What’s good enough? I suppose good enough does what its creators intend it to do. For instance, it’s great to make recordings for the sheer pleasure of doing them. Mat and I did one recently for our end of the year roster compilation Ends Of Beginnings, by “reforming” our old band for a few hours of fun. We had fun making it and it was fun to listen back to the end result and realise that no matter where, when or how we record our stuff, it always sounds like us. For good or bad, I might add!
Artists who have commercial aspirations for their music, however, can’t rely on fun only. They need to understand that anything they release for public consumption needs to be fit for public consumption. To begin with, the recordings need to sound good. Consider your behaviour as a music consumer. The 20 seconds you give of your time to a new band needs to blow you out of the water. If it doesn’t, you move on and the band can and will keep being unappreciated and ignored by you and the rest of the world.
Picture yourself as a music journalist. Another new band being pitched at you better sound exciting and new, because you want your spirit invigorated. Consider yourself a label owner. You’re looking for a hit song, because hits sell records. Think like a music supervisor. The piece of music needs to fit the scene perfectly.
And there’s more still.
Once these musical criteria have been satisfied, people in the business of music then consider other criteria like image, profile, statistics etc. before they decide to get involved commercially. Some place quite a lot of importance on the non-music stuff. A hell of a lot.
For those seeking a career in music, good enough is a recording fit for public consumption as well as all these other things. Most emerging artists don’t even satisfy the first, most elemental requirement of sounding good.
From time to time we come across artists in whom we see potential. We discuss what needs to be done to help the band make the transition from being unappreciated to being appreciated. Everything we say about promotion and releases, strategy, tours and PR is usually lapped up with glee. It’s not always the same when we discuss the need to develop the music, which far too often, and alarmingly, is the last item on their agenda.
It’s as baffling as it is frustrating to realise that they think that the same music that has been unappreciated by others before we came along will now be appreciated because of our contacts.
It isn’t even flattering. Its naivety and stupidity is depressing. The lazy, soft in the middle attitude of these day jobbing time wasters is what Bon Jovi is to rock music: syphilis, eating away at the core of what is cool about playing guitar for a living.
I’d hate to leave on a sour riff about a man who has toured stadiums for 30 odd years. I admire and respect the guy even if his music isn’t my cuppa. He doesn’t wake up in the morning worried about his job or what his boss might say. He has had a successful career in a cut throat business for longer than most readers of this blog have been alive, if Google Analytics are to be believed.
As for One Direction, a lot of people genuinely like that shit.
For every Bon Jovi and One Direction there have been countless other artists whose music has been put through the systems of the music business with equal vigour, equal marketing spend and equal belief.
The only variable? The music. BJ and OD…. people actually like the records they make.