I was watching Billy Corgan talk about how cool he is; also about how social media is affecting the music world:
He mentioned that music is becoming a “service” industry, where bands have to kind of whore themselves out to the masses through social trends or other attention begging channels. In a market where all music is free, rising out of the noise can be tough for a band just starting out. In the post-internet music age, all art is competing for people’s attention span; Radiohead and octopus’s who eat seagulls are competitors. In general the aesthetic of our age is not defined by talented artistic folk, but random distractions due to the devaluation of content.
But can an environment where bands need to create quick distractions to pull listeners away from youtube create works as epic as Sgt. Pepper, Pinkerton, or Life Won’t Wait? Billy thinks that young artists need to build experiences that keep the audience engaged in their world. What this specifically means is not totally clear, but his band is in the processes of releasing a 44 track album, one song at a time for free on their website. Say Anything’s singer Max Bemis sold one-off songs written/recorded for individual fans at $100 a piece, is this what Billy means? “I Fight Dragons” have been successful at making music for a niche nintendo-core audience. But at the end of the day, confining your band to a random niche or selling songs as one-offs does not seem to facilitate and encourage the creation of great art. Grand works of art traditionally come when the artist gives no care towards marketability and profits. The music should always come before the marketing. How to build a fan base without compromising your integrity still is a tough cookie to crack.
It’s important to remember that distractions fade away after 15 minutes, but great songs stay with us forever. Despite the shitty economic pickle bands are trapped in under present conditions, what we do is not much different then what bands did 10, 20, or 30 years ago (make kids dance). Take all of the doom and gloom and curve-ball marketing strategies with a grain of salt.