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This is a question Worst Band Ever

If I was in charge of the B3ta fatwa department, we wouldn't be hearing too much from Simply Red in the future. Who's on your musical shit list and why?

(, Thu 30 Dec 2010, 12:00)
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It's really quite hard to come up with a definitive answer to this question,
what with taste being subjective and all. I've thrown my hat into the ring earlier in this QOTW, not that it really matters because some people agreed with me, and some didn't, as was to be expected.

There is one definitive conclusion that I've managed to draw as a result of all these stories though, and that is that the British public in general don't really give a flying fuck about music being some sort of art form, which makes me very, very sad. I could have easily come to this conclusion after the first series of X factor to be fair, but reading all the stories this week has just made me think.

Music, in my eyes, is like the strangest drug. You don't have to ingest it in any way, you just have to be near it for it to have an impact on you, and what an impact it can have. There are certain songs that can change my mood the second they start. There are pieces of music that can make me feel like I'm flying, and there are pieces of music that make me feel like I could punch my way through a brick wall.

The fact that so many millions of people in this country make do with that watered down, conveyor belt, plastic shit that you get on radio 1 is a sad indictment of just how little music must mean to so many people. If all you want out of it is the soundtrack to you pissing your nights away in some shitty nightclub, that is as forgettable as it is insincere, then I feel truly sorry for you because you're missing a world.

And yet, you are the sole reason for all that is wrong in the world of music, because you're the majority. The worthless, fucking ignorant majority.

I am a musician, and a struggling one at that. I have tried and tried again to make a career out of playing music, out of doing something that I truly love, and it's hard. Too hard in fact. It's hard to the point of being nearly impossible in a country where bands and artists have a sell by day like you'd find on a carton of milk. "Too old. Too ugly. Not enough tattoos. Not the right look." Because what I do isn't marketable on a wide scale, there is no way I'm ever going to make a living doing it. That doesn't sound like an art form to me. That sounds like a fucking episode of "Dragons Den".

Music is meant to move past the superficial. It affects you an at almost spiritual level, and those of you who truly love music will know what I mean. If you don't know what I mean, fuck off back to your JLS records.

I don't really know what the point of me writing this was, but I felt the need to say it anyway, and here seemed about as relevant a place as any. Instead of pointing the finger at various shit bands, we should all collectively point the finger at the fucking idiots who facilitate this stifling creative abyss.

It was all fun and games getting Rage Against The Machine to number one last year, but how many people that bought that fucking single probably tuned in to watch the X Factor every week? It only sold 500,000 copies. There were 17 million people voting in last years final. That's more people voting for the X Factor than voted for the conservatives!

It's not enough to just buy a single once a year to push a certain band to number one. That does nothing. If you give a shit about music, turn your fucking television off and go and watch a gig.

You can go out in any city in Britain, on any night of the week, and watch a band play for fuck all. Not because they're getting paid, or because they might get famous, but because they fucking love music.

Some might be shit but maybe, just maybe, you'll see something you love, and you can tell your friends, and they'll love it too. And when they tell their friends, and they tell their friends and so on, and the band gets momentum enough to make a record that could possibly go down in history as being truly great, you can say, "I was there. I made this. I turned off my television, I stopped listening to the mass produced shit on the radio, I stopped looking at Simon Cowells fucking smug face and I went out and supported a band that needed support. This music is mine."
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 0:51, 11 replies)
On the other hand, does music have to earn you a living by itself? Why not do it in your own time and get to love it more than any work-related duty or obligation.
And if you've got a day job with unusual hours or lots of time off (e.g. 4 on/4 off, continental shifts), even better.
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 1:11, closed)
but thats the dream. To be able to do nothing but play music and earn enough from it to live. I'm not interested in being mega rich, or famous, I'm just terrified that I'll end up doing a job I fucking hate for the rest of my life.

I am pretty lucky though I guess. I work as a freelance film maker (my other great love in life), and I get to meet some fucking awesome bands through doing music videos for them. And when I'm not doing that I'm writing and recording music, and because of where I work I get to use a load of extremely expensive studios for free. But I don't earn a lot of money, and my work is hard and fucking competitive.

I rarely get time off and have to sacrifice quite a lot of things if I want to play music and make films. But I've never been happier in my life than I am now, I just wish I could focus on just one thing and make enough from it to see me right. And music has always been my number one passion.

The problem is I work a lot of hours for fuck all money and it's becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain the kind of life I want to lead on the money I earn...
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 1:17, closed)
But if you know it's going to earn you next to fuck-all, why not support it with a reliable income?

(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 1:34, closed)
i suppose
because I'm gambling on the possibility that one of those two things is going to lead to a worthwhile career. There really aren't many jobs I'd be happy doing. I've had plenty of jobs, some that paid ok, but I ended up completely fucking miserable in all of them. I don't earn much this way, but at least I'm happy. Just so long as I don't earn much less than I currently do...
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 1:43, closed)
If you're a freelance film-maker
you should be happy you're making a living by your creativity.

Speaking as someone who is in 2 serious bands - neither of which are professional but both of which will play very regular gigs and from time to time luck out and play to a few hundred people - I think it's our responsibility, as musicians, to push it as far as it will go and get where we want to be OFF OUR OWN BACKS and due to our own hard work. Fuck the mainstream music industry, create something that means something to you and makes you feel alive, learn how to make it happen yourself and be brave enough to face the consequences if you can't make it pay its way. That's my approach anyway.

New album out now!
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 14:13, closed)
I am.
Very happy. Never been happier in fact. But I had to work fucking hard to get what little wages I get now. But I've easily worked harder at being a musician. And for longer.

I've been freelance for a year and a half, and I made more money in one day than I have in 12 years of playing music. Now, I think my music is good (well, I wouldn't write music that I think is shit...). Subjectivity aside, our music is well produced, catchy, our singer is (was) good, and whilst we weren't exactly likely to grace the front cover of the NME, we put some effort into the way we presented ourselves so that we looked like a professional outfit. And yet we got nowhere.

Perhaps I'm massively off target, and our music was completely shit (although people always seemed to enjoy it live, even people who had never heard us before).

Or perhaps I'm not, and we did write a decent album, and do all the things a band could do to make themselves marketable, but theres a massive problem in that people just don't give a fuck about hearing original music any more and would rather just fucking sit at home and listen to soulless shit.

I think it's because I make my money in an industry that - despite having absolutely no money to give to anyone - still allows people to make a living from being creative that I get so riled up about the music industry. From where I'm standing the power lies squarely at the feet of people like Simon Cowell and it shouldn't. It should lie at the feet of the people who create the music.

There are ways to get your films out there without having to fit into a certain little box, and without having to pander to a specific market, and you can make a living by doing that.

There is no equivalent for music. Sure, you can get your music on the internet, but thats like saying you can go to the beach and piss in the ocean.
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 19:28, closed)
and if we're spamming links: www.myspace.com/aconflicttocure

Broke up now, but we're putting our 12 track album up there when the mixing is done for free downloads and such. Rough demos up there now. Listen to "Shock And Awe" if you're gonna listen to any of em.
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 19:51, closed)
I must say I agree
I don't watch American Idol, I don't pay attention to X factor or anything like those either in the UK or in the US. I don't listen to the radio stations that play what they are paid to play. I listen to what I like and not what, in most cases, ever has been popular. I like to hear the evolution of music through bands. Say what you will about the Beatles, they evolved, and changed music. Elvis didn't evolve. Simon Cowell doesn't want anyone to evolve or change music, he never has.

Most bands that do what they love and want to do are the best bands, the worst are the ones that keep the same structure, chords, and don't even write their own stuff (nickelback, britney, gaga, beyonce).
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 2:14, closed)
If music means nothing to them
why are you trying to forcefeed it to them?
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 2:55, closed)
I don't follow,
how does this constitute my forcefeeding it to them?

I'm making an observation that, in my opinion - and looking at how many records are sold by manufactured bands whose sole purpose is to make money, not make anything of any artistic value whatsoever - music isn't seen as an art form anymore, but instead seen as a commodity.

And I also put forth the idea that people who claim to really care about music should perhaps go and support local bands and musicians more, because the grass roots is where real music comes from and it is also in dire need of support.

If people want to sit at home and listen to shit all day long then that's up to them. I feel sorry for them, but I can't make them like anything else. The sad part is, it seems to be the majority of the population that falls into that category.

500,000 people bought RATM's single last year, but I bet that number vastly exceeds the number of people who go out and watch local gigs regularly.
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 5:21, closed)
I love
The last 3 paragraphs.

But who cares if you're not a rich and famous household name? At least you're able to play music and have a talent which you can utilise in order to make yourself and others happy.
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 5:23, closed)
And yeah, thats true. I suppose I'm just bitter for having tried so long and gotten nowhere with it.

I remember doing my first ever freelance editing job. I made more from that one days work than I have cumulatively in every band I've ever been in, and I've been in bands pretty much non stop for the last 12 years.
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 5:27, closed)
Making music is very much an artform,
making money from music is very much a business. One that works as such and doesn't give a fuck how much you poured into your art if it won't sell. I'm pretty sure its the same for all forms of art and something that every aspiring musician surely knows.
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 8:25, closed)
I half agree and disagree.
I agree with what you said about the difference between making music and selling it. That's only too true, unfortunately, but I certainly wouldn't say that was the case for all art forms.

Any piece of modern art that has sold in the last ten years has done so because of the perceived worth of the statement the artist has made, not because it appeals to any sort of audience.

Similarly, in my field of work I meet an awful lot of film-makers who make a decent enough living that don't necessarily make films that are marketable. They manage to stay true to their artistic vision AND sell what it is they make. I've done the same thing in the past.

In the music industry however, it seems to be the complete opposite. If you have any hope of making a living out of it, you'd better appeal to as wide a range of people as possible...
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 8:45, closed)
Good answer
I would consider myself in the category of people who "love music". I have DJ'ed on and off (now admittedly totally off) for 10 years and currently have a little studio set up in the spare room. Nothing gives me more pleasure than a day just farting around writing music at home. Admittedly I'm not very good, but it sure beats watching tv all day when it's raining outside. However, I have been resigned to the fact that that is where all my music shall remain. There are one million other little upstarts noodling about with music in the spare time and as I see it the biggest battle for any music producer at any level these days is getting your stuff to the right people and being heard.

I can imagine that you share the same sentiments as me with regards to getting your stuff heard. I wish I was better at writing music, and I'm totally honest with myself with the fact that I probably won't ever make a penny from my music. However, I live with the modest hope that someday somewhere, someone will listen to a song a few times and say, "Hey, that's better than that shit in the charts".
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 8:57, closed)
Well said, sir!

(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 9:57, closed)
I agree with this, everything seems to be dumbed down these days and music is no exception.
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 10:57, closed)
I really like music, I've played in (not very serious) bands and I love finding new artists to listen to. Fairly regularly I find myself pausing film credits to find the name of a song that I've heard during some scene so I can go and find the artist's website and/or buy their music. I have huge respect for people who can really play and who try to make a living from it. I don't, never have and never will watch the X-factor.


If someone hears a song for the first time and finds that it affects them deeply and emotionally, should they care about the process of its production and the motivation of the people who made it? Is there anything wrong with just enjoying music for the aural experience independent of the wider context of the artist's emotional investment in it or lack thereof? Would it necessarily imply that music means very little to them?
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 11:23, closed)
Have always and will always struggle to find a place in popular culture or even live off the fruits of their labours, regardless of what Cowell and co do.
You could argue that now it's so much better for musicians than before music was mass marketed and produced.
Your average pulpit orchestra for theater in centuries gone by probably had more musical nouse than the entire collective knowledge of the top 40 for the whole of the last decade, but these people were by no means rich or well respected. They just had to get on with it like a job, which it was.
Until the likes of Paganini came along, musicians weren't shown much respect at all. Composers maybe, but never musicians.
You probably have more chance of becoming rich and famous from music right now that at any point in human history.

The trouble is that there are millions of people who are fantastic musicians and music isn't immune to the effects of supply and demand. Therefore to become successful you either have to conform to what is in demand or can be marketed or you have to be so unique and, I hesitate to use the word, 'fresh' that it causes makes you stand out. But then there is always the risk of being 'too' unique.

Even being in the production/tech/roadie/backing musician side of business competition is extremely fierce.

I did have a profound point to make...but I lost it while ranting.
But the best of luck to you sirs in your future endeavours!
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 15:06, closed)
I suppose not,
it's a very complicated subject, which probably requires many thousands more words than I originally wrote.

The best I can offer you is my own personal viewpoint, which is that music and emotion are (or should be) intrinsically linked. The best example of this that I've seen is that James May program about robots, where he talks about a computer that can "write" like Beethoven. To all intents and purposes it could be considered a Beethoven piece, but it lacks the feel and emotion that Beethoven injected into his music.

To me, the vast majority of music I hear on the radio and in the top 40 sounds the same. I can't hear any passion or feel in it, mainly because it's all so over-produced, the entire thing sounds like it was written and recorded by a computer. Especially when you get all those talentless fuckers that have to use autotune the whole way through a song.

Someone who is emotionally affected by a piece of music like that, in my eyes, is totally missing the point or applying their own emotional value to something which has none. Which is like falling in love with a carrier bag.

At best it's plastic, disposable crap, and the people who put it out know it is. They're businessmen, not artists. They don't give a fuck if people "get" their music, they just want it to sell. Simon Cowell is the king of this way of thinking, and he's quite open about it. He's a businessman. An extremely clever and successful businessman, who has never once claimed to be interested in creating "art".
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 18:50, closed)
I largely agree, but...
I guess that one complication is that music as a medium is such a powerful emotive force in itself. To give an example, I have quite a few chairs in my house. One was handmade using a really interesting method by someone I've met. I therefore appreciate it as something with a history into which someone put a lot of themselves in terms of time, imagination, energy etc. The rest of them are just places to put my arse and I don't think about them much as long as they keep it off the floor.

With music I do appreciate songs more if I know that the musician has put more of themselves into it. Whether it be purely emotionally or through their desire to create something technically amazing or novel. But even shitty mass produced music can still make me feel sad/happy/energized/angry etc. if it has the right combination of melodies, harmonies, rhythms etc. I don't need to know much about it's background to have an emotional response to it.
(, Wed 5 Jan 2011, 14:14, closed)

As a struggling musician myself, all I can say is "click". And that "click" is not a bloody click track, okay?
(, Tue 4 Jan 2011, 21:36, closed)

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