I emerged from adolescence with this strange notion that the creation of art is somehow opposed to the principles of capitalism, and that the hallmark of a true artist was his capacity to embrace and suffer the injustices of poverty. This is stupid. In my mind, it suggests that artists should feel embarrassed or ashamed for wanting to make a living from their talents. Society asks them to sacrifice their wellbeing so it can consume the results of their struggle. And an essential part of the archetype is that this suffering somehow engenders better artistic results.
Suffering: Is it Good for Your Music?
Taken to an extreme, perhaps this is true. If Thom Yorke didn’t feel so alienated from society, we’d never have been given OK Computer. And if you had millions of dollars, a handful of butlers and your own private island, perhaps you’d become complacent and would stop looking for new sounds and song ideas. But generally, making good music is hard work, and typically, hard work is productive work when you aren’t starving and can afford clean clothes and a shower. And don’t return home exhausted every evening after your full-time “real” job, at which point you expect creative inspiration to strike. And in Thom Yorke’s case, it’s clear that his alienation is not a function of finances, otherwise his alienation vs. riches graph wouldn’t look like this:
On the other hand, maybe the starving artist archetype emerged because the majority of artists will, by definition, always be mediocre, and who wants to give money to someone that sucks? Well, lots of people, in reality.
Get Paid, You Deserve It
Whatever your case is, I’m just saying that if people like your music, you should be paid for it. Which puts me in an awkward position, given that I have gifted myself music from time to time, via peer-to-peer networks.
I foresee contradicting myself over and over as we proceed. Sometimes I’m impressed by how illogical the sum of my convictions is…
These things make for good debate, though…