Thursday, 26 May 2011

WHETHER REPORT: Welcome to the Jungle (It's not fun and games...)

Mainstream Success In The Music Industry (TMI) Made Easy, by  Jamie Otsa.

When The Streets wrote ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’, I doubt they could ever have foreseen how accurate the song title would become as a description for the state of the modern music industry. Long gone for the majority are the days of a whirlwind major label romance with a signing party, huge advance and a fat sack of cocaine to slump your weathered rock star face in for the rest of the evening. These days if you’re making music for the money, you’re barking up the wrong tree. In fact, you couldn’t be further away from the tree if you were stood in the middle of a McDonald’s Amazonian deforestation sector. Being a professional touring and recording artist is probably as hard as it’s ever been, and isn’t a commitment to be undertaken lightly.

Tour manager/sound engineer/
beard award winner...
Even further back in the annals of rock legend than major label deals, are things that we never thought we could do without: roadies and tour buses. These days, for the most part, touring parties consist of the band with 2 crew (a tour manager and a sound engineer – sometimes you might be lucky enough to find one of those annoyingly talented twats who can do both), more often than not travelling in a splitter van. What proved a shock to most people was that bands were actually physically capable of carrying most of their own equipment. Far from breaking out in an unsightly covering of hives, their useless skinny limbs proved more than ample for the transport of guitars and amplifiers up and down previously unconquered flights of stairs at venues the length and breadth of the country. Who knew?

Something to remember for the uninitiated; nobody likes a diva. It will not endear venue staff, crew, fans or band members to you. It will make you look like a cunt. When you’re getting paid £50 to be the opening band for Queens Of The Stone Age, please try to remember that you are not in fact a member, friend or colleague of said band. Also please try to remember that those 2000 people are not, contrary to what you may think, there to see your band. They don’t give a fuck about you. Be polite, do your job, and fuck off home.

The most successful bands rising through the ranks at the moment are, as has always been the case, the most hard working ones; the bands who have holed themselves up in a practice room for a year making sure they are playing the best they can and have written the best material they possibly can; the bands who spend hours online chatting to their fans; the bands who film endless behind the scenes footage, create interesting cover versions, devise exciting competitions; the bands who tour relentlessly for little to nothing; the bands who sell their own merchandise and conduct their own soundchecks. These are the bands that, eventually, break through and earn the recognition they deserve for being outstanding musicians and songwriters.

Jamie Otsa.
All of this is, of course, expected from you before you even begin to make any money. Should your career begin to blossom like a cherry tree in spring, royalties and performance fees budding from every branch, rest assured that you will be left with an adequate percentage after the management’s 20%, the agent’s 15% and the record label’s advance repayments.

“What is this fresh hell?” You may well ask.
This, my friend, is the music industry...come on in.

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