As mentions in my last post, I’m currently studying towards a degree in Songwriting. Part of that course involves Music Business in which today we received a talk from John Robb; a punk genius who is gradually conquering every possible music platform, from frontman to television to journalism.
|John Robb of The Membranes
and founder of “Louder Than
Being a young and relatively impressionable teenager, whose drug is music and aspires to be both a phenomenal artist/musician on stage and through records (…eventually) as well as a journalist, he is pretty much the perfect guest speaker for me…and of course the rest of the class… But to make it even more puzzle-piece perfect he is someone who lived and breathed the original Punk movement during the 1970’s, that’s somewhat remarkable for someone who is heavily influenced by that era, and the musical styles it parented (that someone being me if you didn’t get that).
There was so many points that remain echoing in my mind, that I’m going to share with you…aren’t you lucky? Not that you have a choice really…well you do, you can always stop reading…but why would you want to do that aye?
1) “Be your own manager first”
In school, we’re bomb-barded with the importance of networking (meeting potential people to work with) which is great, and definitely something that needs to be done if you want to get anywhere in the music industry. But we are continuously told to use these people to the best of their abilities…rarely are we told to learn every aspect from management to production to promotion…or at least it’s not something that is particularly stressed. We do get told to learn as many instruments as possible though…like bass…there is strange shortage of bassists in my generation…across most generation actually…so aspiring musicians PICK UP A BASS GUITAR AND PLAY IT!
Basically learn what you can at every opportunity.
Leading neatly on to my second point…
2) Learn everything and anything
|The Clash a perfect example, known
for their knowledge about politics,
Reflected in their lyrics.
Despite popular belief Punks weren’t that stupid. They knew exactly what they were to the world and didn’t stop. 30 – 40 years later they’re still dominating parts of the globe, converting minds like mine.
I have always been a huge believer that a musician is not only as good as their instrument but also knowledge of the industry. You could be an absolutely fantastic guitarist who has the potential to take over the world, but a slip by a manager or promoter could cost them their career. Something that can be prevented if they had some clue what was going on behind the scenes and actually understanding it.
In the next three years I plan on learning not only how to be a great Songwriter (being able to write for multiple genres, for other artists as well as myself) but how the decks work in a studio (ya know the space ship devices producers know how to use like it’s snooze button on your alarm). I plan on being able to promote myself…if I can’t promote my own music, how can someone else possible know where to start? The list is endless…so I won’t bore you with the rest of the tiny details…besides I have more for you to hear!
3) “Being a musician means problem solving”
|Have you heard of that band called The Beatles?|
Sooooooo many people think that to be in a band and get signed will be a piece of cake…well if you make it that easy…you haven’t made it the right way.
Can you tell me an over night sensation that is still selling a significant amount of records, selling out arenas and stadiums in the past 5 years? Because I can guaranty you can’t. And if you can then they most probably have been working towards it for years just public doesn’t know about it.
All the major bands that have survived the decades came out of nothing. Look at The Beatles…a four piece from Liverpool…who spent (on five separate visits) over two and a half years in Hamburg, Germany. Playing what would be 281 concerts, primarily playing covers just to understand what audiences liked and disliked…now they’re arguably the biggest band in the world…after breaking up over 40 years ago.
It’s not supposed to be easy. Ever heard the saying, “anything worth fighting for won’t be easy but will be worth it” ? The exact same principle applies here.
So what does that tell you about making it in the industry and staying in the industry?
4) To be the best put yourself in it.
It’s a known fact that if you’re physically or mentally or emotionally involved in something you’re immediately going to have a different outlook on it. You need to use that to fuel the drive and ambition.
In the terms Songwriting, if a vocalist was completely detached from a song how would they convince the audience to feel anything?
Music strikes a chord (excuse the pun) that only art can. It is something that has the ability to make you laugh, or cry. But if the band or artist can’t sell it right, then that emotion won’t hit.
Now lastly, because I am fully aware at my rambling on about something that it pretty intense compared to my usual posts.
5) DIY Culture
Something that intrugied me was how John Robb kept referring to the Punk movement as a DIY Culture, physically because compared to MOD’s and Rockers, it was an aesthetic look that pieced together all the past genre components to create a futurist look (for the time).
That made me think how arrangement and sound for music in this century is a DIY culture too…we are taking the best pieces from the 20thCentury, from Punk to Dance to Pop and making it something of our own now…for instance the new wave of Dubstep Jazz combination (trust me) to the literal sense of remixing.
All in all?
It was interesting hearing about all this from someone like John Robb, and how he perceives the musical world.
I’m not saying I agree with everything he says, but there are valid points such as the ones above that made me think as a musician, a writer and someone who wants and will make a name for myself in the music industry. No matter what.