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Recording Mythology, pt. 15 / How ‘unique’ are you?

Let me start over again….

That was a rant that no one wants to read. I try my best to write differently than I speak, but for a minute there, I was going off. Sometimes it really is advantageous to take a few deep breaths.

I’d like to begin by asking the reader this question:
What does it mean to you when you think of the word ‘artist’ or ‘musician’?

I ask for a couple of reasons. I once thought that these were terms that were universally understood and accepted, used conservatively in describing an individual involved in the field of liberal arts who was capable of performing a work of some merit and/or value, but it seems that with time and grammatical ‘evolution’, they have come to describe any individual who wants to consider themselves talented in this respect, whether they, in fact, possess a minimum of the self-ascribed ‘talent’, or none at all.

This brings me to another point: Sometimes I like the digital age. The things that I like about it are few, however. I like the computer, because it gives me the opportunity to network among individuals with whom I would not have the honour of doing otherwise. I like spell check, and I enjoy being able to find stuff to buy that I never thought that I’d find anywhere, anymore.

Other times I view the digital age as an abomination. And the things that I can’t stand about it are legion. The first thing being the freaking computer. Then digital photography, digital recording equipment, digital instruments, auto-tune, beat machines and mp3s.

And then there’s the digital ‘artist’.

Together, the computer and the beat machine has given ‘rise’ to some of the least talented individuals on the face of the Earth who, nonetheless, refer to themselves as ‘artists’. Not that these individuals haven’t existed in some form or the other before now. Only now, they are much more prevalent, because, thanks again to the computer and the aforementioned networking capabilities, said individuals are using every known outlet on the Internet to promote themselves and their unique ‘talent’. In that order. Utilising little in the way of finesse, strategy, technique or, dare I say, talent. And an individual must learn to be, not only an artist, but a salesman.

Thirty-something years ago, I was introduced, quite by chance, to the world of sales strategy. Sales are, I soon learned, one of the ancient arts, practiced by everyone from God and Satan to Eve and Jesus. (God and Satan being the worst, Eve and Jesus being the best.)

Sales are, in actuality, quite simple. However a great deal must be learnt before one can see the simplicity. Ultimately, a salesman allows an individual to view a product or service in such a light that the individual concludes that they cannot live beyond this moment without it.

The credo of a salesman is this: “In the days of the Old Testament, Samson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. In modern times, a thousand sales are closed every day using the same weapon.”

Now, in the event that it isn’t perfectly clear where I’m headed in this little editorial, here is the point:

1) Just because you can rhyme words, it doesn’t mean you are talented. Have some respect for the true poets who have come before you who were saying things in ways which you will never be able. Another sales technique applies here: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. What you say before the rhyming word means as much as the rhyme itself.
2) Just because you got high score on Guitar Hero, or your mom says that you can sing, or your crew says that you can really spit game, it doesn’t mean that you can hang with the best, and just because you can cut and paste a cut time beat, it doesn’t mean that you’ve got rhythm beyond anyone else. Which brings me to my next point;
3) Stay realistic. If you don’t do something completely different than the next person, don’t act as if you are the only person doing what you do. Don’t expect the world to beat a path to your door if all that you can offer is the same old mousetrap only painted a different color. See yourself for the copycat that you are and then, and only then, will you be able to distance yourself from the others. In other words, do not proclaim your rarity while flaunting your normality.
4) Above all, be humble. Just because you think that you’re great, it doesn’t mean that you really are.You are no better than anybody else. Know in your heart of hearts that you could die tomorrow and that the world will never miss you when you are gone.
5) There is no defined lifestyle, and your lifestyle does not define you as an artist. If you are wanting to be an artist in order to get rich, get laid, or get famous, you are not wanting to be an artist, you are merely wanting to be popular. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Character is that which can do without success”.

Almost every day I find some ‘up and coming’ hot-shot, promoting themselves and their amazing talents to the point of spamming the otherwise respectable forums which they often utilise. These individuals enjoy using capital letters in their posts, make use of horrible grammer and basically present themselves as annoying pains-in-the-ass, all the while painting themselves as everything other than what they are: Common.

As we all go through life, I hope and pray that we all can bear these things in mind.

Johnny Nowhere is a songwriter, but not all of the time.


About Johnny Nowhere

Johnny Nowhere is a songwriter/composer and owner of Hell Paving Company, music publisher. Johnny doesn't really exist outside of the music industry and Facebook. He is simply a figment of my imagination.

One response »

  1. Another good one hit square on the head, Johnny! Though I do have to admit that I have enjoyed a few electronic music (electronica?) artists in my days, starting with Brian Eno… Overall, I can see where the definitions of “artist” and “musician” could easily be lost. I always was meant to ask: “Why the English spelling?”… 🙂


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