Once upon a time, centuries ago, when we all lived in little villages, you had your fame. You were the blacksmith, the singer, the storyteller. You had a defined role and if you did it well, you received accolades, everybody in your hamlet knew who you were. As far as worldwide fame goes, most people had barely been to the next town, the concept of spreading your ideas far and wide didn’t even cross your mind.
And then came modern transportation and media and suddenly, you could reach everybody.
This was a thrill. Not only for the performer, but the audience. Instead of being restricted to the talent in your local burg, you could be exposed to others, with a different voice, a different viewpoint, in many cases with superior talent.
And by time we hit the era of network television, there were very few slots, and if you made it through, you’d truly made it. That was the goal, to make it.
Artists want to be heard by as many people as possible. If someone tells you they’re satisfied with a tiny audience, they’re lying. Art is expression. It foments understanding. You’re filling a hole inside yourself and the satisfaction comes when you realize you’re filling the same hole in others. And no matter how many holes you fill, you still feel empty, it’s the artistic temperament.
And then the filter was tightened even more, during the MTV era. It was harder to make it, harder to get your video on television, but if you did, you were instantly nationally famous. You achieved that goal of mass exposure overnight.
But now that’s impossible. Unless you stab or shoot someone, commit a crime. If you do something outrageous, there are Websites devoted to exposing you, never mind YouTube. But shy of that, it’s nigh near impossible to reach everybody.
And this has got all artists scratching their heads.
At some point in the future, there will be a generation that does not remember MTV, CDs and albums. Sans history, they’ll utilize the building blocks of the day to construct an edifice that satisfies them. But now, everyone is playing so hard, and other than Adele, no one reaches critical mass. There’s a new number one album every week. Coldplay sells almost half a million records last week and barely 100,000 this week. Most people just don’t care. And it’s not a reflection upon the music so much as a statement on attention, it’s hard to get everybody’s.
And this is causing changes in the art itself. Many play the Top Forty game in order to gain notice. They’ll sell their souls, work with cowriters and producers to deliver what the system wants as opposed to what they want. Others are so demoralized, they stop writing new material all together.
If you’re starting out, keep writing. You can make it far, but it’s gonna take a long time to gain that attention.
If you’ve already made it, you’ve got to change your perspective. You’ve got to do it for yourself, you’ve got to realize most people only want to hear the hits.
But it’s so hard. Because once upon a time seemingly everybody was interested in everything you did.
Now, almost no one cares.