NBC: the standards of music

Barry B. Bean bbbean@beancotton.com
Fri Dec 8 12:55:04 EST 2000

On Wed, 08 Dec 1999 09:30:38 +0000, Kate Ernde wrote:

>B.B. Bean wrote:
>> When was it, exactly, that money didn't influence what music got
>> recorded, published, or presented?
>B.B. ....I'm not saying that the bottom line wasn't always a
>consideration in the business of music, it was. I'm only saying that
>never before had it been such a huge amount.

An argument could be made that money actually had a much greater
impact on music in previous eras than it does today. Consider that
with the internet, you can record your personal music and have it
available worldwide for a tiny investment. No record company,
broadcast company, publishing company, commission agent, club owner,
or sponsor required.

70 years ago when blues were being created, it didn't matter how
great a musician you were. If you couldn't get to a city and/or get
the attention of a record company or broadcaster, your music would
only be heard on your backporch. Even if you did get the attention of
a record company, they were most likely to record you if you fit
neatly into a category and they felt you were commercially viable.
The record company would retain creative control over your
recordings, and your personal aesthetics would be a minor concern.
Lomax aside, the concept of recording music for archival purposes was
not widely appreciated until the late 50s/early 1960s, and even then
it's difficult to point to many archivists who didn't also have a
monetary interest in selling their recordings.

As an example, we've all heard stories about Muddy Waters and Little
Walter being told to record acoustically because the commercial
audience wasn't ready for the electric blues they'd been playing for
years before their first electric recordings.

So while I'll grant you that money certainly impacts teh music that
you hear, I'd argue that that isn't anything new. How much of the
classical  repertoire was commissioned by aristocrats and clergy? I'd
also point out that music is a profession, and while it is easy to
romanticize musicians, they are providing a service that in turn pays
their bills. Just as you have to find a job that produces the best
compromise between what you really want to do and what someone
willpay you to do, musicians have always had to find a compromise
between playing teh music they "feel" and being sure that what they
feel isn't hunger.


B.B. Bean - Have horn, will travel                              bbbean@beancotton.com
Peach Orchard, MO                                       http://www.beancotton.com/bbbean.shtml

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