Sunday, May 04, 2008


It's been one or two of those weeks. The sales and marketing people who control the media flexing their muscles, desperately grasping to hang onto meal-ticket models that are inexorably slipping from their cold, dead fingers.

Canadian Broadcasters bereft of the ability to create try to claim their mere presence is the stuff of nationhood and worthy of increased income. American mega-corps angle for another strike in the production industry to make their bottom lines appear blacker than they really are. And new media marketers stand shaken and angered by the realization that the demographics they're selling include people who are not who they say they are -- thus revealing that social network sites are not the perfect captive marketplace they predicted.

All three insist that we need them, that Art can't exist without their version of commerce. It's an old story. A lie created by people who will go hungry unless their lies are believed by artist and audience alike.

Great Art and the creation of new forms of art has often come from artists who died penniless while the marketers who got between them and their audience prospered. The audience gladly rewarded them for their talents. But the guys in the middle took so much there was nothing left for the creators.

It might've been a lanky guitar picker sitting at a Mississippi crossroad planting the seeds of Rock n' Roll. It might've been a New Orleans Coronet player named Buddy Bolden who played so hard blood dripped from his horn. He'd end up buried in a pauper's field, but his new art form -- Jazz -- would inspire generations.

Van Gogh never sold a painting. Hemingway wallpapered a Paris garrett with rejection letters. Record executives told Mick Jagger to go back to business school.

The media conceit is that we need the men in the middle. But we don't anymore. We're entering an age when Art can flourish without paying the exorbitant vigorish of the suits.

Close your eyes. Listen to the notes Buddy Bolden inspired. Relish the moment of you and the artist alone on Cantelope Island. The day of the locusts has passed. From here on, they're working for us -- or they're not working at all.

Enjoy your Sunday.

No comments: