Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

Working-class musicians…

August 8th, 2008 | No Comments | Categories: Uncategorized |

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about just who gets affected by decisions made about how music gets from performer/writer to audience – so much of the discussion on this stuff revolves around the wishes and careers of record company execs and ‘rock stars’ – those handful of the world’s musicians who are selling albums in their hundreds of thousands or millions, who for some reason seem to be the focus of talk about the music industry.

Only that’s bollocks. As with almost any industry, the interesting stuff isn’t in the top 2%, it’s in the long-tail, the 95% of musicians that are just about making a living, on the kind of wages they make as assistant manager in Cost-cutter. Working-class musicians, often reliant on a partner’s good paying job to make up the deficit in their earned contribution to the family income.

Those are the people who play the vast majority of gigs, who play behind the celebs on the TV shows and on tour… Just regular working people like shop keepers and plumbers, who happen to be plying their trade in front of 10s, 100s or sometimes-but-not-often 1000s of people.

And they are why I just wrote a piece for Creative Choices entitled The Myth Of Success

The whole post is summed up in a GENIUS comment from the ever-illuminating and wonderful Kennan Shaw who said “First Prize is 10 years on a bus.” – the quest for celebrity is clearly BS, and shouldn’t really play much of a part in us thinking about where our industry goes… have a read of the post and let me know what you think…

There’s lots more about this issue on the way very soon, I promise.

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No Comments so far ↓

  • Matt

    I agree completely that the ultimate achievable goal may not be what many musicians are expecting. It is almost like playing the lottery to make it on that level, or perhaps a more apt analogy is like trying to be a professional athlete.

    But there are many smaller, achievable goals that can be obtained with some focus and hard work. I believe this would include things like licensing to movies, shows, etc. But that may require a bit of “selling out” (or skill, depending on how one looks at it) to write material good for those genres, and a bit of skill in finding the right people to get the music into the proper hands.

    Not including touring and merch, the other current “scalable” monetary benefits from album sales, ringtone sales, and maybe video streaming of shows obviously require significant fan interaction time to build, but hopefully can at least provide some sort of sustainable money, or at least enough to cover costs.

    At this point in time I think the expectation should be simply to cover costs. But with a forward looking eye, many musicians may be able to currently establish a base to potentially do much better than that.

    Good luck to all! It is a worthy endeavor for sure!


  • matt stevens

    My business model for my music stuff is – here is no practical way of going for the mainstream – create your our thing then try to make money later

  • matt stevens

    PS Awesome blog as ever Steve

  • louis

    steve, good 30k foot level thinking here but we have heard it all… good advice is followed by real world examples of how to avoid the pitfalls that most musicians encounter… i would give my advice, but this is not my blog
    all the best

  • steve


    I’m really glad you’ve heard it all – does that mean that you’ve processed it and are either doing it in your own music world, or making those real world suggestions for others? I do hope so. Please do post a link to where you’ve made your experiences available.

    real world examples. Clearly, I think that what I do is an example – I use twitter both for notices about what I do and to interact, I blog about my music, my life and I offer what experience I have to others as well as using my other interests as a road into finding out about my music.

    I use multiple video platforms to allow people to see ‘the real me’. Most of those video clips are then embeddable elsewhere if my audience wants to share it. I’m on myspace, facebook, reverbnation, and all of them I try to keep up to date somehow – have reverbnation do most of the updating is very helpful indeed.

    I have a forum, but it gets used less and less and more people interact on social media platforms…

    If an artist was to start with any 3 or 4 of those, we’d have something to build on.

    Real world enough?