There is a lot of reference to being "independent" and so I thought I might put some thoughts out there to the alivenotdead.com world for discussion....
When is an artist independent? When do they lose their independence?
Where does the line between "selling records" and "selling out" get crossed?
In addition to talent and all the things people know any artist needs - there is something that is one of the lesser discussed needs: an audience.
Presumably whether an artist is making music, movies, photographs, dance, or whatever - to complete the process, there needs to be an audience. Whether it be a thousand fans at the club or an admiring loved one, there is an audience.
Is it wrong for an artist to want to communicate with a larger audience? I, personally, think it's totally natural. One could absolutely argue that this is ego more than altruism, but - since neither of these affect being independent - let's say it's just part of the process to want to share to as many people as possible.
Sure, you can put your music and videos and photos up on the web - but that doesn't mean people will go see it. So, you need to start marketing.
This is juncture two. By marketing your work, are you selling out? Ever wonder why the mona lisa is so famous? Ever wonder why it is so small? It was small so that he could carry it with him and go from town to town and use it as a show piece - and, thus, it became famous. Is Da Vinnci a sell out?
But - lets say you don't want to spend all your time marketing and someone comes along and says, "Hey, I'll market for you. I'll just take some of the profit to cover my expenses."
Has the artist lost their independence yet? I think this is about the time that many people would say they are no longer independent, because now they are being distributed by a major label or disitributor or chain or... whatever the appropriate word for the discipline is. Does that mean they lose their independence?
It wasn't long ago in music that in order to make a record, it took a significant amount of cash. There was no software or sequencers (Midi wasn't published as a standard until 1983 - for reference, MTV was airing for 2 years prior to this). So, back then it required hiring studios, musicians - you name it. To that end, it was not unlike the movie industry today.
The music industry has gotten to a point that with some talent and a minimal amount of equipment - you can cut a record from your home.
So - Were there no independent artists before this revolution? Lots of artists had people pay for their records to be made. Does that make them not independent?
I think Independence is completely found in the artist's mindset. Are they thinking independently? The minute they begin to do things because someone wants them to be done, then they are an employee - and that, I would say, would make them no longer independent.
On the other hand, if they are doing exactly what they want to be doing - even if you or I don't like it - they are independenty guided and, therfore, indpendent.
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