Why do people write, paint, act, make music? What is there to gain from an artistic endeavor? Weird question, right? I thought so a couple years ago, now, not so much. The more I see how much of a crap-shoot it is for anyone to "make it" or essentially be able to engage an art in such a way that they can financially support themselves (let alone amass fame and riches), the more I start to wonder what the purpose of art is.
Maybe I started thinking about this when I realized commercial hip-hop has become more of a gimmick than an art form, though checks have gotten far larger than ever before. Regardless of how much money he manages to stack, I will forever be unable to respect Soulja Boy as an artist with any talent. A great marketer, yes; an artist, absolutely not. That said, it's abundantly clear that commercial success really cannot be used to gauge artistic merit, right? What is that pursue but money?
That one was a joke. I detest the pursuit of money as an ideal and I think art does too. The way I see it is that art is really all about connecting with people. It's rooted either in idealism or an arrogant belief in the fact that one's craft and efforts will eventually touch someone in a unique way and cause them to experience a reaction unique to that piece of are. If an artist manages to get enough exposure and connect with enough people, then the craft becomes lucrative and, perchance, the artist goes on to be special.
Then again, I might just be rationalizing my music pirating after the fact.