Nearly a 150 years later, the reprisal of Woodstock, there’s rioting—but this time it’s not that the music is revolutionary. This is about the condition of the music, the way it’s packaged, sold, and consumed—the commercialism, the venue, the rampant and soulless exploitation of the ticket holders. Those raging bonfires were an indictment not only of a spirit of music (Limp Bizkit’s limp exhortations to violence), but were the warning signs of what was to come. Thanks to the mighty dollar.
Music, and the musical experience, is in a bad place—it’s married to the bottle service phenomenon, and venues have seen themselves become mega businesses. No one can blame a businessman for tapping into a viable revenue stream, but MUSIC and mega business should never share a dance floor—they move in different rhythms and to different songs. The bulk of attention now lies with those who can afford a table with bottles and not with those who know the artist, their music, and passionately share it all. This breaks the links between the trio, the artists, the venue, and the supporter. This triumvirate is pivotal to keeping a music industry alive. Obviously, profiting from music sales has almost become an urban myth. The age of the download has completely annihilated this source of revenue. Finding new music and feeling a powerful connection to it now occurs in the experience of a venue, not in the consumer experience of “acquiring” as it once did. One had to physically walk to a record store and physically search through bins of records then physically walk out of the store. A download will never provide the kind of satisfaction inherent in the old exchange. Finding music was a commitment and committing to anything brings intrinsic value.
The rule should always be that MUSIC comes first, but there are those who are motivated by factors beyond, or outside, their art (i.e. recognition, praise, money) and they are distinctly different from artists who create purely for the sake and experience of their art. This difference is most noted in the source of their inspiration, and bears significantly on the way it is perceived. Music needs to be heard and experienced. Houses for music or venues have been built throughout history so that the subjectivity of music could be put to the test and expressed.
Surely, building a home for music is driven by the notion of sharing great work, but also by its potential for profit. A venue is a business and therefore needs to sustain itself financially. Based on this, it would seem that a venue and an artist are vastly different, but they are not. Much like the artist, a venue also has a life of its own and should share the same plight of maintaining its identity. A venue should serve its master, the MUSIC; moreover, a venue should maintain always that the most important people to walk through its doors are the artists and those who wholeheartedly believe in the artists’ work. It is then crucial for there to be a healthy and nourishing relationship between this trio, the artist, the venue, and its supporters.
Music is for the people as long as they are honest and transparent, just as the music itself should be. The more honest an artist is, the more significant his work becomes. The more honest the music environment is, the more attentive and appreciative the supporter and artist become. It truly is a very simple formula, a sum of all parts. The common thread holding it all together is RESPECT.
There are people out there fostering that respect, and they are causing a silent revolution. There’s Mirus in Spain. There’s Acid Pauli and the Innervisions Label based out of Berlin. There’s Metrika in Mexico. There’s the My Favorite Robot label. Jared Sims, James Teej and Voytek Korab. These guys are forward thinking artists. In London, there’s Kaveh Rahbary and Bas Ibellini. They are starting some really great things and are completely like-minded. Bas is a DJ producer and Kaveh is an investor with a big heart. They’re to be looked out for.
It is now up to the venue to maintain that connection. If the stars are aligned, the venue owner is a supporter and a music lover. If the stars are aligned and the weather is perfect, the venue owner is not only a supporter but also an artist in his own right, not only treating the venue as an instrument for art but creating and or sharing music and understanding his or her importance in the triangle of keeping MUSIC pure and true. Also, understanding that when MUSIC comes first, all else will follow suit.
ILLUSTRATION BY WREN MCDONALD