Is music a competition?

Synchro

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It's only a competition if you want it to be. No, it's not.

I’ll add only that success in music and success in the music business are not one and the same. The music business, is, like most businesses, highly competitive. One has to compete for production money, for public recognition and for sales. Successful recording artists work hard and put in long hours, many of which are not spent performing, but are necessary to promote their music.

Success at playing music, can happen in one’s own living room and, while it can be challenging to master an instrument and to learn new material, it is a different sort of challenge from those imposed by the business side of music.

At one time, playing was a major part of my employment, and I realized that I didn’t particularly enjoy that line of work. At the worst of it, I didn’t even listen to music anymore. These days, I play as an antidote to the stress of my career. I can spend hours dealing with tough problems at work, and melt away the accumulated stress by burying my mind in learning a new song. I still like to perform, publicly, on occasion, but I’d never want to go back to playing gigs as a way to make a living.

So, as regards the business of music, I experience virtually no success, but as regards music itself, I’m quite satisfied with my success, and there’s no competition involved.
 

kuch

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I don't think of it as a competition between people but I do think artist tend to compete with themselves and music is tough because what artist wrote their best songs in the 40's and beyond.....

Remember, even Elvis who was one of the 1st "superstars" did not write all of his own music....
Many of the "big" stars since the 50's were recording songs written by others.
 

davidchagrin

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Music is not a competition, but fans and supporters often react as if music is a competition. I don't think this is a new thing, but social media brings it to the foreground. I can recall discussing which bands were better than others, which singer is better, who had more influence, etc. ever since I was a little kid.
 

Killing Floor

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In a way it is. Unless you are somehow guaranteed an audience it’s essential to out do other acts in your genre to compete for gigs, air time, label attention, etc. The internet has leveled some of this but competing means trying to do better.
 

Synchro

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Music is not a competition, but fans and supporters often react as if music is a competition. I don't think this is a new thing, but social media brings it to the foreground. I can recall discussing which bands were better than others, which singer is better, who had more influence, etc. ever since I was a little kid.
That’s one reason I never cared for shows Such as American Idol. Becoming a well known performer/songwriter takes time and effort. Sure, the publicity of such a show can advance the career of someone that it truly talented, but I think that the market is the ultimate arbiter and a bunch of hype doesn’t really make for an accurate predictor of long term success.
 

pypa

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I totally agree. I am sick and tired of comparing everything.

We are taught that behavior from the time we are 4. The first thing we jam our kids into is sports and board games - all designed to kill the weak.

I hate it. Sports suck. Competition that crowns a winner and implies all others are losers is not healthy.

Music is not a sport. It’s a refuge FROM sport.
 

Toast

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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?
I think music as competition is a genre of music. I'd put many of the shred guitarists in that category. Different strokes for different folks.
 

ASATKat

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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.
Business competition is not the same as competing with your heartfelt art.
 

ASATKat

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I think music as competition is a genre of music. I'd put many of the shred guitarists in that category. Different strokes for different folks.
I agree, competition is for shredders, at least it seems that way. But shred is a small piece of the pie.

I'm going to a blues jam tonight and it will all be about making music together, old friends.
 

jaxjaxon

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If it was really treated like a competition then every thing would set up like a call and response. Any one that thinks it is a competition is missing the whole point of making music. I am perfectly happy just playing for nature and the animals in it. Like this guy
 

Synchro

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If it was really treated like a competition then every thing would set up like a call and response. Any one that thinks it is a competition is missing the whole point of making music. I am perfectly happy just playing for nature and the animals in it. Like this guy

Truly, that’s what I mean by musical success. Not strictly playing for animals, but playing well and seeing results, even if those results aren’t a paying audience. My Siamese loves music, and sits next to me and listens intently when I play. If I play something mellow and ward in timbre, she closes her eyes and seems to savor the sound. Sure beats some of the characters you meet, playing in bars. :)
 

telemnemonics

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Damn, I figured by now this argument would have been won and the losers would be buried in mass graves?
 

Oxidao

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Music?
I think mixing different aspects may be confusing.

Is it a competition for professionals? Sure it is.
You should try doing your best, to be the best on your niche.

Is it valued as a competition on listeners? As said up there, I'm sick and tired of that attitude.

We see that (best, worst, biggest, etc) every where as attention getters to get a click in the internet, or magazines, newspapers, etc.

The worst part is that 'we people' adopted that, and play that same game. It is just disgusting, when on the negative side like...
Which is the worst band, song, country, or tdpri member?

Competitivines (which is a good thing), I think is out of control.
 




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