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Creative Process & Consuption

I’ve been thinking a lot about the creative process in music & its execution into something that people consume. Talking about creativity and writing songs is hard. I can’t sit here & pretend that I know the reason that anyone else makes music. There are probably a thousand different reasons different people have for writing songs. I only really know why I do it & what it means to me. But I am truly curious about other people.

The main reason I write is because I need to write. Something compels me to… creative energy or whatever. But second to the fulfillment of my need to write is my concern for whether or not people like my songs. Now, notice that I didn’t say I don’t care whether people like my songs or not. I do. I actually care a lot. It’s just second on my list. And I’ll add this… I think that any artist who says they don’t care whether or not people like their music is a liar. Either that, or they’re just trying to sound cool. They might not care if a certain individual person likes their music, but they want “people” in general to like it. If an artist didn’t want people to like their music, they wouldn’t put out records or play shows. This goes doubly for artists whose full-time gig is music. Their livelihood is directly tied to people liking their music, and them finding those people.

So that makes me wonder: Can an artist disregard the consumers of their art while creating it? 

The answer is yes. But they shouldn’t. As an artist, I think it’s disrespectful to disregard the consumers of your music during the creation process. I’m willing to bet that a lot of people disagree with me on that, and that’s fine. I’m not saying artists should pander, and I’m not saying they should put on a hat & do a dance for everyone. I’m definitely not saying they should shovel out the same old shit over & over to please people (even though there’s good money in all of that)… I’m saying, as an artist, we have a duty to consider whether or not what we’re creating is interesting to the people who will be consuming it. No one wants to be bored. We all have a duty to make interesting art, lyrically AND musically. It’s going out into the world. We shouldn’t be putting boring art out into the world.

As a sidebar, I also think that all artists could stand to be a little less concerned with their own nuanced creative process and more concerned with the end result of what they’re doing. But that’s another thing. And nobody asked me.

I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts below. Writers, artists, listeners, whatever…

7 Responses to “Creative Process & Consuption”

  1. Kathryn Legendre July 10, 2015

    I don’t know, I feel like the artist should disregard consumers of their art WHILE creating it. I feel like the writing/end product wouldn’t be as interesting. As a music consumer, I respond in a much more meaningful way when I’m exposed to one person’s point of view. It’s likely unique, and hasn’t been homogenized by concern or consideration for the consumer. That’s art to me, man. And as a songwriter, compelled to write, I personally find more satisfaction when I maintain that disregard in the creation process. It feels more natural to me. I’ll get around to paying attention to what the consumer would respond most/best to when it comes to post/press/promotion. Ramble, ramble, ramble. Does that make sense? Good food for thought, Chris.

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    • I get what you’re saying. But like I said, it’s not sculpting your art to fit what a consumer might like, just taking it into consideration. That doesn’t automatically make it homogenized. It’s still your point of view, your words, your creation.

      But in my defense, I also believe that most artists are overly concerned with “their” art and what it means to them. Which pretty much only matters up until it’s put out, because then it’s not yours anymore, it’s the world’s.

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  2. Josh Reddoch July 10, 2015

    Certainly is a delicate balance; but I think true art is what comes internally, and uniquely from the artist. Once commercial interests/marketability (opinions of the consumers) becomes a part of that equation, I think the true essence and beauty of that art is compromised, in my opinion. Certainly there are varying degrees of this, but I doubt Dallas Davidson writes songs about country boys and country girls partying on dirt roads drinking beer on tailgates because he’s letting his artistic creativity out. Those songs are only produced to appeal to his consumers (the dumbed-down masses) to make money. Artistry isn’t even part of his equation.

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    • Josh Reddoch July 10, 2015

      As far as songwriting goes, I think song writers should write whatever is coming from them – no matter how bad or boring it may be. Choices on whether or not to release those songs for public consumption should certainly consider those potentially consuming it; but that doesn’t mean the song shouldn’t be written. Most songwriters have probably written 10x the number of songs people actually hear. But I believe each of those songs helps the artists in some way.

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  3. I would also argue that some of the most creative & successful music ever produced took the consumer very seriously.

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  4. Mike Ethan July 10, 2015

    I am a fan of creating whatever comes to mind, the “consideration” part kicks in when you are deciding what to put on the set list or, if you’re lucky enough, the album.

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  5. As the great bro-country rocker Bill Shakespeare said, “to thine own self be true”.

    The problem with this idea is that artists initially create art with no consumers. Then, maybe, consumers are drawn to them. So do they now make music for what they think their fans want? I’d argue they have a better chance of success if they stick to that original impetus, burning fire within, inspiration, whatever.

    But what do I know, internet commenter that I am.

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