Making People Take Their Shirts Off For You

It's a little ironic that as a musician, you are writing an intensely personal work whose success will be judged by how other people feel about it.

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It's a little ironic that as a musician, you are writing an intensely personal work whose success will be judged by how other people feel about it. You're writing music that you can only hope will be taken up by a large enough number of people to enable you to get a record deal and turn this gig into a full-time job, or make this job into something that provides a few more perks, like thousands of screaming fans or a million-dollar bonus. Whether you're making someone dance, breaking their heart with the sweetest ballad ever written, or melting their face with an awesome solo, these feelings aren't solely dependent on the quality of the music that you've written. The music industry makes a living exploiting these non-musical factors. So how can you take care of these things beyond the music? The answer comes down to image control and sincerity.

Image control is something that seems antithetical to rock and roll. Rock is all about showing that you don't care about society, that you're just gonna go against the grain, right? Well, not really. Think about it. You're going to dress in black and go watch some metal band surrounded by people dressed like you. You're projecting an image that most people in society won't agree with, but it's an image nonetheless. Understanding that is a core part of succeeding as an artist. That's why crappy-yet-hot pop singers are able to churn out hit after faceless hit, because something about their image provokes sympathy or envy from consumers.

So knowing your fans is a huge part of scratching and clawing your way to the top. You've got to be able to produce music that's consistent with your image. But this isn't a trap, because images are things that change over timeyou've just got to be able to bring your fans along slowly. Do it too quickly and you'll lose a good number. You've just got to remember to keep your fans updated as you go about your route, because these fans have to put up with a lot to support you in your trek through the music industry.

The music industry is one of the most corrupt, vile industries on the planet. Bands sue their fans, the record companies join in, the ticket-providers to venues extort you with overpriced tickets, and it doesn't end there. There have been entire albums written about how horrible the music industry is, and this isn't changing anytime soon. The IFPI, the international association of record companies, recently sent spies into a couple bars across America, and is suing them for playing music that they didn't have the rights for. This amounts to something like a couple dollars a bar. Situations like this are absolutely ludicrous, to the point where the common consumer doesn't care to support the record industry at all.

This is something that you've got to live with. You're a part of this industry that nobody likes and your job is to be so good to your fans that they can overcome their dislike of the record industry and lay out some cash to buy your album. Your fans are everything to you. You've got to make sure that you're giving back to them whenever you go on stage or record an album because they will give you success, and they can also take it away.

Part of giving back ultimately comes back to image control. You can't give away something that's fake, that's an act. In order for people to identify with you, you've got to do away with everything that isn't true to your group. If you don't identify with the songs you're playing, your audience will know and stop supporting you.

Most of this may seem like common sense, and it really is, but unfortunately most bands don't necessarily take it. They either ignore it, or take it to the extreme, reasoning that writing a pop song is equivalent to killing a baby. I doubt there is anyone that has never liked a single pop song. If pop is part of your identity, let it out in music. The world could use a few more quality pop musicians.

That doesn't mean that honesty solves horrible musicianshipit just means that the best bands are those that combine integrity and musical ability. It's up to you to come up with some good songs, but being true to yourself is the part of the equation that will ultimately put you into rock nirvana. Just don't shoot yourself in the head when you get there.

By Ben Heere, Dotted Music

28 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Kivo69
    Wow. You make it sound like you just have to be yourself and be friendly. And btw I love your last two lines.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Very nice. Though I was disappointed they were no pics of chicks topless. Good advice all round, man.
    Haustinj
    Juninho2v wrote: I really liked the way "nirvana" was in the same line as "shoot yourself in the head", great accidental pun...about the article, really nice, a lot of it is common sense, but I 100% agree with the part about pop songs, nowadays people seem to think that ANYTHING that a lot of people like(AKA, pop) is horrible, they're letting the fans make the music sound bad.
    i don't think it was an accident... Kings of Leon are kinda like that...they said in concert that the real fans were the ones that were there a year ago or 10 years ago. not the ones that hopped on with "Only By The Night". They hate being called Mainstream.
    theAccursed
    This article should end with - "Use Propagandhi as your role models". Everyone complains but they've done something about it.
    Pat_s1t
    Haven't read it yet, but that's definitely the most enticing title for an article I've ever seen on UG.
    apak
    Yeah look at Muse. They say that they don't make music for the fans but for the sake of music, but they just say that for their fans. A lot of their fans only like them because they're so weird like that. Um, no. That's marketing.
    spitonastranger
    Nameless742 wrote: Juninho2v wrote: Yeah I don't listen to pop in my spare time, but I do listen to it, to and from work and at work. And I still find myself singing along to some good ones, and cringing at some others.
    i don't know how pop became a dirty word all of a sudden. lame peole who go under the genre have clearly made the world think that pop is limited to the latest jonas brothers album. half the "indie" bands out now are pop bands at heart.
    Lrn2play
    idk... i dont really see the point in this article. 9 identical paragraphs with the premise of delivering joke (a great one though).
    Reaper-Man
    I think this is well written, so you're telling me if someone offered you a career in music you wouldn't take it..... It's beyond me, I certainly would!
    wicked_hobbit
    I just laughed my butt off. Thanks. And the rest of the article is well-written too. Good job
    Nameless742
    Juninho2v wrote: I really liked the way "nirvana" was in the same line as "shoot yourself in the head", great accidental pun...about the article, really nice, a lot of it is common sense, but I 100% agree with the part about pop songs, nowadays people seem to think that ANYTHING that a lot of people like(AKA, pop) is horrible, they're letting the fans make the music sound bad.
    Yeah I don't listen to pop in my spare time, but I do listen to it, to and from work and at work. And I still find myself singing along to some good ones, and cringing at some others.
    dweb23
    Ye nice article. Attention grabbing title and good content. Well done
    Juninho2v
    I really liked the way "nirvana" was in the same line as "shoot yourself in the head", great accidental pun...about the article, really nice, a lot of it is common sense, but I 100% agree with the part about pop songs, nowadays people seem to think that ANYTHING that a lot of people like(AKA, pop) is horrible, they're letting the fans make the music sound bad.
    Let It Be0o0
    SilverHammer :O wrote: You make music sound like a career. Not cool.
    somebody been playin 2 much guitar hero...
    justinb904
    nothing new, but commonly overlooked information
    Dream Floyd wrote: I thought this article was going to be about groupies!
    at least I wasn't the only one who thought this article was about something else based on the title
    Lt.DanHasLegs
    SilverHammer :O wrote: You make music sound like a career. Not cool.
    ahem, dear punker than thou neo-hippie: If you want to make music with your life, it has to be a career. Food doesn't fall into your lap, and if you want to be a full time musician, there's gotta be money involved.
    dougl126
    Music industry reminds me of the agriculture industry. When Monsanto sends people to snoop around in farmers fields to see if the farmer is growing from Monsanto's seeds without having purchased them, even though its a common problem that seeds spread in the wind and could end up in your field without you knowing. And then Monsanto sues them for everything they own.