Archive for the 'the struggling artist' Category


Hellow 2013

Since I’ve been working in Japan I’ve had to be more mobile and thus I can’t record the same kind of demos as before where I had a bass guitar, acoustic guitar, condensor mic and assorted pedals. As a traveller I have my Macbook pro and an electic guitar and that’s about it. So I’m delving into electronic music, or to be more specific, digital music via Reaper and other programs like Abbleton Live 8, and drum beat software called Tattoo.

But I’m totally an amateur, I listen to a few electronic artists but really don’t have the foggiest when it comes to deciphering the plathora of genres, sub-genres and tag-terms that make up electronic music. I probably couldn’t even tell your jungle from your house music.

So, with my own Macbook compositions, what genre am I going to call it? I’ve come up with: ‘amatronic‘ and the first track is on my soundcoud site



Burgeoning Brisband Scene…

I have a coursin in a Brisbane band that has had some popularity recently.  The irony is that all the members were in other bands, slogging it out, and they just go together for fun, and from there they had a spark with some some local interest. They came down to Sydney recently where I caught them at a gig… But the great thing about Brisbane is that it’s small enough that almost all the musos know each other, which fosters a scene. Unlike Sydney, which makes it all too easy for the up-coming band to get lost in the ether…

Anyway, the Keep On Dancin’s were lots of fun and they’ve just released an album. Their Myspace describes them as ‘pop, visual, surf’… For me, they reminded me a little bit of the Cramps but less rough… , ( the Cramps was one of my fav bands in high school). I’m not really into the genre, so I’ve got to relate them to something I’ve heard…



My latest cartoon: deep bassplayers…

If you’re gonna have a band, you need one member to be deep and philosophical, to inspire the lyrics and music and take the listeners to the deeper, esoteric levels…


On Typical Musos…

I came across this post in my RSS reader:

“30 Tips For The Typical Musician”  By Mike Venti

Meaning, ‘how to be a typical muso embodying all the flaws, drawbacks, weakness and downright annoying features of an egotistical, mediocre muso’. That’s a bit harsh, but there’s an ‘inner muso’ in every muso, if you get my drift.

Back in the 90’s when I was with my band, I was very much guilty of several of these characteristics, but so were the many around at the time. This one in particular:  Beg your friends and family to come out and see you for the third time in a month.

Here’s another: Never take a gig playing covers for fear of being average… We shouldn’t learnt more covers just to learn from the songwriting etc…

And this one when hastling booking agents: Understand that anyone who doesn’t return an email or a phone call is out to get you and personally dislikes your music. We didn’t take it personally like that, but we complained when people didn’t get back to us, and we didn’t persevere. The lesson: It’s show business, it’s going to be tough to get gigs…


And also the simple disconnect between reality and thinking “we’re going to make it” because some producer for a famous band would sooner or later walk into a pub we were playing in and suddenly see our genius.

But back in those days the labels held the power over distribution, so it was assumed that to make it you had to get a record deal, so the average muso could deceive him or herself into thinking it was all about being discovered and signed.

The problem with that thinking was that it was too easy to take DIY hardwork out of the equation. These days you can’t deceive yourself like that anymore -it’s all DIY, and there’s nothing stopping you (theoretically) from getting out there and building a following from the bottom up.

It just takes a lot of effort to play your instrument well (or sing well), write good songs, times that by 3-5 cooperating with other band members, record a demo, shop it around to get gigs, put up your online profile and take it from there…


New demo

I’ve got a new demo up, another instrumental. you can check it out here:

Also, met my old drummer the other day at church… nice to catch up. We were in a band together in the 90’s, but things have changed a lot since then, and we’ve all gone out separate ways. Music is still my passion even though it’s just a hobby. I don’t have a band now, but I enjoy just arranging and working on demos… Now I’m more into the songwriting process, and I have my other hobbies that keep me busy, such as blogging and cartooning (Munhwa Experience).

The drummer enjoys a bit of tapping, but he doesn’t have a kit these days -he’s more focused on saving and the corporate ladder. Sometimes I think it would be cool if the band got back just for a reunion bash -I’m still friends with the singer, but his passion is home brewing now anyway. And we’ve lost contact with the other member  -and half the band is all married with kids.

Interesting seeing other bands that were gigging round the scene make it now -I mentioned to my drummer that we’d supported a band back then that’s quite successful now -COG. I’m full of admiration for those guys because we saw from the beginning how dedicated and focused they were. At that gig in the southwest of Sydney the pub was virtually empty (this was the late 90’s) -for them it was probably more just a practice gig. For us it was the usual. We’d forgotten to bring the ride with the drum kit and they kindly lent us theirs.

The message for me, (which I was telling the drummer), was that success is attainable for the truly dedicated and persevering. Many bands have the talent, but it’s putting in the hard yards and developing the sound. But COG sounded great live back then, imagine how they sound now!

But the toll of touring must be heavy, and that was something our band wasn’t willing to do, which was the next level for us to shoot for -hire a van and tour up the east coast of Australia on a shoe-string budget. We were all too nerdy, conservative and cautious…

I feel we had the songwriting and the tightness, but we didn’t develop stage presence and work on our live act, and every member needs to have the same commitment -it’s like a chain being as strong as its weakest link. And a few albums on we would’ve developed the songwriting into something special, instead we never got past the 12 song demo stage…


A slightly negative cartoon on the music industry

This one was just a reflex from some of the bad news going round on the music industry… There are always positives with the digital tools for artists to communicate directly with fans and the bustling touring scene…


Reality of the Music Industry

There’s a interview in Digital Audio Insider about the challenges faced even by what we’d called ‘established musicians’. Admittedly I hadn’t heard of Camper Van Beethoven, but I had probably heard their music when I watched “Bowling for Combine”, as one of their songs was licensed in the Michael More doco.
Jonathan Segel of the band was interviewed via email and he had a lot of interesting things to say, but unfortunately it’s not the optimistic message predicting the emerging ‘middle class’ of artists and musicians who can finally make a living as the barriers of entry are lowered and distribution made easier.
Quote: …the legacy of the digital revolution will prove to be economically the same as the legacy of the last 30 years’ Republican administrations: a very small percentage of people with a lot of money, and a very large amount of people with very little money: there will be little or no artistic middle class.
But I really appreciated this interview, because it gets down to the truth of it, which is not what you’ll find in the majority of books sold in the market convincing you that with just a bit of hardwork, luck and a fanbase you can make a living in music. But I guess that’s why they sell like hot cakes…

I also appreciated the detailed breakdown of the economics faced as a band reminding people of the costs involved in making good music (skilled producers, engineers and their equipment) and then the marketing and promotion necessary to sell the music.
To break in the reality: of the twenty five years he’s been making music (whether his main band or side projects) only 3 and a half of those were spent making money as a musicain, the rest he’s needed other jobs to keep the music going.
And that led to another very important point he drove home: in the whole operation of writing music, making an album, producing and promoting it, you as the artist, will be the last to get paid, meaning for the most part everyone is paid first before you’ll see any income (such as studio, engineers, promotions and marketing team etc… or if it’s funded by the label, they recoup first from your royalties)

In a sense I suppose this is fair -if you’re the artist then the album is “your baby”, for everyone else working on the album it’s a job (albeit a satisfying one for many) or it’s a financial investment.

The Problem With Music by Steve Albini