Are World Events Killing Off New Artists?

New indie artists today require extra resolve.

In any evaluation of the indie music scene, I think new artists have to take into consideration the state of the world has not been much improved for more than two years since the pandemic. War in eastern Europe is not just about the destruction and atrocities committed. It’s effect on global economies, how things like fuel supplies are being weaponized, even the potential threat of nukes looming are making the world a harder place to live in. Inflation has made food, gas, and housing prices soar, and yet we hope someone will hand out $5 or so for a music download. Is it little wonder there are indie artists trying to squeeze some kind of benefit out of offering their music for free?

Consider how the state of the world might be affecting listeners:

First impressions are crucial. Many factors influence whether or not someone is more likely to reject your music: the time of the day, how busy someone is at a given moment, was the person irritated because of lack of sleep, and so on. Consider how on a psychological level all the above factors mentioned so far, global issues and personal stressors, can be combined to become the underlying cause for either ignoring or rejecting a new artist’s music. Today’s world is distracting people. The new artist today is essentially being faced with more moments of bad timing. It limits the chances for a good first impression of your music.

New artists may need a better understanding of how the world is affecting listeners and potentially turning them away from their music. You might think new artists can still find favor with a large audience by either presenting the music at the right moment or by presenting it in a repetitive manner (e.g., radio plays). If you can afford to have a marketing team behind you then you’re already a step ahead of most us. But still, no amount of marketing is going to make up for world events making people less likely to be in the mood to listen to new music.

You might think you can take advantage of someone’s desire to escape the madness. Listening to music can provide a therapeutic benefit, periods of respite, but does nothing to change the actual state of a broken world. The issues will still be out there when you put the headphones down.

But don’t things like the therapeutic effects of listening to music help you cope with issues? Can’t music provide you with a sense of hope?

It did in the past, at least for someone as sensitive as me, but I’m an artist. I’ve perhaps foolishly appraised the power of hope so high assuming if you write it into music it will get through to inspire a listener. The inspiration can be blocked because of the extra ill effects of today’s world. A song that goes into the territory of breaking through repressed emotions (i.e., emotions repressed as a psychological defense protecting someone from overwhelming anxiety) may not be welcomed. It depends on the listener. The increasing pressure individuals need to endure is only making it more likely the walls of psychological defenses stay up, which means your new song designed to inspire people may actually be rejected upon first impression.

It was hell during the pandemic as live performances were lost, but now even on a post-pandemic stage, are new emerging artists with original music (not to be confused with bar bands) getting much of a break? For all anybody knows, the post-pandemic artist may not even yet be post-pandemic given the ups and downs of COVID restrictions. Uncertainty about the future has always been an existential dilemma for all of us, but in almost a Darwinistic survival of the fittest our existential dilemma appears to be responsible for killing off the opportunities new artists need, and with the loss of opportunity will come the loss of art.

…art itself can grow from adversity but suffers before anyone takes notice.

I think it’s already the case that desperation caused by the above factors along with increased competition are suppressing creativity and fostering “copycat music,” new music that sounds incredibly similar because its goal is to emulate already successful music. This is unlike the trend that has existed for decades with pop music in which new artists have either ridden the coattails of prior popular music by recording cover versions or tried to create new music that sounds like bands getting the most radio play. I’m talking about the loss of originality –songs with no new sonic, musical, or thematic elements. Not even a unique or distinct vocalist. No new approach other than what is already selling.

We are quickly losing awareness of how one of the things that made the independent artist shine was not being held back by the constraints caused by the demand to sell and succeed coming from record label execs and producers. Artistic license is still one of the things that makes indie music production fulfilling. I tried hard to take a style like jazz and create a new brand on my newly released album, Sounds Like Jazz. Although some people hear the word “jazz” and they think it means the same as “old” (because of jazz standards), it’s actually a form of music that’s been progressing since the 30s and 40s when first popular. It grew in part from adversity because it was derived from Blues, which developed from the music of African slaves. That’s particularly inspiring to me. It’s an example how art itself can grow from adversity but suffers before anyone takes notice.

New indie artists today require extra resolve. I’m not suggesting we succumb to the state of the world and stop creating new music, only re-evaluate how it’s affecting new artists and their ability to create new music, share it, and most importantly how to gain enough attention by a distracted audience. An artist can reconcile with the state of the world, go underground, detach from it, even channel it to some extent, but waiting for things to improve is no longer an option.

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Published by peterflaire

Aspiring jazzer, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and indie producer releasing music with soul that speaks to the heart spoken through the language of jazz. You can find me at BandCamp, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple iTunes, and Deezer.

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