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
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
[about producing Achtung Baby for U2] Buzzwords on this record were trashy, throwaway, dark, sexy, and industrial (all good) and earnest, polite, sweet, righteous, rockist and linear (all bad).
It was good if a song took you on a journey or made you think your hi-fi was broken, bad if it reminded you of recording studios or U2.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
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
If you didn't have the valleys, you wouldn't know about the mountains.Maurice Gibb
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
Steal a little, and they put you in jail. Steal a lot, and they make you king.Bob Dylan
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
I've never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down.Virgil Thompson
Being completely free to choose what to do is actually quite difficult: it can lead you to very depressive crises.
If your time is structured you don't have this problem of "what am I going to do today?"Brian Eno
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
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 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
You get older. You start having hopes for other people rather than yourself.Bob Dylan
The secret of success is to never quite succeed.proverb
It doesn't matter if you're the greatest guitar player in the world. If you're not enlightened, forget it.George Harrison
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
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
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
You have to persist, and out of the sheer frustration of what you've been doing or haven't been doing, you just come out the other side.
Of course, when you come to the other side, you find that there's an even bigger hill to climb than the last one.Allan Holdsworth
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
Cherish forever what makes you unique, 'cuz you're really a yawn if it goes.Bette Midler
Ah Mozart! He was happily married - but his wife wasn't.Victor Borge
I considered losing my virginity a career move.Madonna
"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
People don't buy plastic and paper, they buy emotions.Scott Young
One of my mottoes is that if you want to get unusual results, work fast and work cheap, because there's more of a chance that you'll get somewhere that nobody else did.
Nearly always, the effect of spending a lot of money is to make things more normal.Brian Eno
You can't compute or calculate the chemistry that arises when you put together a band.
No one knows until you start working together.Jimmy Page
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.
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
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
No man's knowledge can go beyond his experience.John Locke
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
I remember coming to a concert where they had a big catered meal set out for everyone.
I went and said, "Miles, man, you gotta see all this food they got here."
When you're making an album and you have this groups of songs, they're like what a newspaper photo looks like if you magnify it - all you see are the dots!
Everything seems to be unbelievably important in its own little tiny thing. Now that the album is done, I've been pulling back and zooming out and starting to see the picture.Tom Hamilton
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
You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.Jerry Garcia
Do what you've been doing all the time, but now do what you do wholeheartedly.
Endorse the process. Expect to live your whole life as an artist.Brian Eno
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
You've got to be able to hold a lot of contradictory ideas in your mind without going nuts.
I feel like to do my job right, when I walk out onstage I've got to feel like it's the most important thing in the world. I've also got to feel like, well, it's only rock and roll.
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
It isn't where you came from, it's where you're going that counts.Ella Fitzgerald
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
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
Do not let what you can't do interfere with what you can do.John Wooden
I'm a survivor in a business that constantly rejects you.Dick Clark
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.Neil Peart
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
Sometimes it's a struggle to be not who you want to be, not who you used to be, not who you're going to be, but just being right where you are, who you are.Vernon Reid
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
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
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
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
"Cool" people stay around the edges and observe the mistakes and triumphs of uncool people (and then write about them).Brian Eno
When you make your peace with authority, you become an authority.Jim Morrison
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
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
The mind must be trained to follow the flow of the heart's river.Michael Hedges
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.Hannah Moore
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
Your responsibility is to tell the truth, not the facts, necessarily. It could be the facts, but it's basically the truth. That means being a truthful person.
You can't tell the truth in your work if you don't tell the truth in your life. So I encourage you to be scrupulous in your truth ethic.
Even when no one's looking - especially when no one's looking. Just for yourself.Rosanne Cash
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
Go at it boldly, and you'll find unexpected forces coming to your aid.Basil King
(On Practice:) It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to.
I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time.Chet Atkins
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
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
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
The fruit takes a long time to ripen, but it falls suddenly.proverb
Not everyone is going to like what I do, and that's something I can accept.
If everyone liked what I did, I probably wouldn't be playing anything of depth.Joshua Redman
To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.Robert Carse
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.
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
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
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
You have to have a measure of arrogance in dealing with anybody in the business. You have to feel that you're right, because ultimately you're not able to trust anyone else's judgment of your work.
If your judgment isn't clear, then their judgment will make no sense to you either.Brian Eno
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
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
You're a local band until you get a record contract, then all of a sudden Bruce Springsteen is your competition.Sammy Llana
I can't duplicate my own successes, because part of the creation of that effect is making something happen that you didn't expectBrian Eno
Only someone who truly loved what they were doing would endeavor to play an instrument that callused the most sensitive parts of their fingertips.
Only someone who truly loved what they are doing would endeavor to enter into a business that callused the most sensitive parts of their art.Danielle Egnew
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
The worst that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly.J. D. Sallinger
Admirers can be a tremendous force for conservatism.Brian Eno