When bands waste time…

I spend so much time reading others’ thoughts about the music business that some folks might consider it a waste of time. That’s neither what this post is about nor do I think I’m wasting my time doing this kind of reading. Neither is this about all the time not doing music in service of music career (e.g. travel, set-up/break-down, networking); nor am I talking about the endless hours doing inefficient rehearsals or practicing.

This post is about the actual musical activities musicians do that tend to be a waste of time. And here, by “waste of time,” I mean that these are things that will have a low Return On Investment (ROI).

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The Parochialism of “Everything Except Rap and Country”

When I blogged some time ago about music literacy, I mentioned the tired trope “I like to everything except Rap and Country,” which seems to be a response given when someone wants to show a cosmopolitan or open musical taste. Plenty of pixels have been typed about the class and race issues associated with the phrase and I won’t rehash them here as I think that only tells a part of the story that the phrase frames.

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What’s it like playing Pop Music when you’re not a Pop Superstar?

Some time ago one of my friends and one of the owners of a local record shop/venue, Modern Cult Records, posed a question (friends only post, unfortunately) on Facebook:

Why do so many bands tour directly around Louisville? How can we change this frustrating f**king trend? Do I need to open my own damn venue?

While a number of folks piped in with their explanations and suggestions for how that might be changed, anyone who’s been in any local scene outside of the big music meccas like New York, Chicago, and Nashville has probably felt this way at some point. Indeed, a few (including me) brought that point up–namely, that it’s a pretty regular scenario in most cities. This comment by Syd Bishop, musician and music writer for the LEO (Louisville Eccentric Observer) Weekly, sums up the sentiment nicely:

It seems a little absurd to assume that whatever sort of cliques may occur in Louisville are either unique to our city, or of such widespread knowledge that they would make it out of town. I doubt very much that anyone in, say, Des Moines, is sitting around bemoaning how clique-ish the Louisville scene is when they are booking a tour. This is all about logistics and money and nothing more.

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Essential Tools for the 21st Century Musician: Technology

In my previous post about tools for the 21st Century Musician, I discussed improvisation as probably the most useful tool musicians can be using. In a way, technology is even more indispensable. Unless our voice is our primary or only instrument (and even then there are exceptions), then nearly everything we make music on is the result of some level of technology.  Whether we’re talking about the technology of carved bone flutes and dried skins over a wooden frame, or the highly advanced craft that luthiers use to carve/mold stringed instruments, or the ability to build circuitry or program for electronic instruments or computers, there is always some level of technology involved in the making of musical instruments.

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5 Things Classical Musicians should know about being in a Band

So, why aren’t you in a band anyway? One of the things I think all Classical Music students (especially performers) should be required to do is play in a band.  No, this doesn’t mean they should take up a guitar, bass, drums, or sing.  What this does mean is that it should become an integral part of the performing experience–even if for just a semester.  Learning the ropes on how to put together a set, getting booked, and dealing with a non concert hall type of venue would do more for teaching kids about the business of music than a class would, I’d think.  Along the way, students would also be able to dispel a lot of myths about the Pop Music scene that we romanticize as a result of media representation or unrealistic portrayals of the industry through engagement with big name Pop Superstars.

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