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Unread 07-19-2009, 06:03 PM   #1
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Musicians too good for their own good?

I've been thinking lately. There's a local "girl band" around where I live who play pretty much the most generic, watered-out 3 chord Green Day pop you can imagine with lyrics about being a disappointed teenage girl. I know a good majority of the local musicians (I have a bad habit of playing in too many bands), and everyone knows about this band but nobody takes them seriously for the reasons I mentioned. Still, they are without any doubt the most successful band around, in terms of attention. They have a gazillion myspace friends and gig pretty much every week, increasingly far from home, and rehearse every day as far as I know.

Like I said I play in many bands, some too obscure to ever really make it big and I'm fine by that. But I also have a Rock/Pop band (Think a mix of Bon Jovi and Toto with some Mando Diao and you're getting there), we put a lot of focus into writing stream-lined choruses and catchy riffs and everywhere we've played we've had great response from all ages and genders, everyone seems to like us (sorry for the bragging, but it's important to my bigger point).

So, why aren't we as popular as these girls?

I might be talking out of my ass here, but I know that a lot of great bands have this same frustration and here's my theory for it: The better you get, the more you put your focus on the wrong things. I practice every day if there's time for it, a good 90% of my social circle consists of musicians, mostly very good ones at that. We all encourage and challenge each other to get better and it's a great place to be in creatively. We keep evolving and keep pushing our playing and songwriting beyond our comfort zones. All the while making excuses for why this girl band is getting so popular, and we're not. It's probably "because they're girls, it's a novelty thing" or "they take new band photos every week, they're posers" or "they're compensating for bad music by spending all their time promoting themselves on the internet instead of practicing". We make it out to be bad things.

The thing is, they're doing exactly the things we should be doing. All those things that we put negative values into, they're what makes a band professional.

I don't mean to say being a good musician isn't worth the effort, it is and we all know that and even if the top pop charts aren't always that inspiring we all know that being good at what you do will be rewarding in the end. What I'm saying is we're often putting so much focus on our playing skills and our songwriting, i.e. "the music", that we forget all the other stuff that go into making a band successful. Not good, but successful. Professional pictures, a nice web page, image/stage outfits, personal contact with your fanbase, and marketing as if your life depended on it. A good rule of thumb might be to spend the same amount of time promoting as you do practicing each day. That would get you somewhere very fast.

Basically, bands such as this girl band and other "talentless" bands have a head start in this game. All the time that they DON'T spend practicing and developing their songwriting, can instead be spent on the things mentioned above. They don't overestimate themselves, they know they have to rehearse to know their shit. Me personally, I can't tell you how many times I've said "Ah what the hell we know the songs we can skip rehearsal", and then spending the show thinking to myself how I used to finger various parts. That never translates well to the audience. It's good to remember that "Band Practice" is not "Song Practice", band practice is for becoming better as a group, not to learn the songs. You can practice your songs by yourself, but there's no substitute for band practice.

In conclusion, all of these issues might be exclusive to me and my band and you are all way ahead of us and know these things already But I've seen this happening pretty much everywhere and I always meet good musicians who are bitter about some snot-nosed punks getting undeserved attention. Maybe the better you get, the more lazy you get and you start taking things for granted. "People love our songs, we'll get signed any minute now, just waiting for the phone to ring". That's just not happening.

At least we can be happy that once we've got those awesome band photos and great networking and dedicated street teams, we've already got our musical grounds covered Hopefully, that is...

Guitar player and vocalist of Mark Zero: https://www.facebook.com/MarkZeroOfficial
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Unread 07-19-2009, 06:50 PM   #2
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I kind of agree with what you're saying. My band is friends with a classic rock band who play in our area. They're way bigger than us, they play the main stage at the biggest venues around here and I find them extremely average. The guitarist is convinced he is Zakk Wylde, they have a girl singer who is absolutely awful. They've recorded EPs, they were selling them for £7 each and they barely sold any at all.

On one hand I think 'Man, we're better than they are, we should headlining JBs' but then I feel bad for thinking it, as they've put loads of time, effort and most of all, money into getting where they are. They even bought their own PA system so they could play at even more venues. They believe they're going to be huge and I was told that they're planning a UK tour to commence in a couple of months.

I wish them the best of luck, but there are musicians on this very site that are better and far more talented than a lot of people who are big in the music industry right now. But you know, life isn't fair... sometimes people have to work their arses off to get where they want to be and it still isn't enough.

I think everyone who has a case of sour grapes about this kind of stuff needs to remember that the whole reason they started playng guitar and playing with other people was because it's fun. If you worry that much, it stops being fun, so what's the point in doing it?

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Unread 07-19-2009, 06:52 PM   #3
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You need to remember, They're girls, and people get really dumb when it comes to girls in bands.

I know I do.

Can't resist a girl who plays guitar. No matter how badly.

COMING SOON - Project Applecakes. Yum.
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Unread 07-19-2009, 07:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by GigantoRobotico View Post
You need to remember, They're girls, and people get really dumb when it comes to girls in bands.

I know I do.

Can't resist a girl who plays guitar. No matter how badly.
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Unread 07-19-2009, 07:12 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Thin_Ice_77 View Post
I think everyone who has a case of sour grapes about this kind of stuff needs to remember that the whole reason they started playng guitar and playing with other people was because it's fun. If you worry that much, it stops being fun, so what's the point in doing it?
Sure, I mean we wouldn't be driving long distances to play empty clubs for no pay if it wasn't fun. And with all the money I've spent on gear, it'll take years of work for me to actually gain any money from playing. But the post in general is directed to people who really want to play professionally, or "make it" so to speak. And if that's what you want, a certain amount of worrying is probably gonna be necessary. But you're absolutely right, it should never overtake the fun part.

@GigantoRobotico: You have a point, but none of these girls are what I'd call attractive. Except for the guitarist actually (I might have the same symptom as you ) but at the risk of me sounding chauvinistic, she turned out to be rubbish in bed and is now as unattractive to me as the others... *shrug*

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Unread 07-19-2009, 07:20 PM   #6
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In the band I'm in we're constantly trying to make the guitar parts harder and harder and more complicated and I'm not sure how well that'll work out.

We ridicule all these popular bands that even if we dislike manage to become so famous that they catch our attention at some point and how they got so famous doing nothing but chugging a few chords and tremolo picking a few notes.

I often think to myself *we need to stop trying SOOOOO HARD to be different from everybody else and trying SOOO HARD to make the riffs more and more complicated and just take a step back and make some fun music*

But if I say that to some of the other band mates it translates to *we should be generic and like everybody else and I'm gay, please badmouth me*

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Unread 07-19-2009, 07:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cheesebuiscut View Post
I often think to myself *we need to stop trying SOOOOO HARD to be different from everybody else and trying SOOO HARD to make the riffs more and more complicated and just take a step back and make some fun music*
This is pretty much what i live by with regard to my music. I do what i want to because it's enjoyable, if people like it, great, i appreciate that but ultimately the music is for me

I rarely think that "being different for the sake of being different' works out well, so just do what you want to, and be happy about the fact that if nothing else, you were true to your own ideas

/artistichighhorse

EDIT: On the other hand, i suppose, if you're really so shit you don't have your own ideas? You're in music for all the wrong reasons.
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Unread 07-19-2009, 07:39 PM   #8
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Sometimes people just get lucky for example how many times have you seen a great looking girl who has made an effort with her appearance on the arm of an average joe type who doesn't even look like he's brushed his teeth/hair or had a wash?
Well this is no different as the history of music is littered with great bands that never got a chance and bands who didn't deserve one in the first place.

"People percieve the rock world as a dichotomy such as 'metal vs alternative' or 'mainstream vs underground' but dichotomies aren't real they're human constructs " - Kim Thayil

"They don't really understand that he was a funny mother@$%ker, he was not some down, dour drug addict. Nobody laughed more than Kurt and we had great times together" - Buzz Osbourne


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Unread 07-19-2009, 07:41 PM   #9
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It fun for us as musicians to play complicated music. The average listener, I think could care less. The average listener wants pop music unfortunately. That's why it's called "pop". It's short for popular. Cover bands in my area can play every weekend and make good money doing it , but it's got to be classic rock. Original music has no audience. So a run of the mill "three chords and an attitude" band that puts time into marketing and talking to people is gonna get gigs. It's fun music people can shake their asses to and guys can bring a girlfriend to see. How many average music types are going to bring their girl out to a Mesuggah concert on a Saturday night? (If you're a member of this board, you don't count in that statement )
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Unread 07-19-2009, 07:43 PM   #10
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^ Marketing to the masses is a really important factor in "making it" in a band. 16Volt, my favorite band, started going really well in alternative/metal/rock/ndustrial charts and so forth back in the mid nineties, and i think would have almost become a household/mainstream name had their record company gone bust, sold their contract out, and then screwed them for marketing...
As a result, Erics band is just a really popular 'underground' band, as opposed to a successful 'mainstream' one
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Unread 07-19-2009, 07:50 PM   #11
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Rubbish in bed? Like toothy head?

Doesn't take much for a girl to be good, just laying there is good enough for most, so I can only imagine what rubbish would entail D:
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Unread 07-19-2009, 07:53 PM   #12
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^ Unwanted brown/yellow/red showers...
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Unread 07-19-2009, 08:00 PM   #13
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Honestly, if ya wanna get big, not working on your customer / fan relations is just suicide, but so many people forget that. I mean, that's just common sense, really.

However, in my opinion, the music should always come first. It shouldn't be about everyone else, it should be about your vision when you write your stuff. This is where so many bands go wrong (Right?) and just make generic shit to be "rock stars" or whatever. I hate those bands.

If you go into music particularly to get big or popular, you've already failed yourself as an artist, but succeed as a businessman. Your musician acquaintances are right: artistically (From an originality standpoint.), they probably don't deserve the attention that they get , but they make stuff, no matter how generic, that appeals to a massive group.
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Unread 07-19-2009, 08:34 PM   #14
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JohnIce you raise some very valid points.
I was actually going to make a thread about Band Practice/Breakup etc. I see some interesting parallels to your post though.

I've always wondered how much time one should put into a band for it to be worth doing. I know personally I put in 100%, and I know some of my bandmates put in about 15 to 20%.
Today there was a fuss at practice that basically ended in us not practicing and it made me wonder. What is the point?
If we're going to get into a stupid argument that causes band practice to be a bust, should we bother trying to keep things going? The first thought that went into my head is that if this person is leaving over the most stupid shit ever, what the hell is gonna happen when we have some really serious issues to talk about?

So when you talk about putting time into practicing, writing good songs, becoming tighter (As a band!) and spending time marketing etc it leads me to think that I'm the only one doing those things. And if that is true, then that's not really fair is it?

So I guess we can all agree that these things are necessary: practice, writing good music, becoming tighter as a band, promotion etc

But, how much should each member do? And if they don't do enough, then what?
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Unread 07-20-2009, 06:15 AM   #15
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Thank you all for reading the lenghty post, I appreciate it!

Just to clarify, I don't doubt anyone's musical abilities on this forum, I've been out on a few different ones looking for the most sensible and talented people and settled with SS.org. So I know there's a high level of talent and dedication here, and the post is aimed at those who already have a professional level of playing and writing.

So to anyone thinking that I'm implying that musical skills or complex songwriting isn't gonna get popular, I'm not saying that at all. What I AM saying is that if you really want to take that extra step to get signed, sponsored or all the way to rock legend, there are more things that are required. Things that good musicians easily forget cause they're so caught up in the music. But if you're only good at marketing you'll get an undedicated fanbase who'll leave at any time and you'll basically be a fad. You need solid music and skills to prevail, but like I said, I'm already counting on people here having that.

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Unread 07-20-2009, 06:37 AM   #16
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i worked with a woman who thought she was the SHIT. She "wrote and recorded" all her own material which consisted of the same 4 power chord progression in varying positions on the fret board. She couldnt sing for shit, she put on this "sexualized" stage presence, which was uncomfortable to watch and was convinced she was a rock star when freak show guys and girls came to her shows. NOW. she plays a jones beach, and Warped tour and she works with 3 producers.

what. the. .....

I filled in for her one time and learning those songs....oh god. it was terrible. I honestly couldnt tell one from the other, so if i messed up. no one would know.

why is that "entertainers" cant be seperated from "musicians".

i wish i was chick some times. just for that little leg up from time to time. lol.
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Unread 07-20-2009, 06:39 AM   #17
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I think that anyone who adapts their musical vision to cater for any audience cannot be called a musician..

It saddens me to think that "Boom Boom Pow!" is making 200 times as much money as some of the fantastic, beautiful music which is out there, by artists making as much pay as an ordinary day job.
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Unread 07-20-2009, 08:28 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnIce View Post
So, why aren't we as popular as these girls?
How big are your tits?

What you follow up with is valid - word of mouth will only get you so far and marketing is as important (if not more so) than the music you make. Think of the number of completely talentless hacks involved in the business at the top end of the market - how did they get there?
  • The right song at the right time. It doesn't matter that the song's crap, does it appeal to the public?
  • The right looks. Quasimodo would never make it in a boy band.
  • The right publicity machine.
  • Simplicity. Most people don't read, how do you expect them to break away from 4/4 incha incha crap to actually listen to a shifting musical structure with instruments actually being played.
  • Luck. Immense amounts of it.
If music were solely about talent, a lot of Britneys would be out of work. Music is product, plain and simple, and you need to sell it that way. Even then there are no guarantees.

Talent usually takes a long time to be fully recognized - look at Van Gogh's lifetime sales. No doubt for every Mozart there were a thousand hacks churning out potboiler shit and being paid handsomely for it.
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Unread 07-20-2009, 10:15 AM   #19
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i wish i was chick some times. just for that little leg up from time to time. lol.


Most of the people on this forum would be HUGE in metal (maybe even rock/pop) if they were female.
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Unread 07-20-2009, 10:25 AM   #20
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if you want to be taken seriously as a "skillful" musician, ie technical skill.. then rock/pop isnt the genre for you. play fusion jazz, that is where you get noticed for being insanely technical.
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Unread 07-20-2009, 10:27 AM   #21
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I might be talking out of my ass here, but I know that a lot of great bands have this same frustration and here's my theory for it: The better you get, the more you put your focus on the wrong things.
Yea, I suppose you're becoming "musician's musicians" if you focus too much on 'being good' in your music.
In the 70s and 80s you could get very successful with more complex music and skilled musicianship, but those days have long gone.
I suppose these days people just expect rock music to be raw and aggressive, and pop music to be electronic.
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Unread 07-20-2009, 10:28 AM   #22
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Yeah I'd have to say I do enjoy most of the home recordings from this forum more than most of the metal that is already out. Its kinda sad but there are quite a few diamonds in the ruff around here.
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Unread 07-20-2009, 10:38 AM   #23
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Most of the people on this forum would be HUGE in metal (maybe even rock/pop) if they were female.
If I had a dollar for every comment I saw on a terrible female guitarist's video on youtube telling her she's amazing, i'd have enough money to buy everyone here something nice.

"Appreciating the beauty in music fast enough to blow mortals' faces off."
More notes per second = More emotion per second
"Djent" just may be the worst word created in all of ever.


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Unread 07-20-2009, 01:16 PM   #24
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Think it's hilarious when people deliberately play music that they know to be unpopular, non-commercial and difficult for the average person to listen to, and then complain that they're not more successful. The Internet has created one of the most laughable echo chambers ever. Forums like this represent such a narrow demographic that they're virtually meaningless.

Also, this thread has nothing to do with musicians being "too good for their own good", because viewing musical ability as a factor continues to miss the point. What holds exceptional musicians back from being more successful is arrogance. If you turn your nose up at all the elements of music that make it enjoyable for regular people, it doesn't matter how creative you think your music is; few people will want to listen to it.

I have a problem cn this mod ke the eicoli and the infantry cn a blow dies what can make?

excused for the errors but are Italian
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Unread 07-20-2009, 01:36 PM   #25
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Also, this thread has nothing to do with musicians being "too good for their own good", because viewing musical ability as a factor continues to miss the point. What holds exceptional musicians back from being more successful is arrogance. If you turn your nose up at all the elements of music that make it enjoyable for regular people, it doesn't matter how creative you think your music is; few people will want to listen to it.
true.

Methinks you have to accept your audience if you want to play "intelligent" music. The chick band mentioned in the original post is doing something right. Ask them what they are doing to get popular, and then see if you can get some shows with them. It's more about networking than anything when it comes to popularity.

Either way, methinks you've got to really enjoy what you're doing. If that means playing the most technical stuff ever to an audience of 3 people every night, so be it. If you're not happy with where your band is at you'll need to adapt some stuff to your game.
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