What a month. I realize how non-sequitur that is. I know what has happened, and I know the reference, but I may be the only one. And it’s not like the reference is any story worth telling, it’s just…I had to get it out. It’s like an emotional exhalation of unconnected non-vernacular. Phew. What. A. Month.
I’m glad to be typing again. Putting my thoughts down in text and into the ether feels good. It’s a catharsis that I can’t afford myself as often as I once did, yet need just as much. There’s something semi-permanent about writing a blog . And what more can any of us hope for than to create something that someone might remember for a finite period of time? Also, I’m going stream of consciousness on this one, sooo….sorry?
I’ve been thinking a lot on art and what I do. And then trying to frame it in the context of success. It’s such an elitist and elusive state of existence. Success. What is it? If someone gets a huge amount of cash in-flow due to his* art, then he is a sell out. And that’s not success. That’s selling out. Fiscal success does not equal artistic success. But, that’s not the point, right? Making money isn’t why we become artists. And if it is, we’re probably not very good artist. The logic is out there, and artists like to make it. “Well, if you get into this for the wrong reasons…” Blah blah. There are no right reasons. If you want to be an artist, be one. Who cares why?
Back to “people who make money at art are sellouts”. I think that’s insane. If you don’t make money as an artist, then it’s likely that no one has seen or heard your art. Ok, no one is a strong term. Perhaps maybe, not many is better to use. But the point I’m making is, that THAT IS THE POINT. Nobody becomes an artist because they want to create something beautiful. Oh, shut up and wait for me to finish. We are artists because we ant to create something beautiful that others will also think is beautiful. The point is that artists want to share. There’s myriad reasons for this. Some have woefully low self esteem and every time they share their work it boosts it a bit, some people arrogantly think that everyone wants to see what they do, others have this fire inside of them that is only extinguished by creating. The list is long, suffice it to say. I’m a composer because I take pride in the fact that I do something that not many people can do. That’s elitist, I know it. It’s aggressively elitist. I judge my work on my own terms, but I make it for everyone else. See? That’s extremely self destructive.
Le’ts see if I can make that make sense. I’m sure artists will both agree and vehemently disagree with this, but, meh. We make art for ourselves. We create work based on our own tastes and editorial system. [Yes, you can argue that I don’t really do that since I compose for a committee that guides my work, but don’t. It’s an inaccurate analogy.] Anyway. Let’s say that I like a certain chord progression (and those of you musically educated enough and familiar with my work, know this is actually the case). Well, I’m going to use that chord progression or variations of it fairly often. My music will end up sounding (stay with me) like MY MUSIC. There’s more to it. Rhythms, counterpoint, harmonies and much more create the sound that I create. I love just about every song that I compose. I like some more, but the point is that I make music for me.
That being said, it really sucks when other people don’t like it, too. Some of my favorite songs on my SoundCloud have 30 plays and it makes me cry inside. I want my music hummed by people as they ride the elevator. I want to hear gamers dun-dun-dunning along while they play my games. And the only way to do that is to make music that they like, too. Any artist knows that when you try to include too many opinions in the creative process that you end up with a shapeless end product that has all the artistic merit of sheep dung. But, (you’re starting to see the problem now), in order for everyone to like it you have to consider what they like!
So I make it for me. I want others to like it. But I don’t want to be a sellout. I want to make something for everyone, but have it still seem elitist. This is the problem that we all face. Whether we know it or not, it is. Artists can’t make something totally accessible, lest they become the artistic equivalent of American Cheese or Bread and Water. [I always go for the food analogies. ????] Let me give you an example. The Wiggles. Another one, Anne Geddes. [“Oh but I loooove those little babies.” No you don’t, shut up. They’re terrible.] But, we envy the Wiggles success. We envy, Anne…The Wiggle’s success. [I can’t believe that I actually almost said we envy Anne…] If we make something on the other end of the spectrum, something truly artistic and original, something that no one has ever seen before, then we drastically limit our audience.
Do something great and original, and starve. Do something common and lame, and get rich and famous.
It’s not that big of a dilemma, truth be told. Most artists know which category they fit into. The real problem is that they all want to do something great and get famous. But we can’t all be The Beatles. There is no award for finishing, when it comes to art. It’s be good or work in a bank. Either be good at giving people what they want or have a second job. Very, very few people will ever be great and be able to survive of their greatness.
I want to monetize my music and I’ve found a way to do it. You purists out there can judge me. But I know that you’re judging from a place of envy. And that is more flattering than it is destructive to me. I have a skill that I have learned to use to make money. I enjoy it. I take pride in it. And I am creating in a society that is addicted to consumption. And I think that’s pretty cool.
*I realize that there are both men and women and that both men and women make art. I chose to use the His/He pronoun due to readability and pacing considerations.