Photo by epSos.de care of Flickr

The Price of Stardom

Photo by epSos.de

A while back I wrote a piece about the frustration of balancing one’s creative time with the necessary marketing and business tasks – in particular those related to social media.

Since then, I have come across even more sites and services that often simply overwhelm me, but occasionally make me cringe. Daily I receive several offers to purchase “likes” for my web sites, or improve my standing in search engines. What isn’t caught directly by my spam filters is deleted manually very quickly, as I feel it would be dishonest to use such tactics.

Recently, I came across a website whose entire business model is built around musicians paying their staff of writers to do music reviews for new artists, and to write bios. I understand that many artists can’t string together an intelligent sentence with proper grammar,  or know how to type. So in those cases, having someone write your bio for a fee seems reasonable. Paying someone to review your album? That seems dishonest. At best it’s tacky, and at the worst: disingenuous.

Does anyone else feel uncomfortable about this trend?

Unfortunately, the plethora of services being marketed to artists seems to be growing, and there seems to be no clear wake up call to let young artists know that this is a poor way to develop a career. It used to be artists were criticized for selling out, and these days they seem to be respected for finding a market and serving it. That still makes sense to me. If you do great heavy metal, then find your fans and don’t do coffee house shows. I get that. But I do not understand the mentality of buying your way into people’s hearts with a purchased review, and some extra Facebook likes generated by a web bot. Isn’t the real focus of music supposed to be connecting with an audience and REAL PEOPLE?

cinema

How Technology Sapped Cinema and our Souls

{Ed. This month we welcome guest columnist Allie Cooper with some thoughts on cinema.}

During the political turmoil and bleak economy of the 1930s, an estimated 80 million people went to the theaters to watch movies on the big screen. A decade later, the movie-going audience expanded to at least 90 million. Fast forward to present day and only 30 million Americans are left queuing at the box office. For a population that is twice its 1930 size, is it fair to say that the film industry in the United States have turned microscopic, miniscule, and irrelevant?

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Woody at 100 Book Cover

Where’s Today’s Woody Guthrie?

I recently watched the Dust Bowl documentary by Ken Burns, and a few weeks later received the Smithsonian Folkways centennial collection Woody at 100 as a gift. So between the video, and the book/CD, I’ve been thinking about this period of time quite a bit lately, and the parallels with our current socio-economic environment.

What do you think? Have we really learned anything as a nation in the last 100 years? What are we doing wrong? What are we doing right? Where’s today’s Woody Guthrie? Do we need one? Or is it physically impossible for an artist like this to exist now given the way the entertainment industry works and the way music is marketed?

Lots of questions, I know… but we’ve got to ask questions before we can get to any answers.

“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
― Woody Guthrie

More quotes here.