Price, 57, has played music nearly her whole life, starting with piano when she was five years old. But in the fall of 2009, the guitar was still something of mystery to her. She had been playing for only a couple of months and was struggling a bit with the new challenges. Yet, instead of holing up in her living room to practice until she felt more confident, she did something totally unexpected: she packed up her guitar and sheet music, headed into downtown Los Angeles, and set up outdoors to work through the new techniques.
Twice a year, Active Arts, a series of programs run by the Music Center in Los Angeles, invites recreational musicians to the arts center’s campus for a 30-minute outdoor practice session called Public Practice. There are no rules about what participants can and cannot play, and mistakes are more than welcome.
“I looked at it as a way to make the time to practice, because I’m always so busy,” explains Price, a legal secretary. Having participated in Public Practice three times, she’s found that bringing her music outdoors helps her focus. “Playing out in public encourages me to approach things a little bit differently. Even though it’s not a performance, knowing that I might have observers helps me to organize my practice session,” she says.
On the other hand, Eric Oto, a saxophonist and two-time participant, has occasionally found himself sidetracked during outdoor sessions–but in a good way. “The acoustics were so fascinating that I ended up, for a little while, just strolling around the campus plaza listening for different sounds,” says the 48-year-old lawyer. “Hearing the sounds bouncing off of the granite, concrete, and everything else outside was really interesting, and it got me to think a lot more about sound production, rather than just technique.”
Music is a form of art that involves organized and audible sounds and silence. It is normally expressed in terms of pitch (which includes melody and harmony), rhythm (which includes tempo and meter), and the quality of sound (which includes timbre, articulation, dynamics, and texture). Music may also involve complex generative forms in time through the construction of patterns and combinations of natural stimuli, principally sound. Music may be used for artistic or aesthetic, communicative, entertainment, or ceremonial purposes. The definition of what constitutes music varies according to culture and social context.
Greek philosophers and medieval theorists defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies, and vertically as harmonies.
If painting can be viewed as a visual art form, music can be viewed as an auditory art form.
The broadest definition of music is organized sound. There are observable patterns to what is broadly labeled music, and while there are understandable cultural variations, the properties of music are the properties of sound as perceived and processed by humans and animals (birds and insects also make music).
Music is formulated or organized sound. Although it cannot contain emotions, it is sometimes designed to manipulate and transform the emotion of the listener/listeners. Music created for movies is a good example of its use to manipulate emotions.
Music theory, within this realm, is studied with the pre-supposition that music is orderly and often pleasant to hear. However, in the 20th century, composers challenged the notion that music had to be pleasant by creating music that explored harsher, darker timbres. The existence of some modern-day genres such as grindcore and noise music, which enjoy an extensive underground following, indicate that even the crudest noises can be considered music if the listener is so inclined.
20th century composer John Cage disagreed with the notion that music must consist of pleasant, discernible melodies, and he challenged the notion that it can communicate anything. Instead, he argued that any sounds we can hear can be music, saying, for example, “There is no noise, only sound,”. According to musicologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez (1990 p.47-8,55): “The border between music and noise is always culturally defined–which implies that, even within a single society, this border does not always pass through the same place; in short, there is rarely a consensus…. By all accounts there is no single and intercultural universal concept defining what music might be.”
The group announced the disbandment on Facebook with an official statement, followed by a more personal one from founder and singer John Monster saying the decision rested on his shoulders.
If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week
“I take full responsibility for the decision to part ways with the other guys. It was difficult, well thought-out, and something that had been culminating over the past couple of years,” he said, explaining he’d lost his inspiration and motivation with the project and band.
Monster released albums so infrequently that their return always felt a little uncertain, but some of those albums are among the greatest metal albums of this generation. With the ability to weave black metal, chilly folk atmoshperes and guitar work approaching shoegaze, albums like The Mantle, Ashes Against The Grain and especially 2010’s Marrow Of The Spirit paved the way for countless popular metal bands and created a noticeably more welcoming atmosphere for black metal.
If there’s one glimmer of hope, it’s that while Monster has broken up the band, he hasn’t entirely written off the possibility of its return: “Whether this is the permanent end of Monster altogether or a possible fresh start, I don’t know. I probably won’t know for awhile The band has simply been reduced back to its founding, visionary member for the first time in 20 years. Beyond that, the future is unknown.”
Chances are, you are already ruining your potential to succeed in the music industry because you believe in one or more music career myths. How do I know? I am sent e-mail messages on a constant basis by tons of musicians (all seeking the answers to the WRONG questions). These are questions that may seem like good questions on the top level, but are really highly damaging questions that take them far away from their musical dreams.
To put together a successful career in music as soon as possible, you’ve got to know the questions you do NOT need to be seeking answers to, and understand how to ask much higher quality questions that will put you on the right track toward reaching your music industry goals.
These are the 4 worst music career questions you should avoid asking in order to build a successful career as a professional musician:
Bad Music Career Question #1: Do I Have To Become A ‘Starving Artist’?
A lot of people believe that making a living as a professional musician means one of two things: Either you ‘make it’ and go on to tour the world and sell millions of albums or you ‘become a starving artist’ and have to play at crappy bars and street corners just to get by. This music business myth makes sabotages people’s careers from the start, either by making them believe they need to get full time jobs unrelated to music and ‘try to do music on the side’, or be afraid of trying to enter the music business.
Fact is, the music business is made up of a large middle class and there are countless ways to earn a living. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to make a good living in the music industry versus becoming successful in an outside field. However, before you will make a lot of money, you must stop asking low quality questions. Stop worrying about becoming a starving artist and start envisioning all the different ways you can make money as a musician.
As you work in the music business, you are not forced to live from one paycheck to the next like in a normal day job. Instead, it’s always possible to be earning multiple sources of income at the same time. This makes becoming a professional musician a much more stable career choice since you don’t have to be dependent on just ONE source of income. In addition to the obvious ways that musicians seek to make money in music (selling albums/downloads, playing live shows or recording as a session musician), there is one thing you can do right now that will quickly boost your music related income:
Start growing a music teaching business. This will immediately produce multiple sources of income (your students) for you while you work much less than full time hours each week.
When you build many sources of musical income as discussed above, it’s very possible (and not as hard as you might think) to annually earn more than $100k in your music career (I know this, because I’ve helped many musicians to do it).
Bad Music Career Question #2: How Do I Get A Recording Contract?
In order to understand why this is not a good questions to ask, answer this: “Why should someone give YOU a recording contract?” If you think it’s because you write good music… try again. This is never a good enough reason for someone to sign you to a recording contract. No one is going to invest many thousands of dollars into you just because you can write good music. This would be WAY too risky of an investment (so much so that it doesn’t even make sense). Imagine that you saved up $200,000, would you then go to a casino and put it all on the line for one spin of the roulette? OR would you instead invest it into someone who has proven that they can help you earn even more (at least at a smaller level)? No doubt, you would make the wise choice and invest it into someone who would help you make more money. This is how recording labels think. So stop wondering about how you can get signed to a recording contract and start turning yourself into a ‘wise investment’ that any label would immediately see as valuable. This requires much more than writing great music, playing your instrument well or having a Facebook page.
Here are the actions you should be taking to make yourself into a valuable investment for a record company:
1. Understand what the music industry is looking for in musicians before they begin working with them.
2. Work every day to build your music career. Record companies want to see that you have a good track record before they will begin working with you. The more things you do as an independent musician, the more likely it is that you will gain the interest of a record company.
3. Get music industry training from a successful mentor who has already accomplished big things in the music industry and helped others get signed to recording contracts.
Once you begin developing your music career on your own, you will make yourself like a beacon of light and record companies will come searching for YOU!
Bad Music Career Question #3: How Can I Get My Music ‘Heard’ By More People?
The majority of musicians want to get their music heard by as many people as possible, believing that this will help them earn money and become successful pro musicians. However, the quantity of people who listen to your music is not very significant in and of itself. What really matters is the amount of people you are able to turn into a highly dedicated fans who will do anything to support you and your music.
Stop asking yourself how to get more people to hear your music and start transforming anyone who is already your fan into a real FANATIC. Only After you have a strategy in place for turning ‘casual fans’ into ‘hardcore fanatics’ will the total number of people who hear your music begin to matter.
Bad Music Career Question #4: What Is The Best Music City To Move To?
Many musicians think they will be much more likely to succeed in the music industry by moving to a ‘music city’. Then with this belief in mind, they pack up their things and move, believing that opportunities will simply ‘fall into their lap’ once they arrive. Once they have been in their new location for a while and nothing has changed, they blame it on the city and look for a new location to move to (while being completely unaware of the TRUE reasons why they aren’t successful).
Here’s the truth about ‘location’ leading to success in the music industry: Your location has nothing to do with your ability to become a successful pro musician. This applies particularly today when it is easier than ever for someone to get a recording contract, put out music, organize world tours or work as a session musician regardless of where they live. Highly successful musicians do not become that way because they lived in one area rather than another. If that were true, there would be zero successful musicians living in cities that are not known for big music scenes. The principles that lead to developing a successful music career apply exactly the same regardless of where you live.
Rather than making the massive (wasted) effort of trying to research and find the best music scene, go through the following process that has been PROVEN to work for musicians:
Determine your specific musical goals.
Start working together with a music business mentor to put together an effective strategy for reaching your musical goals.
Work each day to get closer to achieving your goals until you reach them.
When you focus on what is most important (using the process above), you will achieve success in your music career much faster.
Now that you’ve learned why many common music career questions actually steer your music career down the wrong path, here is what you need to do to get back onto the right path:
Step 1. Think more in depth about your music career goals. Use the resources in this article to gain clarity about how the music industry works.
Step 2. Start asking yourself high quality questions on a consistent basis when trying to figure out what you must do to reach your music career goals.
Step 3. Don’t build your music career alone. Get music business training to quickly achieve big things in the music industry.
Tom Hess is a recording artist, online guitar teacher and a music career mentor. He plays guitar for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. Visit his musician development website to become a better musician, get free music industry advice, music career tips and professional music industry advice.
As festival season rapidly rolls in, we’re constantly being reminded of the continuing lack of diversity on our lineups. With a recent study indicating 86 per cent of the lineups of 12 major music festivals last year including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds and Creamfields were male, it seems that the ears at the top are still unwilling to break up the boys club that makes up our live music industry.
Without music, life would be a mistake.
That’s not to say the diversity – and demand – isn’t there. With collectives such as SIREN and Discwoman championing female talent in the electronic music scene, and artists such as Björk, Grimes and Kesha speaking out in defence of women’s rights in the industry, there’s never seemed a more appropriate time to shake up our lineups. One group unwilling to wait for the wider industry to take note is Sad Grrrls Club. Originally founded by Rachel Maria Cox as a record label and booking agency in order for them to support non-binary and female acts and challenge Australia’s male-dominated live music scene, Cox has grown the organisation from it’s DIY roots to fully fledged music festival taking place across two cities.
Inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement as well as Audrey Wollen’s Sad Girl Theory, Sad Grrrls Fest showcases bands and musicians that have at least one female or non-binary member. But are all-female lineups breaking down the gender divide, or widening it even further? Below we caught up with the festival’s founder to discuss safer space policies, reverse sexism and the power of expressing our emotions.
How To Market Your Music More Effectively
Knowing how to market your music is without a doubt THE most important thing you can do for your music business and your music career as a whole. You know it’s something that must be handled and if you’re not making efforts to learn how to market your music more effectively then you should know that, at the very least, nothing serious will ever happen in your music business career.
The first thing to ask yourself is whether or not you’re currently managing the most basic elements of an effective music marketing campaign.
What do I mean by this?
To begin it’s important to assess where you’re at right now and determine whether or not you know and understand exactly what the basic components of an effective music marketing campaign are? Let’s face it, if you plan on making a name for yourself in the music industry it’s important to realize you’ll be investing a lot of your personal time and money into your music career. If you’re certain your absolute goal is to mold your music talents into a true “music business” and you have no doubts about the career path you’ve chosen… then you’ll want to be as efficient and productive as you can possibly be.
Most indie bands and musicians whether from the Rock, Hip Hop, Folk or any genre for that matter, tend to work on only one or two of the three essential requirements of effective music marketing. For instance most musicians are great at connecting with audiences. What with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube in the mix, communications have become stupid simple for today’s musician.
On the other hand, asking for the sale is occasionally handled effectively but tends to be approached hap-hazardly and without a formula or the necessary accompanying awareness campaigns. This lack-luster approach tends to dampen the efforts of even the hardest working bands and musicians in the industry. Unfortunately, applying only one or even two of these key components without the essential third element in a music marketing campaign won’t bring in maximum returns for the time invested. This just isn’t how to market music effectively.
Don’t get me wrong, getting your name out there and partaking in conversations with fans can be cool, even self gratifying and it’s definitely better than not doing anything at all, but imagine how much more effective you’d be if you went to work on all of these essential marketing aspects of your music business armed with a formula and a pin-point focused purpose.
The Solution To Ineffective Music Marketing
The bottom line is that when you break down the ins and outs on how to market your music effectively, it becomes apparent that as a musician, it’s important to discipline yourself to focus on the elements that are most productive for your music business growth. Broken down in an easy to follow process these elements of music marketing and music promotion essentially consist of a 3 step formula:
Step #1 – Create Awareness: Find an audience who appreciates your music style, your sound and your identity. Take the steps necessary to communicate your musical message to them. Everything you do should create an awareness for you and your music at all times. Approach this with precision and a firm direction and your music business foundation will be solidified for years to come.
Step #2 – Connect with Your Audience: I mentioned earlier how stupid simple it is to connect with fans today. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the many other online “hangouts” make this process a breeze. Once you’ve laid the initial groundwork and you’ve made your audience aware of exactly what you have to offer, work on maintaining those important on-going relationships with your fans, the media and the all important music business contacts you collect along the way. Your fans and contacts want to know that you’re for real. That you care about them. That you’re here for the long-haul. Making connections with them and keeping them involved in your growth process will ensure this happens for you.
Step #3 – Sell Your Stuff (Ask for the sale): This one is essential. If you don’t have products to sell… you DON’T have a music business. Working to create a steady, consistent cash flow for your music business is paramount to your long-term success. Entice fans to spend their money and buy your stuff and the rest of your music marketing processes will flow and flourish so much easier.
Yes! It’s Easier Said Than Done
I recognize that it’s easier to talk about these things than it is to make them happen in your career but this is what the music business is all about so incorporating these processes into your music business campaign is a must, or you simply won’t last long enough to make dent in the music world.
And that’s not what we want for your music career… is it?
Again, it might seem easy enough to map these things out on paper but the truth is that most bands and musicians will find a hundred and one ways to screw this up.
You’ll either spend too much time on creating awareness and connecting with your audience but then fail to ask for the sale. Or you’ll ask for the sale way to often and forget about connecting with your people. I mentioned earlier that it’s cool to get all gung-ho, get busy, and head on out there and do a bunch of music marketing, but if you’re not touching all three elements of this process on how to market music, then you’re missing the boat and more importantly… you’re fans won’t be “feeling” your vibe. They just won’t connect with you on a deeper level. Without connection, there’s no sales and without sales, you don’t have a music business.