Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Subjectively better versus objectively better

Indie rock is largely about discounting hard work and cultivated talent in favour of more intangible qualities. No one here has a problem with this, since we're all aware that many of the most admired works of the past century followed this principle. But the thing is, the default advantages associated with work and talent are not arbitrarily handed out by some overseer; they are intrinsic to the very nature of work and talent themselves. In other words, if you keep working hard and developing your talents, you will eventually accrue enough advantage to overcome the disadvantage of anyone else's personal tastes being disposed against your favour. At that point, you will be the better band by all possible measures.

And if the scene continues to ignore you after that, it doesn't really matter, because objective talent can steadily deliver in a way that subjective aesthetics simply cannot. You will eventually make it, even if it takes much longer than expected. Once that happens, though, everyone loses. You end up looking bad for competing with bands below your paygrade. And they look bad because in a scene that's all about celebrating the underdog, suddenly you're shown to be the real underdog, not them. No one ends up looking good, obviously, so it's in everyone's best interest not to let this kind of thing happen too often.

Thus, we should keep in mind that in a scene where subjectively better bands are valued above objectively better ones, an objectively better band might still prove to be the better band overall. We'll find out in a year or so whether my argument is correct. And if I'm wrong, well, you probably won't chance to read this blog post to begin with!

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