I am an artist. I have created through hours of toil and struggle. I have worn my heart on my sleeve to let others see what lies within my heart. I have stood emotionally “naked” on a stage as I share the art that was created within me. I have played to hundreds of people who were intent upon my words and I have played to dozens of people who felt the need to talk over me. I have known loss and hurt and extreme emotions that I have tried to articulate in artistic form only to be ignored.
That’s the plight of the artist. I am not sure what the statistics are for success in the world of art, be it aural or visual or whatever, but I am sure that for every “successful” artist there is a wake of struggling artists simply longing for the bread scraps from the table of those who have been more successful. That’s why I struggle so deeply with Miley Cyrus and other seemingly no-talent hacks who can bask in their millions of dollars.
I have seen the struggling artists and I have been the struggling artist. I have spent hours listening to people whose talent far exceeds my own and even that of the people who line our Top 40 charts. I’ve been bewildered at the lopsidedness of the system. I’ve wondered how to find ways to get these artists out there and recognized while those who ride the waves of privilege seemingly get everything handed to them and continue to sell millions to the mindless masses.
Am I bitter about this? Maybe. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with what I would consider to be good taste. Yes, Miley Cyrus was lewd and crude in her performance (if I can use the term so loosely) on the Video Music Awards, but part of the shame lies with those of us who continue to fund artists like her while overlooking artists whose talent has been forged through good, old fashioned hard work. I have never had to rely on my craft, creativity, or artistry alone to make a living for myself.
I think about a guy named Billy McLaughlin who is an incredible fingerstyle guitar player. I was introduced to him in college and found out many years later that he lost the intricate use of his left hand, forcing him to relearn the guitar with his right hand instead. He has not been on any awards shows (to the best of my knowledge) nor has he sold millions of albums, but his music is artistic and creative.
I think about a guy named Andrew Peterson. His way with words is crafty and poignant. His music makes you think and does not simply entertain. He never plays for fanfare or accolades, he plays because that is what he was created to do. While he is certainly not hurting in his finances, I am sure that there are people who have never been touched by his artistic ability.
The list could go on and on and on…..
As I mentioned yesterday, we live in an age that enables us to discover new and talented artists all the time. There are things like Spotify that allow us to listen to music and get a feel for an artist before purchasing their music. We can join Noisetrade and get free music. If we like it, we can donate to the artist who made that music. Creative and talented musicians are everywhere to be found, are we looking for them?
Or, we can choose to continue to allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep by mindless drivel. We can continue to support “artists” whose talent has run out and who bank on gimmicks and their shock value to continue to sell their music.
What will we choose?