Sunday, October 12, 2008

true artist vs approval addict

When you think of "rock star", I hope you puke. Celebrities, in any field of human endeavor, are so 1950s. We are the media now. We produce our own music, or share music by others, with others. It's a share economy, where much of the best new music is free, at least a few tracks from an album if not the entire CD.

There is too much music in the world. Fans can't possibly figure out what bands are good, unless you provide free mp3s.

People nowadays, especially net natives, relate to music primarily as individual tunes. They care little or nothing about the artist or album. They consume distinct songs, downloading mp3s into iTunes or from the iTunes Store, and other online music sharing activity.

If an artist's songs are not good, the "rock star" will try to generate interest in his new music by virtue of who he is...or was...or thought he was.

So the "rock star" is a dying breed. The song is now the prevailing atomic unit of music. Not the band. Not the lead singer. Not the record label. Not the album.

The song is becoming everything in the music world. The growing popularity of ringtones is just one example of this trend, and how music in general is being affected, whether we like it, or agree with it, or not.

Increasing, the "rock star" is becoming a quaint but irrelevant artifact from a bygone era of hookah smoking troubadors and crooning bloodthirsty pirates. Back in the vaudeville days, here in Peoria and elsewhere, the "rock star" or "lead singer" had to do soft shoe or tapdancing to be popular. Now it's hard to see any entertainment value in such ridiculous antics.

"Rock star" conjures up images of a vain and ridiculous asshole. A person who craves attention, the center of the spotlight. Now "rock star" is used as a glutton for worship, or as a huge popular success, as a "rock star" Twitter user (give me a break!), or a "rock star" CEO (ugh!!!!), or a "rock star" blogger (what a laugh!)

In the blogosphere, we used to call "rock stars" of blogging the "A Listers".

But the whole point of the Web Revolution is an even playing field, no hierarchy, no domination, all voices equal in value, and no "leaders" dictating and unduly influencing our progress.

It's the End of Celebrity, the Rise of You and Me.

Leaders and "rock stars" just mislead and betray. If you're a fan of an egomaniacal "rock star" in any field, just be sure you always praise and cherish them, everything they do and say and believe.

The moment you disagree or critique a "rock star", is the moment they toss you under the bus, accusing you of "disloyalty" and, ironically, "opportunism", trying to become famous by hanging around a "famous celebrity".

All a "rock star" cares about is people adoring them and never questioning . They are approval addicts of the worst degree. They view dissent, difference of opinion, and independence as counter to their goal of being The One. They're just like all leaders and privileged status seekers.

To a rock star, fans are not interesting or valuable in their own right. The only value they hold for a celebrity is "how much do they adore me? in what ways can they be manipulated for my ego and advantage?"

You must hate what they hate. Like competitive bands or better musicians. Or successful artists who don't have to rely on the dubious historical value of past glories to remain relevant today.

Really great artists tend to be self-effacing, humble, attributing their success mainly to "luck", rather than them being "entitled" to it. Sure, they work hard, but for the right reasons. True artists care more about advancing their art, than getting compliments, riches, and fame.

When money and popularity is the driving motivation for a band, it comes across in their music: dull, imitative, pandering slop. Technically proficient, but the aura, the vibe is rotten and boring. The exploitation comes through in the vocals, the beat, all the instrumentation. It's a sonic stench.

We shouldn't make music to become "stars". That's sick and pathetic.

You should make music because you love doing it. And to entertain, inspire, or provoke other people. If you're a singer or musician because you want people to like you, you're an idiot and a loser.

If you get up on stage to be admired, imitated, and loved, I feel very sorry for you and your transient fans. "Love me, worship me" is a pathetic anthem for any approval-addict. Do something interesting, or helpful, or innovative. But don't expect people to adore you and be loyal to you because you "deserve it" as some kind of rock god.

Well, here's another view, but I think I can replace the cursed "rock star" phrase with "musical pioneer" and we'll be closer to the truth.

The author is describing how a true musical artist is not a sell-out, going along with the trends, imitating and adoring other performers. A true artist follows his or her own inner truth and vision.

I object to the statement that a "rock star" is narcissistic because he's focused on his musical vision. I think it's generally because he's just a self-obsessed egotist, who care about fans only when they're fawning all over him and agreeing with everything he says and does.

From The Lefsetz Letter: First in Music Analysis

"Jesus Was a Democrat"


A rock star is not someone who takes the temperature, who gauges the marketplace before he creates his "art". A rock star is someone who needs to create and is willing to tolerate the haters along with the fans. He’s someone who incites controversy just by existing.

That’s what we lost in the dash for cash. Unique voices. I’m not saying we haven’t ended up with some pleasant music, but it just hasn’t hit you in the gut, it’s the aural equivalent of Splenda, it might do the trick, but it’s not the real thing.

The real thing grabs your attention, drives down deep into your heart and lodges itself there.

A rock star doesn’t follow conventions, doesn’t go disco or add drum machines just because everybody else does.

A rock star exists in his own unique space, and if you met him you probably wouldn’t like him. Because he tends to be self-focused to the point of being narcissistic. Because he cares. He needs to get his message out.

We’re angry, that’s what pisses us most off about this financial crisis. That the fat cats took all this money and hosed the economy simultaneously. They’re sitting on piles of cash while we’re struggling.

And now we’ve got to bail them out, we’ve got to insure the credit markets in order to get the economy moving. And America is pissed.


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