happens to everyone
Fleetwood Mac - Dreams (Walter Sobcek Remix)
Sometimes, I think the only art left for us is slowly peeling the label off a beer bottle while somebody tells you about a dream they had.
I’ve never been into band boys
Being in a band I found the entire idea of dating a band person to be lame. Mostly because it takes a lot of ego to believe you are the cats pajamas when it comes to song and dance, and that people will actually pay to see you play. True, in Canada you can be even marginally talented and score a label contract some tour support, even grant money to be able to pursue your dream. But I swear I saw the guy from I Mother Earth bartending at Tattoo Rock Parlor one night out in Toronto and it made me think “Is this where Canadian rock stars go to die?” I read up on it a long time ago, looked at what a label advance meant financially, and then the cost of actually record-making and promotion. Unless you have the backing of a team of yeasayers who are social media savvy and can convince college freshmen and blog snobs that you are worth a listen, you will find yourself with a small audience of followers that will buy your records and sometimes go to your shows, but you will never quite attain that level of “success” glorified in the news programs of today. Unless you go viral on youtube at most even a pretty “successful” Canadian act can look forward to being just that: A Pretty Successful Canadian Act. Making roughly $50,000 a year under the weight of the debt of your label advances, working 300+ days a year to tour and promote your record, sharing close quarters, farting and eating with people who share the dream and are willing to live it. Yes we have Chavril, Bieber, Dragonette, Tegan and Sara, and Drake. But what else is there?
A lot of unheard, unsigned artists now provide their music online for free because it is good exposure. They will have better luck tapping the market of people who torrent entire playlists and reblog videos on Tumblr than aiming for the esteemed record contract. Not that a record contract is worth much anymore unless you are big. Labels are like loan sharks. Moreover the industry has changed, everything has gone online, no one cares if you are with Interscope or Sony, if you hit it big with youtube or twitter, you’ve hit it big. A few years ago, blogs were a pure way of finding fresh music and learning about these bands no one has ever heard of. Now the market has been saturated. More interesting is the fact that music blogging is a market at all. People are paying people to write about them. Don’t be shocked or anything, for decades the puppetmasters of the music universe have been paying magazines and publications to print one page articles on bands no one has ever heard of and suddenly they are larger than life. Ever watched an artist rise out of obscurity nowadays? Almost overnight they go from a few hundred to literally tens of thousands of Twitter followers and every blogger under the sun is calling them “the next big thing”. Some of these are legit, but a lot of these newly signed artists who “blow up” have an entire team working behind the scenes creating an elaborate launch strategy before the artist has a chance to record their first hook. What, you don’t think you can buy Twitter followers? Just google it.
There are organically grown music acts who develop their sound with a legitimately loyal following from the ground up. Engaging their audience with tweets and likes and reblogs and youtube videos, building the hype on their own. Kudos to them. It takes an awful lot of personal time to be social media savvy and a rock star. There was a point where I bought it. I believed in the legitimacy of artistic integrity and the will of common folk to want to find something worth listening to, without the help of a mouthpiece or a management team. But let’s get real for a minute and think about what we’re dealing with. Unless they know the name of a band they’re interested in, most people just google a genre. Unless the independent artist knows anything about keywords, Adsense, meta-tags and web layouts the odds of a first page ranking on Google are slim. No one is going to find you unless you know how to put yourself out there.
What sealed the deal for me was past experience with the web. The online forms, the electronic press kits, the web updates, the constant engagement with social media. Pay attention to me, I have something important to say. Buy my records. Watch my video. I am guilty of it all and I’m ashamed of it to be honest. I prefer my acoustic guitar by the fire singing karaoke with close friends over a stage performance nowadays. I don’t have the drive for music the way I did in my teens and early twenties. Priorities shift. You look around at weddings and parties and realize wow, people are getting married, really focusing on family life and creating close bonds with loved ones and I am trying to sell CDs out of the trunk of somebody’s car. This is not how I’d like to do music thanks.
Kudos to the organizers, the venues and the artists who make it in. It is a lot of work for all of the people involved in putting on a music festival. I know a lot of people who still get excited for these things, and have friends who are in bands who are playing the shows. As for the band boys, they’re cute and all, but they don’t have the resources to support my lifestyle and are simply too self-involved. It is enough that I am so self-involved, there doesn’t need to be two of us vying for the same attention. That would be like dating an only child; I don’t want to be your mommy. I was a band girl and I want to be with someone with realistic life aspirations and money in their pockets, because I grew out of it the day I realized it just wasn’t what I thought it would be. I am grateful that I can pick up an instrument and play it for people without hesitating, but I don’t want to be a part of the machine and haven’t been for a long time now. I don’t like how the system is structured. Independent music deserves attention. Bureaucracy has long been the fatter older brother of the music industry, I just didn’t think it would follow so closely.