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Readers Respond: Are Musicians Responsible for The Messages in Their Lyrics?

Responses: 10


From the article: Playing Live 101
Music has a tremendous power to impact fans. Fan cultures spring up around specific artists and/or specific genres of music, and these cultures can impact everything from fashion sense to political affiliation. Since music IS so powerful, there have always been voices demanding that musicians think carefully about how they use that influence. In other words, there are have always been voices demanding that musicians edit themselves - and if they won't that labels or even the government do it for them. What do you think? Should musicians ever self edit? How responsible are they for the impact of their messages? Share your thoughts!

the acts of a few?

Should video games, band members, artist really be held responsible for a few of their audience members who are disturbed. It is not normal for any one to belie and mimic something which is recognizably fiction. So because Ozzy sings about death does it really mean he is responsible for Mc Collum's death? Humans have a natural inclination to violence (as hunters ect). Are people just fulfilling their violent inclination because they have no other appropriate means to express pent up aggression. Yes lyrics, plays, books are powerful mediums but I do not think that due to the acts of a disturbed few that artist should censored or stopped.
—Guest pan

Music is a passport to people´s hearts

I think musicians have the creative freedom to write about whatever they want as long as they take full responsability for what they´re singing about. I think listeners open themselves up to the music in ways they probably wouldn´t in any other area of their lives. The vulnerablity of our listeners that is given to us because we have the gift of music should be treated with care.
—Guest Haikaa

It's all about the lyrics

I believe as musicians we are as responsible for our lyrics, as we are for our words and actions in our daily life. I use my songwriting and music as a way of expressing a message I want to share with the world. Or a message that I think the world needs to hear. Standing up on stage with the microphone gives us a chance to take the world with both hands and influence it. So what will it be...? Change it for the better? Or say what you think people want to hear so that you can generate more sales? If you have a message worth hearing, the audience and money to support you will follow. Maria Lead vocalist of MarsMusic www.marsmusic.co.uk
—Guest Maria

Words have power. like it or not

What we say to someone, especially over and over, will have some effect. If hear a mom or dad telling their kid in a store "you'll never amount to anything", I know it's likely that kid is in for a rough emotional ride. Why would I want to sing about something that could create an effect that I don't want? If I want people to love one another I'll sing about it, if I want to stir up a revolution (I'm not saying I do) I'll sing about it. When we text or email, we add smiley faces or LOL to clarify when we're not serious, it's way harder to do that in a song.

Message in a song..

Ultimately I try to convey 'A' message in every composition I create. I don't bind myself to creating for the demographics of my fans. I trust the intellect of each fan to accept or reject my ideals and concepts. Also, I don't expect every song to gain the support of my fans. Chocolate or Vanilla, there's a taste for every individual.
—Guest DjPaddy

RESPONSIBILITY- your credability

What you pronounce, either you created it yourself or it's someone else's words, you can be sure it will credit back to you. Your message is your image- like it or not! Generally people are very surfaced and are quick to ration or judge. Its only human nature. If you sing a song like Katie Perry about kissing a girl, what do you think that means? You represent your song, so what you sing is you. Now, if a vocalist sings a song they don't necessarily believe in, then that person needs to be ready to take-on the responsibility that comes with that. Which could be either praise or backlash. Like it or not, a singer is the cover for the song. As I mentioned earlier its human nature. We are visual beings and it's only natural to be quick-to-judge even though you try to do the contrary.
—Guest AiA

Are you serious?

I find it an absolute insult to the intelligence of human learning and belief that you and others have let it be said or asked if 1) should musicians be held responsible 2) Is music reponsible for peoples behavior HELL YES! how do think people learn or form behavioral patterns? do the research. Positive messeges breed Positive and vice versa. no matter the media, books, movies, music. repeditive nature is how it's taken into the subconscious and use that as a recall to actiions we perform positive or negative. If it didn't have an effect it wouldn't sell and artist would not have an audience or a record deal, :-) It's been argued that free speech is at risk well so is society and it's foolish behavior of recall to actions, subliminally. Bottom line is just that, Bo$$om line and that's all most seem to care about especially the artist whom fortunes through their negative messeges of influence rely on this, comply or die is what the label's ultimatium will be. sell outs YA THINK? PRAY
—Guest The Silver Conductor

Music speaks directly to heart

the answer is yes, music does have a strong influence to those who hear it, and the reason is simple: because it goes directly 'connected' to the HEART. Human beings are creatures that have heart & soul, not just for mere survival of the fittest. In fact, all of the daily-life routine decisions, whether in jobs, daily businesses & tradings, in relationship, family, etc, they're all sprung out from the HEART. Music is one of those funny & delicate things that cuts through all BS, so to speak, and just aims straight deeply into the CORE of human beings: the HEART. I'm somewhat grateful to happen to read this wonderful article, because I am reminded again of how indeed powerful music is, that it affects our subsconcious, that in turns have a strong, powerful effects on our consciousness & daily life thought patterns & decision makings. Not something to be underestimated.
—Guest niki

Separating Entertainment from Assertion

A thorny subject this and one that requires careful navigation. For a start, I too believe that we should avoid censorship of the musical message as far as possible. However, at the same time I also believe that the artist is ultimately responsible for the message he or she conveys. Since my own background is in the metal genre, I am all too well aware of how the message can be misconstrued - by fans and moral guardians alike. It is unsurprising, therefore, that most metal musicians distance themselves from the subject matter of their lyrics. It is one thing to explore dark and controversial subjects for entertainment value, but another completely to assertively declare an antisocial position. Singing about Satan doesn't make you a killer unless you want to be one. It seems sometimes that hip hop artists have a harder time distancing themselves from their stage personnae and I think that those who do should be called out for it. Preferrably by more sensible folks in their genre.
—Guest Krzysztof Wiszniewski

The Power of Music

I think musicians underestimate the power and influence of music. I have been writing about this on my blog. Music has a powerful influence on its listeners and musicians need to acknowledge this. I discussed that it is not smart for musicians to deny the influence of music on people because in essence they are denying the value and power of the art that they create. Most entrepreneurs don't say their product has no influence on its consumers. In fact, most entrepreneurs want to influence the behavior of their consumers. Isn't that what marketing is? Musicians who create and sell music are entrepreneurs and they need to start thinking like entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs take responsibility for the influence their product has on their consumers, whether it is negative or positive. Musicians must take responsibility for the impact and influence of their product-music. To deny the influence and the power of music would deny its value in society.
—Guest Angela Carter
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