This is insightful and perfectly true. But ultimately, it merely rearranges the relative importance of inputs into the whole "success" aspect of art (as opposed to the "making art" part).
If instead of say, musical groups becoming successful by making good music AND being really good-looking or dressing up like a pirate/robot/mage/ninja/superhero version of the Village People, they instead gain success through the quality of their music AND being "...able to replace the PR intermediaries with their own form of engagement with fans", I don't see anything unethical, unfair or tragic about it.
The artists whose music is less accessible (already called "niche" artists) or who are "demoralized" at the prospect of engaging with fans or promoting themselves were NOT being made into stars by the existing mechanism of promotion. So appealing on their behalf is like trying to slide billions in subsidies to Archer Daniels Midland by trotting out hard-working American Gothic family farm operators.
And for any promotion expenditure the labels ever did for non-mainstream, new or niche musicians, they spent ten thousand times as much trying to get top stars' sales from x to x*2. Which at least is defensible, business-wise (the "lesser known" artists' sales being .001x or sth).
People will find ways, ways that don't involve some giant corporation that runs everything from production to distribution to bookkeeping. If there are introverted artists who can't be arsed to be concerned if anybody is, you know, liking what they do, they're already starving in garrets or the modern equivalent thereof.
Okay, you say "what is being premised" and then proceed to march on as if it is proven.
It MAY BE that the list is skewed by bias, or it may reflect a real-world circumstance, the origins of which we could examine for exclusivity or the operation of an "ole boys club".
But you don't address the truth value of anything, instead you put a politically correct shibboleth like "if achievement does not reflect demographics then bias, because white males derpdedurr" ahead of any examination of evidence. "Reality must match theory, and if it doesn't then reality MUST match theory, dammit!!"
Prove your case or don't but snarking around about how there must be some(unstated)thing wrong if reality doesn't sync up with your first principles isn't argument. You can't prove something's wrong by stamping your feet and insisting it's wrong.
I could also make the observation that the only time anyone is ever oncerned about this kind of demographic maldistribution is when it involves "white males", but that always leads to a rant..
Man, I always get a little spooked when government agencies send out spokesbots with a message like "Black is white, until the legislation deeming it so is repealed or revised. We will not be responding to questions at this time.".
They always do it with a straight face.
ref: Harry Reid justifying public employee payoffs via unneeded postal service offices because "Old people need junk mail to feel connected to society."
"We need to be able to determine citizens' location, 24/7, or we will be unable to protect them from crime." ~DEA, FBI, etc.
or (as noted above):
"It would be a violation of citizens' privacy for us to tell them if we were spying on them. We will not be responding to questions at this time." ~NSA
And if by "niche" musicians, you mean those who, while enjoying eating, having instruments to play and a place to live and therefore being all for "gettin' paid", still choose to make the music they love and are driven to make despite indications that there are not millions to had in the endeavor...then yeah, the followers of this kind of "niche artist" are very prone to making sure they are supported financially when that is economically feasible. (note: submit this for a Dirtie in the "Longest Sentence" category. What? No, man, they're like the Oscars...they really don't? Shit.)
And surely it's better, for musicians at least, to have among their committed fans some poor people; than to have a record label armed with attack lawyers making sure no one heard them who could not buy a $15.00 CD.
Most "niche" musicians seem to get this, at least a little. It's a conflict for some. As Gillian Welch sings in the bittersweet "Everything is Free": We're gonna do it anyway, even if it doesn't pay. Though she points out in the song that she doesn't HAVE to make the music that gets pirated, the chorus is a concession that, in fact, she does. And that's what makes it worth paying for.
If we had a million "niches" and no multi-million-selling, industry-created, entertainment-media-promoted pop supertars...I could live with that.
At least, if you want ideas to be useful. Then you have to differentiate between "bad" and "good" ideas.
Most people find that the "good" (useful) ideas are the TRUE ones. If you don't believe there are actually bad ideas, please be the first to drive over that bridge built of balsa wood and wishful thinking.
If the record companies can point to the hole in their inventory where the file I (hypothetically) got USED to be, I'll confess to theft.
Oh, but wait. Are they talking about not getting a hypothetical $0.99 for something that cost them $0.00 to produce? Sorry, I'm just a dumb boy who doesn't find the theft in this. Especially since the hypothetical track sucked so bad. They wouldn't have given me my $0.99 back, would they?
Re: Re: Re: I wrote this but it got moderated (maybe it is nonsense?)
Good alt. taste there. Gillian Welch, Sara Jarosz...these aren't really the people most filesharers and music labels are talking about, but they are people who would never have gotten a penny from me sans filesharing.
As a proof-of-concept, I obtained the entire Welch/Rawlings back catalog (before Harrow and the Harvest, which I did purchase) and then sent them money...and I figure it was more money than they would have received if I had bought two copies of every album. So...am I a pirate, Mr. Lowery?? If so, I'm comfortable with the fact that I haven't hurt, by my piracy, the people who produce the music I like to listen to.
Should it be our goal, in structuring media distribution, to ensure that "artists" (many of whom make crappy, totally derivative, unoriginal noise, by my own standards) all make a million dollars. I, for one, will not be sad to see rock stars with enough money to pay for totally trashing hotels at every stop, and to buy enough drugs to short circuit their own productivity.
More importantly, should it be the goal of any real "artist" to achieve the rarified level of "ROCK SUPERSTAR" and multi-millionaire?? Because that's been the carrot the labels have used for years. Not "we'll help you make your music, promote it and you'll make some money" but "we'll take all your contract bonus in recording and A&R fees, neglect to promote your music and pay you a pittance per sale BUT!! You MIGHT become Led Zeppelin!"