Heya' people! I see that you have stumbled upon my blog which I have made a just recently and going to put up my blog posts or answering some of the questions you guys have dropped to me over at the contacts page. So the question for today is something that I kind of came across that made me want to do a post about it:
Selling Out: Do Artists Even Care About Music Anymore?
It might feel like traditional-noise, but it's a topic I've seen discussed albeit never resolved fully. Why is this so?
Selling out music-wise is the term of bands and/or artists who are signed to major labels, who contradict their values and let their music to be used in advertising, also generating revenue. Also, there's the other side of the spectrum in which what the music made by the artist and or band has now grown more and popular into the mainstream side of the audience.
Obviously, it's always good to earn the extra income while the song may continue selling and labels see it as a marketable profit, but the real reason we (fans) don't see between the lines is the thumping chirp of always asking for something authentic. Something that felt liked the yesteryear's of the music that the artist has done, so that they are able to continue listening to the band or artist.
There's a lot of discussion going on for bands about experimenting and learning new tricks or having a distinct style of music going forward, but when it comes down to the real product, none of these traits become proactive because we, the fans, demand something we know we want. That's when we raise the expectations bar too high.
For instance, Linkin Park took a huge turn when the jumped on to Minutes to Midnight after having solo projects (Mike had Fort Minor, Chester joined Dead By Sunrise, and so on) and the fans back then were patient. They knew that even though the band's third album (fourth if you count Collision Course with Jay-Z) was diving into something unique and interesting, they were forgiving because the band still had the visceral edge that they kept going back when they released Hybrid Theory and Meteora, two of their most renowned albums that shot them straight to stardom, that is still being praised highly by the old and new fans alike. However, A Thousand Suns came and swept everyone off. That signaled to the fans that they were trying something different with their styles, bringing in the electronic tone that would eventually formulate across to Living Things. But the bigger scope is this: Aren't bands and artists allowed to change and experiment?
Nothing stays the same. In fact, I don't expect it to stay the same. While this topic may be fueled by Maroon 5's Maps, it partially became a tongue-in-cheek statement that the band was not able to make music that felt like their past hits. Though I think the band has a huge potential going forward, sometimes that spark is caved in because of a different idea. Maps never became as concise as the lyrics meant for it to be. The song was simply felt like an Overexposed leftover, that the band came across and felt that it would be worth it as a single. And maybe it didn't fall apart considering it's a commercial success now, probably due to it's widening fan-base. It's the same situation with Linkin Park: nobody expects the fans to forget Songs About Jane (their solo debut album), which to me, is still the best Maroon 5 record of all-time. While people may think effort is injecting more rhythm and blues to the lyrics and chorus or just smothering the vocals, it isn't that easy. Maps had problems that was very secular, and rather than trying to fix it, they left it alone.
Of course I don't think that Maroon 5 is selling out, but the way they phrased their lyrics and the very generic sound to their instrumentations makes it worse that V may not be that spectacular and will probably end up somewhere near to Overexposed. I know people do want the band to return to their rock heavy roots, or at least use the drums and guitars to full use. I couldn't deny that I do want the band to go back, but I understand their current mindset. Why change when Hands All Over, Overexposed and soon to be V had prominent hits that would rise up to the mainstream charts and topple whoever still holds that place? While it may seem like a bad interpretation of what I am trying to say, it's the audience that becomes attracted to these kind of songs that keeps them doing it over and over again. Mediocre standards have put us, fans, in our place. It's one of the reasons why we can't have nice things.
However, people seem to be getting the wrong idea of selling out being equal to experimentation records. They aren't. It's the same reason that Yeezus was able to open with such a big number, yet nosedived completely off the charts in it's second week. There's the limit of fine line that most artists and bands can't seem to find.
And well, that comes back round to my question again: do artists even care about music anymore? Yes they do, but probably in a way that helps them achieve it as well. Nowadays, retail is completely sliced and many of us aren't doing the artists a favor by paying royalties they due deserve. While many of us pirate the tracks and albums, the best and only way to raise it up is to get praise, accolades or even a decent first single to break-through and allow the album to shoot itself up to the audience.
All in all, selling out is merely an excuse for a change of topics. Artists do care about the music they produce, especially when signed to a major record label, and while deem fit, will hold themselves responsible. While it's the artists' job to make music, it's ours to help them in any way possible.