Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Job Titles vs Credits

What's the difference between being a producer and being credited as a producer? Is a recording artist any more or less legitimate than a performing artist? Why the delineations? Can you just be a writer anymore? Is a title assumed or bestowed?

Legitimacy. That's the single ingredient - the secret spice, if you will - that changes the destiny of so many things. That's what all the niche noisemakers, publicists and other assorted toxins are trafficking. At least, that's what they'd have us believe.

It's all artists seem to want to talk about right now. They don't say it directly, but it's the prime topic driving so many conversations. Just look at the average Twitter feed of the current crop of 35+ DIY reborns. How many of them are following and retweeting establishment artists, sending ever-hopeful "@" messages hoping for a gilded tweet that anoints them worthy, setting in motion the wheels of great fortune? I lose count.

The youngest (and by proxy, technologically adept) artists have a massive advantage right now (welcome to the cruel downslope of evolution). They're coming of age with an internet that's scaled to relevance and a peer-group/fanbase that's not only deeply connected socially but motivated to gather (unlike their parents, who prefer to lock down in suburban homes.) A moderately talented artist can conjure a respectable following in weeks, now, where older artists are still struggling to get their fans connected, much less literate.

So we can try to perform for younger audiences, but that is especially risky because....well, here we are again.... the young are particularly finicky about legitimacy, because picking the wrong team to support has social consequences that reverberate further than before.

And who knows for sure if you're really an artist anyway? Sure, this is still the creative free-for-all its always been. You're still free to assert the title artist, or producer, or whatever, and just *be* that. Sooner or later someone will believe you. There's something inherently freeing about that chaos, yet at the same time it seems so formidable.

I'm not sure what to make of all this. On one hand, it seems a renaissance is upon us, but that can also mean a lot of uncertainty. I don't think anybody really knows.

And here's today's takeaway: Genuineness starts inside and shines out. If you're a person who honestly needs external validation, you're going to be very unhappy in this business. But if you can find that spot in yourself where you feel comfortably legitimate in your own eyes, that quality will begin to emerge in your work and performance.


Simon said...

Some great posts here J.

Very interesting reading - added to my feed :)