On minions, piñatas, and open wallets

Someone got very excited about one of the new Jay-Z songs, so I was going to give the album a listen, but it turns out that it's only released to Certain People, and I am not one of The Chosen.

I realize that was supposed to make me all excited about this album (OMFG! IT'S SO EXCLUUUUSIVE!!!! OMG! OMG! I HAVE NO SELF-ESTEEM! OMFG!), but frankly, it just annoyed me. I feel like Jay-Z's output is completely uneven these days, and this whole thing just underscores the impression I have that he's really kind of lost interest in music. I mean, if he's getting paid by corporate deals in advance of actual album sales, and money is all that matters, well, why should he break a sweat and make good songs? He gets paid the same for crap, and making crap's a whole lot easier.

And it turns out things aren't working out so well for The Chosen, either. The app is buggy and annoying, and it's asking for personal information, which people resent. Quoth that article:

As apps gain popularity, musicians and companies are feeling their way through the new rules of digital etiquette. Michael Schneider, co-founder and chief executive of Mobile Roadie, a popular supplier of music apps, says that requiring users to share their app activity on social media is especially problematic.

"Top of the list is don't force people to log in. I think that's wrong and it turns fans off," he said. 

I would say it turns fans off, plus it turns off would-be fans who resent being treated like big, open wallets that some wealthy entertainer feels entitled to vacuum out at their whim. I don't much care for the music of Barbra Streisand or Justin Beiber, but I actively despise the way they treat their fans--it's money-grubbing manipulation worthy of any cult leader. I don't love Kid Rock's music, either, but I don't avoid his output at all costs because I can't stand the very idea of him, you know?

Obviously, I'm all for artists being able to make a living. But I think there's always a temptation (for authors as well as musicians) to treat fans like little minions who shall do your bidding, or like piñatas that you whack with a stick whenever you want some more money. And when you do that, and you discover that you have fewer fans than you did before, you can even delude yourself into thinking is a good thing, because those are your true fans. But in reality, what you are doing is 1. developing a personality disorder, and 2. finding people whose personality disorders further enable your own. Read Mommie Dearest if you want to know where that's going to take you....