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Musical Integrity: Should Performers Only Be Creators?

Abstract: The music industry has always looked down on musical ‘faces’ who have nothing to do with music production or creation. Is this snobbery justified or are they different skills that should be treated with different forms of appreciation? Or should this distinction warrant a new kind of appreciation for creators – one that’s separate from admiration of the performer?

Here’s a (probably) familiar situation for any independent music fan (you are Y):

rihanna performing liveX: I love Rihanna; she’s so great

Y: Yeah, her music’s pretty fun, but she doesn’t write any of it so…

X: Who cares? She’s way better than [insert cool unsigned artist Y likes here]

Y: Well, at least they write their own music though – like, I have way more respect for people who actually write their own stuff.

X: But Rihanna’s such a great performer – she’s a part of the music without being a part of the music, if you get me.

Y’s defence is one I have used more times than I can count in my lifetime, and I doubt it’s one I’m likely to stop using, but, to be totally honest, it’s not one I’ve actually examined in much detail at all.