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Where do we go from here?


Eric Iverson

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Yes, times have changed for the better AND for the worse.

 

While it's cool to discuss what has happened and why, and maybe assign credit and blame where warranted (although a lot of that is way too simplistic), the question remains:

 

Where do we go from here?

Times have changed, technology has changed, the business climate has changed.

Don't we have to adapt somehow to survive, "live long and prosper", if you will, LOL; if we want to do it for a living, and have a large audience?

 

There is NOTHING we old-timers can do to bring back the blessed Woodstock era, so why waste time trying? Why not take advantage of the positive side of today's reality, such as:

 

1. Instant access to a wide audience through You Tube;

2. Much improved home recording (and other) technology;

3. A vastly greater pool of instructional material than what we had back in the late '60s;

4. And other things, no doubt! (Input welcome.)

 

What hasn't changed is that people in general still enjoy music, some of whom really LOVE it; and there are still those of us who love playing and take pride in our work.

 

I believe there will always be an audience for good singing, playing and songwriting/composing. There may not be a MASS audience - but if a person can make a living doing what they love, that's not TOO shabby, is it?

 

I'm no Nostradamus, but I predict that there will be fewer superstars, maybe, but better opportunities for the average good musician - time will tell if I am right or not!

 

At any rate, people will go on making music and some will even (dare I say it?? pay for it, I am sure of that!

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Actually, ask kids who they listen to and 99% of the time, it's not going to be a no name band that is self promoting on Facebook.

 

Kids listen to what they are told to listen to. They listen to Miley Cyrus, Lady GaGa and 50 Cent. They listen to what ever crappy piece of crap the producers spit polish and shrink wrap for them. They watch their tv shows and buy their video games. If you want to know what kids are listening to, turn on Disney's Family channel or BET.

 

The other, small percent, listen to the old stuff that we listened to.

 

Of course there is "that guy" that listens only to indie stuff, but he is probably only doing so to make a statement and to be different from everyone else.

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With all due respect, I still think there are kids out there who love music, and listen to anyone who has something to teach them... be it Bach and Beethoven, be it Miles and Coltrane, be it the Beatles and Hendrix, be it the band they hear down the street....

 

Even if "99%" is an accurate figure, which I doubt, what about the 1% who genuinely care about doing something excellent, and who might come up with something that will blow people's minds, and change how people hear music? Or enhance it, at least?

 

I just don't buy the cynicism... I am not the next musical genius, although my peers respect me. I still believe there are plenty of talented people out there, and at least a few of them have something genuinely worthy of hearing!

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Does the media show crap? Of course it does, and always has, and it's worse than when I was a kid, if anything.

 

But in what way, or form, does Disney or the Universal Music Group, or commercial define what we musicians listen to and learn from??

 

With modern technology, we have access to MORE music than we ever did in the past, and if we're too #@$*)) stupid and/or lazy to take advantage of it, it's not the fault of Disney or UMG or anybody else!

 

Not all Americans (young or otherwise) have their tastes defined by American Idol... believe it or not!

 

If a person really wants to learn to play well, there are MORE options out there now then there used to be... well, I guess I'm on a rant... a noble tradition on this column......

 

Eric, charter member of Ranting and Raving (sounds like a law firm, doesn't it?)

 

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We have two kids. I guess being musicians and artists all our life (my wife is a singer and a web designer) we are a different breed than most of the "regular" people. (This is not an evaluation) We bake our own bread, we have a big garden, we have six chicken - they are actually pretty posh - I call them "GUCCI" chicken... we enjoy cooking from scratch, we have a wood-burning Pizza oven, we hunt and fish and guess what - Our children don't like McDonalds (no kidding), they don't like Pizza Hut, they love home-made food. They are no picky eaters, they love Lowcountry Seafood, shrimp, oysters, Sushi, olives, fresh bread with olive oil etc (Please don't get me wrong, I don't want to say there is anything wrong with McDonals or Pizza Hut).

 

My point is:

Children adapt what their role-models do. They enjoy what their parents rave about (at least to a certain age...). We listen to Ry Cooder, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, 60's and 70's music and guess what - the kids like it, too.

 

Of course there is always the "I have to be cool with my friends in school" thing. Our daughter liked Hannah Montana for a while - until she told me: "Daddy, Hannah Montana is only "pretend". She's not real." Go figure, my daughter is 5 1/2

She now listens to Deep Purple, her favorite song is "Hush"... And she already sings harmony vocals to country songs. 5 1/2 years old and she is right on the money... Did we ask her to do it? No, my wife always sits in the car and sings harmony vocals herself.

My son plays drums, since it is "way cooler" than Daddy's guitars...

 

I know there will be times when they think everything we do is wrong and old-fashioned. We are up for that challenge in a couple of years, I guess. But I am convinced that the seed, we are planting now will eventually sprout - it just needs to make it through puberty LOL

 

BTW, I forgot: Commercial Trash TV does not happen in our house, we don't have cable or satellite. But we got about 800 DVD's with all the movie classics... Hm, maybe I should get a grip and install a dish within the next couple of years. I guess my teenage daughter would kill me otherwise - in about 6 years...

 

Cheers,

Holger

There is no cure for GAS!

 

www.customguitarvideo.com | The finest Custom Electric, Acoustic and Archtop Guitar related video entertainment on the web. And it's FREE!

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At 1st I wondered what the h happened that I'd missed... :freak:

Then I realized the point.

 

Thia is a revlving door that's been turning slowly for a long time & it's still, really, turning kinda slowly.

 

Old methods are still with us even as new ones zre being toyed with but I think few people have got a grasp on what to do b/c most simply don't realize the possibilities, whether of marketing, of presentation or of musical forms.

 

Time is tight for me at this moment so I won't go into a lotta detail of different possibilities in this post (though I'll return) but the main thing people need to realize is that the current & near future entertainment world's possililities are just a step up from what things were, say, in the late 1970s when "new wave" & DIY concepts hit only w/ a lot more technical tools at our disposal (& more that many don't even know about yet) combined w/ a greater potential for more people to "crowd the field".

 

Things aren't so much entirely changed as just different, if you can follow that.

 

More to follow...

d=halfnote
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My daughter, who will be 17 very soon, and her friends are into the bands they hear on FM radio, sort of like 17 year old kids 10 and 20 years ago. What is encouraging is that they actually buy CD's and go to concerts to see the bands(again like kids in the past have always done). There is some downloading going on but it's kind of like radio, they download a song or two by an artist they like, then go buy the CD, as opposed to hearing a song or two on the radio and going out to buy the CD. The radio airplay is still in the picture though. So, I think A String is pretty well on the money. What puzzles me is how these new bands reach touring mode when there are hardly and venues left between playing really run-down bars for beer and the concert stage. Bands used to have to slog through a 6 night gig per week in the same bar playing mostly covers and slipping in a couple of originals until they built up a big enough buzz to get a recording/tour deal but I don't know of any bars these days that hire live bands that way. I saw Rush, Maxwell Webster, Triumph, Loverboy(formerly "Moxy") and numerous other bands reach the big time this way back in the late 70's, early 80's but those venues are either gone or don't hire live music amymore.

 

 

Jim

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...my daughter is 5 1/2

She now listens to Deep Purple, her favorite song is "Hush".

 

:o Your daughter rules. :thu::D

 

 

When I worked at a bank with a LOT of early 20-somethings, they had everything from Classic Rock (just the hits) to Rap on their iPods. They still tended to listen mainly to current music.

A Jazz/Chord Melody Master-my former instructor www.robertconti.com

 

(FKA GuitarPlayerSoCal)

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I don't know about anywhere else, but around here the number of clubs that hire live acts is on a steady decline, and the number of clubs that used to have live acts every night or the majority of nights are cutting back to only once or twice a week. This at a time when the number of night spots is expanding.

 

I asked...I had to... and I was told by one club owner that the available live bands just weren't very good, didn't draw, and more often than not they played too loud and chased out the few customers that stayed around to see how they sounded.

 

These rooms used to put up with us and our Marshall stacks.

 

We've been around the block about what I feel is the stagnant creative pool, with so many bands all trying to sound the same. But apparently there is also an issue about understanding why a club owner hires entertainment in the first place.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Well, while it's easy to dwell on the negative side of things, things are really better for music than ever. I remember growing up reading Guitar Player magazine and reading about all these great players. Even if I could have afforded to buy an album from someone who seemed interesting, in my market (Dallas) it was hard to even find lots of these records outside the top 40. Radio was even worse, even though todays radio is ultra formated, you still wouldn't be very likely to hear a Coltrane record if you were a rock fan.

 

The cool thing about today is that you can check out almost any artist on YouTube where before it might take YEARS before you could find a record by someone who wasn't being promoted by a major label. Maybe if you are thinking of music as a profession then things are really tough, the whole "image is everything" mentality has completely overwhelmed the media. But, as a music fan, the internet has made it possible to find anything in seconds, not years.

 

It may take some time before this new paradigm solidifies, but cross pollination of musical ideas usually leads to more and better things.

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Actually, ask kids who they listen to and 99% of the time, it's not going to be a no name band that is self promoting on Facebook.

 

Kids listen to what they are told to listen to. They listen to Miley Cyrus, Lady GaGa and 50 Cent. They listen to what ever crappy piece of crap the producers spit polish and shrink wrap for them. They watch their tv shows and buy their video games. If you want to know what kids are listening to, turn on Disney's Family channel or BET.

 

The other, small percent, listen to the old stuff that we listened to.

 

Of course there is "that guy" that listens only to indie stuff, but he is probably only doing so to make a statement and to be different from everyone else.

 

I've always been "that guy,"... always... and I listened to classic stuff and whatever is good...

 

BUT, in general I'm someone who seeks out stuff on my own rather than following the crowd, and I was one of the guys in high school and jr. high introducing everybody to newer bands.

 

Music, if it is decline, is in decline for one specific reason: it isn't speaking to females.

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I don't know about anywhere else, but around here the number of clubs that hire live acts is on a steady decline, and the number of clubs that used to have live acts every night or the majority of nights are cutting back to only once or twice a week. This at a time when the number of night spots is expanding.

 

I asked...I had to... and I was told by one club owner that the available live bands just weren't very good, didn't draw, and more often than not they played too loud and chased out the few customers that stayed around to see how they sounded.

 

These rooms used to put up with us and our Marshall stacks.

 

We've been around the block about what I feel is the stagnant creative pool, with so many bands all trying to sound the same. But apparently there is also an issue about understanding why a club owner hires entertainment in the first place.

 

Bill

 

I was about to say, from my personal experiences (people I play with), the problems are:

 

1) volume, to the point where people can't talk over the band and it isn't a social event anymore, it's an electric lecture.

 

2) musicians forgetting that they're there to connect with the crowd and not the other way around.

 

These things haven't mattered when the band was playing to a room full of people who owned the disc, knew all of our songs are focused attention on the music, but in breaking the ice in a new place it's been the problem.

 

Being the one that falls into the manager/booking guy role usually it's frustrating as hell, but "artistes" like to take the uphill road, don't they.

 

That's for original bands.

 

The cover bands I've played with... rarely do people seem to want to do that who have their playing and everything together, though the ones who do make a fortune. They're hard to come by around here... it's like a band full of lazy, disgruntled fast food employees, with about as much joy in what they're doing. How a bassist can tune then play an entire Stanley Clarke song to my annoyance while the house music is on then fumble the three chord progression to "The Joker" by Steve Miller every gig is beyond me... unless it's passive aggression supreme.

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I was about to say, from my personal experiences (people I play with), the problems are:

 

1) volume, to the point where people can't talk over the band and it isn't a social event anymore, it's an electric lecture.

 

Well, according to the biography I read, folks used to say that about SRV before he was famous. He was always running anywhere from 2 to 4 amps at once and loud enough to pin patrons against the back wall. I honestly hate playing overly loud, but I hate worse playing places where even SRV could be a transistor radio for all the audience attention the band gets.

 

2) musicians forgetting that they're there to connect with the crowd and not the other way around.

 

Gotta agree with that one. Too few bands seem to know how to keep an audience's attention, or even how to talk to one. The whole point of being on stage is to put on a show, and to quote Les Paul, people listen with their eyes most of the time. If you are gonna ignore the people who come to see you, you won't draw much of a crowd (which is what club owners hire you to do in the first place), and you're not really doing your job. They would do themselves and everyone else a big favor if they just stayed home and jammed in their garages and basements. Bands like that actually hurt the cause of live music as an institution, and guarantee that most live music makers are gonna get lousy pay.

 

The cover bands I've played with...it's like a band full of lazy, disgruntled fast food employees, with about as much joy in what they're doing.

 

One of my all-time favorite bands, Vanilla Fudge, got internationally famous and made a fairly lucrative career out of playing revamped covers. If they could do it, a band with a little creativity and some talent can too. A local band called the Nace Brothers got some regional air play out of an original song with the perfect title for "ar-TEESTS" that can't find any enthusiasm for playing any music but the own; it was called "Quit Yer Bitchin'." The worst night I ever spent playing music for pay was better than the best day I ever spent earning money any other way I can think of. "Musicians" ought to be forced to spend a month working as a fry cook in some greasy spoon every time they gripe about or act like they are too good to play covers. Frankly, as derivative as most of the "original" bands are that I've heard playing below "big time" venues(and a lot of the ones that do "hit the big time"), they might as well be playing covers anyway.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Well, as far as recorded music goes, you aren't going to see anything like the Beatles or Elvis come along, because the entertainment universe is too diversified today. The 1950's and 60's had three TV channels. So even the "big" acts of today are marketing one-shots like the Jonas Brothers, or they are re-tread acts like the big 70's rock bands playing the summer shed circuit.

 

Where to turn? Look closer at the indie acts. There's more musical diversity there these days than 20-odd years ago when everyone wanted to be Kurt Cobain, Jr.

 

As for live venues, I have a specific complaint about how things are currently managed. Back in my rock band days, the clubs made an effort to be a destination - people could count on a handful of clubs to always have a quality band, even if you had never heard of that band. Nowadays (and I'll admit the music I'm promoting is different) the clubs essentially expect the band to be the sole reason anyone would come there. It creates a perfect Catch-22 because a band can't build an audience without performing, but can't get the chance to perform if they can't convince the club's manager that they will bring an audience. In my opinion, the club should make an effort to be an attraction in and of itself, and take some risks on what they present for entertainment. Always playing it safe results in a certain take it for granted type of attitude - would be patrons get tired of the same old, same old every week. Third Thursday! Must be the Toby Keith wannabe!] :tired::sleep:

 

As for the volume thing, that's never been acceptable. One of my best war stories is being in this little 100 capacity club opening for a band that had two guitar players, each with a full stack Marshall. We hid in the basement and still couldn't talk. You can play plenty loud for the venue and show some respect for the crowd by not killing the social environment.

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Kids listen to what they are told to listen to. They listen to Miley Cyrus, Lady GaGa and 50 Cent. They listen to what ever crappy piece of crap the producers spit polish and shrink wrap for them. They watch their tv shows and buy their video games. If you want to know what kids are listening to, turn on Disney's Family channel or BET.

 

Yep, that is about the shape of it, always has been. We do what we are programmed to do, by the TV, organized religions, schools, Government. On and On. Only a few of us oldies have the desire to strike out on our own using our own brain with our own thoughts.

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Of course kids are programmed, but not ALL of them! There are still those whose curiosity extends beyond what they're being spoon fed. Of course, this leads them to explore what earlier generations have done, and hopefully will lead them to come up with some NEW things, of such quality as to not just be mere novelties.

Although quite often you can't tell at the time... LOL!

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Well, I tend to agree with A string on this one. I also want to further the marketing aspect.

 

You realize in the digital age- our brains are owned by marketing machines. From music, to products, to ideas. Everything is controlled for a specific outcome.

 

I think once the internet is secure things may go back to what they were. Meaning, once people can't pirate music, videos, movies, video games. Then the record companies or film producers may be able to afford to actually sign creative bands, or create new movies that aren't just remakes of comic books, remakes of old movies, remakes of video games.

 

All of what is taking place in the entertainment industry is a direct result of file sharing on the Internet.

 

But I also believe things ebb and flow. There will always be a shift at some point. SO I do believe it isn't OVER for independant artists. But right now is a rough time.

 

I know it broke my heart to leave my band to come here. I love jamming. We could make a decent living if we were willing to play other people's music. You can really do well if you are in a good cover band.

 

I have a friend who makes alot of money doing that. I mean he makes probably $70,000 take home a year. He works his ass off granted--but it is a labor of love.

 

I don't want that. For myself I don't enjoy learning other people's stuff. I want to play my own. I guess I am too self centered.

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