The Daily Gamecock

Fans need to give musicians room to grow

Goal of artists to create own work, not tailor to expectations of listeners


We often make ourselves the protagonist of our own lives. We can’t help it — it’s how we’re programmed. We give our own existence a novel- or film-like context and are the center of our reality. For whatever reason, that was the perspective that humans were given. Nevertheless, we insist on barging in on other people’s consciousness, judging other people’s lives by our standards. We seem to do this on a daily basis to friends, strangers and people on the street who wear fedoras. However, the light of criticism shines brightest for celebrities. Lame puns aside, these beacons of entertainment and wisdom are constantly facing public scrutiny, especially on how they do their job. We place a heavy weight on artists to continue to produce great new music on a regular basis ... so long as it’s created with us in mind.

The general public makes being a musician incredibly difficult. Artists find it almost easier to stay independent than have the overbearing pressure of supporters and tyrannical record company executives. There have been many instances when artists have lost fans for trying to defy expectations and break through to different genres and styles. This is mostly due to the fact that music listeners like to label musical acts. We have to narrow down what a band is to the very last detail, giving groups prefixed epithets to try to wholly describe who the band is with tweetlike brevity. This gives the band little room to grow if they want to preserve their fan base.

Fans feel like they are owed something, that because we gave the artist our money, the artist shouldn’t change. But fans have to realize that buying an album is not equivalent to buying stock in a corporation. Our acquiescence is not the priority of a musician, and they are not obligated to pump out the same material with puppetlike compliance. Some groups have made a living by dancing the fine line between the established and the experimental. Radiohead has evolved from a one-hit run-of-the-mill alternative rock band to an electronic rock outfit, and have received nothing but critical acclaim along the way.

This creates a conundrum: Are we fans of the artists themselves or the music they create? For example, if you go to see a comedian that you are a fan of, are you going to want to hear the same jokes they have already exhausted, or do you want to see new material and witness an original show? I am willing to say that most people would side with the latter. However with music, people feel very differently. Perhaps it’s because we have stared at the circled date on the calendar and have obediently waited for our next serving of happiness — one we expect the artist to provide.