Flog the dead horse.

Happy new year.

New year is the time to reflect on what has gone before and what lies ahead. Janus is not the only one with two faces. Most bands involve relationships with a group of disparate people with little in common apart from their membership of the band. All the members will have different reasons for being in the band, for some it will be their raison d’etre  for others it will be something to do when they’ve got nothing else on and others will be hedging their bets, believing in the quality of what is going on but really knowing that nothing more will come from it. What to do then but ‘Flog the dead horse’ for another year.

Just when you thought you could finally put the beast to death with a small degree of dignity, you can be sure that someone will ask you to play a venue you haven’t played in while with a band you actually have some respect for.
And of course its the start of the year so all the promoters are trying to fill their schedules for the next three months and you can be sure they’ll  give you a call at some point – mainly ‘cos there ain’t that many bands around who have the kit and can guarantee some drinkers  (even if it’s because there are so many in your band that you will outnumber their usual punters anyway).
Grasp the  percieved encouragement from outside agencies as if you have been endorsed by all the music monthies putting your picture on the front cover with the tiltle ‘Make way for the new kings of rock’ and you know that the horse has had the defibrilator treatment for another year – ‘Clear’

 

Publicity #2

In a ‘connected world’ there are more opportunities for musicians to publicise their work than ever before.  musicians can record, publish and market their own work free from the industry machine.

All this has really done, however, is muddy the water, making it harder to stand out in a sea  of mediocrity. Everyone dreams of being an ‘Artic Monkeys’ disovered through social media although it it is very rare that this happens. Radio play still centres around the old fashioned plugger.

To continue your work in obscurity possibly the most important thing to remember is don’t tell anyone that you’ve actually made a record.
Assuming as a band or artist you have developed a number of channels of communications – perhaps a website and various social media sites you can really destroy all chances of anyone hearing your music by releasing it and then limiting the amount of people that will hear it by not posting it up. Do not send your track to influential blogs for review and do not send your music to anyone that may help you achieve your goal.
There are other ways – like band members not telling anyone that they have got an album or track out is by far the easiest.  Why would you not tell anyone? I hear you ask. Well  they do this for a number reasons.

  1. They are too embarrassed – Musicians can be very shy really and will do almost anything not to draw attention to themselves, God knows why they joined a band in the first place because it certainly wasn’t to meet people or socialise.
  2. There is no way that a musician is going to pander to the general public – if the public can’t be arsed getting off their proverbial backside to seek out quality music then they can bloody well listen to Radio 1.
  3. They are artists, so should not have to be worried about marketing. Surely someone else can do this?  Marketing people can do this, marketing people are not artists.
  4. Musicians are possibly the laziest people on earth – they recorded the bloody thing didn’t they? What more do you want?
  5. They don’t do social media except to constantly check for the praise that will surely come – if only someone would tell people about them.
  6. Do you know how hard it is to come up with this stuff? Once its finished its finished, on to the next.

 

Recording#1

Make sure that recording  an album takes so long  that you don’t actually play any of the songs anymore because you have ‘moved on’.
Do it yourself. This will help making the whole process take longer than necessary.

The real way to do this is to record all the main bits in frenzy of punk zeal, capturing the energy of your live performances, flawed but exciting. Then spend two years getting all the the other bits to align. Recording the Strings and brass and keyboards – the bits played by real musicians requires the patience of Job.

And of course you must record that new one you are excited about, but no one knows it yet.  You can be surethat by the time you have produced it the song it will have evolved so that it bears no relation to what you started with.

Record somewhere very cold – this will definately have a bearing on the sunny nature of your tunes.

Merchandise #1

Its pretty well documented that bands make little from recorded music these days, ‘all music is free’ to those that are consumers but it is bloody far from free to those that produce it.

A good way to limit your chances of making a living from music is to not bother taking your CDs etc to gigs and when you do being too embarrassed to tell the audience that you have them and that, in fact, the only reason this event is taking place is so thatyou can fleece them for their cash. Your so not capitalists you see , you’re ARTISTS!

Take another leaf out of the Factory school of making a profit by making the cover of your album more expensive than the selling price. Its makes a good story and will mean that you’ll not bother getting it reprinted thus making the few you had ‘collectors items’, which means that those that bought it will make far more from your endeavours than you ever will.

Another route to finacial ruin and obscurity is getting far more made than you could ever sell. usually this happens with the glorious first album – people learn…. but bands don’t. If your first albums didn’t shift mega units why not make even more of the second album?

 

 

gig#1

Make people come to your gig. Make them pay,  then allow support acts to play for far too long so that the audience all have to go home before you get to show them what you’re made of. We’ve found that this wil definately work against you.

Also this links with publicity.
Photographers and reviewers (despite their belief that they are actually part of this thing we call  ‘rock ‘n’ Roll’, in fact they are just glorified hangers on, leeches sucking what they can from artists that are vain enough to believe that people are actually interested in what they have to say, or how they look) want to be tucked up well before you hit the the stage so your carefully selected support acts will get far more from the gig than you will.
Make sure you repeat this behaviour time after time and you are sure never to get an inkling of publicity and dwindling band of followers.

Publicity #1

Make sure you adhere to  the Peter Saville ‘legend’ promoted by Tony Wilson. Make beautiful posters but dont have them ready in time for anyone to know that your gig is actually taking place. Better still, don’t bother to put them up  anywhere that someone who might be interested in your kind of music actually  see them.

Repeat this for every gig to guarantee that only a select few will be there. You don’t want it too crowded do you? and  more people will only cause more hassles.

The most un-successful band in music history

Since embarking on the most unsuccesful musical career in history I have spent an inordinate amount of time researching the business. I bought countless records, worked out how to play an instrument, how to record, produce and eventually master the whole process. I learned the ropes as a performer then I set about learning the business. – production, distribution, marketing, web design- I learnt about it all.  but at the end of the day what it really all boils down to is luck.

Lets face it the chance of a group of people being in the right place at the right time with personalities that gel enough, and long enough to produce notable work; and outside commitments don’t clash  and the ability to produce the kind of music that the others want to play is, lets face it, slim.
Even when you factor in the mass manufacture method favoured by svengalis such as Cowell et al , its hard to imagine the alignment of circumstances for success let alone true greatness.
It has been pointed out that you make your own luck, You have to walk in the right circles, play in the right places for the right people. Get heard by the movers, shakers and hipsters who are the purveyors of taste for an alternative nation. This is all well and good if you are public schoolboys/girls  who have rich parents that can bankroll you playing to journalist dicks who will not travel further than central London for fear of having their skinny lattes spilt by the Hoi Polloi, Believe me it is all luck – oh and and staying power.

If the loveable moptops had not gone to the same school, met Epstein or Martin or Dylan maybe we wouldn’t have had to put up with Oasis.
And rember they were only together for less than 10 years.

Our band has been going for nearly 10 years now. I often think how the various members happened to join together and why they are still together in the most ‘un-successful band in music history’ (TM). Perhaps this staying power is success in itself, sure there are no financial rewards, but it would not be churlish to claim that the personal and artistic rewards ensure that we keep coming back for more.

Here are my tips for reaching the top.

Oviously your cause is going to be improved by playing music that people want to hear. Try having songs with a chorus and recognisable themes – maybe songs about being happy or ‘getting lucky’ or something aspirational. Make sure you follow a formula – copy something that has gone before.
Songs harranguing old aquaintances or attacking people and other bands in the local music scene might not endear you to promoters and venues. Telling the audience that you hate them is also a dubious method of courting new fans we’ve found.

Get yourself a singer that sings and preferable has an easy style that people can relate to. If your singer has an idiosyncratic style local radio will not be your friend – and as we all know the local radio is a sort of easy listening mafia determined to promote the mediocre and derivitive over anything outre or original.

Choose a style of music that people can take their wife or girlfriend to- perhaps try watering down once subversive styles in a family friendly way, reggae or pop-punk are  ripe for this.

 

 

 

Helpful hints on making no significant in-roads into the music industry