How can music make a difference anymore?
At SXSW 2012, artist Jane Siberry stated, "We're in an era of video, where people neither concentrate on nor purchase music, an era where the power of music to change people's consciousness is on the wane." On the streets, protests are springing up all over the world, yet today’s civil rights anthems, and iconic figures like Woody Guthrie, are failing to develop. (Last month, I was getting teargassed protesting repression of freedom of speech and assembly in Istanbul, and the most important Turkish music groups were silent.) With so much content competing for attention, how can political artists be more than niche or nostalgic acts, preaching to the choir? Does Frank Zappa’s question (“Does humor belong in music?”) apply to politics as well? And what are the opportunities today for causes to find their musicians and political musicians find their causes and audiences?
Additional Supporting Materials
- Historically, how did music ever spur change and support movements?
- How is “political” music being used by social groups and reported on today?
- Is the problem of music “mattering” one of media (music vs. video), the destruction of taboos (“nothing’s shocking”) or cynicism that music can inform and inspire?
- Are there artistic genres and topics which are underserved as a background for social action?
- What are some promising paths for political artists to hook up with social movements and publicize their work?
Brian Felsen, President, CD Baby
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