Brian Eno Says…

“And then another crop of questions:

If you know you’re probably going to sell several million albums on the strength of your track record, should you remain consistent to that track record?

Are you deceiving people by moving off in new directions?

Do people value you for your consistency or your surprises?

It’s easy for a theorist (normally someone who isn’t selling 20 million records) to answer these questions.

Brian EnoNaturally, he or she will recommend the supposedly riskier choice, releasing the weirdest and most extreme album possible. But this apparently heroic stance is based on a romantic view of what artists do: the idea that they drag benighted publics into shocking new worlds for their own good. There’s a certain medicinal note to the whole process — if you don’t like it, it must be doing you good.

Pop music has never really been like this: Its practitioners don’t usually shield themselves behind the shimmery veils of High Art, dividing the world into insiders and outsiders; they expect to be liked (or at least talked about) by significant numbers of people. They want to be part of a world that excites them, not way out beyond it.

Actually, I can’t think of any artist I know who is not concerned about the reactions of his or her listeners: not with a view to pandering to them, but with a view to not disappointing their trust.”

~Brian Eno
Bringing Up Baby
Rolling Stone, November 18, 1991

Also published on Medium.

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