Sunday, April 19, 2009

Guest Shot - Jennifer Marchini - April 19, 2009


Jennifer A. Marchini observes:

It is undoubtedly apparent that successful musicians are successful due to their large fan base. With this in mind, one can begin to ponder how musicians manipulate their fan base. Obviously, as a fan one holds the musician with a high regard, and thus, trusts and respects his or her opinions or standpoints. Having said this, if a musician takes a political stance, does it persuade his audience to believe similarly, or does it have the reverse affect and actually cause his fan base to diminish? I think this is an appropriate topic to analyze due to the fact that throughout history it has taken on both roles, depending on how the musician goes about it. For instance, if the musician is radical in his approach, it can lead to his fans being alienated. I have found this to happen in my own personal experience, concerts that have become bombarded with personal political thoughts, left me with a bittersweet feeling, and often resulted in a diminishing interest in the musician. However, on the converse side, a few ideologies subtly introduced through either lyrics or other musical techniques, left me pondering what was my own stance. In this case I praised the musician for sparking my own thought process.

Hartmann comments:

It is a double edged sword. The last line of defense in any democracy is the arts; and it is incumbent upon the artist to have a point of view. This is an ancient tradition. If an artist has a passionate message to carry to his followers, he should incorporate his ideals into the music which is the only pure thing he has. This allows the fan a certain amount of latitude for interpretation. When he puts his rhetoric into a verbal context on TV, stage or in the media he takes a greater risk. Protest music makes an artist's position very clear and since his fans are looking for leadership it usually strengthens his bond with them. If one already has a strong adverse opinion, it could damage his relationship with some of his fan base. But, generally speaking most fans are looking to have there own beliefs validated and they choose an artist for what they have in common, not where their opinions differ. The artist must never consider this factor and only write and sing what he believes, regardless of how the public receives his message. He should always satisfy himself first and foremost when it comes to the music.

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