Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have none. Why? BECAUSE THEY TOOK THE MONEY!

There’s a canard in the twenty first century that selling out is cool, that the public expects it, that there are economic advantages and no damage is done to your career. This is patently untrue.

I’m completely disillusioned with what is going on in Washington. Kyrsten Sinema used to be a leftie, now she’s a right leaning centrist and I wouldn’t expect her to flip back, why? BECAUSE SHE TOOK THE MONEY! From the right-leaning Chamber of Commerce. Ditto on Joe Manchin.

As for Mark Zuckerberg, he’s lied so much that we don’t believe a single thing he says. He can deny what the whistleblower claims ad infinitum and we won’t buy it, and why should we trust him when he won’t reveal the inner workings of his company?

As for the social media influencers, there’s no credibility involved, that’s one of the reasons why they have such short tenures. They’re faces selling products until we no longer care about them and move on.

But artists?

When you’re whored out to the corporations, when you’re a corporation yourself, selling clothing, perfume and tchotchkes, you may be making money but you’ve lost credibility, and credibility is key to longevity. And longevity is the only way to make any real money in the arts business. You get screwed until you generate capital and can redo your initial deals and then the money comes in and hopefully people are still interested in you.

Sure, the classic acts had fewer avenues of selling out. But they were also selling something different, that the music was their essence, an unfiltered personal statement, which is why their music is remembered and so much of the recent stuff is not. They weren’t complaining they couldn’t get recognition, they weren’t railing against the system, their target was the audience, and they did their best to connect with the people and cement that bond.

It’s kind of like having a best friend. You do everything together, you know each other’s habits, and then suddenly you can’t get them on the phone because they’re now hanging with the popular kids, they want the benefits. They’ve made movies about this, like “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Loyalty is everything. Once you start denying who you are, sacrificing for the perks, you’re toast. You get a momentary peak and then you fall down the mountain and no one is interested in you, your old friends abandon you, you’re starting from scratch all over again.

Then again, there’s not the money in music that there used to be. There’s plenty of money, but there are much easier routes to make a ton more. Like being a techie a banker or a Kardashian. But that’s commerce, not art. Then again, our entire nation is skewed towards commerce and money. If you’re rich, you’re right. Not only are you powerful, you lord it over people and they kowtow to you.

But not Frances Haugen. ONE person doing the right thing illuminated the flaws in Facebook and will generate at least some change. ONE PERSON! Because she did what was right, not for the money, but for society. The exact opposite of the unvaxxed. Haugen is not interested in the personal benefit, but the benefit to the world at large!

As for everybody else?

They’re silent. Not only the people at Facebook, but the advertisers who use it, no one wants to upset the apple cart. Which is like working for the man, your job is paramount so you’d better keep your head down and play the game. That’s not art!

In addition art is compromised by today’s major label system. Opportunity cost is so high that the label doesn’t want to release your track until it’s convinced it’s a hit. They don’t care if it’s a personal statement, they just care whether it will gain traction and generate capital. They bring in cowriters and remixers, your original vision gets lost in the shuffle. Which is why all the innovation is being done outside the major label system, and why the hit business is smaller than ever before.

Now the truth is today’s young hitmakers are completely unaware of the old era, when artists had backbones, when they wouldn’t compromise their values, never mind their art. Mariah Carey broke thirty years ago. TV competition shows are decades old. The music from the past may exist, but the context is absent. And all the business people don’t want the truth to get out, because they commission selling out, and the acts come and go but they remain.

Sure, you may gain attention for a moment, but every deal, every compromising situation, detracts from future fandom and the length of your career.

The big acts from the classic rock era?

The Eagles and Neil Young aren’t selling out.

And Pink Floyd won’t even take the money to regroup as their music is passed down from generation to generation.

Don Henley and Neil Young have rough edges, AND THEY’VE WORKED FOR THEM! Henley saved Walden Woods and Young was there at the advent of Farm Aid but refused to perform this year because of Covid-19 infection risk. Yes, Neil went on record, who is he making friends with by saying this? His hard core fans will stick by him, anti-vaxxers will criticize him, meanwhile he’s out of the public eye by not doing the show.

Can you say no?

A credible artist can.

Does it feel right?

If you were a fan what would you think?

All these opportunities your handlers are telling you you must embrace, did you take the bait?

Kurt Cobain wouldn’t take a limo in South America, it wasn’t punk. Would anybody have known? But Cobain’s credibility is still intact and Nirvana still matters when so many of its contemporaries do not.

We’re looking for people to believe in. Who are beacons, who do what is right. But after having a duplicitous president who continues to lie, after we were told there were alternative facts, nobody believes anybody anymore. Does anybody want to take advice from Kim Kardashian? Does anybody want to take advice from Kanye West? He can get publicity, but his political campaign got no traction, because people know that he’s POSITIVELY INSANE! He’s addicted to the spotlight, not the truth.

We all want something we can hold up as our own, that we believe in, that we take guidance from. And right now pickings are slim. But the hunger is still there. It’s a long game, but if you’re an artist it’s the only path.

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