You’re being forced into an untenable position by your increasing inability to earn a living from your efforts and hard work. You’re also being dictated to daily- schooled- by multitudes of business people (music and otherwise), so-called pundits, internet commentators, talking heads from the tech world, self-proclaimed tastemakers and occasionally, other performers.
All of whom deliver the exact same message- that what you do is essentially meaningless, useless and valueless.
These individuals address you directly and personally, as if they know you. They condescend to you by telling you what you need to do in order to be successful and how to do it. In their next breath, they tell you how and why you will fail at what you do and why you deserve to fail. Naturally, they also assert that they’re right, everyone else is wrong and why you need to listen to them. According to them, the only thing that matters is whether you can generate a commodity they themselves can identify, quantify and then, sell. Your own opinion or feelings about what you do or aspire to, matter not one iota.
Even as the recording industry appears to be going belly-up, hordes of opportunists are pouring out of the woodwork like voracious insects and pursuing new schemes to profit from your hard work without actually investing in it. Using a variety of subterfuges, everyone who can potentially make money from your art is focusing intently on convincing you to sell yourself short- to them. They tell you this because, as they so guilefully put it, something is better than nothing- even if it is a miniscule something. And since- as they further imply (or aver outright)- being an artist isn’t a real job and art should be freely accessible for everyone, you need to be happy with whatever crumbs you get thrown.
In fact, they’ll remind you repeatedly that since you live in a capitalist society wherein people make money based on how desirable the product they’re selling is, you’re lucky to be getting thrown anything at all. Besides, even though you wont be compensated for our exploitation of your work, this exploitation will gain you access to millions of people on the internet…who have no intention of paying for it, either.
All of which implies that what you do is effectively undesirable and worthless.
These nabobs speak to you like pimps do- hovering around jailbait, homing in for the kill. Just change a few of the words and the sentiment is identical. Come on baby- it’s not rape if you say yes. Just lay back and let it happen. You know you want to.
You are being brainwashed, lied to, abused and treated like slaves. You are perceived as being the lowest of the low on the societal food chain and yet, without you, there is no so-called “product”- no “content”, no art, no music- no expression. Without you and your efforts, the world slowly goes dark and all of us, as humans, lose our way.
You work in an intangible world of magic and limitless possibilities- your purpose and your responsibility is to demonstrate to every other human being what real expression looks like. You are not only the creators, but the builders and potentially, masters of the very supply lines both to those who seek to exploit your work- and to the entirety of humanity who desperately wish and need to experience it.
Without you- without your work- those opportunists who are simultaneously co-opting, raping and savaging your work, will lose the very businesses they have built off your sweat of your back. They prey and depend on your apparent inability to be self-sufficient or to join together with other artists in a common cause. They rely upon your ignorance, divisiveness and gullibility, for these are the very things which perpetuate their ability to maintain dominion over you. Consider this; when a slavemaster uses the language of manipulation to address his slaves, he speaks from a place of fear because he knows exactly what the cost would be if the slaves were to ever revolt.
Do you possess the vision to recognize that you are potentially in a position of immense power and if so, how do you visualize yourself actualizing this power? Can you accept this as reality; that by virtue of your uniqueness, you are the engineer and thereby, determiner of your own destiny?
Change is absolutely possible, and utterly attainable even though it requires superhuman degrees of dedication, imagination, emotion, belief, solidarity and effort. And even then, all of this is meaningless without the evidence of great, great talent. Not many are so endowed- perhaps, you?
I ask you this- do you believe it is wrong for creatives to free themselves from the prison which was fashioned for them by their self-appointed masters who seek only to exploit them and when they are of no further use, cast them aside?
Why should those who have no hand in the creation of a work be allowed to lay any claim or dominion to that work? Why should anyone other than an artist have control over the fruits of her creative labors? Why shouldn’t artists finally be able to express themselves, unfettered, free and without restrictions or conditions from people who have no idea about what true expression is or what the true intrinsic value of music is?
Do you wonder what would happen if we artists- all artists in every expressive medium- bonded together and took complete control over our own destinies- both in business and in art- and in so doing, dictated to the corporate slave-masters who’ve elected to control and dictate to us? Do you wonder what it would feel like if you were in control of your own work, instead of being a slave, expected to serve no function other than churning out a “product”?
For the next 15 minutes after you’ve read the final words of this essay, I ask you to consider whether you are completely satisfied with the direction things are heading, or if you need something more. And if you do need something more, what are you willing to do in order to attain it?