Once again, this may cause some turmoil but I really don’t care. If you don’t like what I have to say, don’t read my blog :). Concerning the ‘starving artist’ theory, I’m not buying it. I do believe that at one time in the history of this earth, if you were truly going to be an artist, you weren’t going to make a lot of money. This is why the internet is so amazing, it eliminates the need to rely on someone with a lot of money, for the world to see your art. In fact, if you live anywhere in the free world, as an artist, there is no excuse for starving (or for your art not to thrive) aside from your own stubbornness, or just plain laziness.
You can provide pictures, videos, mp3s, you can even stream live shows around the world and people can pay to watch them from their cell phones, tablets, computers, apple TVs, Smart TVs, etc. So, if you aren’t making money, maybe your art just isn’t that good. I think a common misconception about art, in general, but especially in the music world, is the idea that if it doesn’t challenge the norm, it isn’t art. While, art sometimes DOES challenge the norm, it is not a requirement. Just because something challenges the norm, does not make it art, and just because something is art, does not mean it has to challenge the norm. The only true requirement, in my opinion, is that you transport a thought, a feeling, something real through time and space, through your art, that causes others to think or feel the way you were intending when they are embraced by your art.
There are some styles of music, and art, respectively, that are based off of the idea of challenging the norm. But I would definitely say to that, make sure that you’re creating for the sake of creating, and not for the sake of challenging the norm. If what you create from yourself happens to challenge a social norm, in some way, then so be it, great. I think though, that this very subject is where all of the annoying bits surrounding art and especially the music industry come into play. I know, personally, I really can’t stand anything that would be classified as ‘scene’. This has different meanings to different people and generations, but the idea that a way you look, or act, outside of the music itself, is supposed to say more about you than your music.
This issue doesn’t just stem to post emo kids with weird hair and skinny jeans, this has been a problem for a long time, in my opinion. You look at some of the epic rockstars from the past, Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, even Meatloaf. These guys weren’t trying to fit into any “idea” of what they were supposed to look like, or sound like. They were just who they were, doing what they loved.
I tend to wander in my posts, so this is me coming back to my main point. The subject of a ‘sellout’. When you think about it, what is ‘selling out’? Here’s what I think, usually it is when someone embraces some sort of what is happening in the industry in order to get ahead or move up. The problem is, sometimes they really do start producing music that is just crap, and getting paid a lot of money. Essentially, this is exactly what has happened to most of the music industry and it is why we are in the mess we are in now.
However, just because and artist is making money, it does not mean their quality will start going down. In fact, more often then not, the quality of their art often improves. It may make it harder to relate too, as a normal, everyday person. My point is, if you want to be an artist as a living, you have to take into consideration the ‘living’ part. Yes, art is to come from inside of you, and yes it is creative expression. However, it does not mean that you should get paid just because you have ideas and are creative. Learn to use these abilities and harness them to create relevant messages that people can latch onto and run with. Create art that helps people, normal people (you know, 99% of the population around you, not just your buddies) get through everyday life. This is how you make a living off of your art.
There is an art to getting paid, and it’s all about creating an intellectual product that people want. You don’t get paid to flip burgers at Wendys because some rich guy decided, “hey we need to pay someone to do this annoying task”. It’s because Wendys created a demand for those burgers, and you are facilitating the solution. As an artist, learn to use your creative talents to fill a need, and you have yourself a product, and probably a niche. That is the Art of Getting Paid, my friends!