Artists and business
I was shocked when I learnt that in music industry, sometimes it is the market researcher who is leading the production, rather than the artist. (The case I heard was the South Korean companies.)
There seem to be good reasons for this. From a business point of view, good producers have good understanding of the industry and the current trends to make the good decisions. And market research is extremely important for the music to be popular among the correct target audience. So the whole production should be audience-oriented, the company understands the market demand and produce the music that fits the demand.
This is so wrong.
Artists should be the leaders
It is the unique artistic expressions that give the music industry so much real value, not the demand-supply business model. Art, unlike other material products, has its intrinsic values. These values come from artists’ inspirations and hard work, and are expressed in the artworks that are created. Artists are the ones who create and express these values for the audience to enjoy. In order to create, artists should be the ones drawing inspirations and choosing what to express.
However, the reality is the reverse. The market researchers, who are not artists themselves, are trying to produce artworks as business. By analysing the target audience, they try to understand what kind of songs to sing, what kind of singers, what kind of outfits would be successful in attracting the audience. Then the artist “draw inspirations from the market researches” and “express what is demanded”. Essentially the whole flow is dictated by the business people, not artists. This deviates from the idea of artistic expressions being the work of the artists. Market researchers are meant to supplement the artists, not to exploit the artists.
I think the underlying issue here is the goal of the music industry. Market researchers are aiming for the monetary gains. For them, the artists or even the whole industry are merely tools. Apparently some artists are buying this idea and willing to follow instructions for either the popularity or the money. But I believe for the audience and the artists, they want to have real artworks that come from the artists themselves, artworks that express the artists’ ideas and feelings. Or at least it used to be the case.