A few days back I linked to a fascinating interview with David Allen (read it here), one time bass player for the punk band Gang of Four and he presented some really interesting food for thought regarding music as a career (and, in turn, the arts in general) in this internet age.
Mr. Allen was interviewed in part as a reaction to comments by David Byrne, late of the very popular band The Talking Heads, who wrote an equally fascinating book about the music industry. He is interviewed in the link below, and offers plenty of other interesting thoughts regarding the age of the internet and the place of music…and whether it can survive because of the internet.
The article/interview is subtitled “Do you really think people are going to put time and effort into this, if no one is making money?” A great question. Please, read on:
I think Mr. Byrne’s worry is certainly a valid one. The Beatles, as good as they became, benefited from several years of working hard in low paying clubs to hone their craft. Even with the release and popularity of their early albums, the fact that they made money allowed them to continue on the path they chose and were able to grow, musically, and create what I feel are the career defining albums that followed (to me, roughly from Help! on).
Today, I worry there are people out there -in music, in writing, in the arts, etc.- who may be making good but “rough” stuff at this stage and, given time, certainly have the possibility of shining in their fields. In this day and age, however, and with the internet able to essentially give away these works for “free” (be it piracy, shared files, etc.), how long will it be before many of these struggling artists simply give up and find a job that pays?
One might argue on the other side that being an “artist” has always been a struggle and one never knows if what you do will ever be successful. If one looks at the literary field, for every Stephen King who succeeds in becoming a famous author during his lifetime, you also have the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft, authors whose works didn’t become well known until after they passed away.
And so it goes.