The Automated Artist & The Benefits of Living Life as a Cyborg

This is not an anti-technology manifesto I assure you, instead I’m trying to figure out for myself the spectrum of intolerable human actions that prevents music from becoming a fully activated vehicle that can actually move forward in both artistic & business realms. Let’s first face the facts that the more authoritarian a music maker can become, the faster they can move.

Again, look no further at hip-hop or EDM … a single artist that needs no band for an audience that needs no live musicians. Who depends on no other music maker except what they need to download off of beatstars. Maybe they need to work with an audio engineer, but if they’re smart and willing to purchase and learn some basic software, that need too will also disappear.

Look no further than Jay Vance to show us how to cope with being a bandleader. Twenty years ago Vance was so disgusted with the human condition and the difficulties of being in a band that he built Captured! By Robots to fulfill his musical aspirations. Vance literally welded together a programmable heavy metal robot band which lets us know that he clearly craves the semblance of other human forms.

Again, there are no tears represented in this. No nostalgia for the olden days. I once fought the fight of “one for all and all for one.” Too many times I’ve fought and lost. And if you’re counting on someone to be on time and have gone over the music before you hit record … you better be ready to pay your engineer even when your musicians are late and clearly haven’t practiced the tune.

The downstream negative effects are nothing to take lightly. The administration for a bandleader is grueling. The bigger the band, the more texts, emails, phone calls, etc. Anything rescheduled basically doubles your work especially in the studio. A musician that cannot get time management under control so that they are prepared will make muddy “tapped out” musical decisions. They are winging it. This hurts the music, this hurts the band, this hurts the audience. Mistakes are made by everyone but how should they be tolerated and excused if they exist out of laziness and consistent lack of preparation.

I’m no exemption. I have to depend on technology more and more to keep me on a straight path because the outside free wheelin’ unattached world of scrolling is always right there. I have to have alarms set that drive my family crazy but I need to make sure I’m constantly on track. Recently I had to download a social media/website blocker called Freedom in order to limit my relentless self-abuse. I have embraced my cybernetic form and I am a better humanoid for it.

It takes 3-4 months to establish a good habit! Think of all the basic things we are all bad at. Don’t be shy. There’s a laundry list of what we as a species needs to be good at. Just look at how stupid traffic is. Indicators are on every car and yet … so many people don’t use them. I used to think it was out of spite for rules that people would avoid a necessary safety measure but now, I believe that some people just don’t have a goddamn clue. They literally don’t think about it. Maybe they’ve had some close calls but no real consequences to change their behavior or perhaps they really are a narcissistic piece of shit. Either way, people who study driving realize that we can’t be trusted. Now we are well on the way to becoming passive sitters while the machine does the rest.

Automation is what I’m talking about and I truly see how it has penetrated every nook & cranny of society … and I’m not mad at it. Musically it started with notation and in fine art, print making. Extrapolate on your own from there. It’s obvious when we see it manifest in labor and industry, but elusive as it creeps into the expressionistic. And while it frees up some time, it makes time for the artist to spend and fill.

It’s one thing if you’re an accomplished musician who does know how to communicate with expedience, manage a schedule, and have a high degree of integrity, but that’s still not enough. The task is now, your ability to create decent promotional materials and understand how to skillfully sell what you do. Can you program? What software are you able to operate? And on & on. Seriously let’s be reasonable, this doesn’t just take some youtube tutorials, no, this is going to challenge a human being emotionally & intellectually. I know, I’ve been there.

I don’t like computers I and I don’t enjoy typing. I’m a very physical and emotional person that has been forced by my love of music and art to change into the cyborg I’ve now become. My teenage rock’n’roll dreams did not have Excel spreadsheets in mind. You’re talking to a guy who used to spend hours with stamps and embossers making his own CD sleeves. I went through too much suffering but finally gave in and realized that the world is online and that I have to level up in a myriad of ways if I wanted to make the art I wanted to hear & see in the world. It works and I promise, everyone who goes through this technological flogging will come out with an upgraded sense of time & value.

If you’re behind the curve you’re going to want to believe that it’s the human messiness or the happy accidents that make a song great. This is a copout. People don’t dance and weep to mistakes, they dance to intentionality and killin’ grooves that follow precise patterns. Plus, it’s not like the machines are without the human touch. They exist because humans made them so, even the technology is going to have that “sacred” messiness that will get debugged in the next upgrade but always replaced with yet another wonderfully precious human flaw.

Our reasonable expectations for the machines are that they will always work optimally, so of course this has transferred to our expectations of each other. All the data that we could wish for is in our hands. Are we using it to become better humanoids or not? Are we even willing to search for our own bad habits long enough to grasp towards a brighter future by using our inventions for the greatest of outcomes?