Audience or not
There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles?
I’m totally for a physical presentation of music. There’s undeniably something practical about the digital domain, but I’m a sucker for physical objects. I love holding a record or cd in my hands. I guess it has to do with a sense of ownership on one side, and an appreciation of effort on the other side. Virtualisation might have helped a lot of people get their music heard by a lot of people, but I have the feeling it didn’t really help the music industry as such. More chaff than wheat, I’m afraid.
The role of an artist is always subject to change. What's your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
I avoid being explicitly political in my work, but being part of a sub-culture is already a political statement. My work is something I simply have to do, driven by a force inside of me, so you could call that a task. But I’m not sure an artist has a real task in the public domain. A task sounds like a responsibility, and as a human being, we all have certain responsibilities towards each other and the world. It doesn’t make a difference whether you’re an artist, an office clerk or a gardener.
Music-sharing sites and -blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What's your view on the value of music today? In what way does the abundance of music change our perception of it?
It’s not so much a valorisation of music, but rather a valorisation of how music is perceived these days. There’s always been an abundance of music, but nowadays there’s simply more people hearing more music. It’s an individual choice to regard music as throwaway because of its abundance. I’m afraid it’s like that for most people. Quite a shame, but it’s impossible to turn back time.
How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?
Honestly, I think it’s never been easier to get non-mainstream music heard. If there’s one perk of the virtualisation of the music industry and its distribution, it’s probably the accessibility of all kinds of music. But at the same time, concert ticket prices went up, it becomes harder and harder for promoters to organise things, and that makes it probably a bit more difficult again to hear that non-mainstream music live, at least in perfect circumstances.
Usually, it is considered that it is the job of the artist to win over an audience. But listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?
I don’t fully agree with the above statement. Is it really the artist’s job to win over an audience? To a certain extent I agree that a musician/artist needs an audience, but the music itself is there, audience or not.
A listener is basically a receptor whose response doesn’t really alter the music, unless it’s part of a specific interactive concept. Of course his physical presence might have an effect on the performer, but in a home-listening situation, it’s all up to the listener how a certain work is perceived.
Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies change the way music is perceived by the public?
I can only appreciate the efforts made by decent PR companies and journalists. It’s obviously part of one big commercial circus, and it’s a personal choice to be part of that or not. Good journalism obviously helps in filtering the abundance of music. But with this whole “internet democratisation”, there’s also an abundance of extremely bad music blogs, just there to be ignored. But honestly, at a certain point there’s no way an artist can escape the necessity of “using” the press. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The same goes for PR companies. I’m actually very happy I can rely on their service. It takes away a lot of work, and helps in directing focus towards good press and other promo outlets. Both press and promo might steer the perception of music in a certain direction, but then again, I still hope there’s a grown-up and intelligent audience out there that makes its own choices. The only thing that really makes me laugh is that a sales pitch apparently has the same value as a review for a lot of people. Definitely a good thing for the artists and the distributors, but a bad thing for people’s objectivity.
Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
Visit Yves de Mey's website www.knobsounds.com