So I saw this article the other day saying that the Grammy awards were becoming irrelevant. They made this assertion because Adele won the Grammy over Beyonce. The writer further asserted that racism was involved. I don’t know if this is the case or not and I certainly don’t know the hearts and minds of Grammy voters. Here’s what I do know. I know Beyonce is very talented and I have seen her sing spectacularly well, but if you ask me which album I’m buying, it’s Adele every time. This has nothing to do with race and everything to do with what I like. You see Beyonce tends to do a lot of songs in the dance pop realm and this is a realm of music I don’t really like. Adele has ventured into that realm every once in a while but by and large she sings those big soaring, belting songs that I really enjoy. If Beyonce did more songs in the vein of Adele, it would be a toss up, since she is a great singer.
Why do I share this? Because this is how it works with art. Art is subjective. You can be the best in the world in your chosen field, but if you don’t work in a style certain people like, those people probably won’t like what you do. You have to be okay with that. I can’t picture Beyonce sitting in her mansion saying “I have to do more songs like Adele so Dave Weiss will like my stuff more.” No she has a legion of fans that keep her happy and wealthy. Likewise Adele would be kind of foolish to change her style to capture more of Beyonce’s fans, since she also has a legion of people who love what she does. Further, you would be foolish to change what you have worked your whole life to perfect just to reach an audience that doesn’t like what you do (unless you’re intentionally trying to re-invent yourself, but we’ll explore that another day.) I think it was Shakespeare that said “To thine own self be true.” and in the world of creativity, this is huge. It’s far better to do what you do best, and do it the best you can and to present that to the world, knowing some will love it and some won’t.
Do your best work, find your audience and give them your best. Anything less is fake. Good art is in the eye of the beholder. Our job is to give them something to behold.