

    As to the music industry having several layers of bubblegum, thats how it always was. The net made Justin Bieber possible. But the net allows people who might otherwise never be heard (because they are not bubblegum) access to an audience. And then the audience decides. There are bands who would not be able to continue and would have to go back to their day jobs, who are surviving because of the net. There are others who cannot cut it. They are not good enough. The net cuts out the middle man, but does not define tastes.

    In South Africa we suffer from a colonial inferiority complex which makes our music industry very difficult to make a living from. For many bands here, the net has been a life saver, because they can make an audience, press their own cd's, sell them online etc, without needing to be signed-and pay studio fees etc to a music company who will be making all the profit.

    There is a HUGE audience out there on the net. I think the way you are growing your audience is genius, and also possibly a good best practice model-you have the social media covered, and also a more "traditional" web page, and they all interconnect, and you can make money off them, which marries art and business nicely. Also you are not neutral and pastel and quiet, which is Excellent. I feel that all musicians should have a DONATE button on their web pages so people can give them money to make music happen.

    I am a librarian and I remember when the computer geeks started telling us how the computer and the internet would make librarians obsolete, because all the information in the world would be available in a constant stream-I had to ask them, so, if you were running a sewage farm, and the amount of crap that was coming at you grew all the time, would you suddenly become obsolete? No! you would need to invest in a whole lot more sewage farms. To do the sifting.

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  17. I just have to add this: because the social media is freely available to anyone who has internnet access, it is capable of producing people who style themselves as "experts" who are just heavy social media users. The business or artistic imperative present in using the media is the same, whether you are updating your own website, or going through a pr agency-and that is to grow an audience, and to make money out of your product. I think a great many "commentary" type bloggers are not in the business of doing any audience growing, and therefore they do not replace the educated criticisms of a real music, art or theatre critic, who is allowed and trusted by his/her audience to pass judgement on an artists work because they have studied enough to have an Educated opinion.

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  18. KatyA, thank you so much. I like what you wrote: "Also you are not neutral and pastel and quiet, which is Excellent." I guess you pegged me there! It is also why I think that the best musicians should be blogging now in the "new music industry" because it is now a culture of "text," in addition to the music. I don't think it is great to have Amazon and others sites for music put up our music, and have endless commentaries by fans, without hearing from the artist in the same text environment. The volume of words begin to out weigh the music. I don't think it is a balanced approach. Before the Net, an artist played our concert and the reviewer said his/her piece publicly - and that was it... Not the endless public commentary, sometimes mindless views pertaining to a performance for all to read - forever. With regards to recordings, yes there were occasionally more public reviews by professionals, but it still seemed to have some balance. In this new world of public "text" online - musicians and artists I believe have to write more about their art and projects. That is why I am not only doing this blog, but also attempting to answer comments. I think it could be very healthy for the future of music (given the scenario provided now), and at the very least - extremely educational as to what the artist knows and what members of public could learn in these types of exchanges about music and music making. If more people knew about the effort great musicians give through words, not just what one hears in the final musical piece, that kind of cynicism you write about can be turned down a notch with healthy dialogue like all of the blog comments here! Thank you. BTW, I have never performed in South Africa, would like to play there one day!

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