22 April 2014

Amy Lynn and the Gunshow: Firing on all cylinders for their debut album: “Don't Trip on the Glitter”

"Don't Trip on the Glitter", Online Image Bandcamp 21 April 2014,
< http://f0.bcbits.com/img/a0369820213_10.jpg >

There's something about sax, soul and sass powered group, Amy Lynn and the Gunshow, that makes one believe they have already long discounted and dismissed the fears many groups develop when prepping a sophomore album –also known as the dreaded “sophomore slump.” Yet, one would be pleasantly surprised to find the Gunshow actually only at their “Freshman first,” so to speak. Dropping a week from now, “Don't Trip on the Glitter” is the title of the Gunshow's debut LP and the band could not be more ready to explode onto the scene.

Despite “Glitter” only being the Gunshow's first record, my impression of the group standing ahead of the typical curve has to do with how it has managed to, by applying just the right amount of change, sagaciously evolve from the already appealing form they presented with their last EP, “Clearly” –the work that first introduced me to the Gunshow. back in August 2012. The Gunshow's instrumental finesse, combined with Amy Lynn's audacious vocal fortitude back then, made it undeniable that they were only going to improve, given plenty of time and space to create; a comfortably made foresight now seen coming to light with the release of two enticing singles (“Remember (Walking In The Sand)” and “Don't Trip on the Glitter”) and a major cable worthy-music video for the titular track (See below).

Leading lady, Amy Lynn, went all out, sharing, with me, her feelings on the band's latest developments, release date excitement and a bunch of creator-anecdotes, both amusing and insightful, that have come about during the time leading up to the record's completion...



17 April 2014

Breaking free of the broken record: Misogynistic misgivings in the music industry

A new step in stopping the sexism that so often comes from the music industry's stereotypes...
Ross, Erin "Musicogyny Logo" 16 April 2014


Social justice isn't my thing. That's not to say I do not believe in causes of a social justice nature but it certainly isn't the vector I devote my time to the way someone in that field does, much the same way I check in with new songs and musicians who break onto the scene every morning when my computer finishes loading.

Nonetheless, what is there to do when those two things come crashing together and are so intertwined, that a set of isolated discussions just cannot happen? Then imagine a spotlight is placed upon the mix –and not only for a moment but perpetually– and kept in place so no one forgets about what is being addressed.

Lately, the music industry seems to be taking more note of the ubiquitous problem of misogyny (as well as overall, gender-based mistreatment) Such notice is a good development but, the state of things remains on such a macro level of analysis that it can feel like no one is going past the primary acknowledgement that “there is a problem with this kind of behavior.”

Myself and a group of other professionals, Emily Gonneau, Alison Lamb, Lucy Blair and James Martin, all of whom I share a midem-blogging bond with, have stepped up to place the spotlight on this topic and keep the discussion around it both active and evolving, in hopes that truly divergent change can finally emerge. Musicogyny is the name given to this idea-turned-safe-sharing outlet, and, our aspiration is that this platform will carve a new, effective path for moving away from misogyny and make the community behind the world's music, a better, happier place to work, play and explore.

On the other hand, once anyone starts to dis-assemble and discuss a particular misogynistic or gender-inappropriate experience with, for example, an artist, music video or, a comment made in an interview, the internet becomes so loaded with sides taken on the one issue that the common desired end goal of “let's stop this altogether” ends up drowning in the noise of excess talk.

Does it appear a little extreme to simply get so serious about such a intense issue, as the chosen way to start the day? Maybe it is. Conversely, it's equally as easy to ask, “Why not now?”

One would think if the negative judgement of a person based on their gender is seen so clearly cut as a wrong form of behavior, it would have died off ages ago. The music industry, being as rife with
pre-conceived notions about one's individual character, based on things like genre preference and or sub-cultural pursuance (or lack thereof) probably plays a significant role towards why seemingly basic logic gets thrown out the window and left to blow in the wind. Music being a subjective field and human nature being the epitome of gray areas of discussion, the difficulty in progress starts to become more obvious. The individualized nature of how music makes us feel and what/where we apply it in our lives, makes the idea of putting an “absolute” on some piece of the industry behind it, look like an inherent impossibility.


What if it didn't have to be that way though?


Music and the like or dislike thereof are subjective, yes. However, just because a person works with a flexible and creative medium does not mean the long existent, inclusion of gender negatives on music's professionals, has to be looked upon as something that has to remain proportionately flexible, and infinitely non-judged, the way we try not to judge the commodity in which music professionals engage. Music industry professionals need separation from the nature of the commodity. Even if one works with material that addresses all manner of emotional variables, that does not automatically attach all, or even necessarily any, of those variables to an individual in question.

If a person assembles parts of weapons for a living, should that default them to assumptions of having, or needing to have, let's say, an aggressive personality, or, be of a certain gender that predominately uses said weapon, in order to do their job effectively? No.

It's the proximity of an individual to a generalized set of field-based stereotypes, that gets them caught in the bigger net of stereotype-fueled negative talk around gender, even if that specific person functions neutrally in a particular field. Whether it be music, dance, armed forces, science, manual labor in technical work, politics...any one of these areas could be swapped out with one another and I'm sure each would unearth similar macro vs. micro analysis conflict that prevent the professionals therein from breaking free of “the bigger issue” of gender-bias and all the down talk that comes with it. Still, why not hook macro together with micro intervention and have them support, rather than oppose, one another in pursuit of removing a problem like gender judgement?

It may be much easier said than done to imagine a field of occupation without stereotypes whatsoever (I can strive and dream!) but the continuing existence of one kind of stereotyp(ing) in music does not mean every type has to get a pass. We can choose to start tackling one piece at a time and start with gender based misgivings (micro alteration) but execute the tackling of this topic with a no-nonsense approach, saying “ANY gender based mistreatment is simply not welcome” (macro alteration). The two can coexist and collectively work to improve the structure of the music industry.


It's important to remember that while stereotypes exist in a vacuum alongside a grain of truth, those grains usually reside in a period long past, have been steadily mutated over time, and, are only sustained into the present by people believing and acting as though that time of origin is much more recent than reality would otherwise reveal.


The creative character ingrained into music's industry should not be the excuse for inappropriate judgement but instead, should be looked to as a source of inspiration for unexpected ways of stopping gender based perceptions where they have gone wrong.


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Share your story directly through here (Anonymity is available):


If you don't have a negative story to tell (which is a good thing, let's keep it that way!) you can still show your support for change, and for those brave enough to share their experiences in pursuit thereof, in the following places:

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Twitter (@Musicogyny)
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10 April 2014

We need to be more prudent about choosing our “exes”

Some of the recent music business related headlines that have fluttered about many social media dashboards presented a contradictory set of approaches for that cornerstone of a conundrum that is “making it” as a musician.

Turn to face one corner and the subject of streaming gives off both promising and pitiful vibes, depending on with whom one chooses to converse.

Take an about face and the ultimate hot commodity headline of Wu-Tang's One-Copy-Only album painlessly fills up an entire page of Google search results.

This trio of outlooks and methods need also include a second outcry in the (streaming is) "pitiful category," emotionally and numerically validated with one skim over of Bette Midler's poor return on millions of Pandora song plays.

These elements do not initially come across as relevant to one another beyond their relevance as music industry topics but the fact of the matter is that the coexistence of a one-album cut “stunt” and thousandths of individual cents on the dollar as payment shows that right now, the music industry is undecided on which “ex” is best to sustain a big chunk, if not the majority, of current business so that the talented musician can “make it.”


Mass material for the fans and at the expense of the artist (Streaming)

OR

Exclusivity by the artist which will exclude many (or in Wu Tang's case all but one) fans.


Okay, to be fair, exclusion and excluding essentially mean the same thing, but, when it comes to music, where, when and to whom you present those words can change those terms from sounding positive and appealing, to negative and condescending. This is the core of the disparity I see existing between the music makers and the music enjoyers. Like an unwanted but unavoidable elephant in the room. (Oh wait, that's the 'exposure (discovery) elephant.' Sorry Consequence of Sound!)

Wait though:.

Consequence of Sound is merely bringing its own important “ex” to the party and going by their set of priorities, neither streaming at the benefit of the fan, nor a component of super-rarity, are a good answer, let alone the “right” one. Music journalist colleague, David Greenwald, even touched on a slice of CoS's exposing of the discovery problem, when he mentioned an issue with the liking of albums but the lack of inclination and or time to listen more than during the immediate window after first drop/attainment:


The “ex” analogy could just keep going by simply asking why a cat fight over “Who's the best ex?” hasn't broken out yet. Mild hilarity would ensue.

Nonetheless, jokes and metaphors aside, the question does bear some actual weight worth a good old compare-and-contrast talk. Realizing, even with the cyclical nature of many things (e.g. in fashion, everything old is eventually new again), that music will never go back to the kind of severely hierarchical, “record label is king” model that made so many of the people we revere as timeless greats, who they are today, what is the optimal ratio of coexistence for these distribution and availability pathways that won't let itself slant too far in favor of one crowd over the other?

Releasing only one of something and pouring the energy of what would normally be a multiple-copy release, into a single piece of work, is certainly going to leave plenty of room for a micro-reviewing of quality and provision for extra special components to the umpteenth degree if one so chooses to include such things. The problem with that strategy is that the existence of only one of anything is desired only as much as its demographic are aware of its creators and have an affinity for them to proportionally match the commodity's scarcity. In other words, form a band tonight and announce there will only be one of your album, signed and authenticated by tomorrow and no one is liable to offer millions of dollars, so unlike Wu-Tang, with their pre-existent reputation and awareness, bread for the artist turns into something more like just an idea of crumbs.

Then again, it's clear that having millions and millions of songs accessible with only a flick of a finger or click of a touch pad only amounts to millions in material for the fans and library bragging rights for the “winning” database but not anywhere even near that in sustainable revenue for the artist. Let's not even venture past that to the discussion of what drives fans to like or not like any particular voice/band/superstar personality, as that's viewing the industry with the thinking that consumers are constantly wearing a lens showing their process of emotional evaluation toward the material to which they enjoy listening.

(Side note: See Brian Thompson's (a.k.a. thorny bleeder's) latest podcast episode titled, “What do fans want more than the music itself?” for a substantial discussion on the latter subject –without question, a meaty and important one. It just happens to be nothing short of an additional frustrating complicator in the midst of this specific discussion but do take it in for its own merits and value as a question worth exploring at length as he does here.)

It feels as though the industry is steadily being forced to exist and operate in this kind of fashion at present:



      You can only pick two...

This is perhaps a rather crude breakdown. (which can quickly be broken down into at least three more triangles per single point to more closely involve specifics like streaming vs. download vs. brick/mortar exclusives, too much choice vs. too little time to digest/discover...etc.) Still, no matter how many mini-branches into which this party is separated off, these three choices each serve as a label for an inherent “problem” in need of a “solution” that is so often tackled in the form of today's current and emerging “business models.” What's distressing is that they appear to either stay in direct flux with one another or at least one is left to a lesser wayside altogether, once any (re)new(ed) business model deems it too difficult to maintain their individual company objectives while equally attending to each necessity on the triangle.

(How) will the industry negotiate nurturing each of these aspects, given the continuously moving walk we seem to be on, that is hardly reducing the influence of technology and instantaneous access on our relationship with music and musicians? I don't have the answer but, for the moment, until something massive gives way, –whether that be society's viewpoint of what makes music “good” and “desirable,” the current reliance on internet use, or, what is deemed monetarily important, this triangle can probably be stitched in a blanket and draped right on top of the elephant to keep it warm, because neither is going anywhere. At least not by tomorrow anyway...

03 April 2014

There's a "major" problem with college sport employment

College athletes with unions and pay?
Will this lead to similar treatment for college musicians/dancers/actors?
"Football Music", Online Image, Amazon, 2 April 2014,
< http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71g9IRNEdbL._SL500_AA280_.jpg >


Approximately one week ago, during an average morning, a story emerged in the headlines that struck a nerve and immediately brought to the surface, reminders of that age old "sports v. arts" conundrum. This is something that has followed myself, and likely any other student dedicated to pursuing music in higher education, for the length of our time in the U.S. educational system itself.

The news at hand:

Football players enrolled at Northwestern University have been granted the right to unionize, based on the conditions of their time spent devoted to the sport and the nature of their relationship and responsibility to their team coaches in order to stay an active member of their team. 

A portion of the ruling achieved by a regional branch of the National Labor Relations Board and highlighted by the New York Times, outlines the following details of a football player's average level of commitment and places emphasis on the extremity of such as being a key justification for the change in title designation from amateur college athlete to employee:

“The players spend 50 to 60 hours per week on their football duties during a one-month training camp prior to the start of the academic year and an additional 40 to 50 hours per week on those duties during the three- or four-month football season,” the ruling said. “Not only is this more hours than many undisputed full-time employees work at their jobs, it is also many more hours than the players spend on their studies.”

Some of the benefits sought by students and their pro-union advocates, the College Athletes Players Association, or CAPA, are not unreasonable given the rough and physically risky nature of sports and football in particular. Eventual implementation of things like "concussion reform [and] improved medical coverage for athletes," two of the objectives mentioned via CBS Sports, do not incite the same kind of internal recoil as the prospect of these new employee-not-student athletes being paid salaries separate from what we know to be the traditional sport scholarships of colleges and universities. (Note: this ruling only affects private institutions.)

Nothing has kicked in yet and no numbers have flooded the web either but this connection between employee and getting paid leaves an opening for asking,

What about other students whose major requires: massive time, attention, dedication, risks injury and subsequent loss of scholarship, and, like sports, involves "performance" for the benefit of not only college and university attendees but the general public as well?

After so much talk about sports, it may appear as though the train of relevant thought has long gone off the tracks on this one. However, re-read that question, mull over for only a moment and it probably is not hard to see where this is going: Music majors. Particularly performance majors. 

While I am no chief authority on collegiate sport regulations and while I am of the understanding that there have been practices executed by figures of authority in collegiate sport settings that are most likely, and at the very least, questionable, this isn't about saying that sports players in colleges are asking for discussions is a nonsensical request. Like any system that remains unchanged and actively in place for an extended period of time, there are undoubtedly pieces of said system that are probably in need of review, evaluation, change and or overall elimination in order to fit with the changing times. However, the general appearance of this problem and the description of justification for what makes college students who play sports, markedly different, and now potentially entitled to payment for their "services," just sounds like a classic concentration on athletics as being its own entity worth separation, with a complete disregard of the double standard that is forming by not considering that other students whose lives are heavily filled by their collegiate pursuits, could see a parallel and want (and in concept deserve) employment designated payment too.


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So many aspects of the defense for CAPA, as to why the football players at Northwestern need employment classification, can be easily likened to the career of an aspiring collegiate orchestra player or vocalist. Hours and hours of daily practice, both self-conducted and group held via rehearsals, obligation to a "team" in the form of whatever group(s) a musician is required to participate in so as to not only hone their skill but fulfill scholarship requirements, control of conductors over said groups with regard to individual placement and or inclusion in a group entirely, based on performance, expectation to perform in institution-hosted concerts as well as concerts often open to the general public, much like college sports games available to students and the general public, and of course the risk of injury with the extreme amount of physical exertion necessary to complete all that practice and performance time. This being in addition to the pile of non-music related studies that music majors have to do, just like an athlete does and the various GPA benchmarks required by higher education to retain their aid.

As an example, the policy for scholarship retention upheld by the Boston Conservatory includes these stipulations posted to the official Boston Conservatory website: 

(Northwestern's information on financial aid for undergrads in their Bienen Music School does not specify beyond "demonstrat[ion of] remarkable excellence" how, or how much, the "selective" merit based scholarship awardees are chosen and or how they retain the funds.)

Awards are based primarily on an appraisal of the student’s ability as demonstrated in the audition. The student’s academic standing and the needs of the institution also play a role in awarding Conservatory Scholarships... 
...Scholarships are awarded with the understanding that the recipient will be available for performance activities as might be required by the Conservatory. It is understood that some of these activities, such as Musical Theater & Opera Orchestras, accompanying, chamber ensembles, Dance & Theater performance, etc., may be in addition to curricular requirements. 

Requirements for Conservatory scholarship renewal include the following as well, also stated on the conservatory's website:

  • Successfully earned enough credits to equal full-time enrollment
  • Have satisfactorily participated in all assigned ensembles as determined by the Directors and the Division Chairs
  • Must have achieved a grade of no lower than 3.0 (B) in the major subject areas
  • Must have achieved a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.7 (B-)

There's nothing wrong with collegiate athletes working to self-advocate and there's nothing wrong with trying to ensure that they themselves take better caution when it comes to their health, well being and maintenance of their other academic studies, in order to leave with a solid understanding of many subject areas beyond athletic training. Nonetheless, clearly if this change of view and accompanying policy changes trend to other private high education institutions across the U.S., the result will be a plain dismissal toward other student fueled areas of similar responsibility to one's passion and talent. Athletics shares these realities, both official and heavily implied  with not only music but fields like dance, theater and other creative pursuits. (No one makes you drill plays on your own time, or run scales late at night, but, your skills won't get any better if you don't and you have to keep up...)

Whatever the reason, these other areas do not even come into play as a side note worth partial analogy, even when so much is structurally comparable. One has to wonder if seeing collegiate sports in this new light has the potential to domino over to other majors as well, or, if singling out those in sport will be as far as the discussion goes, as is so often the case with U.S. curricular priority.

27 March 2014

Rock or roll with it? The business and commonality conflict of music

Topics and thoughts at Music Tech Fest keep going, long after the last hacker goes home...
"Music Tech Fest Logo", Online Image, "Music Tech Fest", 26 March 2014,
< https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/t1.0-9/942844_328285317299155_436599020_n.jpg >


This past weekend, I spent my time taking in the knowledge and unorthodox visions of many people, from all across the spectrum of music and technology, thanks to the recent expansion of London's Music Tech Fest and its decision to include a visit to Boston as part of its growth. Following this excitement, a small but insightful point made over the three days, connected with a piece of current news, bringing one festival-inspired thought outside of the Microsoft NERD Labs for a deeper discussion.


20 March 2014

The chain reaction riling up the (daily) beast

What "points" are we trying to make as music journalists?
"Writing", Online Image, Photos-Public-Domain, 20 March 2014, < http://www.photos-public-domain.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/writing.jpg >

Just this past Tuesday, a powerfully-headlined piece went live, over at The Daily Beast, that set Twitter temporarily ablaze with comments, insights and knee-jerk reactions by music writers from various publications of their own or to which they contributed. (See responses and various sets of two cents from Pitchfork, Flavorwire, Vulture, ClassicalLite.) I had almost taken it upon myself to do the same in a timely fashion for this one article but, decided to hold off and let the material sink in with everyone and marinate on the web a bit before doing anything, should I decide to take action at all. 

This is a decision that panned out well.


12 March 2014

Pick a card, any card! (but don't show it to me!)

Being a celebrity musician is like sitting down to play a card game...
"Poker Playing" Online Image, Wallpapers for PC, 12 March 2014 < http://www.wallpaperdt.biz/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Poker-playing.jpg >

Hey look, with this new deposition development, Justin Bieber is hoarding headline space yet again.

That is all the superficial introduction needed to dive right into today's words on celebrity and consequences, which will start with this question and goes from there.

Are you making a conscious decision to walk into the media shark tank as much as a student who majors in 15th century European philosophy with a minor in forensic psychology, knows and makes a conscious decision, to pursue a pair of fields that have slim and or competitive needs?

Even if one doesn't know what a frenzy the media and public eye can be, age is not a factor. If you are willing to go into the business of entertaining people, there is no paparazzo in the world who can, without intentionally provoking (and then subsequently deserving punishment), force an artist, comedian, musician, public speaker, dancer or pop singer, to do things that are unbecoming of a decent level of personal decorum and restrained etiquette.

Age and an unexpected lack of maturity doesn't hold much weight, unless one wants to inadvertently start “class”-ifying specific genres or musical crowds. This would lead to a unfortunate concentration on those old lines of “high or low” art because plenty of musicians are put on track at young ages far below those of the median 15-17 year olds that burst onto the pop/contemporary scene nowadays, all to develop prestigious careers. (The individual desire v. parental provocation into doing such is another animal of ethical discussion entirely.)

Many of these kids and teens are thrust into situations that require just as much, if not more, personal awareness and control, as things like international traditions and customs can play a much bigger role, since things like masterclasses, guest speaking engagements and even meetings with political or public figures in other countries can be part of many non mainstream musicians' lives and extend past just traveling to a country to play a concert and otherwise keeping to themselves. Take this view, shift it to adults and the “expected/understandable behavior, because being scrutinized is hard” excuse loses even more weight.


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Some emerging and quickly rising artists of younger age, who embody both a high level of musical esteem and a high level of public decorum, are the musicians on the roster of Young Concert Artists, a NYC based, non-profit arts organization “dedicated to discovering and launching the careers of exceptional, but unknown, young musicians from all over the world,” as described on their official website. YCA's artists, who currently encompass a variety of instruments, are each provided with a three fold set of major benefits upon meeting the necessary standards of YCA's selective auditions. These benefits include: a concert series, artist management (under which career guidance is a specifically targeted element), and, educational activities. Genre focus of YCA aside, the work this organization does, with particular attention paid to the aforementioned career guidance factor, shows that regardless of why any of those young artists is pursuing their career in performance, they do so without bringing down the company by running off the rails, even though they are putting themselves in a position to be publicly scrutinized, artistically critiqued and having to keep to a strict standard of practice. Plus, due to their ages, these musicians could be given the same “lack of maturity” excuse card that any unwinding teen pop idol would be given by at least half the public amidst a hot tabloid story.

Basically, what it comes down to, is this: Existing with or diving into an activity that will encourage an above average level of celebrity in one's life is a neutrally affected affair that can only go either well or poorly as a result of one's individual choices.

Of course, in an effort to put forth some fairness, flip things around on the public for a moment and when thinking about some of the “media scandals” for mainstream celebrity musicians that the public “loves to love” and “loves to hate,” when these situations pop up and then blow up overnight, many of these flash-in-the-pan stories are incredibly clear cut with regard to “was this a good decision or bad decision?” Then, on top of that, the “problems worth talking about” are shallow when compared to other gossip inducing topics some artists have had to contend with and respond to, that also prompt a description of “dicey” but, deservedly so.

Example:
Justin Bieber taking a piss in a custodial bucket

Valery Gergiev being slammed for his political preferences because of the cross relevance to an ongoing, highly sensitive, social justice conflict.

Before going any further, to again show that this is not about making a pop v. traditional arts stack up (but thus far is just a coincidence in being such), Gergiev could be easily swapped out with someone like Kid Rock, who, in the past, has assertively and openly stated his clearly conservative values. (Simultaneously, Kid Rock is a more flexible individual who will equally take and give credit where and when it is due.)

If all this still isn't enough, a development on the U.S. political field that took place just yesterday can fit right in the conversation. During a scheduled procedure to put a state-oriented bill (HB286) dealing with sexual abuse prevention, up for a vote, some Utah legislators were forthcoming in discussing their own personal experiences with sexual abuse as children. (Side note: the vote passed second review at a count of 20-8 and is up for final third review, which, at this time of first publishing, is still pending but expected sometime today.) One individual who has been a critical and continual supporter of this movement for more prominent awareness and action is, Deondra Brown, member of the all-piano quintet, The 5 Browns. Brown was one of three women in the family-turned-piano-super group who has opened up about having been sexually abused by her father, and the group's former manager, Keith Brown. All three of the women siblings have certainly been through an unfair and unfortunate trauma that is of no shallow consequence.



What does this have to do with Justin Bieber visibly relieving himself in a bucket?


Each of the Brown women, along with their brothers, Gregory and Ryan Brown, have also placed and kept themselves in the public spotlight for their music, and, done many a performance for small, large, local and international audiences alike. One can plainly see a genuine problem and source of psychological stress with something like what the Browns have endured. Turn to quick and dirty tabloid-type media and something so serious could easily be used as a scapegoat for erratic behavior, if the Browns exhibited such. The key here is that they do not. No one is with them behind closed doors, 24 hours a day, to be sure, so it would be unrealistic to say they don't have more stressful days just like everyone does from time to time, that could come from any number of serious or trivial triggers. Pointing out the extremity of this severely negative portion of their lives is only intended as a balance to provide perspective, in terms of where, and how, we place the value of expectations from the "crazed media" and "chatter hungry public," against the value of individual self-awareness and self control when it comes to the increasingly prevalent scenario of, “John/Jane Doe, the new teenage music sensation.”

Genre, age, A-list, B-list, crazy past or average childhood...none of these things (should) matter where extreme behavior and artistic external presence is concerned. Even though musicians run the gamut of types of public images –all the way up to complete breakdowns– the fact is that they don't all do that. While everybody's story is different, precedent of one high profile musician who does not command controversial attention but can retain high fame, is enough to remind everyone that it doesn't matter whether it is framed as a stereotype or set of circumstances: an excuse is an excuse.

The late professor and author, Randy Pausch said, "You can't control the cards you're dealt, just how you play the hand." This is simultaneously true and false for the purposes of celebrity musicians. You cannot control what people think of you or how they react to you once you become famous but you can control whether you sit down and request a hand in the first place, as well as how much of it you want to put forth and reveal to the world once everyone knows who you are.

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