Used to be they went hand in hand.
That’s no longer the case.
I’ve been overwhelmed with information about the Salahis. You know, the Obama gatecrashers on the new "Housewives" show. She’s pissed Whoopi dissed her. "USA Today"’s got the story of her day. I should be interested why?
Michaele Salahi, and I had to look up her name, believes if she’s got fame, her life will work. Have her speak with all those out of work "Real World"ers, who are stopped on the street yet are penniless. They’re derided. They’re known as two-dimensional TV characters. They’ve got no intrinsic value.
Used to be it was very hard to be famous. But now Perez Hilton has risen from nothing to tell us… What, he’s another bitchy man who wants to play on the A team?
And what is the A team? A bunch of no-talents drinking and drugging in the clubs?
Everybody wants in. Yup, as if you get a badge and the club is endless fun. But it’s not. And you only get staying power if you’ve got money. Fame doesn’t last. Just ask Kara DioGuardi. Now what? A bunch more shitty top forty songs for girls who haven’t yet reached puberty?
In the nineties, you could only be famous by being on MTV. You had to be pretty, and be willing to do everything your handlers told you to do.
But then we got "Survivor" and the plethora of reality TV. And everyone got broadband and there was Facebook and Twitter and everybody was suddenly fighting for attention. How many MySpace friends do you have? How many followers on Twitter? People want to win rankings, when artists win hearts.
That’s much more ethereal, much more difficult. In other words, it’s easy to buy fashionable clothing, but much more difficult to get someone to fall in love with you.
The major labels are in the fame game, not the artistry game. And, if you’ve got a smidgen of artistry/talent, that takes a back seat as they try to push you in front of everybody and make you famous so they can make money.
And since newspapers and gossip sites need something to print, they focus on this information, when it’s here today and gone tomorrow and has no nutritional value.
You know how someone’s a loser? When they complain they just haven’t gotten attention.
Making it in music, for the long haul, is so complicated. You’ve got to have the chops, you’ve got to be in play, you’ve got to get lucky. Eliminate the dues, eliminate the luck, and you’ve got the major label top forty wonders of today.
Isn’t it funny that the fame of the Silicon Valley wonders comes AFTER the success of their product. No one hypes us telling us who Mark Zuckerberg is, we get hooked by Facebook and then want to know who the mastermind behind the site is. Whereas Snooki says LOOK AT ME! And after we do, we wonder what’s inside…nothing.
So the whole music world has bifurcated. Between those who’ve got fame and those who are artists. Sure, some of those doing well on the road have both, but these are the classics, the Eagles, the Eltons, the McCartneys. But the new famous acts sell tickets for a short period of time, and then we forget them. Just like we’ve forgotten Paris Hilton, famous for nothing, no longer hot. Now we’ve got Kim Kardashian in her place, a pale imitation…but the paradigm still works, to a degree anyway.
So who are you? Someone seeking fame or an artist?
If you want fame, start making friends on Facebook, try out for "American Idol", be grist for the mill. And if we pay attention at all, it’s for the train-wreck. Which is why we watch the "Idol" auditions… To see bad performers who believe they’re good. How could they be so delusional?
But a great artist?
He speaks through his instrument. He doesn’t have to dance, he just starts picking his guitar or starts singing and your jaw drops.
And a great artist is on a journey. What happens today couldn’t happen without what came before, and tomorrow will be completely different. Which is why we no longer care about the new work of the classic rock artists, they’re playing it safe, it’s just a repeat of what’s come before.
So focus on your artistry. And know that’s what really sells tickets. The key is to be so good that people bond to you.
But that’s much more difficult than getting plastic surgery and saying LOOK AT ME! So difficult, that the machine wants no part of it, the odds of success are too low.
Sure, Ahmet Ertegun wanted hits, but a hit fifty years ago had a fraction of the impact it does today, and it generated a fraction of the revenue. So the music was a key element. How do we make the music so irresistible that people want to listen to it and we can make enough money to make more music. Now it’s about investing a lot to create a sure-fire product that will rain down revenue. In the seventies, you made your album and delivered it to the label sight unseen. The A&R guy had no impact, you often recorded by your lonesome. And the label put the album out, because they trusted the artist…to know more than they did. Now, the label wants you to co-write, work with producers and won’t put out the album until they’ve got guaranteed hit singles. Huh? Who’s the artist here? The player or the businessman?
I know, it’s lonely in the wilderness.
But that’s your choice. Either you’re a lifer, practicing, waiting for your lucky moment, or you’re a fame whore, trying to rig the game so you can make some money.
Too many of the old players are interested first and foremost in the money. They don’t want to be involved in productions they can’t control. But the public is fickle. You can hype them once, but usually not again.
This is the turning point in music. This is the crossroads. This is where the two roads appear.
There will always be a market for train-wreck, but the real money is in artistry. It pays dividends again and again, year after year.
But it scares the old timers. Does it scare you?