Artists Only Panel (Photo By Gary Miller)
Artists Only Panel
Austin Convention Center
The Internet is changing everything -- that much you already know. There are those at the forefront of the technologization of the music industry who are using these sweeping changes to their advantage, re-creating the business around their own vision of the way things should be and taking great pleasure in cutting out the middlemen. Public Enemy frontman Chuck D is doing exactly that, creating, promoting, broadcasting, selling, and distributing his product. Then there are those who know about the new technologies and how to use them, but have decided that art is art, and time spent marketing is time spent not making art. Peter Case, formerly of the Plimsouls and currently a solo artist, puts pencil to paper to write lyrics and picks up a guitar to write songs, and the fact that he can walk into any bar in the world and bring his music to people is the best measure of success. The Internet is a curiosity and a timesuck for some, like Austin's Ian McLagan, who, though he appreciates the contact, mostly dreads the amount of time it takes to interact on the level of personability that the Internet allows. Some artists are simply beyond the point of pushing a career, and are in it solely for the music and would rather just leave the business to someone else. Bernie Worrell, original P-Funk member: "I just take what God gives me, you know?" The most interesting meeting of viewpoints came between the ideas and innovations being espoused by Chuck D and the predicament country singer Terri Clark admitted being in. Clark has achieved fame in popular country music the time-honored way, by making pop music and landing on a major label that gets her songs on the radio. Chuck D, at one end of the stage, was relishing thoughts of the total displacement of A&R people, major record labels, and all the industry's attendant lawyers and accountants, while at the other end, Clark was resigned to being at the mercy of exactly those forces if she wanted to be successful in her field. The frontiers Chuck D is exploring in getting hip-hop to the people offered a perfect model by which the staid and stale country music business could recreate itself on the merits of artists like Clark, whose stature could make the powers-that-be more than a little nervous at the prospects of a democratization of their business and a loss of their meal tickets. Clark claimed she was "screwed" if she didn't get airplay on the radio, saying that maybe when she was done compromising her artistic integrity for the four remaining albums in her deal with Mercury, then she could "start my own thing like Chuck is doing." Worrell, seeing the necessity of cross-genre/cultural cooperation, acknowledged that most of Chuck D's comments were directed -- consciously or otherwise -- toward those in the position of Terri Clark. "You can do your own thing now," he chuckled. "Chuck will help you." With those kinds of alliances, maybe this Internet thing can work out after all.