I have always had a theory that musicians and comedians are the ones most likely to effect change. This is because their work actually affects hearts and minds. If you follow any type of organized religion you will find the role of musician to be listed as critically important. If you are a student of history you know that the court jester, aside from telling jokes, was often the main intermediary between warring factions.
The role of entertainer has never been to simply entertain. The soul of a nation is driven by its art. Historical artifacts tell us as much, if not more, about a civilization than fossils ever could. This is the question that leaders of the entertainment business were faced with as they crafted the current market. Music cannot exist without musicians, but how much power can we truly afford to give them?
Influential artists cause trouble. They spread dangerous ideas and make people question convention. Being faced with the advent of music piracy in the early 2000’s made the industry begin to consolidate. The big 6 became 5. Their absolute authority had been challenged by a Rock god from Minneapolis with a simple word “SLAVE” written across his face.
Using the internet, Prince showed people for the first time that careers could be maintained without the blessing of the powers that be. It took a while for that idea to spread. People assumed it was his star status, until…
A recent “Breakfast Club” interview revealed exactly how influential Soulja Boy really was. The power of the net had been harnessed to full effect as he and his cohorts danced around grocery stores, rapped on YouTube and provided fans with a steady stream of content. He would even refer to himself as his website “SouljaBoyTellem.com”. One might say the major label deals he received did the trick, but several artists who signed major deals at the time have not endured. After a viral moment, it was the constant fan interaction that kept Soulja, and now several other YouTube musicians, top of mind with fans.
The bottom line is that musicians will never receive the credit and compensation that they deserve. The way through that is to engage your fan base. Fans understand art on a personal level, whereas the industry views it as an investment. Art has the power to change the course of history despite the critics, despite the market. As long as we pursue our endeavors with that idea in mind our validity is primed to exceed the constraints of the current, thankless climate.