Is being "commercial" a cop-out?

When I look back to see when I began to seek external validation, it was of course as a child, trying to survive in an unfair, scary and often joyless world. When it feels like you are only loveable when you do the 'right things' then you try to do the right things, even if you don't like them. Even if they make you feel bad, or uncomfortable, or hurt you. You learn to conform. You learn your own thoughts and feelings don't matter.

I always felt that everyone else knew what to say, what to do, how to be. I looked to them for clues, because they were the ones who obviously had the how-to manual of life. I tried to anticipate their thoughts, and morph myself to be what I envisioned they wished me to be. Then they would like me. Approve of me. Want me around.

You end up 'getting' the fact that you have no value as a human being. You distrust your own instincts, push away your own opinions, and silence your own voice.

I guess one of the reasons I believe that creativity is a 'way out' of the jail I've just described is that in the act of doing a creative thing, we are expressing something that goes beneath the consciousness, using whatever medium it is to engage in asking 'what do I want to say'... and hopefully listening to the answer to that question. We work to be authentic and turn off our own critic. Plus it gives us the opportunity to say some of the things we have never allowed ourselves to say. While that may not be 'commercial', it is healthy.

I believe that we need to go through the stage of self-expression before arriving at a place where we can tailor at least some of our music (art, writing, etc) to the market - assuming that's our goal. At that point we are emotionally attached to what we are creating, and we're really not in the place where we can listen to feedback, as just making the effort to say what we've said could be - as it was for me - a huge leap forward in saying something about myself that is real.

Assuming we want to move forward and attempt to make our artistry 'marketable', then begins the struggle. We desire validation of our efforts, and want to be 'good' but dislike negative feedback. A lot.

If we are willing to listen to good critique - I define this as feedback given by knowledgeable and encouraging people who are further down the path, who take the time to try to help us to move towards success - and apply it to what we are doing, if we can get to the place where we are emotionally detached from our creative product and able to reform or revise our ideas so they 'work' more effectively... we may begin to have some commercial success.

I write things just for me. And I write things for the market. Sometimes they are the same thing. I will say, there are songs I write that have no commercial application, and I don't expect they ever will have a big market. Even my most commercial tracks, however, are still expressing me. They aren't a 'sell out'. They are evidence that it is possible to be creative and meet the needs of the industry at the same time.

When I was a child, I wasn't able to express myself fully. No one gave me the tools. I didn't feel safe being 'myself'... except when I was playing my guitar and writing my songs. Music helped me survive.

So it's no wonder now that I continue to explore the arts as a way of speaking what is deep inside me. Writing for the commerical market doesn't negate me. It's a challenge I can rise to... the challenge of speaking in 'their' voice, while expressing 'me'. ~

1 comment:

pkmelody said...

i love your blog and i can relate to many of your post. i wanted to know as an aspiring singer where do i begin? As far as getting into a studio finding a producer etc. Any advice would be appreciated