There’s no doubt about it. This country is in a position it’s never been in before, and we’re all feeling it. I think it goes across the board with all levels of players from any genre having to consider a bit of a new game plan. I certainly don’t want to be naïve enough to think I have an answer to what players should be considering to survive their financial challenges, but I do see a bright side to this dilemma “artistically” speaking.
I believe over the last few decades that for many artists, the focus of their work has evolved into putting ones “marketability” first and foremost. To be clear, marketing is a vital tool in this age, and that goes without saying. But I’d be curious to somehow find out how many players have more or less altered their path, their musical pursuits, to enhance their “marketability” rather than following their heart as far as the musical statement they’re trying to embody and communicate. If the market is bad (which it is) and will continue to be on a downward trend (which it will) maybe one might consider with this current financial crisis consuming us going back to that “follow your heart” approach to one’s musical pursuits, whatever that may be. Here are a couple of reasons why.
1) What the hell. Not to be non-chalant about this, but it’s going to be tough enough as it is with the ensuing economic crisis trying to get ahead in the artistic realm, so if one is going to put serious time and effort in under the present conditions, why not do exactly what you feel strongly about and desire to do as an artist rather than what you think might sell. You’ve probably got just as much chance creating forward momentum for yourself at this point following your heart as your head. Remember, trends come and go, and that thought coupled with our current situation kind of puts us on a new playing field.
2) Under the guise of the “what makes you think that you have the insight on what one should pursue Jake” scenario, let me share some similar and very fitting remarks on this type of decision from a few “icons”.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s kind of a good time for musicians to kind of forget about the radio…. It’s a great time to be yourself”. Stanley Clarke
“Just sit down and play…. That’s it. Don’t worry about thoughts like, what can I do to make this more popular, just play well”. Anthony Jackson
“I want people to have their own way, their own method. I like giving people other things to think about, to point them in a new direction and say hey, look at that…. go where you want”. Victor Wooten
“When people look at artists, they definitely want to get a point of view, they want to see and hear somebody that looks at life in a certain way, and that music serves that concept”. Marcus Miller
“The main thing is to do the work and do the investigation—do the self observation enough so that you learn about how ‘you’ do things and what ‘you’ do well”. Gary Willis
“As a bass player, you ‘can’ affect the environment—know that you’re there to make the band sound better with “your’ statement”. Ron Carter
Nuff said? Actually, maybe we “do” have a potential answer here as far as what to pursue in these times…..food for thought.
Jake Kot, Editor