I went back to the old country the other week for rest and recreation, which in my case meant lots of squash and the occasional glass of wine. In between matches I managed to meet a few fellow music professionals, too.
I met an a&r who had recently left his post at a major, which he had held for well over a decade, to manage a young artist he had signed and developed at the label. This young kid, who is actually related to me, has just sold over 100 000 records in Finland, an amazing feat in a country that small. That is in itself remarkable, but even more so is the fact that I first heard of the project about a year ago when my mate the a&r started developing said talent. Of course, my man would have heard of the kid a little before he would have approached me for songs. The artist was in development for well over a year before they released anything.
It’s great to hear of such things. Real development does happen and it bloody works. If you’re in a band and you’re reading this, write lots of songs. Then write some more. Tear everything apart and work on your craft. It will pay off in the end.
Consider this for five minutes: in our frenzied social media driven world filled with every tomdickandharry pushing their badly recorded attempts at songs, wouldn’t they be better off if they disconnected completely and learned to do something stellar first? Wouldn’t the results of our labour be much better if what we were selling was actually good?
Get off Facebook and write a tune. Practice daily for hours. Stop reading this. Now.
I get asked for advice, direction and guidance by artists who approach us. It baffles me that perfectly sane looking people refuse to connect the lack of quality in their offering with the lack of results in the careers. The lack of originality v. people’s apathy. The lack of people at their shows v. their ability to entertain.
I often talk about the need to strive for quality and needing to go out on a limb. It’s frustrating when it doesn’t resonate. Or, maybe it does, but the upshot of the conversation too often is a stalemate. Lots of fine words, but very little action.
Be enthusiastic about the process of creating. The battle to come up with the goods is the FUN bit!
Do the polar opposite of everything that everyone else is doing. If they are haranguing big promoters for big gigs, do a lot of small ones that you can get. If they are releasing a song every week, put your faith in one stellar track every couple of months. Whatever they’re wearing, don’t. Whatever they’re writing about, don’t.
Geddit? Be different. Be great.
As for cynicism, how’s it going to help? Be enthusiastic about the process of getting things done. I sure as hell have spent more than the national budget of a third world country on studios, gear, PR, more gear, more studio time etc. Sometimes it has worked, sometimes it hasn’t. I can always make more money if I lose some going for something I believe in.
But so far I haven’t found a way to get back time wasted on stuff that isn’t affecting change.
Someone’s funny covers of someone else’s songs on YouTube passes for entertainment and art, it would appear. I like this, among with one hundred and twenty million others…
I can’t see anyone get wildly excited about a video like the one above. Amused, yes. Mildly curious, for sure. The serious question, however, is how can a business survive if the people in it don’t innovate and create? Isn’t creativity the stuff that gets your juices going?
Works for me. Every day.