What I’m Doing About It (My Manifesto) Pt 3

If it can be acknowledged that there is a problem, it can also be acknowledged there is a solution. My solution is to start by helping novice artists- mentoring them, sharing what I know with them.

I am doing this so these new artists will have the same opportunities to learn (and consequently, to grow) that I had when I was younger and thirsty for knowledge.

I become accountable whenever I hold back or selfishly retain information which might be beneficial to someone else who needs it (as i
is every other person in my position when they do likewise).

As record producers, creatives, etc, we all expect to be paid (or similarly compensated) every time we open our mouths, or venture an opinion about anything.

It’s essential to be compensated for work but that has nothing to do with the point I’m making.

What I am saying is, the greatest insights are often shared by others who possess tremendous wisdom. Many of the finest musicians, artists, engineers, record producers, etc of all time got their beginnings because someone else with great knowledge and experience was there at a formative moment to pass the torch along to them.

While this sharing of knowledge is never done for free, there is an essential nature to the transaction and that essence can neither be bought nor sold. Those who perform this service pay their expertise forward, knowing the importance of the process in the creative and evolutionary flow of any art form.

The sharing of skills and expertise with future generations of artists is one component piece in a great continuum which must be respected and constantly tended. If there is a break in this continuum, the art form withers and dies.

Like those coming of age rituals and rites of passage which are cornerstones of societies around the world, the passage of shared wisdom from mentor to apprentice is a ritual priceless beyond words.

It is unfathomable (and unconscionable) that no one is willing to do this for younger artists and technicians now.
The foundational aspect of sharing wisdom boils down to one thing- being of service.

Being of service means giving freely. Sometimes, this means giving things away. Giving away things which we often hold onto tightly because we believe they are prized possessions (but which we don’t actually own).

For free.
Here, I pose another question. What happens if people start simply sharing information with others? What if that information is incredibly valuable (and on which a dollar amount could probably be placed), but it can also help change people’s lives?

What happens if we start worrying less about ourselves and start thinking more about how we can be of service?

If you share what you know with someone who needs it, will your world fall apart? Will you lose that which you fought so hard to gain?

Or, will someone else’s world become better? Will the entire world become a little brighter, richer and more promising because you have put something back into it?

And, as a consequence of improving the world through your contribution, doesn’t the wisdom you share benefit you as well?

With this in mind, the logical choice- the ethical choice, is to be of service. I feel that if even a few of us who have knowledge regarding recording, songwriting, performing, etc make a commitment to share this knowledge with those who need our expertise, we can provide an unprecedented degree of illumination (and pave the road for a new era of expression and artistic brilliance).

If we are interested in the future of music as a dominant force in the emotional/ intellectual/ spiritual existence of human beings, we need to create that future by turning our focus toward a solution in the present.

There need to be new ideas (not necessarily regarding new businesses or new ways to make money) regarding new creative outlets for genuinely talented people. When creative people start thinking creatively and express their true selves, they inspire the world. When the world is inspired, amazing things begin to happen.

My commitment is to map out a system for artists to have individuals working with them who are able to provide the input and tools they require on a basis that is workable and fair. The emphasis will be on investing artists with self-reliance, as opposed to dependence.

I am not approaching this specifically as a record producer. I am prepared to do something which will be more beneficial and less costly. I will be posting contact details on this blog shortly.

Real record production is expensive, time consuming and is now only affordable by artists with tremendous recording budgets.

A real record producer incorporates a diversity of skills into his work; arrangement, orchestration, artist development, song writing, musician, sound engineering, programming, cheerleading, psychology (amongst many others).

For those with neither the means (nor the experience) of working with a record producer, the idea of hiring someone who refers to himself as such, is ludicrous. This is because virtually no one who works under this guise can provide the degree of assistance a new artist requires (especially considering the meager amount of time and money that is allotted to most new artists).

The term “record producer” is antiquated nomenclature which has lost its luster over time. It has instead, become a generic occupational vagary, the provenance of ruttish young men who employ the term self-referentially in order to win the favors of young ladies at various and sundry nightclubs or bars.

For these (and other reasons), I propose to do away with the concept of record producers entirely (as the term relates to those artists who don’t require such a figurehead). It is clear that not only is the concept archaic, it is an egocentric title which does injustice to both creative collaboration and the assistance which new artists truly require.

These days, new artists receive help from hardly anyone. They develop and grow in a self-created vacuum. They filter what they are exposed to in order to find an outlet, but have little historical perspective regarding their milieu.

They have profound insights regarding some aspects of what they do and are utterly clueless regarding many others. In complete contrast to their recent ancestors, they can often barely navigate their own instruments.

Artists such as these don’t require a record producer. Instead, they need someone to mentor them: someone to facilitate them.

Much of what I have assimilated over the course of my career wouldn’t have come my way without the insights and ministrations of those mentors who were available for me when I needed them.

It has become abundantly clear to me that whatever I know (or have learned) was never meant for me alone.

The knowledge I possess was freely presented to me with the implicit understanding that I would be its caretaker and, at the appropriate time, pass it on to others.

This is how knowledge maintains it’s essence, it’s value and it’s meaning- by being shared freely with others who would seek it. Life is a continuum and knowledge is a stepping stone in that continuum.

Contrary to popular belief, change doesn’t happen on it’s own. There is no miracle, no political solution, no religious faith which can bring things to fruition without effort.

Things may fall into your lap over time, but you will always expedite (and quantify) the process if you’re willing to shake the tree out of which they drop.

In other words, if you want change, you have to start it yourself.

Would it be wonderful to see a total cultural revolution occur because enough people decided to rise up against the mediocrity which presently holds us in it’s clammy embrace? Yes, it would.

When the time comes for that to transpire, I’ll be throwing figurative Molotov cocktails with the rest of the insurgents. For now, I’ll settle for helping people make better art.

I’ve said my piece. I’m making a commitment to do my part.

Now, what are you going to do?

4 responses to “What I’m Doing About It (My Manifesto) Pt 3”

  1. I like the way you’re thinking here. I’m curious about something regarding your statement-

    “I feel that if even a few of us who have knowledge regarding recording, songwriting, performing etc make a commitment to share this knowledge with those who need our expertise, we can provide an unprecedented degree of illumination (and pave the road for a new era of expression and artistic brilliance). ”

    I disagree that this concept no longer exists. In fact, I feel that those that obtain a little success are often too quick to usher in a protege. In the same way that we as a society are accepting less from our artists, it is my sense that a great number of people that create sub-par art are willing to more easily consider themselves among those with this knowledge you refer to. How can we convince someone making commercially successful music in their bedroom that it is not of good quality?

  2. Zach-

    I appreciate your perspective on this comment.

    While it is true that people do develop proteges- this is largely a self-aggrandizement and it does little to encourage actual personal expression. I find many people do this as a means to have some one younger (and perhaps, more enthusiastic) do the heavy lifting for them. It’s also a means of making money off others.

    Actual mentoring has far less to do with creating proteges (or a batch of mini-me’s) than it does with showing others the tools they already have and helping them find their own direction. The objective is to help people learn how to feel, as opposed to teaching them how to get by.

    As for those passing along substandard information regarding the creation of substandard work- I couldn’t agree with you more. There is room for mediocre or bad music, just as there is room for good, even great music. An issue becomes apparent when bad music (and not good, or great) is the norm.

    In order to help the society be aware that they can (and should) accept more from their artists, it is first important that we, in the artistic community, improve the standards of the art society encounters. Without the creation of this new reference, nothing will change.


  3. “Artists such as these don’t require a record producer. Instead, they need someone to mentor them: someone to facilitate them.”

    Coincidently my business card says “Chris Shaw – facilitator/obfuscator”. Working with an artist requires both, especially in these times.