Gumby’s Blog Entry – Music is Serious Business

August 4, 2009

Music is Serious Business
I’ve roughly been around this industry for about two decades and I sense deterioration in every possible way. Some come in the form of financials while others in form of jealousy and hatred.

As children we are often given advice from our parents about following dreams and goals. But as we grow do we really keep that advice or are we constantly looking for shortcuts or win the lottery? A starting point to achievement has two parts to it, one is to discuss ideas and the second is to focus on executing them.

I’ve roughly been around this industry for about two decades and I sense deterioration in every possible way. Some come in the form of financials while others in form of jealousy and hatred. I always seem to be bombarded with this whole artist and corporate war question that has been going on forever. Now I’ll explain you exactly where we went wrong. Corporate people come in with their big money, find artists, endorse them and sell their product. It actually sounds like a sweet deal to most, more like a win win situation for everyone. I’d also say that if it weren’t for corporate endorsements, most of the entertainment that is provided to audiences wouldn’t last very long. Most who would disagree with me have a reasoning of “since when do corporates know art all they know is to sell their product” You see, our mentality around is to somehow get a free ticket to a gig or then try and gate crash. People just don’t want to pay for a concert, but yeah they will buy tickets worth three times more for a party. So if your audience doesn’t want to buy a ticket to come watch you perform then who picks the tab? Then we have a lack of big or small venues, lack of technical resources and most of all security issues. All of that makes it impossible for any individual or band to survive.

Having said the above, it’s ever man for himself. Understand the agenda of the people you deal with. Some are there to sell and some are there to buy. We all look in for our best interest in life and why shouldn’t we? Just don’t let anyone make you do something that you might regret or might not like. If you do so, that’s eventually going to get you into trouble with yourself.

Some critics/journalists have made some pretty bold statements in the past about how artists are sell outs to the corporate world. The recent one being the Ali Azmat controversy about his recent video about anti establishment and corporate and then him in the past selling some fast food stuff. I actually wonder what they mean by sell outs. Are they talking about their music or their hypocrisy? If it’s hypocrisy I can understand but I remember the time when bands like Junoon and Noori were accused for being sell outs. I would really like to know the logic behind statements like that. If Noori sold mint and Junoon sold cola, did that really change their music? Did it really change them as people? If it changed the music then I’m all ears? As far as I know all that material with Junoon and Noori was written about 6 years before they even released. Also, the same writers had praises about how great the music was before they got all famous. I’d like to hear them explain Radiohead.

Serious musicians should remember, endorsements aren’t based on how good of a musician you are. So it’s nothing personal but yes, one must always ask themselves what are they in it for? Though there’s nothing like making big bucks on your own merit. Sadly we don’t have the means to do so yet. But it’s amazing how some have managed to do so. The musician with fame is always looking for critical acclaim and the serious musician is always looking for means to survive. I suggest a balance if possible. It seems to be one of the toughest things to do. Though, if I were to figure out the business side of music then that really doesn’t give me much time to focus on my music. Someone once told me, you can’t go wrong with consistency. The question is whether you want to spend your time marketing or being a complete musician.

Music is a relative term just like most art. I believe satisfaction lies when one does music for themselves. Selfish as it may seem but that’s how it’s meant to be. Musicians who have achieved that level of understanding are at peace with themselves. The one’s who haven’t seemed to always be in a frame of mind to constantly prove something. Art is an emotion that is a reflection of ones thoughts and feeling. We can feel inspired by external things but the feeling of creating something from the heart is somewhat spiritual for most. The balance between the art and its business side of things plays a major role when it comes down to respecting the art and taking the art form seriously. For a long time artists have been complaining that they aren’t taken seriously or then subjected to condescending remarks. The minute something is pure and you are able to make that connection with your audience, you just know that it’s right and so would your audience. Examples like Abida Parveen, Mehdi Hasan and so on, I believe they’ve maintained their integrity and have done well for themselves in the field of art. Thus explains the respect they get.

I feel it’s important to remember what our parents taught us as kids, to follow our dreams and passion. If we succeed in doing so we will produce focused and world standard individuals in whatever we choose to be or do. We need to be striving for the best and not mediocrity.

Source: Louis ‘Gumby’ Pinto | Blog