A local publication down here in Tunbridge Wells contains a feature on the '20 local bands most likely to break-out in 2012'.
Far be it from me to discourage anyone from making music.
But if our quiet little backwater in rural Kent with a population of 50,000 has 20 new bands waiting to be discovered , then if you apply the stats pro rata that means there must be 25,000 new bands in the UK waiting to ''breakout''.
Does anyone else find that statistic extraordinary? Or is Tunbridge Wells unrepresentative of the rest of the country, having suddenly turned into the UK's answer to Memphis, Nashville and Chicago rolled into one (which if true would be even more astonishing...)
I suppose that it's a career with a low start-up costs and at least a glimmer of potential for wealth and fame which is more than can be said for getting a degree and then working your up the Costa Coffee career ladder. Hard to see it quite in the exotic terms we used to view Rock'n'Roll. That said, I'm sure being in a band must still be wonderful - wish I'd done it.
I think because it is much easier and cheaper to make a record/download or whatever these days, that less thought goes into the content in the belief that the more songs the better, rather than 'is this sung well? is it in tune?'
So quantity overrules quality and everyone's ears get overloaded..:-)
Good post, Nigel. I think your observation is probably accurate. In Sweet As I interviewed an old school Kiwi rocker who had really been thru the ropes - fame to jail and such - and was now running a 2nd hand bookshop. He said of today's music biz "everyone's either in a band or knows someone in a band these days. A plumber has more mana than a musician now." Too many musicians spoil the aura or mystery and magic? Something like that. I get sent CDs that i do not request, have no interest in playing, am unable to sell and thus end up giving to charity shops where they most likely go to landfill.
I always used to wonder when jazz players turned up at clubs with boxes of their latest cds to what extent these recordings were vanity projects or wildly optimistic business propositions. Typically they'd have some sort of deal where they didn't earn a penny until they'd sold 500 or 1000 copies and they never seemed to shift so very many....well, I guess sometimes they did, but the old guys who'd been playing since the forties and fifties had often never recorded anything at all. Different ball game. I suppose reputations are developed more these days by recording or broadcasting in one form or another. A friend used to refer to a "Chinese Conference" - a situation where everyone was talking and no-one was listening. Records, twitters,texts, blogs, phone calls, broadcasts, websites, reviews, promotions, archiving, repackaging.......never have so many people attempted to say so much to so many. People are talking faster than I can listen.
Jude wrote:So quantity overrules quality and everyone's ears get overloaded..:-)
That's why I more or less quit listening to new releases and have done some backtracking instead. Too many releases and re-issues offering lacklustre quality. I'm gaining far more pleasure listening to or discovering albums from 15, 20, 30 and even 40 years ago.
"I suppose reputations are developed more these days by recording or broadcasting in one form or another."
this, for me, is the most annoying thing about music-making today.
We're living in an irritatingly liminal, in-between time, whereby even though fewer and fewer people are buying CDs , there's still this residual prestige attached to having one. If you're a band and you really want to be taken seriously, you have to have an album on CD. Because the few people who might just be interested are the really important people.
Mercifully for our deskspace, I can't see this situation lasting more than a couple of years. More and more bands are using Bandcamp, and I think in a couple of years time DJs and journalists will be more accustomed to reviewing and playing albums off it: in other words, thinking of a Bandcamp album as The Album, not just a poor relation.
That's not to say I can see the CD wholly dying out - at least, not for another 10 years or so. People will continue to make CDs for as long as they can sell them for £5 or more. But I can see the phenomenon of the CD-by-a-just-starting-out-independant-artist becoming a thing of the past, and I really welcome that day.
By the way, Garth - ever used music magpie? you might be surprised at what they'll give you money for.
In an flash of humanity unprecedented at my workplace somebody left out a large box of old (copied) cds (probably 50 to 60) with the invitation "help yourself" so I did, and it allowed me to check out a lot of old stuff that I would never have bought but......well you know....just curious. So it was that I checked out -
"Peter Green - Guitar Hero (Kathmandu)" ....Oh dear! "Traffic - When The Eagle Flies"........Oh dear, oh dear! "The Nice - Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack".....Well....er...spirited at least.
The box was still there this afternoon as I left work. It appeared very few had been taken and so I availed myself of Greatest Hits compilations of ELO, Steely Dan, and Suzanne Vega, Rumours by F.Mac (which I've never listened to as an album), Debut by Bjork, and Winning Days by The Vines (just in celebration of my surname). Well, who knows, I may enjoy some unexpected treats?