Why I couldn't care less if anyone thinks I’m an artist.


Everyone involved in the arts muses on what defines success and almost no one wants to admit that it’s popularity (nor should they necessarily). Additionally, it is deeply uncool to care much about money. “Do it for love and the money will follow,” intones the true artist, “and if it doesn’t, well, fuck the world.”

I am uncool.

Because I’ll say it right here and now: I want to make money from my art and I am not above calling the marketplace a reasonable judge of my abilities as a songwriter, especially as a songwriter who is seeking to create popular music. Yes, I love quirky music, I love stuff that’s completely weird and unconventional and I fully admit that progress is made at the fringe not at the center. Rock needs Pink Floyd, The Police, The Violent Femmes, The Beatles at their weirdest, Bowie and all the others who have pushed the boundaries out a little farther. But I will argue that even at their most odd, these acts never completely walked away from the tenets of popular music -- a build, a strong chorus, a compelling (if ridiculous) lyric. Like any great craftsman, they didn’t say, “You know, chairs are a lame.” Instead, they said, “Chairs are cool, but they’ve gotten boring, how could I improve the common chair, freshen it a bit, get people to say, ‘wow, cool chair?’” And that’s me, really, just trying to take a popular musical form and do my best to improve it a little, or, at the very least, do it really, really well. And when I finish a song I want to be able to play it for others and have them say, “Wow, cool song, I gotta hear that again.”

Call me a whore, a sell-out, a fake, I don’t care. I could care less whether anyone thinks I’m an artist. But if no one likes my songs, well, that would break me in two. Maybe even three.

(This post was inspired by a recent comment from Bret. Thank you, Bret.)