On My Mind: The State of the Music Business
As no one has welcomed Cinder Bridge to the machine just yet, It's hard for me to know how much Mellencamp's perceptions of a golden bygone era are fueled by nostalgia. However, I do have some thoughts about his take on the musician as marketer:
These days, some people suggest that it is up to the artist to create avenues to sell the music of his own creation. In today's environment, is it realistic to expect someone to be a songwriter, recording artist, record company and the P.T. Barnum, so to speak, of his own career? Of course not ... The artist is here to give the listener the opportunity to dream, a very profound and special gift even if he's minimally successful. If the artist only entertains you for three and a half minutes, it's something for which thanks should be given.Hmmm. Okay. Marketing the band isn't one of my favorite activities, and I'm not all that good at it. I like the idea that this is because I'm a sensitive important artist who's above such things. And yeah, it would be great if Ron and I had a team of people who did it all for us.
But here's the thing. Even if Cinder Bridge built a time machine and launched itself into the early 1980s (or the '70s, or the '60s -- pick any era you want), is it likely we would get that lucky break? That someone would discover us and raise us up to John Mellencamp's level of fame? No. What the Internet and cheaper recording technology and social media and all that offer people like us is a middle way. A path for people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and find their own audience. Yeah, it's annoying and it's hard and we'd rather just concentrate on making music, but guess what? The world doesn't owe us a living.
On a highly tangential note, Mellencamp's article left me feeling nostalgic for my college days. I went to Indiana University. During my four years there, I don't think a week went by that I didn't hear "I Need a Lover Who Won't Drive Me Crazy" at least once or twice. Sing it, John.