Making it - what does it take

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by RaistMagus, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    I would say that a good first step to test the waters would be to quit your day job and see if you can pay the rent and utility bills and buy food with 100% of your income being earned as a musician.
     
  2. Modman68

    Modman68 Tele-Holic

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    I think defining "making it" is important.

    If you are talking about being able to make a living... Being willing to work your ass off, remaining flexible, and building/maintaining a strong network of support is just as important as musical talent. If not more.

    If what you mean is relevancy to pop culture and achieving stardom..... There are so many factors that are completely out of the control of the musician nowadays that talent of some sort, has no bearing on outcome. There's just too many people involved. Corporate synergy, the politics of business, and fortuitous timing are REALY the key for that level.

    I'm in the "if you got into it for anything but the love- you're doing it wrong" camp. Musical talent doesn't serve business or the public. It's an inherently self serving pursuit and expecting anyone else to give a s#%^ is an exercise in ego. You get good at the instrument of choice because it moves you. Follow your creative will to it's conclusion. Do this, and anything good that happens becomes icing on the cake.
     
  3. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    I would say there is almost zero chance of a performer making it who refuses to play covers when starting out.
     
  4. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    I guess it depends what you mean by "starting out"- do you mean getting together with your buddies for the first time to jam and learn how to play and be a band? Or do you mean as a career once you've gotten your act together and are ready to play gigs? Playing covers as a learning experience is critical- nobody writes their own material to learn on. But once you have a band together with songs and your own identity, playing covers is purely optional.
     
  5. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Learning other people's songs is an extremely important part of learning how to write. Where classical composers learn? From the masters.

    Learn other people's songs, and perform them. Learn from the masters how to compose, arrange, etc. learn how the best in your genre approach melodies and harmonies.

    There is nothing new or totally original under the sun. And there's not going to be. There are only twelve notes. Combinations are finite. If you refuse to learn from others, all you're going to succeed at is sounding like somebody who ran out in the line of fire without any clue as to what the hell you were doing.

    It's fact though, that unless you've never listened to a note of recorded or live music, you're going to emulate whatever you've heard anyhow. It's not avoidable. So you might as well use it to your advantage. Learn from it.
     
  6. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Plus 1000.

    Write a great song, execute it well, put it on the Internet, and never worry again. If it were that easy...

    Oh, never mind. It's not even worth addressing.
     
  7. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    One part of it is worth addressing, I think. The internet is so clogged up with crap that it makes the good stuff awfully hard to find
     
  8. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I will say though, that being as good a guitar player as Ron Wood, or Tony Iommi, or EVH, or Brent Mason, or whoever, is an illusion.

    I know for a fact that are many of us on this forum who can easily play the stuff a lot of these guys play. The difference is yeah, we can play it. Some of it isn't even very challenging. But they're the guys who THOUGHT to play it, when the red light came on and tape rolled. There's a big difference between being able to play an idea, and being the guy who had the idea.

    The guys who have the ideas are the ones who float to the top. And in that scenario, a creative mind will get you a lot further than a million hours of practice.
     
  9. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good point. I would have been a guitar god if I could go back in time to the '60s playing like I do. But I play the way I play because I am a product of all of those that influenced me, the people who pioneered a lot of the techniques I use.

    Hey, maybe Hendrix was teleported back in time.
     
  10. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    yeah. the guitar god age is over. dead and buried. really I don't believe there's anything further in the sense of pushing the technique envelope that can be achieved. I would love for some kid to come along and prove me wrong.

    But, who have been the most recent guys to inspire entire generations of kids to pick up guitar? slash and cobain? and that was how many decades ago now? and what was new, technique-wise, there?
     
  11. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yep, same thing that happened to piano on the days of Liszt and saxophone in the days of Coltrane has happened to virtuosity on the guitar. It ran it's course and has probably peaked. I don't think it's dead yet, at least I hope not. Not that there aren't a lot of great guitarists out there, but I haven't heard anyone that's sent everyone back to the woodshed like Hendrix, Page, EVH, Malmsteen, or SRV did in a long time.
     
  12. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Ever wonder why bar owners ask "How many people can you draw?" To "make it" you need customers, CD buyers, fans who come to shows, people who will rave to their friends about your music, people who will play your music at their weddings or other life events.

    And you need to make your shows something special. An "event" that makes people curious to see what you're doing. Unless you have some amazing songs, standing up there playing a guitar is only interesting for so long. And by event, I mean just taking your show up a notch. Maybe a theme, special lighting, guest musicians like a horn section for a show or something out of the ordinary. Figure out what is special and different and unique about what you do, and exploit that.

    What ever you do these days needs to be marketed as much as possible to stand out. There is such a thing as good marketing that isn't hitting people over the head with your message. Building a fan base is the key to success.

    Some examples. In our town there's a woman who goes by the name Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Got your attention already, right? Who ate the sandwich? What kind of sandwich? She also plays ukelele. She put videos up on YouTube and started getting attention. This past year she composed the soundtrack for an HBO documentary about the life of a female artist who was deemed insane and institutionalized. She got the gig, I believe, because someone saw her video and offered her the gig. It helps that Danielle is an excellent songwriter and has a nice voice and a slightly warped sense of humor. But it's playing the rent and putting food on the table. She also tours and does workshops at uke fests.

    I don't know their history real well, but a group of people in Nederland, CO put together an acoustic band a few years ago and started getting gigs. They're called Elephant Revival and play a lot of major bluegrass and jam band festivals. They worked hard starting local and spreading out. I don't think they're getting rich, but they travel in a tour bus these days. And they've opened at Red Rocks more then once.

    I know a guitarist named Jeff Pevar who's played with Ray Charles, Crosby/Nash, James Taylor, and was playing with Jazz is Dead the last I heard. Someone asked him how he got such good gigs he said, "Network, network, network." Of course he has world class chops and can play a lot of styles. But he's always active.

    Just some thoughts and observations. People are out there making a living in music, working their butts off and having great lives out side of the traditional "music business."
     
  13. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Yup.

    Ain't hindsight great.
     
  14. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    I may be wrong but from what I have seen playing covers is not optional when starting out if you need to make money and learn to play in front of an audience.

    Maybe someone who spends 4 years in Berklee can form a band and write music while in school and be ready to play out with originals.

    Everybody I have ever heard of from Johnny Cash to the Beatles , Dylan , Clapton, the Rolling Stones,Hendrix etc. all spent plenty of time paying covers.
     
  15. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    In my glory days as a musician, I remember the feeling of never going more than a few days without playing a gig. I was barely aware of the fact that I, or my bandmates or agent, was solidifying the particulars of a gig weeks, as well as months, in the future. In order to be busy now, I realized that I or someone had set this up weeks earlier. I could enjoy the moment of the gig working out well, but I was always on the make for future work. One of my strategies was to jam with everyone that I could. Once people could see that I could handle myself without causing a fuss, they would recommend me for gigs they couldn't make. I made it a point to accept every offer and turn down nothing, unless I already was booked.

    Sometimes you have to do things that make you uncomfortable. The recent Wilco thread reminded me of something one of my music program colleagues, a percussionist, told me. The present drummer for Wilco was a percussion student of his at another university. After graduation, he moved to Chicago. He wound up at party with a bunch of music people, including a member or two of Wilco. He sat in on drums at one point, after which one of the Wilco guys invited him to come over on Sunday to jam with some guys. He had some major conflict, like with a non-music job or something, and he didn't feel like he was ready, but after some dramatic soul-searching, he abandoned his job and took them up on the offer. And the rest is history. He didn't want to go to the jam, not knowing many musicians in town at that point, but he recognized an opportunity, which, of course, panned out big-time. People think that great opportunities just fall in your lap, or they don't. They don't always understand the necessary steps toward making such an opportunity present itself.

    I hosted two composition guest artists at my university this semester. The first one was an alum from 40 years ago, who stopped in while driving home from his mother's funeral. We had a nice chat with my students, and he started suggesting that he come out for a concert and workshop. The second composer was someone I knew for a long time, but wasn't particularly close to. One of my students contacted her, at my suggestion, to get some info on another composer that she had worked with. This turned into a few emails in which I asked her about some of the details of her program. Very soon into this, she said that she would be happy to come out to our school to consult or do a workshop. How could I have turned that down?

    My wife, a professor of painting, is always getting hit up by people who try to wrangle a guest artist gig. She hates it, as do I. You wouldn't believe how rare it is for one of us to be invited to their school, in return. But, I get it. You are all alone out there, as it seems like it's every man or woman for themselves. I'm sure many musicians and artists just can't deal with that aspect, hence, they stay a hometown legend.
     
  16. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Tele-Afflicted

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    Interviewer: What do you think made the difference, and put you up above the other groups?

    George Harrison: We got a record contract.

    And they worked their butts off in Hamburg, playing 8 hours a day. Lennon & McCartney had a lot of practice writing songs (since 1957). They developed a big following in Liverpool, soon the rest of the world, literally, would follow. Brian Epstein saw that and their potential: "The Beatles will be bigger than Elvis Presley." He made them have a professional image (with suits, no swearing on stage). He took a lot of rejection, until he met with George Martin. They were very charming people, and that helped sell them to George martin.

    Scroll to 0:55:

     
  17. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    Be Charismatic

    Work/Practice Harder/Smarter Than Everyone Else

    Write Your Own Material And Polish It To A Razor's Edge

    Locate Yourself In The Right City

    Be Yourself/ Unique; Be Everywhere; Meet Everyone; Do Everything To:

    BE AT THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME!!!
     
  18. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    About eight years ago we had a work dinner and one of the other coworker's late-teen (possible freshman college) kids were in a typical band. My guitar interest plus MBA business interests kicked in with questions. One insightful kid said that the big money in gigs went to the singer and only some went to the guitarist (they played guitar and bass) - demand just isn't there for the pure instrument players because supply is large and talented.

    Since then I've suspected songwriters to be in demand and get the cash because success there is challenging and as you say 'being the guy who had the idea' is a big difference.

    Where does the money in the music business flow the deepest these days?
     
  19. greggorypeccary

    greggorypeccary Friend of Leo's

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    With the internet companies that host all the audio and video 'content' created by the artists (and enjoyed by the fans who think it all should be free).
     
  20. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Sounds vaguely familiar, just not in music.

    In a nutshell, here's what has worked for me through the years.

    Dive in to your work. Set high personal standards. Ignore the status quo, the naysayers. Karma. Put it out there, constantly, with zero hope of return. Don't lie. Deal honestly with everyone you encounter. Work HARD. Keep at it. Keep learning. Keep pushing your own boundaries.

    If you want to be paid for something, you have to be doing it first.

    Security, mediocrity, and "following" go together. If you want success, blaze your own path, even though it's scary. There's no guarantee. You may fail, this time. When you finally succeed, your path to success will be unique to you.

    Ignore trying to "be successful", and start acting successful.

    Who am I to be saying this? Nobody. I've had my share of successes, and failures, but they're no different than so many other people.
     
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