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Fine line between Art & Commerce

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by c0nsilience, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. c0nsilience


    Aug 13, 2008
    co-founder, SynapticGroove
    Hey Justin,

    Advertising has been a pretty big cash cow since the economic boom of WWII (for Americans) gave the Baby Boomers a fist full o' dollars to plunk down on whatever luxury they could afford, including loads of albums or any products related to music.

    While some bands/artists are very obviously used to turn massive profits for their handlers, most of the acts that you have been involved with, if not all of them, did not engage in a lot of overt advertising.

    How do you walk that fine line between future financial security and artistic integrity? Not everyone gets to create, record, and distribute what they want to. I do realize that the music business is a business and like most fine art, the advertising dollars keep the train a rollin'.

    However, most artists/songwriters are not recompensed very well for all of their creative capital.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    It would be nice to hear from someone who has been in the game for such a long time and is embedded deeply in the modern musical collective.
  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    For me, I have to constantly walk that line.

    I have been offered both touring gigs and even band positions that are not something I could creatively live with, in spite of strong financial remuneration. Those are the more difficult decisions to make, and obviously are highly subjective.

    The short-term gigs are easier to consider; you get in, you play, you're out. By reason of duration alone, those scenarios are not as painful to think of doing.

    Conversely, long-term exposure and association with music that one doesn't respect (along with all the possible trappings: tv appearances, tons of touring, advertising, etc.) is hard to stomach.

    Anyone else?

  3. rosstanium


    Jan 5, 2008
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario
    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that these decisions are highly subjective. It really does depend on the person.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Absolutely. Three things affect my decisions:

    1. How good/bad the money is
    2. How easy/hard the bandleader is to deal with
    3. How objectionable the music I'm playing is

    The order changes according to the gig. Like, I'll play objectionable music if the money is good and I like the bandleader, plus I actually like playing music that I don't necessarily like sometimes just for the experience. But if the bandleader is a JO, I don't care how good the music is...if the money isn't there, I'm not doing it.

    That's my thing...it may not be right for everyone else, but it works for me.
  5. My musician buddies and I tend to live by the rule of three here too. The three contingencies are 1. Money 2. Music 3. The Hang. If two of these three are present on the gig, then chances are I'll take it.For example if neo soul artist A offers me a one month tour and I know and like all his players, and the money's good but his music is crap I'm gonna take the gig. If Christian rock band B offers me a one month tour, but their drummer is a tool, and there music is awful I'm gonna turn it down. This as said before is subjective. Believe me I've taken gigs with douche' bag players playing the crappiest songs ever written because I was broke.
  6. kevbass5


    Jan 18, 2008
    with regards to the concept of 'artistic integrity,'

    I personally almost can't think of a musical situation where there is absolutely no room for artistic expression, or creating something meaningful musically.

    My approach has always been to uplift the music to as high a level as possible, and I embrace the challenge of taking something that might not be so great, and making something of meaning and beauty. And that, I would suggest, is an art in itself, and one that we as bass players are privileged to be able to practice.
  7. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    AAmazing thoughts, gents. Very spot on, I must say.

  8. c0nsilience


    Aug 13, 2008
    co-founder, SynapticGroove
    Many thanks for the insight guys! It is most appreciated. I've never had a problem receiving payment for a gig or session, but, I'd imagine, if someone was viewed as great human capital (ala JMJ) it must be hard to turn down incessant marketing gimmicks that net you 5 or 6 figures, net the CEO 10 times that amount in return over time, when you have college funds, mortgages, ethanol prices to contend with.

    I applaud the courage of your artistic convictions.

    It's unfortunate (or fortunate depending on one's perspective) that nothing is remembered like a jingle and nothing taps the pathos like another human being. Combine the two and you have Harry Fox. ;)

    Even Che Guevara is a brand now....something he actively railed against.

    Life is surreal. :)

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