Taylor Hicks’ blogger, Caryl, posted on her Taylor Tuesday blog the subject of Taylor and the payola theory regarding radio play. Caryl brings up the fact that if record execs don’t like you they likely will not promote you. That theory of thought can be put into about any work market or artistic field.
Consider this, you’re working for a Boss you’re not especially fond of and perhaps that feeling is mutual. How will that parlay for you in the area of raises, promotions, that nice office you’re coveting? Think this will be a fruitful work environment to remain in? Think that no matter how great you do your job you’ll be as successful than if you were placed in a more positive, for you, setting? Chances are, most folks put within that environment would move on, get another job.
In art and in writing, key to getting shows, getting published, is having an agent who believes in you. Importantly they have to ‘dig’ you as a person, and consider you profitable and worthy of their time and energy. Sadly sometimes folks wind up with one of those agents who really should be selling time shares or multi-level marketing schemes; they may blow smoke up your skirt or pant suit but they won’t do you any good. Finding yourself in a position of not getting those great promotional shows or seeing that literary tome sitting on a desk collecting lint – you could point your finger at that salesman posing as an agent – place blame – or you could move on. Continue that search for someone with whom you are more copacetic with, who understands you.
It takes more than that, of course, to succeed, there’s that body of work that is yours, that is a part of you to consider as well. Is it really good? Also to consider, that part within the artist that helps develop that body of work; protects it. That part is named, ‘Ego’. It’s one of the parts of being human, it can be a huge negative quality, but also a big asset. Some of us carry around more than our share, some earned, some imaginary. (Those pesky voices in our heads.)
You will find it a rare, rare thing to wind up with someone in a position of power who can make or break you (or at least slow you down) with whom you have perfect affinity for and share complete agreement. Compromise is the key we all need learn to succeed. The delicate balancing rod we may find ourselves treading upon is balancing that ego, with your art.
You may say, ‘I’ll do it alone, my way, like ol’ Frank Sinatra’! I say good luck and I hope you have massive pockets to fund your regular life and your art promotion. I had an artist friend who is as gifted as they get. He could paint images on the sides of buildings with such imagination and creative perspective. He was absolutely brilliant with any media, any topic. Great sci-fi work and realism. Sadly, Isaac had a rough road to hoe. He’d give up time after time when things would fall through that would give him that great break, get his talent out there in the public popular eye where he belonged. Isaac repeatedly fell within that negative area of allowing ego and pride outweigh the benefits of that difficult Lady Compromise.
It sounds very romantic, taking a stand for your artistry, it’s noble sounding rhetoric. Problem is, work can suffer for want of a compromise. An artist of any genre needs to come to terms with placing their art above their ego. Not an easy task.
As I wrote on Caryl’s sweet blog, I’m not accusing Taylor Hicks with possibly putting ego over his music, I have no idea what went down behind those closed doors between he and Clive and 19E. That said, obviously something went wrong – two sides to every coin. Blaming old man Clive for the ills that befell Hicks with his CD failing to muster up to the potential – for the lack of airplay – is an easy and satisfying thing. I don’t think it’s that simple to just point the finger at Clive.
Importantly, there is a big difference between Taylor Hicks’ pre-Idol material and what landed on the CD. I’m not saying anything negative here, there are many fans who enjoy all of his work, including that CD, I have no problem with that. I am saying there’s a difference. I’ve regarded that eponymous CD as perhaps some experiment that just did not take off, can’t win them all. I must add, sales of almost 800,000 isn’t anything to feel badly about.
What Mr. Hicks’ has lacked is that critical acclaim, positive music reviews and consideration. That falls back on perhaps that theory of what happens when your Boss doesn’t like you. Regarding Caryl’s discussion of the payola situation and airplay, what this boils down to, that issue of making it work, at work. Realistic compromise for the sake of saving your art, sometimes the sacrifice you need make. (Again, I will stress this is simply my opinion, I naturally have no idea what really went down behind boardroom doors.)
Taylor Hicks is about pull a Sinatra by opening the door to Opportunity that came knocking. Anyone following Taylor Hicks knows I’m writing about his jumping on board with the National tour of “Grease”. It’s not often you’re provided wide exposure with multiple chances to get your voice heard as an artist. This time I’m thinking things might play out quite differently for Mr. Hicks. Taylor’s perhaps learned a lesson about parrying with Lady Compromise; riding that “Grease” vehicle part of the compromise, gaining him yet another Opportunity.
“Opportunity” Pete Murray, John Mayer