It seems people are more willing to accept fame than success at present. In such a throwaway culture as we find ourselves in, where consumers demand only something to occupy their meagre attention spans and baser desires for the present, nothing seems made to last. Naturally my own interests invite me to gravitate toward music in search of an example, and I find it in the notion that while a select few artists who have made their mark on music history by advancing the field in some way or leaving behind a strong body of work continue to be relevant for these reasons, I see considerably less people who take the risks and set themselves apart to make a mark in the present. Moreover, the requirements of being a ‘successful’ musician have changed somewhat in the past half-century.
It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention how much more attractive famous people are getting. This is sort of their job. The hangovers from previous generations remain on the basis of their lasting appeal, gained through innovation and talent. By the time the next generation rolls around, no one who seems to be making waves now will be around anymore. Once their looks go, what’s the appeal?
In a world dominated by computers and motivated by profit, the death of genuine live music is becoming more of a reality with each passing second. The dance music which dominates the charts today does so because it is so easy to churn out AND so easy to digest. Nobody in the business has to worry about actual musicianship or composition anymore because sequencers and synthesisers can handle the basics and frankly, the consumers don’t want to have to work too hard. Give them a strong beat (and one catchy phrase or melody if you’re feeling generous) and they’re done. Music is no longer a pastime in its own right but rather, something which happens in the background while you’re on the internet.
So, good news for profits in the present day. ‘Music’ is cheap to make, consumers are easy to please and because everything sounds the same, there’s no commercial risk. The one place we feel the downside is culture and the music industry is very much a representation of consumer culture as a whole in this respect. There’s no heart and soul left in the finished product anymore. Music seems to come from a production line process and what’s worse, people don’t seem to care to pay enough attention to notice. Is the expression ‘a labour of love’ a thing of the past? Must we standby and witness the rehashing of everything we used to love in more and more diluted and obscene forms?
Obviously the above is largely a minefield of cynicism and blanket statements (and don’t think I’m done with that yet), and clearly there are those who still believe in doing things the hard way. But we must be mindful of the fact that it’s a slippery slope we walk upon. We witness every day the weird direction films are taking. It’s much easier to throw money into explosions and Tom Cruise knowing you’ll get a big payback guaranteed from the blockbuster image you’ve bought into, than to bother with anything else. It’s a sad thought that we are haunted by the spectres of the same movies over and over simply because we keep paying to see them.
My point (which I think may now be a different one than I intended to come to, and one which I arrived at by accident) is that perhaps (I mean definitely, but you can make your own minds up) we should be concentrating more on creating something which will stand the test of time rather than rehashing the same easy tripe we’ve all heard and seen before, however profitable it may be.
When I turn on the radio, I for one would like to hear something I’ve never heard before.