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Only 378 pages left on your journey to becoming a rock star!

The definition of art

I wrote a lot about “real” artists already, I told you that there is “good” and “bad” art, and I also said that I want you to create “real” art with some “real value”. So before we continue, we’ll have to answer one very fundamental question:


What makes you a real artist? And what makes Justin Bieber a pure entertainer? Why is Bob Dylan a great artist, while most chart pop is just crap?

This is difficult to answer, as there is no clear definition of art. Some people will say that everything that’s being created by a human is art, while others will say that you’ll have to study art in order to become a real artist. And that’s all bullshit of course.

The best definition I found so far has to do with INTENTION.

Why are you playing an instrument? Why are you writing songs? Why are you recording them, and why are you trying to distribute and to sell them? Why are you doing all of this, what’s your intention?

A “real” artist creates music because he (or she) wants…

  • to create something new and revolutionary,
  • to create something that will affect people’s feelings,
  • to express his or her own feelings,
  • to communicate an important message,
  • to create something that will have an impact and that will last,
  • or that will even change the world.

A pure entertainer creates music only because he (or she) wants…

  • to create something that follow trends, in order 
  • to become successful,
  • to sell a lot of records,
  • to make it into the charts,
  • to have a lot of fans,
  • to be admired,
  • to be present in the media, and
  • to make a lot of money.

And if you consider all of this, then you’ll notice that almost all of today’s musicians are pure entertainers. Even today’s better “artists” mostly match the points in the second list.

That said, I would also like to note that most “real” artists also would like to sell a lot of records and to make some money of course. It’s not a bad thing to become successful, but it’s the starting point that matters – is your success the outcome of the fact that you’re producing great art, or are you successful just because that was your only goal to start with?

In the end this is also what this entire book is about. How can you become successful and make some real money be selling lots records, while creating art at the same time? That will be the most important question to answer in the following chapters.

It should also be noted that some people managed to create great art by mostly focusing on making money in the past (think of Motown Records again). That, of course, is a rare exception.

Finally I would also like to note that nobody fits just one of the extremes of course. Every artist would like to become successful to some degree, while even the worst entertainers may hope to create some real art one day.

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Chapter 4   •   Page 4 of 8

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