award ceremonies, pt 2
[Ed’s note: this was originally written as a response to a very long comment from a fellow calling himself Cracker Jack on the “It’s just another shitty music award. Who gives a crap?” thread. It was a well-argued, reasoned and mostly sober response. I suggest you read it first. And then read on…]
… and what about the folk who don’t play music that fits within QMusic’s and the QSong Awards’ aesthetic, Cracker Jack? Should they try and tailor their sound to fit in and thus win awards and grants and such, or just give up and move to Melbourne or London?
I always figured that there were only two types of bands when it came down to it: those who do it cos they love making music and those that do it cos they want to make a career out of it (the two categories aren’t mutually exclusive by any means). But living in Brisbane has proved me wrong. There’s a third category. The ones that are very adept at filling in the grant and funding and award applications and then tailoring their sound to fit. It’s just plain weird – and surely missing a fundamental point somewhere down the line?
On the whole, I don’t care about alleged conflicts of interest. I think that stuff is mostly unavoidable in a small town. But I do think that if Arts or Trade or Tourism QLD are thinking they’re getting a chance to push Brisbane as a viable (national and international) City of Culture in return for all the money they’re pumping into the music industry up here then, in the main, they’re deluding themselves. Folk promote the bands they know shepherded by other folk they know. That’s only natural. And I agree with you that QMusic has done a great job in centralising and promoting music for a certain sector of the music community. (Jeez Louise! They’re indirectly responsible for me living here!) But you sure as fuck ain’t going to get cultural change that way, when everyone’s too scared to speak out for fear of offending someone else, and when the money continues to be circulated around the same bunch of people.
The most telling quote from the recent Big Sound convention was its curator Graham Ashton talking on Mess And Noise about how inspired he’d been by the Azerrad book Our Band Could Be Your Life. So inspired that he decided to dedicate his life to music. I believe him. And that’s great. But then you look at the bands that Big Sound had play at their showcases and BARELY ANY OF THEM HAS THE SLIGHTEST RELATION TO ANY OF THE BANDS FEATURED IN AZERRAD’S BOOK. Barely any of them would have been worthy of even a second glance by Azerrad or myself or our colleagues, back then or today. Doesn’t anyone see the irony in this?
Of course, this is only my opinion. But I would humbly suggest I do have a certain form, and experience, in this.
P.S. The mention of folk who buy records in their hundreds of thousands was a direct reference to Silverchair. Indeed, as it was in the same paragraph that I was talking about Silverchair I’m not quite sure how it could have been construed as anything else. I am happy, of course, to be relieved of the notion that Silverchair actually shift that many units.