From time to time university students on music business management courses contact me to ask questions about their dissertations. Most of them deal with the changing landscape of music, new consumption models, monetisation, new paradigm, blahblahblah.
I would love to suggest an idea for a dissertation.
Why Do Musicians Who Aren’t Any Good Think They Will Get A Career In Music?
Comedians will only make it if they’re very funny. They know they are funny when people laugh. Sportsmen only make it if they’re better than the other players. They know that to be the case when they win.
What is the psychological trick that makes most of us think that as soon as we’ve learned to strum a twanger we’re on par with or better than every band at Glastonbury?
Mind you, at this year’s Glasto the band with the most career hours ruined the theory that practice makes perfect.
In all seriousness, it would be interesting to find out about the psychology involved in self deception and what feeds it.
I’m a parent. At school concerts doting parents lavishly praise their kids’ talent. It’s more important to reward people for hard work than it is to praise people for their “talent”. The former leads to people wanting to work hard, the latter makes a guy lazy, because he believes he’s got what it takes already.
In reality, when someone has, over the course of a couple of afternoons, managed to just about memorise the tune, but not all the words, I don’t see how it qualifies as hard work.
In two decades of making music for a living I’ve concluded that everything I’ve ever had any kind of modest success with was really hard to come by. Success is impossible to attain on your spare time, winging it, kinda… “Yeah, cool man, where’s my prize for showing up?”
A university course in music that demands 2-3 days of work a week is woefully inadequate. Kids shouldn’t be encouraged to spend ten grand on an inadequate degree that doesn’t qualify them for a job that doesn’t exist. The system is not joined up in its thinking, except that it makes good money for the schools. That bit has been figured out really well. The system always wins.
Other questions integral to our hypothesis are:
Why Won’t People Learn To Play?
Not being able to play in time and in tune is not rock’n'roll, man. Indeed, the cats who invented rock’n'roll, man, were the baddest, meanest players of their generation. Those who followed in their footsteps also moved culture forward with their skill, musicianship and artistic integrity and innovation.
Why Is It That People Can’t Hear How Rubbish Their Songs Are?
I make a modest income from writing songs. 99 out of 100 of them are no good. It’s the one that makes all the dough. If you study the careers of extremely successful artists, you can sum most of them up with less than a handful of career making songs. The Beatles and Abba are the exceptions to the rule.
Why Is It That People Can’t Hear How Awful Their Recordings Sound?
We are used to hearing great sounding records. These days there is just no excuse for a bad sounding recording. It has no place in the public domain.
Quality costs money. It takes time to develop it. It is very difficult to get there.
When you go on stage you have to deceive yourself into thinking that you’re baddest cat alive. But when you get off, you must accept the opposite, grab the bull by the horns and get better.