Is music a competition?

Greggorios

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No, at least not unless you choose to enter one. They've been around a long time. No, not the reality shows on TV, but the ones in classical music. Auditioning for music scholarships and acceptance into music schools have been around for a long time. In the 8th or 9th grade I auditioned for the "All County Orchestra" at the suggestion of a music teacher at school. The preparation improved my playing, I got to meet a lot of other kids from other schools in the county and really enjoyed it. I'd have been pleased even if I didn't make it but I secured the 2nd seat clarinet next to the senior who won the 1st seat. Did worlds for my confidence. All in all a great experience.:)
 

G.Rotten

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For example, there is a huge surge of excellent female singers happening right now. I follow them as I believe this movement will become the next big thing. What I like is these are solo artists, not bands. But not all people look at it that way, in many people's eyes it's a competition and the outcome is a winner, like AGT. Sad.

What I see in the comments is so much competition, "she's better than Adele" or "Angelina Jordan is the best singer ever, no one is as good" and so on. I read that sort of viewpoint and get bothered.

Music and serious singers are not playing sports where the goal is to win. It's different, singers compete with themselves to be their iwn best. And appreciation in the form of positive critique and applause should be the response from listeners. But not all singers can rise to this level, and some singers are just not liked or talented, and that blurs the line between being you best vs simply being the best.

Am I off? Should singers be competitive like it's a sport, or is it best to appreciate them for being them and evolving, or devolving?

Thoughts?
It's non musicians that make those claims and their opinions don't count to me.

The only reason to make music is for the love of music and other musicians can be a source of inspiration. Not something to conquer. Whether or not other people get it doesn't matter.

If other people like it and want to pay you to do it, that's great. But IMO starting music with the intent to become rich and famous isn't something a musician does.
 

OmegaWoods

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I think it depends on the artist. If you recall the film "Amadeus", that whole movie is about competition. I don't think that Adele, Taylor Swift, EVH, Tommy Emmanuel, Metallica, Mozart, etc. and the other greatest performers see their work as a competition against other singers and guitar players.

If anything, it's a competition against themselves to be the best and still improve.
 

1stpitch

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There are people that try to make everything a competition, to the degree is spoils the experience, whatever that might be. I disagree that it is human nature. Others, like myself, try to avoid it.
 

erratick

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Am I off? Should singers be competitive like it's a sport, or is it best to appreciate them for being them and evolving, or devolving?

Thoughts?


Can't be a real competition like sports- because how would you measure it? Money? commercial success? notes per second? a vote? influence? make a track the fastest?

True competition like sport needs objective measurements. Even when it has objective measurements people argue about it (goal? touchdown? was it?).

However there are comparitive elements when people play the same instrument (guitarist headcutting). And there can be competitive elements between bands (who is going to get the audience the most stirred up). It's not objective, it's a subjective comparison. Knowledge of or facility on the instrument or songwriting can be compared.

Comparitive or competitive elements can make a contest. But it's not objective. And comparitive elements arguably aren't suitable for competition- because they're subjective.

The shows that try to turn it into a competition or a contest do some amount of damage to the music, and also to the people and fans that participate. Also they extract some of the value from the competitors and really only meagrely "pay back" the "winner".

These types of things are just ways to exploit musical talent that isn't aware of the economic situation. This is a corollary of creators should not do work for a contest or on spec, if you as a creator value the work economically. If you do, you should know you're work is being extracted from you with potentially no reward.

These shows (and show producers) reap financial rewards outsized compared to the participants.
 

nojazzhere

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No, at least not unless you choose to enter one. They've been around a long time. No, not the reality shows on TV, but the ones in classical music. Auditioning for music scholarships and acceptance into music schools have been around for a long time. In the 8th or 9th grade I auditioned for the "All County Orchestra" at the suggestion of a music teacher at school. The preparation improved my playing, I got to meet a lot of other kids from other schools in the county and really enjoyed it. I'd have been pleased even if I didn't make it but I secured the 2nd seat clarinet next to the senior who won the 1st seat. Did worlds for my confidence. All in all a great experience.:)
Another valid example. Growing up, I was in many "competitions".....although they weren't really considered competing against other musicians, but against the standards of the expert judges. And, while I don't think of it as competition, per se, anytime I join a new group or band, I guess I'm "competing" to meet their expectations. ;)
 

Leonardocoate

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AGT...It's cheap entertainment. Look who the judges are, and what makes them qualified. We have even turned cheerleading into a competition. It comes down to who can be marketed the best....CHEERS to all the great musicians that I never heard of.
 

jbmando

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Musicians are in competition with one another for an audience. Audiences tend to listen to what they like. People evaluate what we like by rating one thing better or not as good as another. Regardless of a kind of altruistic, "music is not a competition" philosophy, it is a de facto competition. Even musicians make it into a real competition with Battles of the Bands, head cutting contests and the like, plus we all know that some musicians are better than others, so you can say all you want that music is not a competition, and the winner is the audience, but most don't really believe it.
 

PennyroyalFrog

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Anybody remember when Kenny G sustained a note on his soprano saxophone for 45 minutes using that breathing technique to set a world record? He said afterword “I hope I never have to do that again.” I thought “you never had to do it in the first place.”
 

Jakedog

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I am usually the voice of dissent in these discussions.

First- music is definitely a competition if you expect to get anything out of it other than fun at home in your spare time. Always has been, always will be.

Second- I don’t see anything in the OP in this thread as competitive. That’s just a bunch of (mostly) non-musicians stating opinions. Which ultimately mean nothing.

Now back to the competition aspect-

If all you ever want out of playing or creating music is to have fun in your spare time, that’s awesome. And there is no competition involved other than challenging yourself to do it better than you did yesterday. There have been many days I’ve thought maybe that’s the route I should have taken, and there’s definitely not a thing wrong with doing it that way.

If you want to work? It’s nothing BUT competition. We compete with karaoke. We compete with the jukebox. We compete with pay per view fights. We compete with championship games. We compete with everything. And yes, we compete with each other. The venue wants the band with the biggest following and most popularity. As do booking agents and record labels. It’s constant work to convince the people who sign the checks that your band is the best one for the job.

There are different ways to approach this. There are bands and individuals in every scene that rely on gossip and trash talk to compete. They usually don’t last long. At least not at the better levels of employment. I tend to favor working with people who are proud of what they’ve accomplished, but aren’t braggarts. People who are confident but not conceited or overly cocky. I strive to meet these parameters myself. It’s part of being a professional.

But make no mistake, I will go out of my way each and every time I promote a gig to try and make sure people come to me, and don’t go someplace else. Because it is a competition.

Also- What is an audition if not a competition? When I audition people it’s definitely a competition, and there will be a winner. That guy or gal might not be the very best player or singer who showed up. Maybe they won because they were very solid, and the vibe and hang were much better. Maybe they were the best player and the other folks weren’t even in their league. Whatever the case, people are competing for a job and only one of them can get it.

Music is always a competition. Winning it means getting the work, keeping the work, and getting to buy groceries.

Look, it’s the best job in the world. But it’s still a job. And if you want to stay employed, or Heaven forbid actually advance and move up the ladder, you have to work for it. You have to be better than the people around you. There are many ways to do it and not all of them have to do with cut and dried playing or singing abilities. But make no mistake, you will be competing every step of the way.
 

telemnemonics

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Nothing wrong with saying your favorite little known singer is better than the hottest pop star right now.

Many Many players do confuse most-popular with best, or presume that being a pop star is a level of skills or abilities.

Pop is a competition for the top of the charts and we cant change that.
 

telemnemonics

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Then on a personal level, anyone in any of the arts has to compete to get market share, has to compete to both earn a living in some other field AND work full time at artistry, cooperative ventures, self marketing, and staying the hell alive and healthy.

Any artist has to work twice as hard as the average Joe with a 40 hour job, which pits us against our own limits.
 

Tele-Meister

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The music industry is competition, as wonderfully put by @Jakedog

but the music itself isn't. Music is shared, music is passed down, so hence, the art itself cannot be competition.

Maybe I'm being a bit pedantic, but I think this detail is a necessary one to comprehend.
It's nice to know that you can rely on music to reminisce, to love, to simply lean on for peace of mind, even though it can very much be the thing that may cause you to want to forget, to hate, and to lose your sanity. But the latter is the application of music, such as the music industry, not music itself: the former is music, the art. The one that brings us together.
 
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Synchro

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I’ve had the opportunity to hear some great Jazz players live. Joe Pass, Johnny Smith, Howard Roberts, Jim Hall, and several others. Some of these guys were astounding in their abilities, but I wouldn’t even try to rank them, as to who was best. However, every one of them also had limitations.

Music is an expression of oneself and no matter how skilled a player may be, they are not capable of being someone else. They might be able to imitate someone else, but they can only be themselves, and even their imitations of other players will probably bear a degree of influence from the personality and abilities of the actual player.

Jim Hall, for example, was a very well known Jazz player, but I’d bet that there are many members here that are much better at playing Rock. The Rock players are not necessarily going to do well at playing Jazz, OTOH. So who’s best? Well, that’s an incomplete question. If I were a producer looking to make the definitive recording of Body and Soul, Jim Hall would have been a better choice, but if a producer was remaking 25 or 6 to Four, there are other players whom would be a better choice.

In the early days of Rock n’ Roll, many of the session players had a Jazz background, but as time passed, session players tended to have come out of Rock n’ Roll. Larry Carlton, for instance, came out of the Surf Music phenomenon. He’s an excellent Jazz player; one of the best, but he brought Rock techniques along as part of his skill set and became a force in the session world of the ‘70s and ‘80s, on into today.

IMHO, there is a basic level of competency that virtually every pro must master, but beyond that, the abilities vary greatly from player to player, or singer to singer.
 

schmee

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Shouldn't be, probably is.
Boy band with terrible singers will not prevail getting gigs against a band with a sexy female vocalist that sings great.
There I said it. Yes it is.
 

loopfinding

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I see music sort of like research.

We are all trying to make our contribution to the whole body of knowledge.

Some theses/studies might be more relevant, comprehensive, or grander in scale than others. Some might not be relevant in the moment but relevant to research later. Some might not be novel contributions, but good summaries or meta analyses that have a practical/social function. In some instances methods used may be more relevant than the content.

And of course some research is just fishing for money, haha.
 
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