from the an-artist's-perspective dept
Yesterday, we wrote about El-P (emcee/producer and co-founder of Definitive Jux records) and his positive reaction to the early leak of his upcoming album, Cancer4Cure. El-P showed up in the comments that evening, and after an email exchange this morning he posted this excellent longer reply and invited us to turn it into a guest post. Big thanks to El for getting involved and giving us a clearer picture of his stance on these issues.
First off, thanks to Leigh for emailing me today and thanks to everyone here for your ideas and comments. It's clear he (and all of you) care about this subject. The truth is I really don't fully know how I feel about it all and I'm not sure that I'm smart enough to fully tackle the subject. It's tricky.
All I know is that I believe in operating within the realties that exist now and treating fans with respect within the context of those realties. I don't agree with the draconian and aggressive manner in which the RIAA and others have reacted to those realities and I wont be caught trying to put band aids on cracks in the dam. I'd rather let that bitch flood and build a boat. That said, I cringe a bit when people disregard how tough it is for working musicians to deal with the new paradigm. Cut us some slack. It's all relatively new and we are trying our best to navigate choppy waters.
I want to trust that if people like my music they will support me. My heart tells me that's the case. I also know for a fact that many of the people that say they will support or even genuinely intend to may not, being that they have the finished product (or at least the most important piece of it) in their hands already. It's just common sense.
So how do I feel? What's the right way? Fuck if I know. But I'll adapt and I'll do it with respect and class and not kicking and screaming. There's a hell of a lot I could say about both sides of this particular subject, but honestly does it matter? You all have formed your opinions on it already and in the end people like me are still out here trying to make a living no matter what those opinions are... right, wrong or in-between.
I will say (and this is a portion of what I wrote to Leigh today):
In these debates (no matter what venue) the artist almost always seems to be treated/viewed as a child. Either we don't understand what's good for us, can't control what's happening to us, can't comprehend what's bad for us or we are not wise enough to be grateful for what we are handed. It's a debate that rages on almost exclusively without the input of the artist themselves.
And maybe thats how it needs to be. At the end of the day we are trying to make a living doing what we love and it's on us to determine how we handle it. I'm not sure any artist owes any explanation to anyone about the nuances of that, and I'm not sure anyone else can really understand what it's like as an artist to negotiate all this unless they deal with it in the same way. Everything takes on a different tone when paying your rent enters in to the debate. But don't make the mistake of treating us condescendingly or with pity. I am not "begging" for anything by asking people to support by pre-ordering if they enjoy the record. I'm trying to solidify and encourage the relationship I have with the people who I make the music for in the context of today's reality. Simple as that.
I for one am determined to make the realities of today's music business work for me as best I can. I do not see the point in blaming the fans for a technological (and now cultural) reality that we all are involved in. They are my fans. They are my supporters. I think if I do my job and make something passionate and good then they'll be motivated to engage with me. Between me and them I'm sure we can figure out how to give each other what we need so we can continue to have a relationship. I'm not too worried about it.
For now I think we are finally settling in to a decent place with it all. Of course if my record drops and I don't sell shit I might end up with a bit of a different take on it all. I reserve that right, but I doubt it.
Anyway thanks for reading and thanks for taking the time to talk about all this. I'm going to drink some coffee and eat a bagel now. Also, my cat won't stop meowing.
— best, el