Musicians too good for their own good?

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by JohnIce, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoils = tr00

    Messages:
    4,889
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    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...
     
    death of k, ry_z, MSalonen and 11 others like this.
  2. Thin_Ice_77

    Thin_Ice_77 You'll never make it

    Messages:
    2,299
    Likes Received:
    295
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    Location:
    West Midlands, UK
    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?
     
  3. GigantoRobotico

    GigantoRobotico SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    4
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Location:
    Teesside, England
    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.:agreed:
     
  4. troyguitar

    troyguitar SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    8,984
    Likes Received:
    689
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    Location:
    Lawrenceburg, KY
    :agreed:
     
  5. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoils = tr00

    Messages:
    4,889
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    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*
     
  6. Cheesebuiscut

    Cheesebuiscut Loves his Q-tuners

    Messages:
    4,053
    Likes Received:
    370
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Location:
    NJ
    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 :scratch: 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*

    :wallbash:
     
  7. Daemoniac

    Daemoniac Rivethead Magnate. Contributor

    Messages:
    9,457
    Likes Received:
    1,444
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, VIC, Australia
    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 :yesway:

    /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.
     
  8. Triple-J

    Triple-J the Experimetalist

    Messages:
    1,982
    Likes Received:
    371
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2008
    Location:
    the rain soaked post industrial wasteland known as
    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.
     
  9. Ckackley

    Ckackley SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    69
    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Location:
    Martinsburg, WV
    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 )
     
  10. Daemoniac

    Daemoniac Rivethead Magnate. Contributor

    Messages:
    9,457
    Likes Received:
    1,444
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, VIC, Australia
    ^ 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 :shrug:
     
  11. S-O

    S-O t(-.-t)

    Messages:
    2,456
    Likes Received:
    136
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Location:
    Dayton and Columbus, Ohio
    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:
     
  12. Daemoniac

    Daemoniac Rivethead Magnate. Contributor

    Messages:
    9,457
    Likes Received:
    1,444
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, VIC, Australia
    ^ Unwanted brown/yellow/red showers... :ugh:
     
    DavyH likes this.
  13. Lucas Crowe

    Lucas Crowe Lovely Boy

    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    58
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Location:
    Reddit
    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.
     
  14. Axel

    Axel SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    408
    Likes Received:
    44
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Location:
    Miami, FL
    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?
     
  15. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoils = tr00

    Messages:
    4,889
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    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.
     
  16. signalgrey

    signalgrey Ambiente Savante

    Messages:
    3,774
    Likes Received:
    302
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Location:
    Somerville, MA (formerly Seoul)
    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. fuck.

    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.
     
  17. liamh

    liamh Geek-chic

    Messages:
    2,981
    Likes Received:
    238
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2008
    Location:
    England
    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.
     
  18. DavyH

    DavyH Elderly juvenile

    Messages:
    688
    Likes Received:
    110
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Location:
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    How big are your tits? :D

    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.
     
    jaredowty likes this.
  19. troyguitar

    troyguitar SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    8,984
    Likes Received:
    689
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    Location:
    Lawrenceburg, KY
    :agreed:

    Most of the people on this forum would be HUGE in metal (maybe even rock/pop) if they were female.
     
  20. SnowfaLL

    SnowfaLL SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    5,556
    Likes Received:
    684
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Location:
    Halifax NS
    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.
     

Share This Page