It’s the classic lament of artists throughout the ages – not being able to create art, which is true to their vision due to the monetary restrictions of whoever’s paying and controlling them. The music industry’s much like a food processing factory – whether or not you like the product, the process is almost certain to repulse you. If you love your favorite music, you probably don’t want to know too much about the music industry ugliness that’s behind some of the most beautiful music of our time.
Making music is an expensive endeavor, and they can’t do it without the music industry machine.
Or can they?
Here’s a quick look at how some trailblazers have tried to go it alone and strike a blow for artistic integrity and freedom.
The Power of the Studio
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the most influential albums of all time, the birth of the concept album, and a contender for the title of Greatest Album Ever. Its unique sound is due in large part to the kind of sound and instrument mixing made possible by the rise of the studio as a place of artistic innovation.
Countless other bands have tried to follow in the Fab Four’s footsteps, setting up their own independent studios and trying to edit and mix their way to success.
Nothing helps the little guy win like when they band together. Black, Latino, and other minority musicians facing discrimination frequently banded together and toured to protect their music better and boost their profile. From punks to gangsta rappers, politically-rogue musicians have also unified to add volume to their message, making it that much easier to be heard and make the music and commentary they wanted.
When Less Becomes More
Sometimes, a raw product hits harder and rings more authentic than a more polished one.
Consider the Indie Scene in the 90s. Following a decade of slick synthesizer-heavy ultra-produced pop, these revolutionaries took a “less is more” approach and scored big with it. In a decade defined by irony and skepticism towards a consumerist status quo, music that sounded less manufactured struck a chord with listeners. What’s more, a low-fi approach is typically easier and less expensive to record, allowing these singers to stay independent of the big labels and “Rage Against the Machine.”
Despite a music machine so notorious for cranking out assembly line mediocrity, so many of popular music’s greatest hits have been scored by artists triumphing over the system and scoring a blow for artistic integrity and individuality.