I just responded to this question on Facebook and thought I'd put the correspondence in my blog. It's about an artistic dilemna that was just as difficult when I started out as it appears to be now.
Deirdre Gilmartin asked: "Can in today's current music industry a new or working artist/musician "make it" without losing his/her creative soul/art? 'I guess what and why I am asking is I hear from so many of the new/up and coming musicians being discouraged....by no air play and live gigs drying up and how does one get their art/music seen or heard and .....it's become sell your soul and "Sell out" or give up...it's tough out there"
I responded: Hi Deidre, Everything you mention in your response es la verdad but it’s pretty much always been that way in the music business. I had just as much trouble getting things off the ground in the ’60’s/70’s/80’s, etc. The reasons are the same - most audiences respond to and like what they know and are familiar with. Club bookers/venues/promoters are aware of this and tend to hire bands that sound similar to whatever the popular trend of the moment is. So, do you follow current trends or do you follow your musical heart, which might not be in sync with the flavour of the moment?
That’s a tough personal decision. I’ve walked both paths in my time and the experience showed me that when I followed fashion I became so influenced by it that I lost my own voice. I did get more work doing it that way but it wasn’t work that got me anywhere as an artist, just paid the bills. When I followed my heart, sometimes decades would pass before it all came together but I now have a substantial body of published work that I’m proud of. I’m also a better singer/songwriter for having chosen to be true to myself, artistically.
I figure in the end, having expressed myself with love and passion through a personal vision of music, will make me happier leaving this life than having earned a few centavos more.
ps: never give up, luck comes to those who keep at it! D