Yes. I made up a word.
I feel I deserve a little creative license, since this is, in fact, my blog.
But the word embodies the content of this post (my first Blog, I might add!).
"Misunderstoodedness": The state of being misunderstood.
Synonymous with: "Artist"
I was provoked to finally start punching in on this blog this afternoon, after being confronted with a question of such staggering naivety, such skewed perspective, I honestly didn't know how to answer.
The question came from a young guy, we'll call him Pete, who saw me making notes on a legal pad and was curious about what I was writing. I told him "We're about to release an album, and I'm brainstorming how to promote it". Here's where we hit a brick wall.
His response was...: "When are you gonna start being an Artist?"
Wow. Where do we go from here? Did you not just hear me tell you about a new album?
A few very sarcastic responses came rushing to mind, such as "Ohhhh... about twenty something years ago", and "When are you gonna STOP being a boneheaded twit?"
Alas, I bit my lip, took a deep breath, and came out with, "I AM an Artist. What exactly are you asking me Pete?".
He quipped with "No you're not. How much money is it making you? You're not famous".
Now keep in mind this is someone I've known a good bit, and I consider Pete a friend. But DAMN, is this his perception of me, and of the Non-Celebrity-Artist community at large??
At this point I was so befuddled I could only retort with a question of my own: "What do you think qualifies as 'Being An Artist?' "
"Someone who people know. Lot's of people buy your music. You make a lot of money from your music...", says Pete.
"Pete I've been writing and recording for years", I said. "Art is the end result of the creative process. Call it what you want, but an Artist makes Art, and that's what I do. Regardless of the commercial payoff of my creation, I'll continue to do it. I have to."
He smirked, I smirked, we high-fived, and that was the end of it. Whether or not I got through to him, or if we just agreed to disagree, I can't be sure. If nothing else, I made it clear I'm firm where I stand on the matter.
Now, any personal offenses aside, I tell this story to illustrate a bigger concern, one I've carried around for a while.
It's no secret that the music business has changed dramatically. Just within this decade we've seen the old model collapse on itself, so breaking out is more difficult for us musicians than ever before. While the internet has unleashed a seemingly limitless field of opportunity to promote yourself, it's also oversaturated the market to the point that we unwittingly go numb to the full experience of music. We find a new YouTube songster or Twitter savvy band every single day, which DON'T GET ME WRONG, is an awesome and amazing thing. I mean let's face it, you're probably reading this because you discovered MY music on the web somewhere, and for that I tip my hat to you!
THAT BEING SAID, this daily bombardment limits the time we spend with any one song/album/artist. Instead of being an enriching, possibly life changing experience, music becomes ephemeral, a passing tickling of our senses to be quickly replaced by the next. How then, are we to discriminate what truly qualifies as Art, and therefore, as valuable?
It's no wonder piracy has destroyed record sales. And it's also no wonder Pete has a distorted idea on what an "artist" looks like..probably something like this:
If the alternative is to struggle in order to stay true, that's where you'll find me, churning out musical offerings from my lot in misunderstoodedness.
PS. For the record, I'm aware this doesn't apply across the board. There are still many of you who truly savor every ounce of your favorite music, and needless to say support it's creator through and through.
You, my friends, are a priceless rarity, and should win your own award. ;-)