Everything that is ‘produced’ is by all means a ‘product’, no matter whether it’s done on a large or small scale. Not very romantic as an idea when it comes to art, I know, yet it makes sense isn’t it?

As a musician I’ve been lucky enough to taste both the so-called major publishing houses and the smaller ones, which are pretty often defined as independent companies or labels. 

According to my personal experience, I sense that this acknowledged independency relates to a “F**k the market, let’s do that!” kind of attitude, more or less. Maybe not that profitable, but still very cool. 

On average the difference lies in the ‘privilege’ (?) to call the shots, but in order to achieve some great results perhaps someone might be forced to avoid promoting lesser artists (or they simply couldn’t care less about it either).

Let’s now suppose we were not bound to profits (as long as we can at least partially control the financial exploitation of our work and its diffusion): risk would then be much more at hand, and far more appealing! Risk is an investment, and every investment hides potential risks, doesn’t it? 

Call me romantic, but in my eyes all this throbs with life. 

Today there are more and more examples of musical artists happily in charge of their own work, free contemporary repertoire choices, public persona and vision (not to mention their individual relationship with the Music History…): if we think of the American organisation Bang on a Can along with the related record label Cantaloupe Music, or some lively and uncompromising Italian ensembles/organisations like the Milan-based Sentieri Selvaggi or the younger Rome-based Musica del Vivo, we have a clear idea of what life as an artist is potentially like as soon as we leave the musical establishments bossing around the globe, to say the least.

While it’s true that it’s no one’s right to dictate what art really is or is not, let’s not forget that it may also have nothing to do with either pop-oriented marketing or elitism. Then what if it was based solely on our wish to communicate with other humans? Or on getting paid fairly for our work with no futile stardom involved? Furthermore, what if being an artist meant respecting other people’s taste, and composing honest music without blaming others for their own writing style?

In the end, we take into account carefully planned steps of some great master plan, but then we often daydream about the likes of Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree or what we got from Beethoven’s poignant deafness; we sign worthy nice guys and send the Beatles back home; we gasp at Zelter’s Erlkönig almost ignoring Schubert’s…

Let’s face it: we are not infallible.

But we all love surprises, don’t we? 

Whether we are record producers, performers, composers, music teachers, artistic directors, listeners, if we bet on something different we might discover something valuable. Also, we might not. And it is a position of power.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.