Madonna’s not just the queen of pop; she’s the master of music trends.
Andrew Matson, a columnist for the Seattle Times, recently wrote a piece about Madonna’s current tour. As a set-up, he posted an amazing video exchange of Madonna and others from the New Music Seminar of 1984. The New Music Seminar has a history of bringing together leading minds in the art and business of making and promoting music.
Back in 1984, one of the discussions at the Seminar focused on the new kid on the block, MTV, and the transformation of video as an engine for growth and promotion.
Madonna might have been the youngest at the roundtable but that didn’t stop her from schooling her elders. Clearly, Madonna was not only aware of deepening her connection to her fans but also determined to inspire the next generation of artists. Neither of her aims, though, appeared good enough for John Oates of Hall & Oates. In addressing the proliferation of music videos, Oates smugly asks, “For the kids growing up, musicians have to now be actors?” He just wanted to be a musician.
Fair enough. However, isn’t it fair to expect an artist to think about their audience? And how to grow their audience? Is that why Madonna’s career has continued to grow, develop, and expand? After all, where is John Oates’ career?
Madonna countered Oates by pointing out that musicians aren’t just playing their music, they are performing their music. So the transition to putting that performance into a video could only enhance the experience for the audience.
We love the music of Hall & Oates. And, we loved their live performances. However, this small video snapshot captures a moment when one artist is clings to an old model and another sees an avenue for a new model.
The bottom line? When the focus is on connecting with an audience and broadening an audience, an artist is creating on the right avenue.
The kid who crossed music’s borderline is still leading the way.
- Bill Reichblum