Category: Functioning As A Musician

Do You Have Musical Talent?

Is talent something we are born with, or something that can be developed in anyone?  Maybe a bit of both.

David Shenk wrote about this on the the Genius Blog: The Genius in All of Us.

How can we explain the vast differences in musical ability? How can one species produce Paul Simon and William Hung? Are we born with musical talent, or do we develop it? Let’s sort through the research:Continue reading Do You Have Musical Talent?

Artist Burnout

Is the new model for success in the music business leading to artist burnout?

At least in for some artists, this may be the case. The money isn’t in the albums anymore, it’s in the performances and merchandise. Instead of going out on tour in support of a new album, artists are finding it necessary to always be in the public eye.

The strenuous nature of this type of exposure can lead to physical problems such as vocal nodes, hip surgeries, and cancelled tours due to exhaustion. In other words – artist burnout.

CD sales no longer are not what they used to be and many live shows are physically exhausting dance extravaganzas.

If  artists burn out at an early stage in their careers, how will they continue to perform (and make a lucrative income) in their later years?

In an article on digitalmusicnews.com, Paul Resnikoff writes:

So what’s going on? Meat Loaf thinks this is what the modern music industry is doing to artists. Instead of embarking on grand tours to support lucrative album releases, the collapse of the recording is forcing artists to be ‘always on,’ constantly gigging, recording, and making appearances.

Add the intense demands of digital, and artists are frying themselves. “That’s the problem with a new artist,” Meat Loaf recently observed. “They don’t sell records like they used to.”

“So they’re forced to do a lot more than just tour. TV shows, interviews, all that talking and doing extra stuff between shows, that’s when you rupture your vocal cords. Overwork, over-tired and then bam.”

Toya Glasgow, an R&B-focused blogger, pointed to an appallingly overworked Rihanna. Back in 2011, the non-stop, never-take-a-break rush included a full tour and upcoming album. “Rihanna has been overworking herself like mad. She’s been touring excessively with not much of a gap in between so-called breaks. When she does get a day or two off, she uses it in the studio to finish recording her upcoming new album.”

“It just seems like she’s working herself into the ground just to meet the deadline… Is all this excessive workload causing Rihanna to become ill?”

And remember, these are the wealthiest, best-supported, most mainstream artists around. So what about everyone else? For developing and less-lucrative acts, touring now seems closer to a survival exercise than a good time. And part of the reason is that selling recordings (ie, pressed CDs) on tour is no longer a viable option. “That kept a tour going,” one source with experience in the van told us, while pointing to newfound pressure on less-lucrative items like specialty vinyl, hats, and yes, t-shirts.

Check out the original article for more on this topic.

Annoying Rock Star Behavior

You may not be a big rock star (yet!), but … someday.  It could happen.

Now is the time to either learn how to treat your fans the way they should be treated, or start practicing how to be annoying as only a star can be.

Here from Rolling Stone are a few things you could start working on now.

 

1. Show up ridiculously late
Rock stars aren’t accountants, and nobody expects them to take the stage at the precise moment listed on the ticket. We get that. A little late is good, even. It gives everyone time to park, deal with will call, wait in the bathroom line and get a beer. But some artists routinely take the stage two, three or even four hours late; Lauryn Hill, we’re looking squarely at you here.

2. Exclude key band members
Some bands have members who just don’t feel like being rock stars anymore. We understand that. When Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones decided to scale back their lives and get off the road, we would have all preferred to see them with their bands still. The shows suffered from their absence, but people have a right to quit. A band isn’t the mafia.

3. Play too much from the new album
We have no issue with bands playing a ton of their new material. It does, however, get annoying when you pay to see an artist and the vast majority of the show is new stuff, especially when that material is a pale imitation of the old stuff. There’s a certain expectation when you buy a concert ticket (especially to an arena show) that you’re going to hear songs from throughout an act’s career. It’s just hard for people to fully appreciate music they don’t know very well.

4. Only perform the hits
The flip side of Number Three. Some artists have long catalogs of great songs, but their concerts tend to fall back on the same 15 songs they’ve been dragging out for decades. It’s like eating 10 chocolate bars for dinner; it’s not satisfying. You need to balance it out. Sure, the crowd loves to hear hits and you want to do anything you can to hold their attention, but you also need to challenge them a bit.

 

For more great tips, check out the full article on RollingStone.com

Organizing a Band

I recently found an interesting article on organizing a band and dealing with the changes that come along in this business of music.  The excerpts below touch on a few of the topics covered and how to deal with them.

Music is a business. You have to decide how seriously you want to pursue your personal enjoyment versus making money. This is not to say that you can’t have both and sometimes if you plan carefully you can have a rewarding experience in every way.

Music is all about entertainment. I am not suggesting you get a monkey and organ grinder. Act like you have an interest in what’s going on. Have confidence. You’re probably much better than you think.Continue reading Organizing a Band

5 Tips to Improve Your Musical Performance Technique

Author: evan

This week we’re going to look into some tips on how to improve your technical agility. One of the main abilities a musician must have is to have command of the technical aspects of his/her instrument.

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Tip #1: Play everything slowly

“Slow is the same as fast”. Maybe you’ve heard of that phrase. I’d like to interpret it as understanding that all movements that you make while playing rapid passages must have the same relaxed feeling as though you were playing slowly. What better way to do that than practicing slowly?Continue reading 5 Tips to Improve Your Musical Performance Technique