The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 946: The concept of selling out, part 2

Artists make are because they have to. There’s something in their hearts that forces them to turn what they feel inside into something the rest of us can see and hear and feel and experience for ourselves.

Art is supposed to be a pure thing, the pursuit of beauty for beauty’s sake. Undistilled human emotion designed to provoke a reaction, to spread profound messages, to make the universe a better, wiser, and more joyful place.

Yeah, nice thoughts. But the universe being what it is, things don’t work that way.

Artists need to eat, pay the rent, purchase tools and supplies, and cover travel. And to do all those things, they may need help from others–people who demand payment for their services.

In other words, like everyone else, artists need money to survive. They may find that money from donations. They may be lucky enough to have a patron. But in the modern world, what they really need is a regular income.

It used to be that musicians would record, sell their music to the public, and play live. If they got their music on radio, then that became a revenue stream. Then came selling t-shirts and other merchandise. But around the turn of the 21st century, things began to change. The economic realities surrounding the evolution of the music business forced musicians to look at different ways of earning an income.

What was once considered compromising artistic principles and the destruction of the integrity of your music by prostituting yourself to soulless multinational corporations and their ilk started to look like not just a good idea but a very necessary one.

Oh, sure you can reject the evil lure of money to maintain the purity of your music, but that’s not going to take you far if you’re homeless and hungry. After a while, you realize that the shame levied upon you for finding new ways of making a living is actually the result of your audience’s idea of artistic purity. It’s your audience that expects you to do what they believe is the pure thing for their entertainment.

Complicated concepts. Let’s proceed with part two of this whole notion of selling out.

Songs heard on this episode:

  • Juliana Hatfield, Sellout
  • Nick Cave, Pink Moon
  • Apples in Stereo, Strawberry Fire
  • Madness, Our House
  • Blur, Song 2
  • Alabama 3, Woke Up This Morning
  • Propellerheads, Take California
  • Killers, Mr. Brightside
  • Lorde, Royals

We have a playlist, of course, from Eric Wilhite.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

© 2022 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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