Proper Way To Carry And Hold 2 Month Old Baby How To Make It In The Music Business (Not!)

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How To Make It In The Music Business (Not!)

Where to start? How can I get you out of this horrible profession? Many ignorant people think that any placement in the Top Ten is a guarantee of easy money, easy sex and hard drugs. Let me state at the outset: Most gangs are thin, smelly, underpowered and too broke to successfully engage in a sex convention.

And that’s the successful ones.

Pop music is not a career, it’s an obsession, an excuse not to get a proper, paying job. For me it started in high school. Since then I committed some sins against the great Goddess Fortuna, which condemned me to be “never-was”. These are the things I should do. Read on and sensibly.

1. Start Young.

Pick up an instrument in your early teens at the latest, or don’t bother. By the time you’re old enough to order a pint in a bar or club, you should be smart enough to get a gig there and not embarrass yourself. Assuming you have talent, that is. If you leave it too late, you won’t be competent enough to live by your muse.

2. Have Talent.

A lot of people can get away with pop music, it’s simple music. If, however, your friends and early audiences think your music is “okay”, if you keep having to make excuses for your performances every effective gig, then TAKE ADVICE! Give up, go back to college, you self-deluding fool! Better yet, learn a business that people really _want_, _and_ that you can make good money with.

Listen to that small still voice in the night. It knows.

3. Pop Music Is Not Art.

In a sense it is the antithesis of Art. Artists strive to authentically represent their own subjectivity. Pop musicians just want to get laid and get paid. It is vulgar and Pop-ulistic. It’s what makes people flock to the dance floor and what they roar to on a drunken Friday night.

So don’t get off your own back, Mr. Marylin-Manson-Morrisey-Wannabe. We will not send search parties.

4. Save Your Money.

One of the worst ways to spend money in this game is in other people’s studios. Most studios in the UK are staffed by under-qualified chancellors who say, for example, that, sure, they can sync your two workstations to their 24-track tape machine so you can do a few vocal overdubs and a mix all in a 10-hour session at . £30 an hour plus VAT.

At five o’clock you’re sweating and trying to figure out why the song is coming late. By ten o’clock you have a sick feeling, a lighter wallet and a sub-mixed track that will be redundant in a few months because your music has “improved” or changed direction. Hell, I feel nauseous even thinking about it. It happened to me. More than once. Be careful, smart guy.

Put your money towards buying your own recording equipment. Buy only “name” gear, as it should retain its used value. You can sell it if you want to upgrade, or buy something sensible, like a roof over your head. Loot magazine in London does free advertising for buyers and sellers of almost anything. eBay is good for smaller items that can be sent by mail.

Second hand is very good value if it is almost new. Electronic equipment, like cars, depreciates as soon as it leaves the store. This can be to your advantage. However, DO NOT buy second-hand from anyone who looks dirty or lives in a dirty, untidy apartment. “Why not, fascist?!” without you Because their attention to their appearance and surroundings will be reflected in their care of their equipment.

The best kind of person to buy for is a handsome, middle-class, middle-aged English man who lives in a nice, clean suburban house and who doesn’t take his gear out on the road. Trust me on this one.

Put your money into putting together your own bedroom studio if you’re a dance musician. Find a shack, garage or mess room in an industrial building and fill it if you’re in a group. Anything to avoid peeling a precious lollipop.

5. Conserve Energy.

If all the energy wasted in vain self-promotion by young pop musicians was used for political reasons (for example) eco-warriors would not have to live in trees, and the conservatives would be removed after their first term. If you must persist in the illusion that you too will one day be Number One in America (or very close), then do the following:

a) Play only in bands where members regularly come to rehearsals. Crying at, and calling after these sprites (“my girlfriend says I’m ignoring her, I want paychecks, I think I should do more covers…”) is cheating. Either fire them or leave the band.

b) Test Regularly. Practice makes perfect, laxity leads to forgotten lyrics, messed up notes and terrible gigs. Be sure that no matter how good you are in rehearsal, you will lose at least 20% of your skill when playing live. And any temperamental equipment will break down overnight, in front of all your friends and the A&R leech you specially invited.

c) Write Songs at Home. Try them there quietly with other members if possible. Send each member (including the drummer) a bare CD recording and lyric sheet. Practice them by yourself so you don’t waste time and enthusiasm when you’re all together in your pay-by-the-hour studio (or see 3. above).

d) Dismiss Incompetent Members. You can save them only if you have absolutely no intention of playing in public, recording, receiving a radio broadcast or a record. Resist blackmail. If the bass player has a van and he’s your best friend but he can’t play in time, give him the boot. You’ll thank me for it later. You can hire a van, and make new friends.

6. Accept Every Gig Offered.

There is no such thing as bad publicity, even if you ruin someone’s wedding, hell, at least there is one family that will remember you for a lifetime. Do enough really terrible gigs and you might be on to something (see: The Stooges).

7. Study The Top Ten.

If you admire and emulate acts in the lower reaches of the Top 30, you’ll never get even that far. Selling 10,000 singles in a week through shops doing smart returns was enough to guarantee you a place in the Top Thirty in the UK when I was interested in it. If you copy acts in the lower tiers, how many people will buy your version of their completely unpopular Music? Avoid making music to please idealistic journals or your ‘heart’ friends. They don’t buy records anyway.

On the contrary, you should…

8. Write Music From The Heart.

Live your dream. Choose genres and styles you are comfortable with. A big swirling eccentric noise will get you more fans than a second rate copy of a top ten hit. And you will enjoy it more.

9. Try Every Avenue Of Publicity.

Distribute leaflets. Return ‘phone calls. Telephone newspapers. Put up posters. Strong arm friends. Otherwise you’ll get a one-man-and-his-dog audience. You WILL DIE, horribly, and you’ll still have to cart your equipment home. You must have no shame. A packed concert at a small venue creates a ‘buzz’ where a larger venue, with the same number of people, will not.

Someone once told me that there are 100,000 bands in London alone, which I think is an understatement. And that excludes the bedrooms. How are you going to separate yourself from all that? (Do you think that if I had a Great Sexual Idea, I would put it in this article?). Dress up, go crazy. Who cares? Just do that.

Public presentations of any kind are a great piece of market research. Do your best track first. Thirty seconds into it you will know if you have the formula right or not. If it doesn’t work, DROP IT!

Play only your best songs. Cut your concerts short. Dramatic ending, then leave the building. Leave your audience with a positive memory. Be mysterious. RESIST the urge to play two hours of mediocre material and then slink offstage for a pint with the punters at the bar.

10. Talent Contests.

Try them, except when they ask for an entrance fee. Think of them as a way to get a nicely arranged concert with a different audience. You won’t win, or the prize will suck, or your studio time will bomb (see above) or your single will disappear without a trace, but what the hell SO DOME WHILE YOU’RE NOT PAYING FOR IT.

11. Release small numbers of CDs (if you have to).

I didn’t. £2000 in the early 90s (which included recording) for 250 copies of an LP (the vanity!) which I was too knackered to promote, and didn’t really believe in anyway. Tore everything away. If you’re good enough, other people will bark.

The same goes for commercials. You don’t have enough money to make them look smart. Spend the money (on music lessons and better equipment) to make your music good enough for others to invest. Dance musicians should only push their music if they are absolutely sure they can sell it to specialty stores or fans without having to make excuses. for it. Dance music is strictly ‘production-oriented’, and relies much less on a good singer to carry the whole track. It can be sold more easily.

However, don’t let your thirst to hold your own record in your hands cause you to use up your meager funds unnecessarily.

12. Management Is A Good Idea.

If he’s not an idiot, a crook, or a scumbag, and he’s got some energy and contacts, take him on. It’s too much work to write, exercise, hold down a job/go to college AND promote yourself. Just remember, a manager is for life, guys. He will _get_ his piece. It’s best to have a full-on crazy thug with a semblance of manners and respectability. Scare them and charm them at the same time. DON’T think you can do it all. People in the industry are businessmen, and they don’t want to do business with high-priced, pseudo-rebellious, undereducated “artists”.

13. Be Brutal With Your Material.

If your songs don’t sound like anything in the top five, or you’re not getting an ecstatic audience reaction/media reviews/huge following, STOP what you’re doing immediately.

Either it sounds like current success (in the last year for rawk, six months for dance music) or your audience wants to be like you and have your kids. Everything else is a waste of your youth. This is POP, as in POPULAR music, remember? If you got both of the above, hey boy I want you to sign this paper here, no no don’t bother reading it…

14. And there I will leave it ….

… because like I said at the beginning, I’m a total failure at this lark. Any advice I could give you about record contracts and the like would not be based on personal experience. You’ll find there are many who won’t let that stop them from bending your ear though.

To continue, read ‘The Prince’ by Macchiavelli or ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu and that white paper ‘How to be Number One’ or something like that by the 90’s group the KLF. Set yourself up nicely for any career, never mind this rubbish. Good luck, anyway, you poor fool.

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