For a dedicated musician, playing shows might be the coolest thing on earth. Usually all bands, from rookie backyard combos to international rockstars, are over-enthusiastic about performing their songs on stage. Unortunatelly that does not mean they actually deliver properly. Here’s a list of things you should definitely NOT bring onto a stage:
Cigarettes. As long as you are not Slash or Zack Wylde you will neither look cool nor hot, if you smoke on stage. You will look like an idiot. Like - an - idiot. So just don’t do it.
Bad mood. People actually paid (or spent a lot of time and energy to be put on the guestlist) to see your band. If you are not able or willing to deliver a decent live show (and I mean “SHOW”), then stay the fuck off stage. It’s impertinent and ignorant to play a show when you’d rather be doing something else. Noone wants to see a bored band, obviously hating what they do, except for Oasis.
Inebriation. Sure, musicians are supposed to be wasted all the time. But they’re also supposed to be filthy rich and getting laid on a daily basis. My point is: You can’t (and don’t have to) live up to every cliché. Playing a decent live show is quite a challenging and exhausting task. Except for Lemmy, Keith Richards and a bunch of other wrecks who only function when they are wasted, no musician is able to deliver more than 80% when he’s drunk, stoned or tripping (or all of it at once).
Multi-Effect-Boards. So you made a good deal at your local guitar store and bought an all-in-one multi-effect pedalboard for 200 bucks? It can do basically everything from amp simulation over reverb, chorus, delay, flanger, fuzz, distortion, noisereduction, looping, drum patterns to full multitrack recording? The swiss army knife among the pedal boards? Don’t bring it. Chances that it sounds horrible and does not serve any comprehensible purpose are between 99,5 - 99,9%.
Bad gear in general. Just imagine a craftsman coming to your home with a broken hammer and a blunt saw. You’ll never be able to deliver a decent live show if you can’t blindly rely on your instruments, amps and other gear. You’re either scared that something might break (and thus behave insecure and anxious on stage) or something acutally does break, which is even more embarassing. Tripple check every single piece of equipment at band practices before you bring it on stage.
Dilettantism. A loud amplifier and a new leather jacked do not automatically qualify you for being on stage. If you can’t play your own fucking songs then stay away from any place where other people (except for your band members) are being forced to suffer from your incompetence. Work on it and practice. It’s not that hard.
If you’re still not sure about what to bring on stage and what not, you either have to wait for the 2nd part of “Things you should not bring on stage by any means” or you simply ask yourself what you would want to encounter at a show as a fan. You got it.
So you are ready to take the next step and become serious about playing in a band? You’ve done your homework, wrote some decent songs, found a niche in the music scene, practised hard to improve your skills, bought pro gear, teamed up with a couple of promising partners and quit your job, ready to become a fulltime musician? Too bad, you just made a horrible mistake.
Sad truth is that musicians are pretty much the last link in the food chain of the music industry circus. Even if you are among the few lucky bands who are elected to work with so-called professional partners (such as a booking agency, a record label or a management company), you might never be able to make a living from being in a band.
Sure, if you, for whatever unlikely reason, manage to land a hit with your band, there’s gonna be enough money for everyone, even for you. However it might be irritating that you are, once again, the last in line. Commerical success is always realitve and you’d be surprised how “poor” a lot of award winning artists feel when they look at their royalty statements or tour budgets.
So, why the hell would anyone still invest all their time and energy in playing in a band? What can you do to stay focused and motivated? What could still drive you to follow your dreams?
First of all: Find other reasons for being a musician but to earn money. There are so many of them and most are WAY better and enduring than making a living. Dare to be enthusiastic about your art, no matter how many people pay attention (or money). Learn to enjoy the basics of writing, recording, releasing and performing your own songs (Infact this is what “being an artist” is all about). Also, start listening to your ”inner rockstar”. He / She’ll tell you a whole bunch of great reasons why you want to be in a band, such as free beer at shows, easy hook ups with the opposite or same sex, celebrating your beloved gear or just having a bag full of great stories to tell when returning from a show-weekend with your best friends. All of them are legit, all of them are real.
Second: Get rid off the hoplessly romantic image of the "fulltime musician". It’s crap. Except for very few solidly established artists who are able to repeatly put out successful albums, most fulltime musicians suffer from severe existential fears and have a very hard time to make ends meet. Especially when they are not willing or able to play the "album - tour - album - tour - tour - album - tour - album - tour tour tour”- game for the rest of their lives. Apart from being very exhausting, physically and mentally, being on tour or in the studio most of the year pretty much excludes founding a family or engaging in a hobby much less another profession. A lot of fulltime musicians describe their life as montonous, stressfull and exhausting.
Third: Find alternative ways to maneuver through the world of music. Sure, giving lessons, putting up shows, working at a record store, doing light / sound at your local club, or helping out as a mercher, tour musician or manager for an established band is not exactly what you had in mind when you amplified your rockstar career, but it will help you to a) not be broke all the time and b) stay connected with the local and global music scene. Especially the latter is something you’ll be able to profit from considerably in regards to your own musical endeavors.
Despite being mentioned last: Set realistic goals and work hard to reach them. For starters an ambitious, but not impossible personal goal could be to make your band financially self-supporting. This is by no means an implicitness but definitely something worth striving for. From that point a lot of even greater things are within reach but the trick is (well guessed!): One step at a time.
My point is not at all to discourage bands or kill musicians’ dreams. It’s rather a call to keep a cool head but even more importantly to keep your job!
MARATHONMANN’s second album “…und wir vergessen was vor uns liegt” just hit the german charts at #46.
Marathonmann will be on tour with THE GOGETS and FINDER in December 2014. Tickets can be purchased at www.eventim.de.
04.12.Wien – Chelsea
05.12.Basel – Hirscheneck
06.12.Stuttgart – clubCann
07.12.Köln – Underground
08.12.Frankfurt – 11er
09.12.Saarbrücken – Garage
10.12.Hamburg – Molotow
11.12.Berlin – Magnet
12.12.Leipzig – Four Rooms
13.12.Hannover – Chez Heinz
Today MARATHONMANN released their sophomore album “… und wir vergessen was vor uns liegt” via Century Media Records.
Vitja will hit the road with IWRESTLEDABEARONCE and TEXAS IN JULY this july and august.
10.07.14 Hungary Rockmaraton Fesztivál
11.07.14 Italy Pinarella di Cervia @ Rock Planet
12.07.14 Switzerland Geneve SUMMER BREAK(DOWN) FESTIVAL III
13.07.14 Germany HORST Festival…
15.07.14 Germany Stuttgart @ Juha West
16.07.14 Germany Nürnberg @ Rockfabrik
18.07.14 Germany Dessau @ Beatclub
19.07.14 Austria Kapfenberg @ Encore
20.07.14 Serbia Belgrade @ Dom Omladine
21.07.14 Romania Bucharest @ Fabrica
22.07.14 Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo @ Underground
23.07.14 Croatia Zagreb AKC @ Attack Club
25.07.14 Germany München Free & Easy Festival
26.07.14 Luxembourg Food For Your Senses Festival Page 2014
27.07.14 France Paris @ Divan du Monde
29.07.14 France Nantes @ Le Ferrailleur
30.07.14 France Toulouse @ Le Saint Des Seins
08.08.14 Germany Wiesbaden @ Schlachthof
09.08.14 Germany Köln @ Underground
10.08.14 UK Southampton @ Joiners
11.08.14 UK Glasgow @ Ivory Blacks
12.08.14 UK London @ Borderline
13.08.14 Belgium Liege @ La Peniche
14.08.14 Holland Uden @ De Pul
21.06.Neuhausen Ob Eck – Southside Festival
04.07.Bochum – Bochum Total
12.07.Lindau – Stadtfest
26.07.München – Free & Easy (Release Party)
09.08.Nürnberg – Pull The TriggerTickets
05.09.Massing – Sommerloch Open Air
13.09.Illingen – Schulzentrum Rock gegen Rechts