Greetings, rockers! I'm Josh, and I hate musicians. Maybe you do, too.
Now, now, settle down! I don't hate you. I'm just not a fan of trying to make constructive business or creative decisions with a bunch of other people. I grumble enough about the threat of marriage and commitment at least my hypothetical wife would be pretty. At times, band membership can seem like being married to three or four...musicians! Ahhhh!
If you've spent one too many band practices in a smelly basement wondering where the singer is (turns out it might be jail true story!), and you're at the end of your rope, fear not! Step right up, and read why it's a super duper great time to be a solo artist.
I've been playing guitar since I was 13, and I'm in it for the long haul. However, I got tired of always smelling like smoke, crack, weed, alcohol, and lack of opportunity. And all of those odors were secondhand! (Really, officer!)
Bands can be rockin', and awesome, but they can also be a major pain. I finally reached a point where I couldn't take it any more. I come from many different ethnicities, but the German Farmer Archetype seems to emerge when I'm working on my career. Needless to say, it doesn't play very well with slackers, hippies, bohemians, and other such musical types. There ezz no time to relax! Yah yah! I want to go big, bro! To paraphrase one of my least favorite politicians, Only dead fish go with the flow! If you're nodding your head in agreement here, I have some information that just might help.
Through some advice and inspiration from better musicians than me, I found a choice that suits me well: The solo artist. Regardless of if you're a total band player, or in the same boat as me, the lessons I've learned over the past few years could be valuable for your career. Strengthening your personal brand is always great, no matter what your playing situation. Grab a chair, preferably one of those cool guitar brand barstools, and hang out for a few minutes...
The case for solo musicians
As a musician and a businessman (I teach guitar), I firmly believe that we build our own empires. If we don't like the state of our kingdom, we can change it. I was mega-burt out with bands. Could a rock musician such as myself continue to burn down stages without supporting musicians? The answer? A resounding yes!
As a guitarist, I see an incredible array of options present themselves for me. If I were a drummer or bass player, it would be harder. I'd still make it work, but I find guitar and vocals to be my ideal vehicle for taking over the world! This article is written from that standpoint, but I would tell any musician to make it happen, regardless of what they play! The point is as guitarists, we're sittin' pretty.
My main concern when deciding to go solo was - I didn't want to be a Dave Matthews or Jack Johnson. I really respect those guys, and they're great in their style. I, however, am a very electric kinda guy, and I wanted my show to be LOUD! The singer-songwriter label always made me run the other way fast (probably my shredder background.) I needed to figure out a way to make the el electric sound happen. (If you're into the acoustic singer/songwriter vibe, good for you! You won't have to haul as many electronic gizmos into the whole deal, and you can use a much smaller car to get to gigs!)
There were a few things I needed to get together in order to build an act I was proud of. They were:
- Singing and playing
- Filling up the stage
- Promotion and business stuff
The funny thing is almost none of it had anything to do with playing guitar! It's been quite a journey over the past few years, and I have a sense it's just beginning. After a while of gigging and writing, I've just released my debut EP Signalman. The learning curve has been wicked, but man, it's taught me a lot.
I hope you'll join me over the next few installments to figure out the easy way what I learned the hard way! There's no better time to try setting up shop as a solo artist. If you've had it with endless auditioning, scanning musician classifieds, and dealing with weirdos, be encouraged. There is HOPE, brothers and sisters! (Sorry, just channeling my Texas revivalist minister side that I didn't know existed.) And even if you're in a band, this can be a viable side project, too. Moreover, it's a heck of a lot of fun!
Come on back next week, and we'll start getting into details of how one can start the metamorphosis from sideman to The very rockin' your name here one man (or woman) band!
See ya then!
Josh Urban is a solo guitarist and vocalist living near Washington, DC, USA. When he's not attempting to blow up stages with his iPhone backing tracks and brightly colored guitars, he's busy teaching guitar to over thirty students per week, adding zany videos to his youtube channel, or blogging about music. He just released his first real EP, Signalman, and is responsible for every single sound on it. Check out his website at www.joshurban.com, and say hello!
Copyright 2010 Josh Urban, all rights reserved.