Quick recap of current activities
Boy, am I excited! In just 24 hours, I’ll be getting ready with my band to record our debut lo-fi EP. All weekend. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to share our songs with people, and finally be able to look for gigs (with recordings to show venues).
Our band had a rehearsal last night, which our recording engineer came to. We set tempos and talked about what we will need to bring for the weekend. If possible, we’ll record James’ drums to a click track. There are some pretty gnarly tempo changes in some songs, and I think for a proper recording, a click is essential. I’m pretty darn happy with how we were sounding. We’re going to spend tomorrow (Saturday) recording all of James’ drums in our regular rehearsal studio. We’ll be playing along, to get the right “live” feel, but probably won’t get any guitars down. It’s all about tracking drums. On Sunday, though, we’ll be doing both guitars and bass at Ross’ friend’s house (who has a really sweet home lab called Fireball Studios). If we get vocals down, all the better, but I’m thinking I’ll probably have to do that during the week, sometime.
I’m really pumped to see how it all turns out! I’ve never recorded before with a whole band. I have done pro recordings in the past, but usually on my own or with Ross, with session musicians playing the other instruments, or with programmed drums, etc. This time, all the sounds will be coming from US!…and our instruments. It’s going to be so fun and creative.
What i$ a Musician Worth? Part 2
In my previous post, I mused about what music is worth when it comes to gigs. This post, I’m interested in discussing the worth of music itself…music as a product, and a commodity.
I found an interview on mashable.com with Billy Corgan at SXSW. It’s a chat about whether social networking and the digital age are really helping artists. Billy Corgan votes no 😛 It’s not really as simple as that, though. He points out the good side and the bad side of the current musical climate. And the world’s changing value system towards music. Whether or not you like Billy Corgan, I think he has some very interesting and intelligent insights on this topic. I’ve transcribed some of Billy’s words below (keep in mind he’s talking conversationally):
“With any commerce, you start with a fundamental belief, which is ‘I’m ok with paying for this thing.’…We’ve lost the gradiated rational decision of what music is worth. The ‘album’ was a contrivance of the music industry, because in the beginning they didn’t give a shit…it wasn’t until The Beatles and The Beach Boys that the album as a form was risen to a higher form, and they realised ‘Oh, we can sell even more of these things’. And so then, everybody was an ‘artist’. So, whatever’s happened in the last 15 years with technology has degraded the price point to the point where people say, ‘I just don’t wanna pay for that. Or, if I’m gonna pay for it, I’m really gonna be super picky about what I buy. And then…the secondary casualty, which is it’s turned music culture into a service culture… People like me used to be ‘auteurs’ – “I’m gonna do what the fuck I wanna do, like it or don’t like it” – well, if you’re really good, they’ll come. And if you don’t do a good job, they won’t come. Now, somehow, I’m supposed to beg for attention. That’s completely counter-intuitive to, a), why I became a musician, and b) to the personality of someone like me. So, I’m supposed to have enough of an ego to make my own world, music, artwork, everything. But, please, oh, please, can you fork out that $15, that $10? That’s a really big decision…What?! How did this become such a big decision?…The general person no longer really believes in the idea of making that purchase. They just don’t trust it anymore, for whatever reason. And that’s been the weird thing that none of us could have anticipated…..What the sophisticated fan needs to understand is, if they don’t support (the artists they love) in total, from their world, if they get caught up in that snarky, smalling mentality, it’s actually a vote for the other side (of flash-in-the-pan music with no real artistry). And that side is only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.”
And about the relationship between musicians and fans:
“The young artist understands that, (they need to) build a world that people are going to want to visit, and stay in… they’re gonna have to want to participate in a wider set of commercial exchange. Now, that could take different forms. It doesn’t even necessarily have to require money. If you have 100,000 people on your Facebook, you need to turn those people into an army that’s going to work for you. Now, in the old way, if you’d go to them and say ‘Please, can you help me, we need our street tream’, 90% of your fans say “fuck off” and they see it as beneath (them). But your fans have to be sophisticated enough to understand that, in essence, they’re aiding and abetting the enemy. If you’re an alternative music fan, you’re basically aiding and abetting the enemy (if they don’t help)…I remember one time…like 5 years ago, I asked our fans, can you please call up the radio stations and request our song? Because that is, part and parcel, the way they judge whether or not they’re going to play your song. (Imitating fans) “Fuck you!”…At what point do we make this exchange where people empower themselves to support the things they really believe in?….Artists are gonna have to represent more than just the narrow bandwidth of music…You have to mean something and be more.”
Watch the video here, it’s pretty awesome.
Well…I certainly quoted that interview extensively! It just really got me thinking, both as a musician and as a fan. I feel as though I could be a better music fan than I am. There are some bands I really love, but I can’t say I ever do much more than buy the occasional ticket to their show, buy their album or maybe post one of their music videos on Facebook. There has only ever been one band that I went into full on fan-mode for (The Red Paintings – an amazing Australian band). And Mr. Corgan is correct, I loved TRP for more than their music. I loved them because they were a crazy art-rock band that featured artists painting live to their music at every show, usually on canvases but sometimes even on humans. They are a band that put on amazing themed gigs. Some I’ve been to include the Alice in Wonderland theme gig, the Andy Warhol themed gig, and even the Mark Ryden painting-themed gig. At every one of these shows, the band dressed up in incredible themed costumes, and encouraged the audience to dress up, too. (How’s that for ‘representing more than the narrow bandwidth of music’, Billy?).
I just dug up some old photos from the Mark Ryden gig, this was like…at least 5 years ago, but check it out. Amazing creativity:
You can check out The Red Paintings’ talent for incorporating visuals with their work in one of their videos.
Why did I stop being such a crazy fan? I got sort of irritated at the politics of some of the people going to the gigs (the same people came every week). Eventually, the rad people I had fun with became replaced with new fans who, I felt, had less respect and weren’t as fun to hang out with. Plus I got busy with my own music and didn’t feel I ‘had the time’ to keep going to every gig. I haven’t seen a Red Paintings gig in a long while (though Ross and I did get to play support for them once!…in one of the worst gigs of our life. I was sick. Anyway…). I will always have time for The Red Paintings, though. They really make you want to get involved.
Now speaking as a musician – I dont think that it’s necessary to create that fancy or extensive a world for your fans to interact with. (But you can see how amazingly effective it is). You just have to do it your own way. The Red Paintings definitely had a particular vision, and followed through on it. As a musician, find your own vision and make that come across as much as possible in your music. Find out what makes you unique, and get that across to your audience. Not everyone may like you, but you will attract people who dig what you’re about. Give stuff away to fans, be generous, but don’t give everything away. Invite people into a special world that you and your band have created.
Hope I’ve stimulated your brain today. I’d better get ready for work – thanks for reading!