All governments want to control art. They either use public funding to support the arts, but dictate terms in the process of doing so, or they push it out to the market, in the hope that only commercially viable art will see the light of day. I agree. I think government should stay far away from art and that we, the people, should take care of funding subversive, shocking, irritating and innovative art. It’s our moral duty. The best art helps with making sense of the world, a much-needed quality these days.
If you don’t count attempts to control or censor lyrics, government doesn’t play a big role in music. Record companies and streaming platforms do however. Bottom line is that they sign artists and pay for their services on the basis of their commercial value. They ultimately drive us into this big black hole where value is equaled to money and market demands dictate the creative process.
That’s not the logic any artist should follow. I like to think Arctic Monkeys lost half their fan base with the release of ‘Tranquility base hotel & casino‘ in much the same way as happened with The Clash four decades earlier after releasing ‘London calling‘. Masterpieces are not for everyone. In 2018 no record company would have allowed Don van Vliet to create ‘Trout Mask Replica‘. Big artists get freedom, but only the freedom to sell big.
Punk’s defining moment came when Buzzcocks released Spiral Scratch. It was the first start-to-finish D.I.Y record. There’s nothing more Punk than owning the whole value chain of conception, creation, sales and distribution.
If we want music that pushes boundaries we should free musicians from record companies and streaming platforms.We are the stakeholders, we want particular music to be made, therefore it is our responsibility to make it (financially) possible. Platforms like Patreon make a modern-day system of patronage achievable for everyone. I decided to support Zola Jesus. I hope more will follow. This is only the beginning.