The problem facing you as an artist is the degree to which you are willing to alter your art, if required, to stay within the current bounds of the loop.
First time out, no problem. You create something. People like it or they don't, and it really doesn't matter which way the dice tumble, so long as you are now out of the closet as an artist.
The real problem enters when you have finally put together a piece of art that a lot of people like; that day when you achieve "success." Like it or not, you have also become a brand. An identity. Score twice in the same category and you've virtually tattooed it across your forehead.
The marketing superstructure that automatically surrounds commercial success will bring pressure against trying anything new.Connor Freff Cochran
It is ridiculously easy to become bitter in this trade, so hard not to resent in at least some small capacity the success of others.
The real problem is that envy and bitterness are such poor materials for a songwriter to work with.
A person can write one, maybe two songs on the subject and even if the pieces are well crafted, probably no one will want to hear them.
I capsulized insults and aimed them at specific individuals in some of my early music and now regret those acts more than any others in my creative life.Jimmy Webb
Give the people what they want, and they will give you what you want.William Ballester
John Lennon was always looking for the impossible, the unattainable. He was never satisfied.
He once said to me years later, "You know, George, I've never really liked anything we've ever done." I said, "Really John? But you made some fantastic records!" He said, "Well, if I could do them all over again I would."George Martin
I've practiced my tone for almost 50 years, and if I can't hear my tone, I can't play. If I can't play, then I won't get paid. If I don't get paid, then I lose the house, you know?
It's like a chain reaction. If I lose my tone, I can't fuck, can't make love, can't do nothin'. I'll just walk into the ocean and die, if I lose my tone.Miles Davis
Do not let what you can't do interfere with what you can do.John Wooden
Being a record producer is the best paid form of cowardice. Producers often get praised but they have to do a really bad job for anyone to criticise them.Brian Eno
You can tell whether a person plays or not by the way he carries the instrument, whether it means something to him or not.
Then the way they talk and act. If they act too hip, you know they can't play shit.Miles Davis
I wish there had been a music business 101 course I could have taken.Kurt Cobain
I always liked the cusp where something feels if it's familiar but strange at the same time.
It doesn't immediately assault you as being completely weird. You feel seduced by it. But at the same time you can't put your finger on what it is that you recognize. It's a very good feeling.Brian Eno
The problem with thinking about your own past is you forget its genesis and start to feel useless awe towards your earlier self.Brian Eno
To me, the ideal audience-to-artist relationship is one-to-zero relationship.
I'm not happy with words like "artist" and "public" and the hierarchical implications.
The artist should be permitted anonymity, unaware of the presumed demand of the marketplace. They'll make contact on a much more meaningful level.Glenn Gould
Pay no attention to what the critics say; there has never been a statue set up in honor of a critic.Jean Sibelius
It's disgraceful how long records take to make nowadays. But I'm Mr Stingy, Mr Cut Through Options. That's one reason people like working with me I think, because I say "Do this, this is fine, we'll make it work."
Exploring all the options is not the issue. It's making one of them work.Brian Eno
You can know what you DON'T want, and a lot of the process of making a record comes to be the task of finding a cultural space that isn't already ringing with unwanted resonances and over-tones.
This can be a new space, one that no one had identified before, or, it can be an old one that suddenly sounds fresh again.Brian Eno
It isn't where you came from, it's where you're going that counts.Ella Fitzgerald
I remember being with my wife's family, who are are quite shy. We started playing Charades, and within 10 minutes people are singing the theme from such-and-such with all the acting that goes with it.
Because they're now in a frame which says, "You're not yourself, you're not responsible." I thought, that's not a bad philosophy of life.Brian Eno
Trying to get into the music business without some real business savvy, is like riding blindfolded to the Little Big Horn.
I always thought Jaco's talent was a curse, in a way. Because no matter how fucked up he got on the bandstand, he could still play. The same thing happened with Bird. Their great talent enabled both of them to continue doing drugs and getting away with it, because they kept getting encouragement from people around them who told them how great they sounded. Jaco would play a great solo, and he'd be sitting on top of the world again, feeling invincible, with an attitude like, "There's nothing wrong with me." Jaco's talent was like a double edged sword-it made it impossible for him to see how terrible things really were becoming.Mike Stern
"Cool" people stay around the edges and observe the mistakes and triumphs of uncool people (and then write about them).Brian Eno
Without Elvis, none of us could have made it.Buddy Holly
If a man gets up in the morning, goes to bed at night, and does what he pleases inbetween, he's a success.Bob Dylan
People in the arts often want to aim for the biggest, most obvious target, and hit it smack in the bull's eye.
Of course with everybody else aiming there as well that makes it very hard and expensive to hit.
I prefer to shoot the arrow, then paint the target around it. You make the niches in which you finally reside.Brian Eno
"Hollywoodization": This is the process where things are evened out, rationalized, nicely lit from all sides, carefully balanced, studiously tested against all known formulae, referred to several committees, and finally made triumphantly unnoticeable.Brian Eno
Maybe something has been achieved, but it was not I who deserves the credit for that.
WRITER TO FRANK ZAPPA: Have there been parts of your life that you've neglected because you've been absorbed in your music?
FRANK ZAPPA: Well what am I missing? Do I regret not going horseback riding, or learning how to water ski? Well, no. I don't want to climb mountains, I don't want to do bungie-jumping. I haven't missed any of those things. If you're absorbed by something, what's to miss?Frank Zappa
When I've found that what I'm doing has become pleasing, even to one person, I have redoubled my efforts to find the next step.John Cage
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.Neil Peart
You have two options. You can stay the same and protect the formula that gave you your initial success. They're going to crucify you for staying the same. If you change, they're going to crucify you for changing, but staying the same is boring. So, of the two options I'd rather be crucified for changing.Joni Mitchell
Fame increases some of your options in this world. But it limits others.
Celebrity may look interesting, but being in the limelight means you can't really see anything around you.
Was the joke you just told really that funny? Does your date like you or your bank balance? When was the last time you bought groceries without being stared at?Connor Freff Cochran
I think musicians, as they grow older, usually become interested in doing something more lasting.
You've got to settle down and make everything count, and make sure that it's worthy of being heard again, not just a throwaway.Eric Clapton
I'm a survivor in a business that constantly rejects you.Dick Clark
The fruit takes a long time to ripen, but it falls suddenly.proverb
Should a record be a picture of where you are now, or of all the places you could just as likely be?Brian Eno
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.Henry David Thoreau
Don't be ashamed of your own ideas. Most musicians get applauded for sounding like someone else.
People try something out that they think is exciting, and everyone looks a little unsure. Then they play an old James Brown riff and everyone's saying: 'Wow! That's what we want!'
Most of the time musicians are being encouraged to sound recognizable. What I'm doing [as a producer] is encouraging them at the points when they're not.Brian Eno
If I can get out of the way, if I can be pure enough, if I can be selfless enough, and if I can be generous and loving and caring enough to abandon what I have and my own preconceived, silly notions of what I think I am - and become truly who in fact I am, which is really just another child of God - then the music can really use me.
And therein lies my fulfillment. That's when the music starts to happen.John McLaughlin
I don't care who likes it or buys it.
Because if you use that criterion, Mozart would have never written Don Giovanni, Charlie Parker never would have played anything but swing music.
There comes a point at which you have to stand up and say, this is what I have to do.Branford Marsalis
You start to become what you sing. If you aren't where you want to be with your career, what have you been singing about day after day?Jared Kessler
Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.William Jennings Bryan
Differences of opinion are part of collaborating with another human being.
But music is not a competitive thing. I don't want to deal with someone who's in competition with me. I want to work together to make music.Eddie Van Halen
I'm always grumbling when I produce, but it's the people who are dissatisfied who get things changed.Brian Eno
The way children learn is by pretending, imagining what it would be like to be in another situation, which is the essence of culture.
There's this crazy supposition that at the age of 16 or 18 you should suddenly switch all that off because you now know what you're doing, but the people I find interesting are the ones who carry on playing that game.Brian Eno
The worst that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly.J. D. Sallinger
The only thing you have to give up to get what you want - is your idea of why you can't have it.Stuart Bryant
Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one. Helen Keller is the other.Erma Bombeck
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.Hannah Moore
Sometimes you would feel this presence together with the audience and the band, which was just such a mindblower.
It felt better than the other gigs. You felt some sort of connection, where there was a whole wave of five or ten thousand people coming at you. You felt that you and the audience were actually one.Ringo Starr
Failure, for some people, is a vital survival skill.
To work at an artistic level that has some chance of changing the world means risking that your work will change you.
We all know people who have lots of drive, talent, and stability, people whose ideas fall perfectly in place at the leading edge of the mass audience input curve, but who just aren't successful. They work hard and they mean well, but things never quite jell for them, you know?
My bet is they've already signed an unknown contract to fail.
The point about working is not to produce great stuff all the time, but to remain ready for when you can.
There's no point in saying, "I don't have an idea today, so I'll just smoke some drugs." You should stay alert for the moment when a number of things are just ready to collide with one another.
A lot of factors go toward creating a work: technological considerations that suddenly are a little exciting to you, some feeling or mood, a nice day, you just had a talk with a friend. All sorts of things will coincide - and that moment doesn't last for long. It's like things in orbit; they'll move away again.Brian Eno
Admirers can be a tremendous force for conservatism.Brian Eno
When you listen to Miles Davis, how much of what you hear is music, and how much is context?
Context is everything that isn't physically contained in the grooves of the record. It includes your knowledge that everyone else says he's great: that must modify the way you hear him. That he was a handsome and imposing man, a member of a romantic minority, that he played with Charlie Parker, that he spans generations, that he underwent various addictions, that he married Cicely Tyson, that he dressed well, that Jean-Luc Godard liked him, that he wore shades and was very cool, that he himself said little about his work, and so on.
Surely all that affects how you hear him: I mean, could it possibly have felt the same if he'd been an overweight heating engineer from Oslo?
When you listen to music, aren't you also 'listening' to all the stuff around it, too?Brian Eno
A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do. I'm still doing it.Miles Davis
Musicians and other artists interact constantly with at least two types of systems: systems of aesthetics (what will sound good? what type of music to work with?) and economic systems that reward, or fail to reward, their efforts.
If you're confronting a set of results that you don't want, rather than trying to force the existing system to yield up a different kind of results, you might better spend your energy creating an alternative system!
This could mean anything from establishing your own concert outlet for non-commercial music to designing your own microtonal scale.Brian Eno
At the end of the show, he'll leave the stage, and the sirens will be going, and the limosines waiting, and Charlie Watts will walk back to his drumkit and change the position of his drumsticks by two millimeters. Then he'll look at it. Then if it looks good, he'll leave.
The drums are about to be stripped down and put in the back of a truck, and he cannot leave if he's got it in his mind that he's left his sticks in a displeasing way.Keith Richards
There are two ways of being an artist. One is to really explore one furrow - like Randy Newman or Joni Mitchell. They're people who've got one territory and they really, really examine it. Saying, "This is my language and I'll get better and better at speaking it."
But I'm not that type of artist. I'm really thrilled by suggesting other ways of talking, other languages one could speak. Once an idea has been floated as convincingly as I think it needs to be, I don't want to go on flogging it forever! It doesn't mean I stop doing it, but I don't want to make it exclusively 'my thing'.Brian Eno
Often in life you are confronted by many possibilities. The best thing you can do is just go for one with a quick decision, then make that choice work for you. It takes you to interesting places with surprising results.Brian Eno
Recognize those little moments that define your success.
Just taking a step is a success. Finishing a great song - even if no one hears it - is a success. Getting into a song competition - even if you don't win - is a success. A kind word of validation is a success.
When you wake up every day and realize that you're living your dream, that is the ultimate success.Lydia Hutchinson
Once of the nice things about being successful in this business is that you get to work with successful people.
They have the finances to hire the best musicians and work in the best studios with the best equipment. After that you've got to be stupid not to get the best sound.Al Schmitt
Artists who don't censor their own work: Picasso, Miles Davis, Prince. They're all people who just put it out, and have almost no critical self-censorship. They say, "Let the market decide; let the world decide." You might not be the best person to judge it.
That's a kind of humility, actually: it's a mixture of arrogance, which says, "I know I'm fucking good." But a humility, which says, "I'm not the person to decide."Brian Eno
You get older. You start having hopes for other people rather than yourself.Bob Dylan
Don't confuse being busy with being productive.
Just because you're busy all the time doesn't mean you're getting closer to your goals.Karen McKenna
The general attitude is, "I want it, and I want it now!"
But it really takes years if you're going to do it right, and a lot of kids just don't want to take the time to work on it and see where it's all going, and what it means, and where it comes from, and how they should apply it and use it in playing their songs.
It doesn't make any difference how technically good you are or fast you are or how many notes you know. You just can't do it in two years.Johnny Winter
I talk to many young painters, because I teach art in schools. I ask them:
Why do you think that what you do ends at the edges of this canvas?
Think of the frame. What frame are you working in? Not just that bit of wood around the edge, but the room you're in, the light you're in, the time and place you're in. How can you redesign it?
I would say that to musicians, too. I see them spending a lot of time working on the internal details of what they're doing and far less time working on the ways of positioning it in the world.
By "positioning it" I don't only mean thinking of ways to get it to a record company, but thinking of where it could go, and where it fits in the cultural picture. What else does it relate to?Brian Eno
When you make your peace with authority, you become an authority.Jim Morrison
The best chance you have, if you want to rise, is to give yourself up to loneliness, fear nothing, and work hard.Mark Helprin
I saw Bob Dylan getting criticized in Australia by this guy who was saying, "Your new songs aren't as relevant as your old songs."
And Dylan just said, "Well, I'm out here writing songs - what are you doing?"Bob Dylan
I would advise you to keep your overhead down, avoid a major drug habit, play every day, and take it in front of other people.
They need to hear it, and you need them to hear it.James Taylor
You work on a piece of music, you put in certain ingredients, and suddenly they react in a way you hadn't predicted. If you're alert to that reaction, that's what you work from. If you're stupid, you try to cancel that reaction out.
A lot of people have such a fixed image of what the product should be that they refuse to allow any deviation. Again and again, they'll force the music into a mold until it goes where they want it to go. This generally leads to quite uninteresting music - or uninteresting anything.Brian Eno
As for fame being power, and all power corrupting, that really isn't the case.
Power per se is neither positive nor negative. Lots of famous people are perfectly nice folks... but they either started out that way or else screwed up so badly along the path they were forced to get their act together.
If you didn't have the valleys, you wouldn't know about the mountains.Maurice Gibb
Avant-garde music is a sort of research music. You're glad someone's done it but you don't necessarily want to listen to it.
It's similar to the way I'm very happy people have gone to the North Pole. It extends my concept of the planet to know it exists, but I don't want to live there, or even go there actually. But it's a boundary condition.Brian Eno
You don't cling to secrets you've told.
You move on, and your work keeps being surprising as a result.
Maybe this approach works best with artists who are easily bored.Stewart Brand
Anybody that forms a group, writes songs and releases records and says they don't care if people like them are complete liars.James Dean Bradfield
A strong opinion is very useful to other people.Brian Eno