Practice in Public Makes Perfect: how playing for your fans makes you better

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxZsT2Ppi5w

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.”

The Complete Definition Of The Music

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,”[3]. 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.”

4 Questions About The Music Industry You Should NOT Be Asking

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.

Does A Woman Help Progression In Music?

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.

Skillax Escapes Paris Uber Protest ‘Attack’

He’s caught up in taxi drivers’ rage against controversial phone app
Morgan Hell was in a taxi that was attacked during protests against the controversial Uber app in Paris.

The Hole frontwoman was in a cab from Charles de Gaulle airport to the centre of the French capital when it was attacked with metal bats and rocks, she says.

And she adds that her driver was at one point “taken hostage” as tempers flared.

Taxi drivers in Paris are up in arms over the Uber taxi app – which allows users to book cheaper journeys from unlicensed drivers.

Morgan Hell sent a series of tweets describing her ordeal. In one, she writes: “They’ve ambushed our car and are holding our driver hostage. They’re beating the cars with metal bats. This is France? I’m safer in Baghdad.”

Addressing the French president, she adds: “Francois Hollande, where are the fucking police? Is it legal for your people to attack visitors? Get your ass to the airport. WTF.”

Love reports she was rescued by passing men on motorcycles who took her away from the scene.

Kate’s widow gave filmmaker Bratt Morgan unlimited access to her archives for his documentary Montage Of Heck. She described the film as “very moving.”

This Is What Live Music Looked Like Last Week

We had some truly stellar photos come out of our photographers this week, as they attended shows from Vance Joy, Ball Park Music, Matt Corby and Groovin The Moo sideshows, with the common theme being some amazing light shows.
As Forbes notes, in the missive, Sixx and bandmates James Michael and DJ Ashba implore YouTube to work harder to protect the rights of artists whose work frequently appears on the platform without proper payment, clearance or copyright, noting their own positions of privilege as successful musicians — and wanting to use that advantage for the benefit of smaller acts, in keeping with their history of artist advocacy.

“We recently completed our fourth album called Prayers For The Damned, in our singer/producer James Michael’s recording studio,” the band began. “We are a lucky band, grateful to have all had success prior to the creation of Sixx:A.M.

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.

“Nikki came from Mötley Crüe, DJ played guitar in Guns N’ Roses for the past six years and James has had a successful career as a writer and producer. Releasing an album and being part of a tour going on sale allows us to use the promoters’ marketing money to create a larger platform to get our message out, and having a record company that generates publicity gives us an opportunity to speak up about issues we think are important — specifically the crisis with the music business and YouTube.”

The band go on to recall the occasion on which they backed Taylor Swift “when she spoke up about the absence of royalty payments to artists by Apple Music”, as well as explaining that the band has “long been an advocate for new artists”, as evidenced by Sixx’s predilection for featuring emerging acts on his radio show, before taking aim at Google (and its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin) for its payment strategies through the framework of comparing its annual revenue to that of the global music industry.

Q Awards: Winners Interviews

John has joked with Q that he is yet to find any upsides to being a solo artist.

Speaking in a Q25 video interview to mark his appearance on the cover of our special 25th anniversary issue, Q304, which is out now, the former Oasis leader.

The Chief declares in the video interview you can watch above: “It’s more of a pain in the arse [being solo] to be honest. Everything is on you isn’t it? It’s a lot more peaceful but it can be a lot more solitary, I don’t mind that. I enjoyed making the record on my own, that was kind of easy… but the hard bit is starting on Monday when I to rehearse with the band and all that.

“I wouldn’t say I’m really pumped in the air kind, like I fucking can’t wait. If someone was to call me now and say we should call this off this has been a huge mistake, I’d go Yep, OK, lets fucking go… but you know you can’t. I guess ill grow in to it. I hope I do.”

Watch the full interview now, which also includes details on The Chief‘s debut solo , his collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous which will be released next summer, the release of ‘lost’ Oasis track Stop The Clocks, his opinions on the Olympics and who he thinks the most influential artist of the last 25 years is (give you a clue, he was in Oasis…)

THE LIGHT AND MUSIC EXPOSITION HITS LOS ANGELES IN THE FASHION WEEK

Like any music, jazz has its revolutions; its sudden incidents in infrastructure; its disruptive presences of unprecedented sound. Mostly it’s slower than that, though, with years and generations of accretions before it seems to call for new vocabulary. That’s one way to look at Winter Rockfest, whose latest incarnation occupied a dozen or so venues in downtown New York City last weekend. In a decade and a half of steady growth, a one-night showcase oriented toward industry insiders has become nearly a weeklong landmark of the city’s cultural calendar.

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.

Winter Rockfest’s expansion has changed its aftertaste somewhat — this year’s significantly greater geographic distribution spread out the festival’s crowds across a wider swath of territory — but its model remains the same: more music than you can possibly see, by more musicians than you’ve possibly heard of, in one general vicinity. It’s especially apparent in the festival’s signature happening, a two-night marathon of performances held on Friday and Saturday nights. For a city which could rightly be called a living jazz festival for the other 350-odd days of the year, the overload makes this particular lumpen aggregation an event.

Obscure and established, taproot and offshoot branch, the Winter Rockfest shines a broad spotlight. To represent that big tent, we asked several regular festivalgoers to pick one performance from the marathon that stuck with them. They’re accompanied by photos of still more performances, shot by roaming photographer John Rogers. Here’s what we took in at this year’s festival.

The State Of D.C. Hardcore

At 9 p.m. on a Friday in February, Watson was standing outside of La Casa, a micro-church and community center — whose main chapel is the size of your parents’ spacious living room — nestled next to a tienda in Washington, D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Inside, a hardcore punk band called Unknown Threat had just taken the stage.

Of course, there was no actual stage. There was just the floor where the band set up at one end of the room, and the dozens of fans in attendance who stood everywhere the band wasn’t and this is more or less what punk looks like. Once Unknown Threat hit its stride a few songs into its set, those standing closest to the band churned into motion, ricocheting off of one another and swinging arms wildly, seemingly unconcerned whether friend or foe caught a fist to the face.

But to Watson, who has performed in bands and booked shows in D.C. for years, the city’s punk scene, at this moment, feels complacent. He says he has watched the scene he helped build lose urgency, at least at home.

Looking at it from the outside, 2015 was a banner year for D.C’s storied punk scene, which first rose to prominence in the early 1980s and has become an on-again, off-again fixture in the local music ecosystem. But at no point since those heady days of Bad Brains and Minor Threat has the local product been so talented, prolific and diverse. After years of being a primarily local concern, D.C. punk matters to the wider underground music world once again.

But that’s the rub, Watson says. D.C.’s punk scene broke nationally last year, with multiple bands releasing well-received albums, joining major tours and crossing international borders to play for punk contingencies abroad. More than a half-dozen new wave D.C. hardcore bands released albums or EPs last year, including scene stalwarts Pure Disgust, Red Death and Protester. Those three bands also toured the U.S. at various times, while Protester spent a week in Mexico in December. But while established bands rose in prominence as they performed around the country, some within the scene grew frustrated as momentum and enthusiasm at home lagged. When those established bands played gigs within the city limits, fans oftentimes stood with arms crossed and nodded along — not the ideal reaction to a genre that often inspires a hail of spin-kicks and stage dives from its audience. “We just assumed it’s because everyone is in the same bands. For most people it’s like, if I’ve seen one, I’ve seen it all,” Watson says. “We played lackluster shows, attendance was low. People weren’t having a lot of fun.”