Sunday, March 3, 2013

Controversy: Are Self-publishing Musicians Worthy of Recognition?

Domina Catrina Lee, Trurl, Manning, Klaus Schulze, Todd Rundgren, Stevie Wonder, Jean-Michel Jarrre, Vangelis, The Psychedelic Ensemble, Herbie Hancock, all have one thing in common: They have all produced albums on which they were pretty much the sole musicians. What they don't all have in common is that only half were self-recorded, self-produced, and self-published. Perhaps you can guess which of those esteemed artists are which?

Bandcamp, soundcloud, etc., etc. Direct-to-consumer music, bypassing the music publishing companies, the agents, even the critics. And why not? Who is to say that the music published through the publishing "industry" is the only music worth hearing--who are they to decide what we--what I--should and shouldn't like?

I've come in contact with some outstanding composer, musicians, songs and songwriters that were self-published without the aide or backing of professional publishing houses:  Trurl, Big Big Train, The Tea Club, The Psychedelic Ensemble, Jason Hart, 3RDegree, maudlin of the Well, and Domina Catrina Lee are a few that come off the top of my head. This latter one, Domina Catrina Lee, is my favorite story.

     Domina Catrina Lee is a homeless person in Singapore. She lives with a battered guitar and a lap top with a computer program (MIDI Just Intonation) that enables her to compose the amazing music that is rumbling around inside her. When I heard--and immediately bought--her 2010 production Songs from the Breastbone Drum, I tried my hardest to get her some attention from within the world of music lovers, afficionados, and so-called 'experts.'
     To no avail. No one would give her album a try (even though you could listen to it for free on her website!) And this despite a rave review from AllAboutJazz's Robert Bush (October 10, 2010). Is it mysogyny? Snobbery? Elitism? Is prog world a world of arrogant, self-satisfied male chauvanists? Is it a world limited to the moneyed--both as listener and artist? Why can't a truly gifted artist like Domina Catrina or a pro like the man behind The Psychedelic Ensemble get the same attention that one-man acts Todd Rundgren, Klaus Schulze, Jean-Michel Jarre and Stevie Wonder got in the 1970s?
     I'd like to think that the musical niche with which I self-identify is less racist, prejudiced and snobbish as the general population. I may be wrong.

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