'Pro-Artist' Gatekeepers Continue To Separate Artists From Their Fans
from the the-internet-is-the-keymaster dept
Despite the internet’s promise of connectivity, gatekeepers are still working as hard as ever to keep artists’ work out of the hands of their fans. It seems counterproductive (to say the least) to withhold finished work until some magical date in the future when platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc. allow artists to connect directly with fans instantaneously. I’m sure the legacy industries have their reasons, but as much as a frustration as it is for the fans, it’s even more so for the artists.
Grantland’s review of Fiona Apple’s appearance at the Largo in Los Angeles contains this quote from Apple herself:
At one point, a fan requested new material. “I can’t remember [how to play] any of my new songs because they’ve been done for a fucking year,” Apple replied. “Not her fault!” said Brion.
Explain that. Is Apple’s label waiting for the perfect moment, some arbitrary date which has been deemed as perfect for dropping her new album? Is there any reason, in this day and age, with all the distribution options and instant connections, for any label to sit on a finished album for an entire year?
It boggles the mind. Here’s an industry that exists to sell content and yet shows a bizarre reluctance to do exactly that. No wonder artists (like Drake) get excited about leaks. Who knows how long the album has been sitting on the virtual shelves, collecting dust while the label decides whether or not today might be perfect album-selling weather.
As an artist, this has to be torturous. You’re understandably proud of your work and can’t wait to put it in the hands of your fans, but someone else completely unrelated to the creative process is gazing at the calendar in consternation and penciling in your album for release at some random point in the future. And since you don’t have control over your own work, there’s nothing you can do but hold on to your waning enthusiasm and hope that no one at a concert asks you to play something from your still-unreleased album.
It’s even worse in the publishing world, where it can take 2-3 years to see your work in print (or an ebook), not to mention the fact that your back catalog is still controlled by someone else, meaning you can’t reissue older books in order to keep money flowing in or maintain public interest while waiting for your finished book to hit the shelves.
As a fan, it’s frustrating enough that publishers of all types still insist on ridiculous staggered releases and “windows.” For an artist, it has to be absolutely maddening. All you want to do is get it to the people who want it most, but the gate is locked down tight by the same companies who still insist they’re the last, best hope for the creative community. Conjuring up false scarcity through calendar mismanagement is no way to treat your artists. Or their fans.