Date: July 29th, 2017
Motion: THB that pop-culture musicians have become wiser with time and age
Role: Rep. (opp.)
What characterizes this generation of youth is its seeking of attention, often gullibly, avidly and without regard for what has passed as culture before. Furthermore, many teeny-boppers seem content to try to please as big a chunk of the audience as possible, thus resorting to the cheapest tricks, the meanest, keenest common denominators and most plastic kind of backing tracks.
I claim that it is entirely possible to court an audience in a counterintuitive way, wooing it less rather than more, and here I’m going to tell you How.
A ”tenure-track” musician should first develop a style and contents that alienate 65 % of people in exchange for appealing to 35 % of people. The reasons for the potential, desirable aversion may be varying: abrasive guitars, nasal singing voice, shocking clothing, naff lyrics, explicit lyrics, ugly-looking fellow musicians, off-putting ”farting” synths, fixation on death/sex/alcohol/graves/food/Americana etc. etc. etc. The reason for the appeal, on the contrary, should always boil down to just one thing: the Originality and Humanity or the musician(s) in question.
Then, it’s time for the breakthrough. The musician needs to break through somehow, creating a big enough splash, in order to be recognized in the humdrum buzz of the media landscape. Usually, mainly in the Past, all that was needed was a catchy enough song to release. It became trickier during the MTV Era, when a flamboyant enough music video was also needed. Today it is trickier still, as a video no longer carries enough prestige or commands enough attention to get noticed. An alternative, cheap route to recognition may be a tune to the opening or closing credits of a pay-channel TV show, for instance. At any rate, any self-reflecting posse of musicians ought to be able to ultimately figure out what they need to do to break the glossy surface in the Attention Economy.
When the fan base for the band has been created, the conformities of a proven rock n’ roll trajectory begin to take over for the benefit of the musicians. A lot of things come taken for granted:
- a record will be followed by a tour
- royalties come at the end of the bookkeeping year
- the band may ask for gratuities on their so-called ”raiders”
- the latest record is always the ”best” (even when it’s the worst)
- shows are a mix of old and new songs, plus a cover song, perhaps
- critics will hate the band, if it’s not a mixture of the academic, proletarian and pathetic
- the first visit to the rehab of any of the band members is to be anticipated
- etc. etc.
What is great, all the same, is that from here on in, all that fans of the said band want is that the band will repeat the formula of making music and rock stardom ad infinitum. The band may voluntarily or involuntarily, by way of coercion, have to repeat the qualities present in the initial line-up, for as long as it is capable of producing something Original in that 10 % of free space that is reserved for creativity, warmth, humanity and originality in the goings-on of a band. And this is Good News for those who are not that keen on change and self-improvement, but rejoice instead in free play and ego-tripping.
Fans, namely, accept all the flaws and faults in the bands and musicians that they happen to admire or adore, if and when these musicians steadfastly continue in the trodden tracks that they set to tread and sought for themselves. For this reason, it would be foolish for any young musician to try to be an artist EVERYBODY or ANYBODY likes. It’s bad for business, quite simply. Rather, be warts and all, and repeat yourself and your story. What would work in a rock n’ roll song (repetition and an acquired genre/niche/taste), will work in a pop life and on a rock n’ roll career.
I’m claiming that pop musicians have not become wiser with time and age, because they don’t follow, arguably, these recommendations in this time and age.
Arvio: Puheessa saattaa olla joitain abstrakteja aineksia peruskuulijalle. Se tulee kuitenkin ymmärrettävämmäksi, jos tietää, että en lähesty aihetta ihan nolla-lähtökohdasta vaan olen mm. tehnyt juttuja musiikkistudioissa ja kuluttanut paljon aikaa ja paperia musiikkielämän lainalaisuuksia pohtien. Parhaiten puheen tajuaa joku, joka on samassa tila(ntee)ssa tai samanikäinen kuin minä. Lopun viimeinen rivi selventää, miksi käyn juuri tämän sisältöisellä, vähän erikoisella puheella tätä motionia vastaan.