This is mainly a question in terms of looking for commercial success. I have a particular paradigm for how I like to look at “artistry”, which I’ll use for example. My view for as long as I can remember is that there is a spectrum or continuum for creativity, where it can be a very ‘pure’ expression of art, or it can be commercially motivated. I saw this over and over in old classic bands where I’d love their first album, or first several, and then as their audience (and sales) evolved they would become more ‘commercial’ and seem to “sell out”. Then I didn’t like them anymore. Many times I don’t think it was purposeful … just some kind of natural evolution based on motivation and psychology theory. And record company pressure, etc.
So for pure artistry, I think what some of us do here can be an example, in that your only or strongest motivation is to: pull music out of your soul, get it recorded and produced, mixed and mastered, then play it for your wife/girlfriend (and/or BTR) and your dog. There is no compelling commercial aspiration necessarily, though at some point you may post it online and see what the reactions are. You are mainly doing it for the sheer joy of the process and/or to prove to yourself that you can do it.
Now, what if we turn that around, and are looking to make something that potentially has commercial success in one form or another? We may still look at our strengths and preferences in making music, but can we ‘fit’ those into some kind of contemporary category where someone would like to buy it or use it? This is what I mean by ‘commercial’; looking out at the ‘market’ and seeing how we might be able to prosper by giving consumers what they want.
If you don’t get or care for my “artistry” definition, maybe think of it like deductive vs. inductive reasoning - for one (pure) you start with a general “here’s what I want” and work your way toward a specific that is based on what you wanted, and the other (commercial) you start with a specific “I need a product that will sell” (i.e. “to spec” in the market) and then go about figuring out how to create the steps that will lead to that goal.
I’d appreciate thoughts on this, have you ever tried to write “to spec”, do you think about things like this, or just sit down with The Muse and see what comes out?