John March -

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This article was written and published in Musico Pro magazine:

Humanizing the Music Business

Our culture is based almost entirely on a consumer mentality. That all commerce and art can be reduced to the inherent value that the culture imbues into that particular object. 

Our culture, especially the "entertainment" culture, goes out of its way to desensitize and dehumanize us. We give our kids games, supposedly toys, that are visual and tactile role playing games where the key ingredient is to kill as many opponents as graphically as possible, and then wonder why shooting sprees occur in schools or why we have gangs. We are constantly being assaulted by images and sounds that are tailored and designed specifically to catch your attention so that you will buy something. That is especially true in the music industry. 

MTV has transformed the listening of music, the actual experience of absorbing musicality and performance, into an entertainment medium that relies heavily on the visual impact that technology allows, in order to sell the product, which was "presumably" music. Technology also allows those with no real craft or depth, to produce these marketable quantities. We are told what to eat and what to wear and what music to listen to, we are even told how we should listen to it. The advent of digital audio technologies was a great economic boon as it allowed an entire refocusing of the infrastructure that is driven by the production of music. The Music industry itself is at the apex of the western cultural deluded mentality. The entire focus of the music industry is to find and replace artists and to create and dispense disposable musical compositions. A lot of the music out there is so redundant and repetitive because the marketing of the music does not allow for true inventiveness and creativity. Even the so-called fringe and alternative stuff is predictable in its conscious efforts to ignore the current trends and standards.

Whatever happened to good musicians that play well together, creating music that uplifts us? Why does everything sound like a throwback to the sixties? Oasis is totally ripping of the compositional and melodic styles of the Beatles, yet they is embraced and marketed like the second coming of John Lennon. I think that it is the very nature of the economic modality that drives the "industry", that causes the dehumanizing process. How can musicians evolve and reach an audience if the focus of the industry is the marketing factor rather than the human one? 

Economics has become the religion of the culture. unfortunately the tenets of the belief system are the antithesis of why we play music. In order to humanize the industry we need to circumvent the fiscal pressures that surround the entire process. I have to admit that this is probably not very realistic, at least on a large scale. 

So in order to humanize the industry, (and I am not saying this is even possible), we would have to make changes in the way people think. Especially in terms of changing the level of apathy that is prevalent in the listeners domain. Why go out when MTV and VH-1 can give me a dose of what I want in my living room? (Also, to a large extent, most of these artists are disappointing in live performance because they do not really have the ability to do the stuff live.) The very nature of an economy based paradigm, is to flood the market and hope the product floats to the surface. This is not really possible with music, at least with regards to long term artists development. 

I look at the Spice Girls and cringe. Here is the epitome of marketing and economic driven music at its worst. And what amazes me even more, is the prevalent ego driven theme amongst pop artist of that ilk, that what they are doing is not only important but essential, as if some mandate from heaven had spurred them to success, instead of understanding the reality that they are a marketing dream and sell sex and simplemindedness. An easy sell, and when it dissolves into the ether no one will care. 

Why do the songs of the Beatles endure, or Jimi Hendrix or any of that eras music prevail? Because, quite simply, the players were substantial human beings with something to say, and that was easily recognizable and then disseminated. ÖAnd another thing, I am consistently offended that "God", always invoked and thanked profusely at various awards shows, can somehow micromanage these individuals music careers, but just doesnít have time to feed the poor, cure AIDS or stop war! How unbelievably arrogant and selfserving!! I respect a healthy spiritual path and belief system, but to invoke a deity, to actually claim individuated attention with regards to their specific career advances, is to me the height of arrogance, and also reduces the greater world and all its inherent beauty and tragedies, to something small and devoid of imagination and possibility.

I guess in some ways I am asking for a grass roots revolution amongst musicians that calls for us to Ignore the myths that the corporate agenda is selling us, and play music because it moves you, and try to create community by allowing music to occur without a commercial fruitional condition. 

I cannot really say that I see this as a large scale real possibility as the fiscal forces that motivate the music culture are too well entrenched. I can say that true change occurs in the community and hearts of those who choose to make music. It is nice to fantasize about making a great living making music, but I think  it is better to make great music and live better for having done that. The rest of Life tends to take care of itself along the way. 

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