I believe I’ve come upon one of the many reasons why bad music prevails recently, and before I move into this topic I’d like to explain a few basic things. This is essentially an opinion piece, observations that come from my daily life and direct experience. Also, the term “bad music” is a loaded one, and it’s subjective. You could substitute it for mainstream music, but that wouldn’t be quite accurate, as we all know of some mainstream artists who play music with substance.
Here is my idea of bad music. It’s missing the soul and the substance. It’s in it for the money and not to move, to uplift, to speak from the heart, to be honest. Examples are besides the point, and the purpose of this piece is not to slag anyone. Bad music is more of an energy than anything else. I’ve always loved music that I perceived as having depth, or “the real stuff”. It’s just a way of perceiving. So now that we’ve got that disclaimer over with we can move on.
Many people think that bad music prevails because it’s in high demand, and that’s something that will never change. There is some truth to the fact that human beings are heavily programmed from a young age, and part of that programming involves what we listen to. However, collectively, in relation to the independent music community, there is a tendency to have an “against” attitude when it comes to what each honest artist faces, but they tend to ignore one possible commonality.
It’s very convenient and lazy, as independent bands and artists, to think that the reason you’re not making progress is because of the masses. Perhaps they’re mindless, ignorant, dull, or have unrefined taste. Why haven’t they taken the effort to find you yet?
I’m going to pose these as questions merely to mull over, because I only see a tiny percentage of the trends in the music industry.
“Is it possible that these ‘bad’ musicians have more balanced minds when it comes to business? Do they simply work harder?”
Recently I’ve heard some interesting quotables from artists whose work is absolutely world class, highly intelligent and artistic, and ready to reach/inspire the world at large. Here they are, direct from the musicians themselves:
“We prefer ‘passive promotion’. If we do good work, that will prevail, and people will find our Bandcamp.”
“I don’t know how ‘quantifiable’ marketing is. What will it get me?”
“I don’t think promotion is a valuable use of our resources.”
“I don’t want to travel to some town and play for 10 people so we don’t bother touring.”
And yet, on the other side of the coin, I’ve said no to roughly 30 artists in the past month because they came across as sounding either fake, cheesy or put together/molded by a management team. I’ve had management teams try to convince me that these acts were going to be as big as U2, and that I could “piggyback off their success”. No thanks. Artists who sound more like an American Idol try-out than an honest, creative force…and yet, their business sense was impeccable. They were ready to reach out to the industry and take the necessary steps to move themselves forward. And once I said no, they were going to move on to the next PR company immediately and get going.
It dawned on me that this is why “bad music”, if I can use that term, seems to win the race so often. Whatever you think of their intentions, their materialistic expressions or their music, they have serious determination, and even if that comes from ego, it works for them and gets them where they want to be. They act. They work hard on their music and they contact people who they think could help them on their path. They don’t bother much with convenient “catch all” philosophies or ideas, because they know that you need to step to move, so they run, and as such, they make it into the public eye. Not so mysterious, is it?