(Originally written 08/01/2015)
Would you still like or listen to your favorite artist if you found out they didn’t really write their songs, like they claim to have?
For decades, it’s been a well known “secret” that the music industry and the entire entertainment industry as a whole has been steeped in lies and deceit, illusions and smoke and mirrors. We often hear stories from those that seem voiceless or even powerless, about the theft of their art, be it a writer claiming Hollywood stole their book story line or script, or a music producer claiming a big label jacked their beat. Sometimes the originators are successful in recouping losses and/or getting their name rightly appropriated, such as recent lawsuits by the Marvin Gaye estate who accused Pharell Williams and others of infringing on their rights. But for someone who is not as well known as Marvin Gaye, the battle is presumably much more difficult to prevail in.
But what these bigger cases do, is allow us to not only know that this goes on, and goes on often, but that it probably happens on a much larger scale, in much larger amounts, than we are actually privy to, or perhaps even realize. When we hear about lawsuits such the aforementioned, MArvin Gaye case, we often shake our heads in shameful disbelief, share a moment of compassionate joy for the artist and/or family that wins such suits, and then go back to our daily routines, which are probably accompanied by a soundtrack that includes an endless list of infringers. Usually, unknowingly. But what about the unknown artist who contributes millions of dollars worth of work to the music industry who is not only never credited for such work, but also never paid? The artist with a God-given talent superior to most, but is treated inferior to all? And what I’ve learned in more recent time, whether television, film, music or media, the writer is often treated the worst of all, despite being the most integral and valuable to the entire creative process. In film we salute directors for choosing the camera angle or actors for an incredible portrayal of such and such character; in music we adore the karaoke puppets with the mic in hand, or the comedian or late night host who spews the jokes, humor and commentary of another. Now don’t get me wrong, each of these respective roles is an art in and of itself, and this is not to take away anything from the talents of those individuals. But to act like the very person who is the content creator, the visionary, the originator, doesn’t even exist or is a mere blurb in the credits, or even worse, which is often the case, to not even give them their proper credit for such imaginative works, is the biggest fraud and deception the entertainment industry creates. Whhile most of us unsuspectingly, feed the machine our hard-earned money, making them bigger, richer and more powerful against what they’d have you believe is just a lowly writer.
Now that diatribe, or preamble if you will, was a precursor to what this piece is actually about. Which is, “Would you still like or listen to your favorite artist if you found out they didn’t really write their songs, like they claim to have?”