Let’s look at this idea a little closer. I wanted to discuss this certain ugly truth, which plagues the music industry, and great musicians everywhere. The music industry is flawed, and unfortunately not very fair. Best to know the truth and move on accordingly.
As you look around the industry this is highly apparent. I’m talking about he highest paid musicians vs. the level of musical talent. The popular attractive pop star vs. the refined musician. For example, Britney Spears vs. Diana Krawl. Lil Jon vs. Christian Scott. Unfortunately salary is not dictated by the level of talent in our capitalist structure, but the most in demand style of music.
Major labels, companies, and corporations pay millions of dollars every year to manufacture “said artist”, or “band”, because they have a certain look, and a certain sound. Appeal is as strong, or even stronger than the artistry of the music today. Appeal, marketing, and corporate backing will push a certain group to the front of the line. This is what has happened to the mass consciousness of today. It is a tenant of our musical age. First and foremost obvious example: Pop vs. Jazz.
It’s called pop music because it’s popular. More people on average listen to pop than jazz. It is played more on the radio, and it sells out arenas. Jazz musicians tend to have more “technical chops” than pop musicians, yet won’t do as well (strictly monetarily speaking) on a Jazz tour. The venues are smaller and not as many tickets are sold. That doesn’t speak ill about the integrity of the music. It doesn’t mean Jazz musicians don’t do well at making a living either. It simply states that Jazz isn’t as popular in our culture as pop. So, it’s all up to the musician in terms of what they want to earn. The question it proposes to you is… “Should you just stick to one style of music? Or, should you diversify yourself? We are in a recession. If you play more styles, you may be more valuable to more people, and therefore your opportunity for gigs will go up. But that’s just the start. Will you even be willing or passionate enough to diversify yourself?
“Whatever the food of the day is, it’s gonna be good”. Meaning, any style of music. I’ve always wanted to be that type of drummer. You engulf yourself in the music, you bury yourself in the music, you become the music. Don’t put yourself in the box. You’re a musician. Play whatever you want to play. Plus, you keep your pockets nice and full.. If the rock ain’t calling today, the Jazz may call tomorrow. Then if you do the Jazz, and the Jazz ain’t calling tomorrow, you go to the funk..”
This isn’t saying you won’t be successful at some other genre because it’s not pop, or country, or hip hop. Simply stated, it’s important to be aware of the field before you jump in headfirst. Things like what you plan to earn, what you can earn, etc.. How you’re going to spend your time practicing for something (because you may realize in 5 years you don’t want to do it… for x number of reasons). It’s about being honest with yourself, deriving a plan, and managing it everyday.
I don’t consider (as I’m sure lots of other people don’t either) the idea that success means making lots of money. For many, success is about simply succeeding in your personal goals. This could simply mean completing an album. It could simply mean making a comfortable living from music related activities. Or, it could be as ostentatious as playing on TV, or in arenas! It could be many, many things. So there you have it. To each his own. Take it for what it is.
Talent vs. taste. It’s an ugly truth, but we have to accept it.
Matthew Jones is a professional drummer and percussionist. He has a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. He travels around the world playing professionally as well is an accomplished author. His e-book (The Gigging Drummer Survival Tips) has grown popular in the drumming community.
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