Musical ‘isms’ — Conform, DIY, or you’re screwed…

Check out this blog:

As a DIY-er, I found this blog about female musicians (as well as male musicians) who’ve faced discrimination in the music industry inspiring. I think the elitist manner in which the entertainment industry, in general, operates is the primary reason why many of us have chosen the DIY alternative. Want a record deal? Want to succeed in the music industry? The “arts” and entertainment industry? Then here’s what you need to do:

First, you don’t need to listen to music or even to like music.  You don’t need to practice your guitar, bass or drums, and you certainly don’t need or want talent.  You don’t even need to be a “good” musician. Musicianship isn’t important. Money and material things are.

So, you must own the most expensive equipment available. If you’re playing a cheap guitar or at least not the most expensive on the market, then you are not a “good” musician and you can’t make it. Sorry.

Second, you need to be very, very young, preferably under the age of 21.  ’18-to-look younger’ is the trend in Hollywood, and Hollywood is where it’s happening in the entertainment industry here in the US. So once you hit the ripe old age of 21, it’ll be all downhill from there. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. Also your musicianship will get better as you age and gain experience. That’s not good. Remember, good musicianship is not important. It’s the money you have to spend on equipment that matters.Yay, unregulated capitalism! Please have a nice, good running car (worth at least $10,000 is best) and lots of expensive musical equipment: mics, amps, p.a.’s, guitars, etc. must be worth $1000s of dollars at the very least.

Second, if you want to be a rock musician you have to be male. So get together some money for that sex-change operation or just forget about pursuing music. Women make great teachers and nurses, for example. And don’t go on some feminist rant. This is not sexist. Male musicians who are black or Asian can’t be rock musicians either. Also men who weren’t born with money and connections are going to have a hard time too. So don’t say this is discrimination against women. Lots of men are being discriminated against too.  So there.

Sheesh! These crazy feminist types with their outrageous rants!

Oh, and those hippies!  “The quality of music will suffer because the best musicians can’t succeed. Only the musicians with the most money and the ‘right’ race and gender can make it. So all that good music will be lost.”

Ah, yes, I’ve heard you hippies rant before. Quality music? Quality music? Listen, how much did Mozart pay for that harpsichord?  Do you really think we need another Mozart? Another Beethoven? I think not.

Come on, we’ve heard all that before. We’re moving on to a new age here in the US & perhaps beyond–a New World Order, if you will. It’s not very democratic, but I guarantee you music will still exist. It will be the music of the monied. It will be music composed by people who own lots and lots of things. People who are contributing to our society by buying expensive guitars, amps, chords, mics, effects pedals, and, of course, cars. Mozart didn’t own a car but that’s only because cars hadn’t been invented yet. It’s hard to believe, but both he and Beethoven composed music without many of the material things we take for granted today. How on earth did they do that? Well, don’t worry, that won’t happen again. Today’s Mozarts and Beethovens won’t stand a chance. First of all, most Americans can’t spell their names, so the names aren’t marketable, and second of all, their music was composed inside their heads–without expensive gadgets, so they weren’t contributing to society by buying more equipment. They studied music theory, learned to read and write music and actually listened to music. (What a waste of time! Most American schools don’t even teach music or art anymore. Studying that stuff won’t prepare you for a job!) When Beethoven lost his hearing, he could only listen to the music in his head, but he was able to write it down and compose more songs since he’d studied music theory. But so what? That was a long time ago. People actually listened to music then. Nowadays, there just isn’t enough time.

Female musicians didn’t stand a chance in those days, and most musicians born into poverty didn’t have a chance either. But the minority of white males with enough money could pursue music on a deep level, to study it more thoroughly than we can in today’s instant gratification-materialistic-greed-based culture, and their work was appreciated for centuries following them. But I do believe that is about to change.

We’re returning to the days of sexism, racism, classism, etc., etc., but we won’t return to the days of valuing the arts so that they are deeply appreciated and studied. Women, minorities and poor people are being deprived as usual but without at least the saving grace of a few successful people who could make an impact. Nope, we won’t see anymore Mozarts or Beethovens.  But we will see a lot more Britney Spears. (Isn’t that wonderful? Because after all, she is NOT a political activist. The last thing she would do would be to rock the status quo. She also offered a lot of support to George W., I understand, so she is patriotic, compliant and conformist. Those are important qualities for any American to have these days, so she truly is a role model.)

She once was a terrific singer, from what I hear. But that wasn’t getting her anywhere. So she stopped focusing on developing her singing, dyed her hair blonde, got really skinny, took off most of her clothes then danced around on stage for all the pedophiles who dig her ‘sound.’

Oh yeah, we’ll see lots more of that. Eventually, Mozart and Beethoven will long since have been forgotten, just like Britney’s once great singing voice lies dormant so that her breasts and midriff get the attention they deserve.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. He’s just the guy who’s “creating” music by hitting his computer keyboard. He’s the guy who did the market research and found out what sells and what doesn’t. He’s also the guy who uses technology to manipulate the singer’s voice so that it sounds like she can sing when she cannot. He studies what makes a song and “writes” songs based on that research. There are no real songs written anymore. Just hits.

And there is no real art anymore..that anyone can see. Because the few amongst us creating real art can’t earn a living. They’re marginalized and disenfranchised while we’re bombarded everyday with advertisements masquerading as art.

Britney, I give up. You won.

My blog response below:

So glad to see a blog about this!  No one believes you when you say it, but sexism (and more recently, classism) can prevent you from succeeding. There’s just nothing you can do about it if ppl choose to disrespect ur talent because of what u look like. It’s a choice they make, so it’s out of ur control. All u can do is try to find a way to succeed in spite of the obstacles. (And the DIY way is best, I think.)

I’m a guitarist who’s been playing for many years and I actually get paid to perform but I’m always a solo artist. My dream has always been to play in a band but whenever I try to get musicians together (they’re usually guys, haven’t found many female musicians in my area) the guys either hit on me or their gf’s are jealous, and when I show that I’m not going to sleep w/them or date them, they drop out OR they are condescending, criticizing my equipment (guitar, amp, etc.) for not being expensive enough or trying to compete w/me to make themselves appear to be better in some way (after all, they are guys…)  It’s heartbreaking actually. I’ve seen teenage boys who’ve only just started playing guitar get booked gigs, find bands to play with, etc., and are able to perform publicly a lot more. I have been playing for more years than I care to admit to and get compliments when I perform, actually get paid to play, but I can’t find other musicians to play with, so my opportunities are very limited.

The guys just don’t feel comfortable viewing me as another musician. They either see me as someone to sleep with or not. It’s very frustrating. I’ve also noticed that a lot of musicians care more about how expensive your equipment is and whether or not you have a nice car than they do about your musical ability–classism! A male musician recently just lectured me, telling me that he took the time to listen to my music but that most musicians wouldn’t have done that ’cause my amp looked so small…? He was very condescending. He was also concerned that I don’t own a car. Well, I rent a car or pay a friend to drive me to my solo gigs, so I have no problem commuting even to other cities and states. Recently, I crossed the border and performed in another country! But, hey, whatever happened to carpooling? I guess that would mean sharing and maybe Americans have forgotten how to do that? (Honestly, that is very disturbing. Also this belief that ur nothing if u don’t own expensive things is scary too.)

I mean, seriously, I’ve attempted to audition for bands who wouldn’t even listen to my guitar playing–yep, I never made it to the audition, ’cause they found out I didn’t own a car or that my amplifier wasn’t of a particular brand or make. Yep, I’m telling you these people would rather play with a musician who is less talented and capable but has more expensive equipment or a nice car than they would perform with a musician with many years of experience who also writes songs and gets paid to play just because SHE doesn’t have a car or an expensive guitar and amp.

But then again, that’s what isms are all about, right? Sexism, classism, racism, etc. It’s all about preventing talented, capable people from succeeding based on some attribute they were born with that has nothing to do with their abilities as people to contribute to society. (I don’t see very many black rock musicians either.) Frankly, I think the US in general is getting very conservative and the ‘isms’ are getting worse. I’m finding it easier to jam with older musicians who remember the 60s era. They seem less threatened by me as a female musician. That’s pretty sad isn’t it? I’ve also found that I enjoyed playing in another country and it’s made me think that perhaps I could have more opportunities as a female musician elsewhere in the world than here in the US. Again, pretty sad, eh?
BTW, I blogged about my experience here:

Hope it doesn’t offend anyone. I like male musicians–just not the ones who disrespect women. Unfortunately, those are the ones I usually meet.


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