Music in the Digital Era (Part one): The echo chamber

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Part 1 of 8 – The Echo Chamber #SimilaritiesofLoveMusicAndWar

Every professional musician that I looked up to somehow knew exactly the same principle they told me in the infantry: Know everybody’s job that you can, so you can do it too if it needs to be done. Context matters a lot in those two instances of war and music. Many things make me feel at odds with other musicians except if they know that principle of teamwork. The best are always striving for the knowledge to be “better”, and are welcoming to the challenges of new information and the changes it brings their approach to…whatever it is they do. The very existence of a “better” musician makes the world a better place, and pushes everyone to become better than they ever thought they would be. You know, influence. It’s a powerful thing.

Talent, however, in today’s industry only goes so far. A career is never based on a talent; singular. It all begins and ends with the persons capabilities, regardless of talent — How far can you push them in creativity, critical thinking, how they emotionalize their music, health issues, etc. before they just start repeating themselves and burning out. You need a LOT of talents in a lot of subjects, just to get started in today’s industry of DIY “minor leagues”. A coagulation of, but not limited to:

  • – original songwriting, composition with genre awareness, band leadership
  • – knowledge of entertainment business contracts, negotiation tactics
  • – flawless on stage, and in studio performance – there are huge differences between the two.
  • – instrument proficiency and ability to innovate on that instrument.
  • – and.. money! For promotion, marketing, merchandise, equipment, touring, and recording.

Kaspars Recording at Hybrid Studios, CA. Wild Side Photography September 2014
Kaspars Lucey-Grinbergs Recording at Hybrid Studios, CA.
Wild Side Photography
September 2014
Knowing all these tools in and out are just some of the basic requirements to even have a chance at making a sustainable career in the music industry with the goal of being successful and not giving up, even if the industry at large appears to be eating you like a snake while sucking your soul, money, mind and body out thru your gnarled fingertips as they bleed on the fretboard. #EveryEmoBandEver 

You’ll also usually need the knowledge of how to effectively implement those tools to an end that will satisfy a listener who sometimes has no clue, and mostly doesn’t care, exactly how much time and effort went into your three to five minute song. What can we hope for after accumulating the experience, education, and proficiency to assault this industry machine and get a return on our investment? 

– and since everybody seems to want some rhetoric with their facts:

  • Venues are seemingly closing by the minute.
  • Nobody does “artist development” anymore, except on singing shows.
  • I hate singing shows.
  • The greedy, yet useless musicians should have some say in the even evil-ier and greedier record industry… I mean… the three branches of the music industry I would destroy would be… the Nina, the Pinta, and the… Santa Monica?…. Oops.
  • What?! Hey! We’re kicking dead horses here!

Kaspars Lucey- Grinbergs and Sean Martin Photo by Steven Duarte Photography
Kaspars Lucey- Grinbergs and Sean Martin
Photo by Steven Duarte Photography
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Alex Diaz Recording at Hybrid Studios, CA Wild Side Photography Photo by: Santiago Arias September 2014
The only real hope for rock bands today, I’ve heard, is to get rescued from obscurity by being “signed” to one of the major labels: Sony/ATV, EMI, Warner Bros, or a subsidiary, and then personally, or through crowdfunding, invest thousands of dollars into worldwide promotion from a major label and you will be a star for life, baby. Sign a 360 deal, or an antiquated record deal like the one 30 Seconds to Mars is fighting in their documentary, “Artifact” – Or, like the one Unlocking The Truth, a metal band of 15 year olds, now wants out from Sony- so soon after signing? Some might even think you get famous seemingly overnight via YouTube and then get offered one of these major label deals. In this digital age, our fans are sitting right in front of a screen, (at this very moment, even) they can play our songs online. This is the fear from the major labels: that nobody is telling you or forcing you what to watch anymore. All they have is the power of suggestion because independent artists create regardless of industry standards and calendars. But the rule for us musicians is for some reason: Play for me, play for free, and play a whole lot more, more!

Nevertheless, we should go on a singing competition by the fact that the internet creates a history of sales based on demand from attention generated online. You should be able to take that notional demand and make money off it in the real world markets! You should be able to, technically speaking, invest money earned from said notional demand (thru royalties from ads on your content, maybe) into recording more music in the studio. Then, let the live concerts earn whatever values are established by the demand and attention from your profitable sales record that was based off of the demand and attention generated from your notional online demand. Once your brand is proven profitable, major labels will consider your band for access to the mass distribution models and mass promotion systems they monopolized 30 years ago. Who wants new music when we can turn musicianship into a Miss America pageant for poor people!

Fucking geek! Whenever you understand why that plan sucks, you come on back now and bring a friend, ya’ hear? Because, “whoever has the biggest following can reach the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time”, is only the beginning to understanding promotion for a career. Content matters, but it’s not king anymore: even a train wreck gets attention, but Caitlyn didn’t miss, and she’s popular. I’m talking about longevity based on integrity.

Regardless of genre, all success as a musician seemingly begins with the demand, or, the fans. That’s what they tell us at the bottom of the industry ladder: Build a fan base – no, a family – thru any means you can, and soon enough, once you sell around 50,000 units or more, you’ll get that deal. Just hope the family stays together to ‘support’ you long enough to get “signed”.

Sean Martin "you think i give a fuck?" Allllllllrighty then.... Ultimate Studios Inc. June 2015
Sean Martin
“you think i give a fuck?”
Allllllllrighty then….
Ultimate Studios Inc.
June 2015
Where you will go with music when the inevitable change that comes from playing for or with trained ears; your fanbase might not follow. Just so you can start your career, you gotta sell, promote, and create like you are already on a major label, in order to hope to get noticed by those same labels. If their requirement for working with you is “do all my work for me, then I say I did everything”, why would I pay them to do it if I already built the structure and am already doing their job? In their world, online stats, popularity, and how the public perceives you at any given moment, matters more than the music itself. The evidence is they have monopolized those industries that feed on popularity, so that’s where the money is, that’s where their attention is. They” don’t know a musicians value, but most labels operate below the musicians standards, and musicians perform below their potential because nobody around ’em ever had the balls to say “you suck”. What does anybody know about what sucks anymore, anyway? All I hear on the alt rock stations is hippie folk revival bullshit with techno pop while their local rock bands age into obscurity in 6 months.

I’m not here, playing to win a popularity contest by trying to reflect reality and truth in music, am I? Because if I did, what inevitable failure I might endure if I joined that dirty ditch…

Green Light Productions Sean Martin of the Quarantined Photo by Gregory Allyn, Rachel Wilson
Green Light Productions
Sean Martin of the Quarantined
Photo by Gregory Allyn, Rachel Wilson
Shit, well, guess its over. Pack your gear, cancel that rehearsal studio, and get a real job. The digital age just isn’t for you with your opinions. Nobody wants you- go home.

“You think I’ll fall out and back down now? Fucking nope.”

Follow our blog to stay tuned for parts 2-8.

Author: Sean Martin

The Quarantined’s new song, “Feeding you Lies”, distributed independently on bandcamp.com for $1, and the 3d graphic art lyric video on their YouTube page. Follow their progress, discography, bio, and Social Media hub at http://www.theQuarantined.com, or to listen now, www.TheQuarantined.bandcamp.com

or The Quarantined’s Soundcloud– The Unauthorized mixes 

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