Finding The Musical “One”: Art and Relationships

Finding The Musical -One-A couple of months ago, I wrote about how Amanda Palmer (singer and performance artist) characterized her art as a way of building relationships with audiences. She talks about art as a way to make oneself vulnerable and enable connections with other people. Her words resonated with me as a new-ish blogger who struggles with the balance between the personal and the professional in this public “performance” space. Building relationships is hard, and creating any sort of media for others to consume lays the soul a bit barer than we may be comfortable with.

I think Palmer’s words might also resonate with Taylor Swift, who, whether you like her music or not*, has a very impressive track record. Since the beginning of her musical career, when she was a teen, she was written her own music. Recently, Swift has also shown her business chops, most notably by pulling her songs from Apple Music until they revised their royalty policy for artists.

But the reason she comes to mind today is an op-ed she wrote in the Wall Street Journal (an op-ed that sadly lives behind a firewall, hence my link to an article about it as well as the original source) about how she hopes to use her music to create relationships with her listeners:

There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people’s lives forever. The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling . . . Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past. However, some artists will be like finding “the one” . . . As an artist, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our fans.

There’s a huge body of research showing that art elicits emotional responses from people–a uniquely human phenomenon, and a likely reason why there is evidence of art across times and cultures and societies. That hasn’t changed in modern times. Artists like Swift and Palmer are successful when their words and melodies touch a vulnerable place in a listener’s heart, even as they make themselves vulnerable in the creation of them.


*Despite having written about Swift twice, I have to confess: Not a huge fan. I like her newer stuff better than the old, though.

2 thoughts on “Finding The Musical “One”: Art and Relationships

  1. In our artist roles, our goal is to express an inner vision. Ultimately, we want to affect someone, and in doing so, create a relationship – seen or unseen. The art is merely a channel to make a connection, be it photography, singing, drawing, needlepoint or what have you.

    The other edge of that sword is that vulnerability comes with it. Artists, almost be definition, see and experience through their senses differently that most – e.g. more sensitive to tonality or spacial relationships or subtle nuances in color changes, for instance. Expressing that “different view” exposes it to potential ridicule, ugly criticism, etc. It’s one reason many artists struggle emotionally.

    On the other hand, a song, a poem, a painting can deeply resonate (literally resonate vibrationally) with a like vulnerability in the observer. Everyone knows that more sad songs get played when we’re sad! It’s essentially an exchange of vulnerability between artist and observer. It “touches” you.

    Like so many professional artists, their professional expression is deeply sourced from within their “personal.” Music producers drive hard to get singers to voice from deep within themselves in order to bring their professional “content” alive. A little vulnerability goes a long way.

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