Musician: The myths and the realities

Musician: The myths and the realities

As Martin is busy searching for biggest man vs biggest snake videos on youtube and Markus just started playing random riffs on his Framus in the name of ‘freedom’, I thought maybe I try my hand at this business of blog writing. What I want to share with you all today is the life of an upcoming musician: the myths and the realities.

Myth 1: Sex, drugs and rock n roll. Drugs: Probably the biggest sham of them all. If you’re trying to make it in the industry in today’s world as a serious hardworking professional, drugs would be the last thing on your mind. Just look back at what it’s done to some of the greatest musicians of yesteryear. Making mistakes is an important part of being human. Smart people learn from the mistakes of others.

Myth 2: It’s all for the love of music. It is not. Feelings don’t pay bills.

Myth 3: Getting discovered by chance. Sadly, it’s not the 70’s. There is no ‘luckily there was the CEO of roadrunner records in the audience and our music totally blew him away’. Unless you have a million youtube hits or a sugar daddy ready to pump in the euros, chances are you won’t get signed. But that’s not the end of the world! There are tonnes of artists out there today, making a living while still having complete control of their produce. Go out, meet people, share your music, play more music, write more music, use the internet intelligently, try different things. Don’t hope something might happen. Make it happen.

Myth 4: Talent is everything. It is not. Talent is just one small part of any success story. If you’re not ready to put in hardwork to back your talent up, you might as well save yourself the entire hassle.

So what does this life actually entail then? Hmmm…

Reality 1: There are more disappointments than triumphs in the life of a musician. No matter if you’re Metallica or three 14 year old kids playing showtunes in the garage (that’s right im talking about you Jonas Brothers!). Chances are you will face more downs than ups in your life. Both personal and professional.

Reality 2: It’s all for the love of music. It is. Without the love for what you do, you wouldn’t be able to come out of the troughs.

Reality 3: Alcohol. There’s plenty of it flying around. Sometimes maybe a little too much..

But in the end is it all worth it? I wouldn’t trade a second of it with anything else.

Judging Music

Judging Music

When talking about music one often comes across terms like “awesome”, “great”, “mindblowing”, “total s#!t”… you know what I’m talking about. While these terms mostly describe personal feelings about music or a show or even a complete band, it is hard for the recipient of these comments to get a clear picture of what the other person is actually talking about.
Music itself – I’m not speaking of instrumental or vocal skill – is not subject to a measurable variable. It is mostly about feelings you associate with the whole vibe of a song or a musician or a whole concert.

Let me give you a brief example: In your childhood and teenager years you surely came across a lot of songs. And to some you might have had your first kiss or you listened to it, while something special happened in your life. The song might be the worst song in the world, but you have connected the worst song in the world with something special and it gained quality – for you.

These thoughts about judging music  were aroused to me again, after we as a band were the judges of a band contest @ UNMAAD 2011 in IIM Bangalore. And I actually found it pretty hard to give away points for specified criteria. Some of these criteria were “Quality of Original Composition”, others were “Overall Impression”, etc. These criteria were a good guideline and were thought out well by the organizers, but I got the feeling that they still missed out, that music is not measurable in points. I sure get the point that in a competition you somehow have to find a way to compare performances. And for a comparison you need measurement parameters. And if there are none, you have to find some or the way you want the performances to be judged.

For me, music is free. It is an art not a competition. And art is about discussion, it is about controversy, it is revolutionary – it MUST be connected to feelings. Anthropologists and historics have discovered that any society that seriously neglects arts would not only thrive but they may eventually vanish. I don’t want to speak of ending societies, but generally speaking, music as an art adds a lot of quality to our life. I deliberately speak in a quality type of criterion “a lot”, because there is no measurement of life quality.
This addition in quality for me comes in two ways: listening to music and making music yourself. Both ways are benefiting because both ways are a kind of interaction and sharing is involved. And what is life without interaction and sharing. Sharing thoughts and feelings in lyrics and in song structures – or even further a corporate experience of a live performance, as part of the stage or the audience – it is about a connection.

Now try to add a competition part to this wonderful ideal of connection. It is impossible. How can one judge the feelings, the connection, the whole experience of a band and their impact on other people? It will always be a very personal opinion and it will never say anything about a constructed non existent impartial quality of a musician which states that one is superior to another.
This exactly is where the beauty of music comes in. The elusiveness of music. When you are writing a song, you can’t say if it touches anybody else except you – when you listen to a song and you are touched, you never know if it touches anybody else other than you.

And with this in mind: Who are we to judge music other than for ourselves?

PS: I know these pics have nothing to do with the blog, I just found them on my harddrive…