Re: Prix Ars Electronic 99 (Computer Music) 2 centimes...

Subject: Re: Prix Ars Electronic 99 (Computer Music) 2 centimes...
From: Scott Wilson (
Date: Thu Jul 08 1999 - 13:56:30 EDT

At 11:52 AM 07/07/99 -0700, Eric wrote:
>At 9:33 AM +1000 7/4/99, a l an b am f o rd wrote:
>>I think it needs to be said that the likes of Aphex Twin and Fennez do not
>>make buckets of loot from their music.
>Huh? Did Aphex Twin buy a tank (you know military vehicle) with his spare
>profits from music and just sit around and make music all day with no other
>source of income? This is what I seemed to gather from fans of his music.
>My impression is that he actually does make bucket loads of loot from his
>music. Fennesz (and others) on the other hand, probably don't clear nearly
>as much. By the same token, some people who play rock music are
>sickeningly rich, but one must not forget that most of them are incredibly
>poor too.

Okay, I've resisted commenting on this for a long time but here's MY two
cents. (Keep in mind that since I live in the US now, my two cents are
worth about $7.95 Canadian.)

I think this division between 'commercial' and 'academic' is getting a
little ridiculous. One of the great academic 'masters' (BTW, note that
there's no obvious female equivalent of this; academic 'mistress' sounds
awful!), Stockhausen, seems to make rather a lot of money from his work.
Hiring the Arditti Quartet and four helicopters to fly them around in can't
come cheap, nor maintaining his entourage. Of course much of this money
comes from 'official' sources, but in a late capitalist society, who are
they? (Sorry to wax all pomo economic, but who do you think pays for PAE,

One of the undergrads who works at the university radio station here
(where, BTW, they play Mr. S., Aphex, and Japanese noise stuff in immediate
succession) informs me that the new reissues of Stockhausen's electronic
stuff are priced rather high (i.e. over a hundred dollars). Does this make
Stockhausen 'commercial'? Is anyone saying that they wouldn't sell tons of
CDs if they could? As Eric points out in a later post, marketing has a lot
to do with it. Now people can view it as a form of prostitution if they
like, but is it really preferrable to present one's music as 'computer
music created at such and such University', to use Eric's phrase? Ten out
of ten for integrity I suppose, but minus several million in terms of
engaging an audience. And it seems to me that getting a tenured job in a
university, gaining a reputation in the 'academic' computer music world,
and maintaining funding for studios and departments, (not to mention
winning competitions, be it PAE, Bourges, or anything) all involves a great
deal of 'marketing', 'strategy', 'politics', and other dirty words that
we'd rather not associate with our art. It seems to me that this is just as
'commercial', it's just that the context of ivory towers allows us the
illusion of breathing purer air than our basement studio comrades. (Or at
least that we will be able to, if only we can get the keys to the upper
floors.) ;)

That's not to say that there isn't a great deal of sincerity on the part of
many or most of the music's practitioners, and of course the same holds
true of the 'commercial' people. It's just the reality of 'academic' or
'commercial' life. If living in the world that you're given is a crime, I
suppose we're all guilty.

Scott Wilson

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