Corey Mwamba


Entries for 16th Feb 2012

Well, that was AMAZING stew. Totally knocked me out... I don't think I've slept that long for a while!

Following on from my epic rant the other day and aside from a conversation with the master Orphy Robinson about the woeful soul category in the Grammy's; Kathryn Rose [who I'm connected to on Twitter] sent me a link to a very interesting essay by Stefan Goldmann about quality in music: here's part one and this is part two. After that I noticed they were linked to a previous article entitled Why Everything Popular Is Wrong which is also worth a read, but is not what I want to talk about.

What I want to share is the awe-inspiring comment Goldmann gave in the deviant end of the Internet, i.e. the comments. It luckily requires almost no need to explain context as well. Something for musicians to read, remember and share. All the emphasised bits are my doing.

Amazingly few comments dwell on a view like this (I always assumed that was a mass phenomenon):

this article is valuable to anyone who values making money in music —and anyone who does that probably makes run-of-the-mill music anyway.

Making music should not be a job. MUSIC IS NOT ABOUT MAKING MONEY, IT IS ABOUT MAKING MUSIC. (well, in any case some ISP stocks make wonderful returns here)

Still, it is worth dealing with this kind of view (interestingly, it never comes from anyone actually DOING music on an above-"first steps" level—if it was of any value, it should have at least a minority support from just some renowned musicians?). It is obvious nonsense to link "music done as a profession" with a major's/pop star wealth/commercial interest perspective. Pop stars have always been a tiny fraction of the musicians' community.

There are millions of "professional" musicians on the globe that do what they love (or are capable of) in the first place and don't even know what a major is. I'm talking about music being the only perspective (besides sports) for gifted individuals to escape obscene poverty in 3rd world countries or class poverty in 2nd and 1st world countries. It is more accessible and realistic than becoming a doctor or engineer. And we increasingly see electronic music offering such possibilities, too (well, until recently). Think of Brazil or South Africa. Or of Detroit back in the day.

I bet anyone who voiced the "music is a hobby and shouldn't generate any income" opinion:

  1. is middle class & male
  2. owns a Mac
  3. never had to rely solely on his own work (whatsoever) to make a living (i.e. having parents with sufficient funds to support them through college or on whatever other leisure things they do in their sufficient leisure time before they take on one of these nice paying jobs in their respective societies)

We should take it for what it is: it is an ideology for people who have no clue what they are talking about. They have never invested any effort in learning anything in music beyond selecting the presets from the menu of some software they downloaded from a Russian server (go ahead—I support that since I found a Native Instruments ad on a website that offered a free download of my music). Of course, at this level of experience, it seems nonsense to them to make money from that —and I agree 100%.

Still, this view is uninformed (mildly put) since it is only applicable to one very narrow way of creating music. Other (actually: most) music takes time. A classical violinist HAS to practise 5–9 hours a day. There is no day job option. Arguably even in electronic music, millions of people have benefited culturally from the music developed by gifted musicians. Some tracks might have been created on a lazy afternoon (and the house classics have earned a lot of money), others took weeks or months to produce.

Go out and listen to some music other than the generic stuff you filled your hard-drive with. If someone didn't spend years to develop what your Internet friends emulate with their presets, you wouldn't even know electronic music exists. Rest assured that people like Carl Craig, Richie Hawtin, Ricardo Villalobos, Jeff Mills, Larry Heard and even Deadmau5 have invested years of their lives to develop what their fans love them for. And not one of them is on a major (except Deadmau5). If it was their hobby you would have never heard of any of them though. And I couldn't care less if someone releases on a major or an indie. Miles Davis was on a major. Bach was on the majors of his baroque era (money from the church & some feudal ruler—without these, people wouldn't have listened to his stuff for the last 300 years).

I'm fine, thanks, but you never know the background of people. Assuming that music should be something only middle class kids can afford to do (as their "hobby"), while everyone else is happily invited to stay wherever the social ladder put them... well, judge for yourself what such world-view is worth.