I’ve had enough of mediocrity. I understand that we can all make art now; but most of us have no business doing it. Spotify is paying musicians pennies on the penny, and laptop speakers on college campuses sleep in a haze of jangly indie sameness. Amazon is drunk on Kindle books whose covers feature jpeg compression and the finest typography that Word 95 could ever have mustered. Another talented indie filmmaker is posting a great film to Vimeo right now, but you’ll never see it. Among other things, I just promoted The Tower of Babel for about $270 and made $19.18 in return.
This is art today, in snapshot and panorama. The grave is dug. If you aren’t helping yet, grab a shovel and start making an album.
This is a two-edged sword, for both the talented and the untalented. For those who should actually be heard, it’s now easier than ever to produce a creative work. (I use the term technically. Production is not the actual making, but how the thing made gets from artist to you.) The infrastructure is there. You just upload your stuff. But the side of the sword that will kill you is the fact that everyone else can do it too, and this creates noise. You may have a right to be heard, since your stuff is excellent; but the nobodies all around you are cluttering up the airwaves.
For the untalented, life is great! You’re in a band! You made an album! You put it on Bandcamp! People listened to it! People gave it Facebook Likes! This is like Led Zeppelin, but you can do whatever you want! Yeah, you listen to them! You’re a rock star! You’re playing at The Musica next week! (Oh wait, it’s just Musica, not The Musica?) Sure, the “promoter” is making you sell tickets, but hey, you’re in a band! You made an album! You put it on Bandcamp! So what’s the bad side of the sword for you? The fact that the stuff you’re pouring into the wonderful art-sharing infrastructure of the Interwebs just plain sucks. You will never receive the recognition you crave, because you are not making something that people need.
We are living in unprecedented times for the world of the arts. To paraphrase a certain old-school guy, it’s a great time to be an artist, it’s an awful time to be an artist. It’s a great time to be in the audience, it’s an awful time to be in the audience.
I think it’s Monday.