You go be a Recording Artist

I was thinking about this term — “recording artist.” I think it’s annoyed me in the past because it sounds so self-important. But the reason for that is that it’s usually applied to a person whom it doesn’t define. In pop music, it’s the producer who’s the recording artist. The person who gets called the “recording artist” is just the person whose voice gets auto-tuned on the recording.

But anyway, it doesn’t annoy me any more. I like the term in a literal way because it sets up a great definition for me. I hear lots of musicians and bands (without record deals) talking about the albums they’re in the process of making, about their plans to release it soon, about how long they’ve worked on it. And now I just think, “oh, you’re a recording artist.” And that’s cool. That’s a good reason to work on an album for more than a week.

You go be a recording artist. I’m a songwriter. I’m going to go do that.