The musical genius shares his songwriting secrets, opens up his finances and ponders the future of art and the Web
Lots of us believe that musicians, along with other artists, are struck by inspiration and have this emotion which they must express and share. But you argue in your book that it is actually the opposite — that the idea of the songwriter pouring heart, soul and autobiography into his or her music is wrong-headed. “The accepted narrative,” you write, “that the rock and roll singer is driven by desire and demons, and out bursts this amazing, perfectly shaped song that had to be three minutes and 12 seconds. This is the romantic notion of how creative work comes to be, but I think the path of creation is almost 180 degrees from this model.”
The Canadian Independent Music Association just completed a study that pegs the average musician’s income in Canada at $7,228. This echoes an earlier study undertaken by Professor Doug Hyatt of Rotman which put the number at $16,491. Income at these absurdly low levels render it virtually impossible to pursue music as a profession. It starts to look and feel more like a hobby. And let me tell you that this is a far cry from the conditions that could be obtained prior to 1999.
The “middle class” for want of a better term is in a state of what appears to be terminal decline. This is a phenomena that has been remarked on and discussed in many fora but rarely as it applies to the creative class. We now live in a world where a very few musicians have become fabulously wealthy, leaving almost everyone else with very little on the table. Was not digital technology supposed to have done EXACTLY to opposite? Successful bands today have become more brand than band, diversifying into luxury goods, film, television and beyond. This is in strident contrast to musicians of the past who would have been horrified beyond imagining to have their art, their political speech, associated with mere products. I knew artists who turned down absolutely fabulous sums rather than shill for an advertisement.
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