A few days after my last article, about the Locus of Control and its importance in success in music, and a previous article about the folly of using your music as a crutch for your emotional issues, a very pertinent example of both came up with the news that US metalcore band Bleeding Through were splitting up, and an invective-fuelled blog post by frontman Brandan Schieppati explaining why. Have a read of it here.
It's a mournful tale of ruined dreams and bitterness. Take a look at the list of people he blames for the failure of his music career:
The band's label
His own fans
Notice anything missing from that list? There's one very notable absentee: Brandan Schieppati.
Now I don't know the details of what happened to facilitate Bleeding Through's breakup. I'm sure it's a lot more complex and nuanced than it looks. But all I, and you, have to go on is his blog post, so let's take what he says at face value.
His view is that everyone connected to the band has betrayed him. It was their responsibility, he claims, to push the band's career forward so that he could play his music for a living. He even included the band's own fans in this, who apparently didn't travel far enough to see the band play or like the new album like they were supposed to.
All this demonstrates an external locus of control. All Schieppati's fury shows that he believes that his entire music career was outside his control, and failures by those external people and forces have ruined it. For instance, he expressly blames the band's own fans for not travelling far enough to see the band play. Could he have looked at this from an internal locus of control? Could he have asked himself this question:
"Other bands can persuade their fans to travel hundreds of miles to see them play, by putting on unmissable shows and generating intense excitement every time they play. Maybe we should assess our performance and promotion to see if we can replicate that? What can WE DO to solve this problem?"
I once travelled 150 miles to see Metallica, 250 miles to see Rammstein. I even flew from London to Frankfurt just to see Tool. I'm sure many of you have done, or would do, the same or more for the bands you feel you just can't afford to miss. But there are other bands, whose music I love, that I wouldn't bother crossing the street to see play, because their live performances aren't worth the time (Deftones I'm looking at YOU), and likewise I'm sure there are bands you think this about, even if you have all their albums. Is that the fault of you or I, as the fans? Or is it the fault of the bands who put on a mediocre show and think it's somehow your obligation to turn up?
Sure, fans these days are fickle, spoilt and have a massive, unearned sense of entitlement. But that problem is affecting every band. Some bands have survived it, and all the other problems he mentions. Bleeding Through didn't.
Some bands, when confronted with awkward fans, find new ways to keep them loyal and to get them going to shows and buying merch. Brandan Schieppati palmed that responsibility off to his label and booking agents, and when that didn't work he threw his toys out of the pram and split the band.
So it very much looks as if Brandan Schieppati's external locus of control was his downfall. Even if the band's problems really were insoluble, he seems to have not given a second thought that he may be in some way responsible for them. Why?
He actually gives us the answer in the same blog post. He says that he got into music as a way to resolve his emotional difficulties. If you've read my earlier article, you'll be hearing the alarm bells right now. Addressing your pain and emotional problems is a good reason to play music, for sure, but it's a really, really terrible reason to embark on a professional music career. Because he was only interested in music as a tool to resolve his own emotional turmoil, rather than a means to entertain other people or pay his bills, he farmed those responsibilities out to other people, both in reality and in his own mind. He thought that music owed him a living, just because he wanted to play it for personal reasons, and when it didn't he lashed out at everyone except the one person who was the real problem.
Other musicians, many of them much less talented than Schieppati, are doing just fine. Why are they not "victims" of the evil music industry and those horrible fans who won't do what they're told? Perhaps because they don't see themselves as helpless? Perhaps because they see the link between their own actions and the consequences for their music, wealth and happiness? Perhaps because, when confronted with a problem, they look for a solution rather than for someone to blame? When these people come across a problem, they take action to solve it, even if that means answering uncomfortable questions about themselves and their actions. They don't quit and then blame everyone else.
Brandan Schieppati wants everyone to learn from his example. And they will. Just not the lessons he wants them to learn. Will you?
About the Author:
James Scott is a music producer in London, UK. He works with up and coming bands to get them noticed in the industry, provided that they get of their asses and actually do something. For recording, one thing you can do right now is sign up here for a free video course on how to approach recording an album - including how to massively reduce the cost. It's time to start solving problems rather than complaining about them. Or are you going to quit?