TED Conversations

Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

TEDCRED 50+

This conversation is closed.

Can music really be an industry?

These days a singer needs to be good looking because we want to see him/her as much as we want to listen to his/her music. Adele gets 'looks' related questions/remarks everyday prompting her to remark (paraphrased) ' I make music for ear not eyes.'
Music is a billion dollar industry now, having finest of technology, expertise and marketing involved. Plus every second a listener's choice is influenced by iconic star cult. It's a complex and chaotic breeding ground of innovation and business.
But one who sees music as an art may be confused in this frenzy.
Art fails when it's made with market in mind. I doubt whether music industry realizes that. Do you?

Share:

Closing Statement from Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

My conclusion: Music as a performing art is beyond economic valuation. The artful inspiration behind music is anything other than money. However, music recording, concerting, distributing in different forms of communication media can be an Industry. May be we should call it a music related industry.

  • thumb
    Oct 9 2012: Thanks everyone for the lively debate. I am placing a little clarification of my question.
    My question was primarily music related but I am happy if it generates debate on art in general. I have noted the mention of Da Vinci and Michelangelo with interest not necessarily agreeing with the assertion that they created art for the market. But I believe that's a different debate altogether.
    It is obvious that art will have a market or how else an artist will sustain his living? But I think art is not created with a market, a price or money in mind and whenever someone creates something with those in mind that becomes a commodity, a service or a product. There was a time when artists were paid and taken care of by kings or church or very wealthy patrons. In today's world market (and common people) is the patron of the artists. They determine the livelihood and fame of artists but NOT the artistic inspirations.
    In the world of music, I see a trend that attempts to determine what is good music, serious music and salable music. The music industry thrives on that. How something artful can be an 'industry'? How music can be 'produced' per se?
    How can we determine the 'price' of a talented singer's rendition? Our economic system is too immature to handle such questions.
    In the talent search shows we come across artists who do covers of songs that many feel are better than the originals. If music is an industry these 'covers' are fake.
    By no means I am arguing against the honest ingenuity and labour of a musician and his/her right to be paid for it. But when he/she is an artist he/she is NOT creating it for a fad, a craze or a given amount of wealth in mind that a market essentially stand for these days.
    • thumb
      Oct 9 2012: "Our economic system is too immature to handle such questions. "
      Economic systems are not created neither appreciated in reality by artists, they are created by the same type of people that profit from the industry.
      Artists in the general sense just want to live their lives being able to produce and share their art.
      Validation and feedback is necessary so they can keep track on perfecting their craft towards their admirers.
      I believe that anyone would agree that if you have a mind of an economist you wouldn't imagine yourself saying: - Yeah! I'm going to "become" an artist and get rich bling bling ! (unless you are 15)
      By discussing this topic now I feel like I can relate more than ever with the argument that gays keep relentlessly repeating on everyone's ears that, you can't just become gay from the night to day, you just realize that and have to make an awful decision to expose or suppress it. Like anybody would choose to"become" gay with the kind of system we are submit to spend our lives in.
      Thanks for the question friend, I learned a lot from this.

      "Everyone is born artists, the problem is to keep being artists as we grow up." Picasso
  • thumb
    Oct 8 2012: "Art fails when it's made with market in mind."
    Are you, then, discounting the works Da Vinci and Michelangelo made for their patrons?
    • Oct 8 2012: I'm pretty sure Da Vinci would have painted whether people paid him for it or not, many music groups would continue playing if they didn't get millions for it, but many others would not, I think that's what the OP is aiming at. You don't stop being an artist when you make money off your work, you stop being an artist when you have enough money to last you a lifetime and still get angry when someone gets to enjoy your work for free, so when you are in it for the money, when the money is not just a fortunate by-product of you doing what you like to do most.
      • thumb
        Oct 8 2012: We can wait for Pabitra to clarify his meaning. There are people who believe that once one considers a potential patrons or client's needs, tastes, or likely reaction to the work, it is no longer art- that "true" art occurs only when the artist gives no thought to anyone else's likely response to the work.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Oct 8 2012: Both were renowned in their lifetimes, Michelangelo being considered the greatest living artist in his day.

        But that is not the question at hand, as I understood it. I think the intent of the question was to separate Art from Art-for-market.
      • thumb
        Oct 8 2012: I meant to suggest the opposite by putting forward these two great renaissance artists. If we can acknowledge that some of the world's greatest artists did work for market, we should be willing to accept that people trying to live as artists today do not lose their claim to be artists if they consider the way their audiences will respond to their work.
        • thumb
          Oct 8 2012: I understand your vision and absolutely agree with it until some point from the last few words which I'll quote below :
          "if they consider the way their audiences will respond to their work"
          If my interpretation is wrong, I'd like to ask you to please clarify it a bit if possible.
          By that statement you mean ,the amount of merit artists receive from their audiences is proportional to their talents so they should understand it naturally and try harder instead of getting discouraged?
          I'm in complete agreement with that in a rational manner as I think the same, but in practicality as i mentioned in my first post (not sure if you read it ) this is not the case. Without putting myself in the equation, I have been in contact with many musicians that are extremely talented, entertain a lot of people and make their audience's daily life brighter, some have been what you'd consider major artists for some time, some haven't got that kind of recognition. But what all of them have in common is, they struggle to keep a healthy and economically stable lifestyle, they have been exploited by record labels and/or producers, they are in general admired,respected and taken seriously only while they are performing on the stage and entertaining their audiences, and finally their audience have no idea about any of this. I'm not talking about The Beatles or Michael Jackson here, I'm talking about professional Jazz and classic musicians in the majority since that's the realm I'm in contact with personally. So yes there is a lot of arrogant, ignorant dreamers around that in reality makes that statement plausible but those are not the ones i refer.
          I'm very thankful that you are taking your time to debate this question with me and allowing me this opportunity to share some real information that i hope, will make someone reflect better about the issue.The industry promotes and pushes idolization. Real Artists= Gods. And gods don't eat, sleep,get married,have kids,pay rent right?
      • thumb
        Oct 8 2012: I didn't say anything to the effect that "the amount of merit artists receive for their work is proportional to their talents."

        I don't believe, in fact, that that is true.

        My only point was that an artist who does consider what his audience might appreciate remains an artist to me.

        I am not qualified to comment on any aspect of the music industry.
  • thumb
    Oct 10 2012: The era of the internet came, giving the opportunity for independent producers to have their go but there they are messing with the audience's mind again.
    I live in Japan now and a few days ago a new cyber law was approved that states that any kind of copyright infringement on the Japanese music industry could get one incarcerated for up to 2 years! Japan is one of the nations with the lowest piracy rate in the world. Only 3% and they made accepted such a punishment claiming to be loosing to much funds!!!!
    I'm not claiming that piracy is ok but instead addressing the awareness of the amount of power they've got in their hands and growing...
    I must end my participation in this thread with a shout to anyone that appreciates music by it's pure nature:
    YOU, the listener, the fan are being deceived when you feel you are supporting your idol when you buy their products and are the only one qualified to change this scenario. Awareness NOW...
    Thank you and Good bye
  • thumb
    Oct 10 2012: "In the talent search shows we come across artists who do covers of songs that many feel are better than the originals. If music is an industry these 'covers' are fake."
    In that case they are interpreting the originals live, when recorded they are presenting an adaptation and are charged for the rights of the song prior to start profiting from it. Just like a movie remake can't be considered fake.
    Back in the day if you wanted to listen to music, you had to go out and find a performer to fulfill that need but after the external media arrival, that access has progressively become more convenient and simultaneously out of the control of it's performers. Wealthy third parties took the opportunity to come up with a machiavellic strategy to get in between and control the threshold of access by will. And just like the OP said, back in the day they were taken care of by institutions in the name of their art and talent. Some may argue about the idols? hun? Well they are the totems necessary to keep that illusion alive in the eyes of the public so they can keep juicing. The same wouldn't be able to stick their head up without their consent. It doesn't take much research to find more talented and better looking people than the majority of them. I mean .....6 billion ppl on this planet and that's it? They need to make this astronomical gap to keep the farce alive. And the saddest thing is that they sign a enslavement contract to be able to taste the fame.
  • thumb
    Oct 8 2012: Thank you very much Fritzie Reisner for replying and I believe in that also.
  • thumb
    Oct 8 2012: I guess i understand the spirit of the question but also think that it is misconducted in some way.
    I saw a picture being shared online once that kind of answer "the spirit" of this question (at least in my view).
    It shows someone holding a big sign board in front of his/her face with a message imprinted on it that says:
    "I am an artist.
    This doesn't mean i work for free.
    I have bills just like you.
    Thank you for understanding."
    Artists have been exploited by the creators of this "industry",which are economically and socially powerful people that by the use of psychological warfare, manipulates the mass to sustain it.
    As an example of what i say and focusing on the music industry only for the sake of the question above, i believe that most people that are not involved in it, are unaware of the percentage of the profit that get's in the pocket of the musician/composer, those which by common sense one would think would be on the top of the hierarchy of the production line, in reality are at the very bottom of it. I mean it's like cent's and i mean a few cent's per CD sold.
    I was born and raised in a family of musicians and became one without a choice and now at my 33, have seen and felt how much this portion of society has been harmed by this system. I'm saying that genuine artists, i mean in the sense that like my self find art as the best ability i can provide to my community, are not taken seriously as professionals due to this "industrial" system we live in. " The Ant and the Grasshopper" tale is an example that still being used to reinforce this idea.
    I apologize the length of my post also with the possible language mistakes since I'm not a native English speaker, answering this question saying
    No, it shouldn't be industrialized with the purpose of making the wealthy wealthier by the effort of the creator and it's admirers. That's when art fails when it's made with market in mind to me. We will do it for free if supported properly because we love it and you
  • thumb
    Oct 8 2012: I dont believe that art fails when it is made with the market in mind. Creating art involves the use of the imagination to express ideas or feelings. The creator may decide to express themselves in all honesty in their work; but they may also decide to express feelings that resonates with the society.
    It depends on the motivation; that is why we have all kinds of artistic expressions.