I guess one of the things to ask myself straight up when evaluating my music goals is: How do I define a ‘successful musician’? What is ‘success’ in the music industry?
Is it someone who is selling out arenas and entertainment centres? (Lady Gaga and Coldplay come to mind) Someone who is making a splash at national festivals and is popular in their country, but yet to break it big overseas? (Eg. The Jezabels) (- for international readers, this is a big Australian band right now. Check them out) Is it a local band with a strong following who is starting to make waves? Or someone who has been around for a loooong time, still quietly making records without too much fanfare, someone who has artistic integrity and a sizable following but never quite made it to ‘household name’ level? (I’m thinking of Tori Amos here – maybe she is huge to some, but there are still plenty of people who have no idea who she is)
The answer to me, really, is all of the above. I would be happy with any level of these successes. My main goal is to reach people and touch their emotions, make them think about their lives, and be entertained. The common thread between all of the examples above, though, is: all of these kinds of ‘success stories’ have played a lot of gigs, and people actually know about them. So I suppose my definition of a ‘successful musician’ involves people who have actually gotten out of their bedrooms and jam rooms, and taken their music to the public.
Therefore, I deduce that to achieve any sort of success in music, a crucial step involves actually taking your music to the public**. What a craaaaaaaazy idea!!!
**UNLESS you are an exception like Justin Bieber, who was discovered on YouTube without having left his house. However, this example only works if you consider the Biebster to be a musician. I kinda don’t 😛 – moving on.
As duh-worthy as it sounds, this ‘taking your music to the public’ thing is a crucial step for most musical careers. I suppose the frustration I’m experiencing with my career at the moment comes from the fact that my band and I have not even played a gig yet. (Sounds hilarious, I know – what – do I expect success to come knocking at the door? Of course we have to get out there!) It’s just taking longer than expected. It’s not as simple as “we’ve written some songs, now let’s get onstage”. The songs have to be perfected. We have to have the right gear. We have to practice and get to a good, tight level as a band. We have to do recordings to let venues we are approaching know what we sound like. We have to find something to wear. Etc, etc.
The core 3 of us – me, Ross and James – have been jamming together for nearly a year now, while many ‘4th members’ have come and gone. My guitarist, Ross, and I worked in a previous band together, and I felt we gigged before we were ready. Consequently, we may have lost potential fans by sounding shit when we played. It’s important to – well, be good – when playing live, otherwise people will assume you suck as a band, and probably not bother to listen to you or see you play again.
So we decided to get ‘really good’ and tight before we played a gig with this band. It’s probably been good for us, though, to all get used to playing together. The band has somehow evolved from an all-female band (except for Ross), to an all-male band (except for me). So, as you can imagine, many members have come and gone, and we’ve barely even done anything yet! People coming and going has really set us back in our ‘getting things done’ timeline. That’s the thing with a band. You have to be able to trust all of your members, because one person’s fuckup can ruin it for everyone else. I know we’re all feeling a little frustrated after all this waiting. However….I’m excited to say we have our first gig booked on May 4th!
It’s at a venue called Woodland, an up-and-coming trendy venue in Brisbane’s centre of music, Fortitude Valley. A band who has been kind enough to take us under their wing (The Androgyny) are allowing us to support them at their single launch. We only have crappy home-made demos at the moment (nothing I’d show the public), but they could hear the potential in these tracks and are giving us a go.
It was funny, because as soon as we booked the gig, Ross got a text message from his boss telling him the site of his job the next day. It was at a place in “Woodlands estate, off Woodland Ave”. Seriously. What an amazing sign from the Universe!…or so we thought, until later that day, our 2nd guitarist quit the band. We even asked him to pleeeeaase stay on for the gig, we’d pay him and everything, but he said he had his hands too full up with Uni. What the hell! It felt like a cosmic joke. I feel like I spend so much time trying to decipher the little messages and coincidences I receive from the ether. When wondering aloud about this on Facebook, though, a wise friend told me, “There is NOTHING but choice and consequence, choice and consequence. Everything else is ironic coincidence. If you want to do the gig, find a way to do it.” I choose to take that onboard. So I’ve been advertising like mad, and we’ve just auditioned 3 awesome guitarists to fill the part. We also have managed to find a stand-in for the gig, in case we can’t find someone to get ready quick enough. (Our awesome sound guy Andy) So, things will be okay. I’m looking forward to finally taking our sounds to the public. I’m sure we won’t be perfect, but I hope that we do enough to get our vibe across, and I can’t wait to actually see PEOPLE listening to our music!
I’ll leave you today with some awesome tracks from the artists I mentioned above. I’m sure Gaga & Coldplay don’t need more publicity, but here’s some Jezabels & Tori.