Excerpt from an interview with Todd Rundgren in 1989 in the book "Songwriters on Songwriting".
This man pretty much became my idol over night.
You mentioned disposable music, and I wonder if the record companies are responsible for that...
My personal feeling is that a record company can break and record they want. The record business is basically corrupt. And they can make the public conscious of anybody the want if they spend the money to do it. And it's just who they choose. Most of the people working in the record industry have no imagination or integrity. And that's why (laughs) things are the way they are. They're looking for a repeat of previous formulas.
Given that, what would you say to the songwriters out there who are trying to break in -
Well, I've never given advice about breaking in, because that guarantees some success (laughs)
Well, how about someone who is just trying to make their living -
Well, I can't guarantee that, either. I would say don't attempt to make a living and consider yourself an artist at the same time. If someone wants to be an artist, then get a job that pays and you can depend on, and don't be any less devoted to your artistry and hope at some point that it will happen for you.
Okay. But what if your goal in life happens to be to get a record deal -
Yeah, well, that's a pretty pitiful goal at this point in life, as far as I'm concerned. It's like saying that your greatest goal is to be an accountant. There are some great accountants (laughs) in this world, but most accountants are drudges. And most people making records are making mediocre music. And if you aspire to be something that's basically mediocre, I would say that's not the point.
The point of being a musician is to go out there and create music and communicate it to people. And it's an illusion that the only way you can successfully do that is with the record companies.
So it's one of two things: it' either luck or prostitution. You've got to decide, "If I'm going to be a songwriter, I'm going to devote myself to that craft, you know, and not try to depend on making a living on it." Because if you depend on making a living on it, you have to do one of two things: You have to go out, find a connection, schmooze them, and try to get in that way, or you have to consciously prostitute yourself and write whatever is the currently acceptable style of music.
I, RyeGuyHead, couldn't agree any more with Todd. If you've followed my music for any length of time, you would affirm that I've never wanted to conform to anything that's "in-style". My whole point of writing has been to have a creative outlet and a way to express myself. That, I feel, is the true point of artistry: To make what you want because it is what you want to make, and to create something that speaks to you because it is your voice that's doing the speaking. If you're writing music and refining your skills simply in hopes of making a buck then, yeah, you're a prostitute. You should be concerned with wanting to express than impress.