While everyone is waxing pathetic about the sustainability of music career-ship, and nailing the MP3 to the cross, or hailing it as a savior, I find myself ruminating on what it’s all for. Messiah or Devil, the MP3 happened, and it’s mere existence brings anarchic consequences (good and bad alike) to the music world.
At this point, it would seem to me that the entire lot of musicians all agree that resistance is futile. So whatever the hell the RIAA is doing, I don’t know. (But that’s a different thing all together). So, we have to adapt. Musicians have got to find a new way to get paid. My question is, should we? Should I be paid?
I find myself, recently, a devil’s advocate against my own needs. I don’t know if I should be paid. I don’t make a product or provide a service to improve quality of life. I’m not saving lives, or stimulating the economy. In fact, my job is to make you feel overcome with my own personal brand of melancholia, whilst you’re unwittingly on your otherwise-pleasantly-unremarkable way to work. I trick you into thinking you’re feeling something that I felt while I was on drugs and homeless, which, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with you. Me being a shitty person has absolutely nothing to do with you. And unless you’ve been the scumbag that I have (as I’m sure a special few of you have), I really probably shouldn’t be making you feel that way.
You were probably having a pleasant day, just a fine day, and then track six came on, and suddenly you hate your maker, you long for the ironic brevity and longevity of death, you find a new paranoia burgeoning inside you like never before, your sanctity for human life is tarnished by pragmatism & defeat … and now you have to go in to work that way and spread that little contagious attitude to all of your coworkers. They probably take that despair home and shove it down their spouses’ throats, and rub it all over their kids.
I’m not sure I should get paid for that. I don’t make happy-fun-time music (despite my efforts to the contrary), and the oozing-confusing-excruciatingly-mild-hopelessness-and-stoicism that is my innate natural state is occasionally mistaken for ‘art’. But I have yet to find anything inside myself particularly inspirational, and confetti cannons are decidedly not any part of my work. Perhaps that is the split. Maybe The Flaming Lips deserve to be paid. Wayne Cohen probably deserves to be paid; he’s Captain Kangaroo for grown ups.
Make no mistake, what I do takes more thought, time, effort & money to do than your average data entry job, and those guys certainly get paid for their work (you don’t exactly hear the term ‘starving data enter-er’ very often). And make no mistake, there is certainly a demand for what I do. People, for whatever reason, want to listen to music (and there have been plenty of studies yada yada…).
And yes, for a little while now, some musicians have been paid to make music- some even paid a lot (too much if you ask me). But isn’t that a part of why our society is such a hedonistic cesspool of bullshit? Structuring our society around people like me whose job is to proverbially masturbate all over everybody and then possibly be worshiped for it, doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Maybe if there wasn’t such a surplus of money flowing into a few hands, whatever sum there was could be spread a little more evenly, and in the process maybe the bullshit would run a little thinner too.
I suppose I’m treading dangerously close to Socialist territory (socialist is the new communist, you know). But let’s not go starting the Orange Scare just yet. As usual, I remain confused as ever. The dubious ethics of art-ism are constantly in flux, and I’m merely along for the ride.
I don’t know. It would certainly help me out a lot to be paid for my music. So I know I’m shooting myself in the foot here by arguing against it. Maybe I should get into advertising.