This brings me to my question: are we limiting professional musician’s creative capacity? We get so used to the genre of a particular artist, and then all of a sudden it’s as if they change their musical direction or ‘sound’ and we don’t like it, so we stop listening to them. As music ‘consumers’ we almost put artists in a box that restricts them on what they can and cannot sound like, and then when they decide to try something new, we shut them down. Think about it, when you were 16 you probably listened to a whole lot of different music compared to what you listen to now. As we get older our lifestyle changes, we grow up, life happens, and our taste in music is a reflection of that. When I was 14ish I used to be really into punk rock type music and my lifestyle was a reflection of that as well. I got an ear stretcher (yeah, I know right!), I probably wore a bit of eyeliner, and I also occasionally was that girl who wore a tie and a t-shirt…nowadays, you would not see me in such a state.
For some unknown reason we have subconsciously decided that it’s okay for us to change our musical taste over time, but not for the professional artists themselves.
One of the main reasons this topic came to mind was due to a new song by Twenty One Pilots called ‘Lane Boy’. It talks about the music industry telling them not to stray too far, to stay in their ‘lane’. Tyler Joseph (lead vocals) says that he’s “in constant confrontation with what I want and what is poppin’”. There is such a huge tension with commercial artists between promotion and creative control. If a music label doesn’t think an artist will sell, they won’t sign them on; if the world doesn’t like what an artist sounds like or sings about, they won’t buy their music or listen to them. As Tyler says: “in the industry it seems to me that singles on the radio are currency, my creativity is only free when I’m playing shows”.
Exhibit A: Brooke Fraser. From wee 20-year-old Brookie doing her ‘What To Do With Daylight’ acoustic, singer-songwriter album, to married (and now pregnant) Mrs Brooke (Ligertwood) releasing ‘Brutal Romantic,’ a more electronic based album. She’s got some lovers. She’s got some haters. And she has radically changed her sound. When asked what inspired her to explore a more electronic sound Brooke said she “wanted to do something that took me out of my comfort zone,” she wanted to see what would happen when she put her voice “against something spiky and cold and mechanical,” she wanted to present her voice in a way that hadn’t been done before. And why not, ya know? Life is too short to do the same thing your whole life! Yet, when we don’t give Brooke a chance to try something new we are limiting her creative capacity, we are essentially controlling her creative ability.
Our music tastes have changed over the years, so surely it would be fair to give professional musicians more creative freedom to do the same. We don't have to love every single song an artist brings out, but we can at least give the song a chance, rather than righting it off straight away.