Monday, July 19, 2010

What are we doing here?

What the hell is going on out there? Everything seems on its head. None of the usual inputs are making any sense. They're calling Justin Bieber a prodigy. A prodigy! What can that word even mean anymore? People tell us they want artists they care about, but they don't care about artists at all. People don't want to take the risk of getting attached to artists anymore - just like sports teams. Pick a loser that season and your friends will never let you hear the end of it.

So everybody is playing it safe. No risk taking. Not for patrons and investors, and certainly not for artists. We're all out here trying to outsmart the legacy catalog - "If I craft the song just right...." as we pore over the 2nd verse for the hundredth time.

Audiences have changed. What it means to "attend" an event has changed. Gone are the days of passive, receptive audiences. "Participation" is the new mantra, even though that usually translates to "something to post on my YouTube channel". We're in the new world, where the right cell phone video clip of your show can make as much money as your show!

Maybe this is why massive dance parties are, well...massive. There are no "artists", so to speak. (yes, yes, DJ'ing is artistry, unquestionably, but the DJ is not *the* artist in the same sense as the people's music he's spinning/mixing.) Just a person or two and a few laptops and electro-gizmos. The music is stupifyingly simple in concept, but deeply complex and eloquent in expression. It doesn't demand you to deal with all the things a pop song does (interpreting a narrative theme, style, etc) just creates a space for you.

And maybe that's what the most successful artists will do - create a space for their fans to congregate, rest of the world be damned.