It is not uncommon to hear that music was better at one time as it is today. Indeed, when looking at the great landscape of pop music, it is easy to notice a marked decrease in the quality and musical diversity, but its originality (always the same 4 accords, it has even become a running gag) and quality of texts. One might think wrongly that this is another manifestation of this old saw that "everything was better in time", but empirical data validating this claim exist (see this article for more detail).
The "old" industry then we say we come, young people, soaps not make good music. We will answer them as soon as these extremely condescending attacks and empty of substance have absolutely no place and anyone interested a bit in the middle of the underground music also knows. In the facts, originality and talent are always présent.es, but you just have to bother to look elsewhere than in industry and radio. As a professional in the field, I would say that the accuracy of devices today and unattainable quality standards which recorded music habitué.e.s us like auto-tune, realigned the percussion on the metronome, the sampling to give more power to the drummers, the voices doubled to give more texture, ultra-compression, etc., forcing artists to be more likely to live at the time performant.es! for example, know how to play the show in metronome was not a standard 1990. today if. And let me tell you it is a major challenge. The problem is not the level of artists.
So what happens there with music ? And what does it take to save ?
Well… I think an anticapitalist perspective on the situation can illuminate many dark areas that are neglected by the usual critics, but also possibly find possible solutions to the problem. Let me give you my views on the situation!
"There's been money"
In the capitalist system, The force of the war, is money. money, it is first of all the resources that allow us to do what we want (or what needs to be done), but the primary motivation behind the choice of investors. It is also important to distinguish these two things since the first defines why émergent.es artists can no longer make music quality and the second is why pop artists are "arriving" (understatement as this is deliberate) neither. They govern both human behavior, but in a different way because in different contexts, but give substantially the same result.
But back on topic : money no longer goes into the coffers ! Why? Well, several reasons for this : there including the fact that our economic conditions diminish more and more each year since the arrival and rise of neoliberal ideology that has axed the unions and the welfare state. Put another way : In 2019, everyone is poor! There are also stricter laws on drunk driving that reduce the consumption of people in bars and theaters (measure with which I obviously agree, but this effect is still verifiable). There is also the arrival of social media and the internet which we go out less than before. However, The most obvious reason is the good old hacking. This is why the industry hoarse to tell us that is the reason why nothing goes and from a strictly economic point of view, she still partially due. But ultimately, it's kind of bullshit…
I admit it, I must say that I have long had this speech too, but the anticapitalist I became in the last years sees things differently. My position today rather pushes me to ask people to explain WHY (and I wish reasons that go beyond "because capitalism") should pay for art? Tell me why art, as was the food and knowledge, could not and should not be free and available to everyone at any time and without reservation? Tell me, if we accept that patents are an obstacle to progress, imposed to meet the financial interests of his / her owners at the expense of the community, how the copyright principle is different ? Do not you think that artists should have other sources of funding and income than those from the wild capitalism? That the artist un.e value comes down to anything but the money he or she can generate? Tell me what sense finally ends up with the art if the reason behind it is partly or completely Money?
I think it is obvious that there is a huge problem when it comes to bring art in a capitalist logic. Anyone quel.le leftist, amateur.trice artist or art obviously knows the, but unfortunately, industry and private radio will never want to change about it since this would run counter to their financial interests. This is not a neoliberal government as the CAQ or conservative as the CCP understand the importance of pouring public funds into art.
Also, albeit tell the fermé.es minded artists on the sources of funding / alternative income and industry, it now seems clear that stopping to "stream" or hack a large part of the music we listen too much limit the amount of music that we could listen to one dares to bend this retrograde idea. Let's, our appetite / love for music is generally much too big for us to limit ourselves, say… 200$ music CDs or purchased online. We should dare to say loud and clear as amateurs and amateur art it is absurd that economic limitations prevent us to discover and share new talent. We should say loud and clear that art and knowledge should be disseminated without restriction and should not be owned by anyone. We should finally say loud and clear that one person steals hacking and that it is rather celleux who sell us something that should be free flying we. radical position, but assumed.
Industry class The Interest
Good… Anyone who understands the basic concepts of the Left knows she think much in terms of "antagonistic social classes" and "class interests". In French? This simply means that all the money and power of the upper classes (owners, patrons, governments, etc.), this is money and power that the lower social classes (tenants, employé.es, citoyen.nes, etc.) do not have, and vice versa. This makes us ennemi.es naturel.les because if we want something, we must remove them and vice versa. We therefore necessarily be in conflict as long as classes exist.
Why am I talking about this ? I arrive there ! It is that to understand why the quality of the artists as human beings and the content of their text seems to decrease from year to year, one must understand that the texts un.e artist and his political positions are filtered by the "machine" and its interests. As un.e employé.e can not speak out against his boss without being renvoyé.e or not to be engagé.e, artists can not criticize the music industry, sexist practices or other bars where ial occur or radios playing if this may have financial implications for elleux or industry. In the opposite case, they more and they boast that generates revenue (especially alcohol sales), and the more they risk being well accueilli.es. This helps explain why it is so common to hear and see hymns to the consumption of drugs and alcohol, to "large tanks", unnecessary luxury, etc. in pop. It is simply that the bars and sponsors radios, shows, television and tours sell.
The same thing happens at a much smaller scale and in a different way in the underground when artists become showcases for instruments companies, clothing, etc. to achieve self-financing or when they accept or to play with as one salary "visibility" (pity that the same strategy will not work with Toyota when I want to go buy a new Prius). We are then left with a world of music that self-censorship, but also that folds to market requirements in order to survive or to make more money (I also made myself at the time). It is then not surprising that the quality of texts or celebrity as a human being is poor, even fearful, but above all it is very claimant in terms of class struggle.
Short, this is why we find very few actually superstars left, actually informed, really relevant, while leftists are nevertheless on-représenté.es among artists. It is also for this reason that such a small part of the artists receive as large a share of the cake and it will be my next point.
The stars vs. democratization
The industry bombards us with its stars. They are rich and famous and it seems that we should love them for it. But why? Are they really the elite of raw talent ? Are they so interesting? Why do we need to have the stars (mostly so meaningless and more) and especially, what implies the presence of stars for others, "non-stars" ?
Think for a moment the class principle mentioned above : if industry provides (for example) 75 % airtime and media attention to say… 0.1 % artists, what is left for 99,9 % remaining? You understand that the answer is "nothing". Far be it from me whining about my fate artist who has worked for years and that was never paid accordingly, What interests me here is not the fact that the far majority of artists will never connu.es, but the extreme disproportion of attention put on a small number of people and the reasons behind this phenomenon.
First of all, it is necessary to understand how are "created" the stars, because yes, they are created! Good… as in any aspect of capitalism, it takes money to make money, and the world of music is no exception. If you believe the artists who pass on the airwaves, make movie soundtracks and are mis.es forward are because people had originally requested, you are wrong! The truth is that we rather pushes them into the groove until it clings and give them our money. for example, to a title a 'hit', record companies sometimes pay sums up to 1 million US en promotion. Only by putting the amount they manage to exceed the promotion by their competitors and maximize their investment.
Sure, million is a whopping! It ensures that the record companies do not distribute these golden tickets, such as caramels and one click selects artists within the specific framework to maximize sales will sélectionné.es to climb to the top. These are artists who become millionaires our stars who have all the media attention and airtime. And too bad for others!
Let's… it could "maybe" still pass if it were a question of talent and we recognize the meilleur.es among meilleur.es, but we are talking about business, point final ! It is not "what is the best product", but "with which the more money we will do" in question. This is what made us end up with all the candy pop and easy listening since we for many psychological reasons (you can listen to the first video I put link that explains quickly), this is the type of music that generates the most money. That's why the stars exist and how they are created.
Good, now, the flip side? Is that since all the resources are found concentrated in the hands of a few people, others starve. It's just one more version of "how capitalism works" and it keeps quality music from democratizing, to diversify and to be presented to the general public just like any other good or service, no matter what the free market apostles say, who believe exactly the opposite but are completely disconnected from reality.
Now, let's imagine for a moment that things are different, you want? Imagine a world in which there is no capitalism, so no money to make, so no advertising, so not these distortions. Do you think that the most popular artists would be those of today and to a comparable extent? Certainly not ! Art would be very different : First, all artists would be equal and equal and would start from the same point. Ensuite, artists would have the opportunity to create without thinking of selling and their audience could go to see them on stage and consume their music without having to pay and limit themselves to a budget. None of the barriers and distortions that capitalism creates would be present. We would have artists who make music and people who listen to it, and that's all ! Music would finally become what it should have always been : art ! And it would also democratize : everyone could do it and everyone could listen to it, whether performing or recording.
Alas, the industry is preventing that and you have to understand it, it cannot be reformed. The heart of the matter is not that the people at the top are stingy or that the culture around them is bad, it's just that "mechanically", it is caught in the spiral of the capitalist system and that as long as it lasts, it will keep spinning inside of it. Short, it’s a system issue, no culture.
Okay, but while waiting for the revolution, what do we do?
Well, first of all, it is important to understand that many of the actions we can do today would improve things within the system and lead us to revolution at the same time. The revolutionary syndicalist that I am thinks that it is even much more likely that we will succeed in bringing down this rotten system by passing through this avenue than by simply saying "revolution or nothing" since to make things change, first you must have learned to work as if you were no longer in capitalism while you are still inside it. The idea is that if we make the revolution and try to learn to make society work in socialism-libertarian only when it is in progress, we will realize that we should have experimented and run the process well before. The other thing, it is by organizing and fighting that we can show the world that the society we aspire to can exist and that this is how we can prove to people that we are not vulgar "shoveling clouds". But OK, I digress. Let's go back to the original subject :
What can we do today to create a left tangent for music? Well here are some ideas :
Continue to encourage your favorite artists as much as you can, especially the freelancers, because they need it the most. At the same time assume the fact of pirating or listening to illegal streaming of that of others while maintaining that the solution does not go through the consumers., but by the abolition of the system or by subsidies for which you should moreover fight if you wish to be coherent.. Furthermore :
Download the music you plan to listen to regularly. Artists love this and the bandwidth, it is very little ecological.
Streamez sur Bandcamp, Spotify, etc. rather than unofficial artist accounts on YouTube. Not only is this better for artists, but the sound quality is better and audio formats only take less bandwidth than videos.
Buy directly from artists, avoiding intermediaries as much as possible. Purchases made directly at concerts are generally the most profitable for your favorite artists.. If you hesitate between different options, ask the artists you love directly how they prefer to encourage them and you will have the answer.
Artistes, unite! Organize your scene. Create unions that will allow you to demand minimum conditions to perform, but also to take out the racists, sexist and other assholes in your scene. Treat artists who deviate from conventions that you are going to have established like the SCABS that they are. Respect the conditions and conventions of the staff of the performance halls too. Solidarity is for everyone. Do it too, never forgetting that it's not about your fans that you should type, but in the pockets of the state (ask for grants) and private companies that hire you or sign contracts with.
In addition to DIY (do it yourself), try to sign or work as much as possible with cooperative and / or self-managed companies. It’s better for you and it’s better for everyone at the end. Support the expropriation / reappropriation efforts of large companies / organizations by workers. Propagate this culture through your interventions in the media, in your shows, in your words, etc.
If you work in the industry (labels, studios, bars, theaters, radio stations, etc.), organize your workplaces and the industry as a whole to kick the bosses out and take over the businesses and turn them into self-managed cooperatives. When the industry is left, even if we are still in the capitalist system, his values and ethics will change.
If you don't work in the industry yet, but want to start, obviously do it by forming self-managed cooperatives.
Short, work by uniting against your class enemies and, as is often said among IWWs : build the society of tomorrow in the shell of that of today.
If you want to discuss it with me and have an industry organization plan, all contact information is at the bottom of this article. You can also contact your local IWW branch.