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Who calls the shots?

By: Sunil Noronha
Wednesday, April 05, 2006

If music is to survive, there should be an audience to support its survival. If the audience is to support it then they have to like the music that gets a chance . If the audience has to like it, it has to suit their taste. Their support in terms of concerts, buying the music etc makes it a viable business option. Now the question is who is the boss? Does the audience decide what gets sold and what doesn't get sold? Does the audience decide what kinds of breakthroughs are made? Does the audience's word matter above everybody else's? Or does the industry deal with an audience that is indeed dumb that just takes what they get?

When you start to depend on the audience-industry relationship, it is very important to get it right. But when you deal with a clueless and understanding audience (they too agree that you have to be commercial to keep the business alive), you can virtually depend on your own creativity. Sometimes the fans themselves are seem so whimsical that there is never a real formula that you can extract out of the trends. You can play it safe saying that a particular idea is not business suited but the audience can would have never thought of it that way. If you get less innovative they'd find it boring. If you bring on lots of real innovations which by its innovative nature will be new anyway, it would tickle their musical intrest but not bring in the dough. Then the record company will have to put aside such a project because it is not productive enough and then the probable fans/fanatics of that group/artiste would be disappointed and wonder where the group disappeared out of the blue.

If it is to maintain its quality (and remain a good form of art in the end), the relationship between the audience and the musician should be defined by the fact that if the audience knew exactly what they want they want to hear and if they could give it to themselves they wouldn't need the musician. The absolute necessity to keep the art intact is to trust the artiste. He is the key. You can hold him down but you cannot expect to him to compromise to make his work more accessible and make it sound as good at the same time because he has compromised on it. It will naturally be of lesser quality since he has compromised. After all if there were rules of things to do to come up with indigenous music that then any Tom, Dick and Harry could come up with his own music and that would remove the need to have the industry and artistes and the whole system in place. The musician is the key and he should be respected for his identity. He will by all means be earnest even if his earnestness doesn't speak out to you in particular. Anyways, creativity starts from him and without him you are bound and tied and left with no music in the end.

We are all just going to have to learn trust the musician if we are to get any worthwhile satisfaction out of the music industry whilst allowing him to do his thing. If he wont be allowed the freedom to let it flow, we wont get the opportunity to have that open door that he gives us. It's a give and take relationship. When music is real and when that reality surfaces from deep within the music, it can very well scare one. Maybe that's why we prefer to keep him down under our control-because he can very well scare us and we don't want to be scared. We like the distance hence we keep it but for the musician the distance is his breeding ground-his place in the cycle that the world goes round in.

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