Pitfalls in music eh
So for all of the highs that you can find in music, there are always, naturally a whole plethora of pitfalls. Some would even argue that these pitfalls can take you over, and change you as a person.
There are some simple and trivial ones, for example if I'm singing covers by say Alanis Morisette as yknow...a man, that initial choice of capo position can be a matter of performance life or death.
Oh there's also that lot at Absent Kel...sorry Loud in Lond....sorry AAA Liv....what do these guys actually call themselves now? Isabel drop me one of those emails and help me out here!
These are just one time mistakes mind. Things you do once, post all over your socials and laugh a few years down the line... ahem
There are some pitfalls that a more creeping and subtle by nature though. Case in point, becoming a musical “nice guy”
Nice....that word. Is there a word taken such a battering in recent years? (maybe the word moist garners a lot more shudders, but that word has always been icky).
No longer a word to describe biscuits with just a bit too much sugar, or the starting point for thesaurus heavy essays, whenever someone describes something as just....nice, it's quite often a lexical cop-out in absence of anything interesting to say. Woe betide when somebody uses that word to describe themselves though.....
This shouldn't be a touchy subject. I don't know why but I feel like it is? Or one where I should tread carefully? Anyway, JUUUUST to be clear. When I say a “nice guy” for the purpose of this article, I naturally don't mean somebody kind, oh no no no....
Being kind, in the sense of the world of music in particular, is liberating, it’s kind of vital. Music is a collective, and your place in that collective is oft determined by how you interact with people. No what I mean is a little bit more....mindset based.
Just conceptualise this quote.
“I don't understand why you just won't give me a chance, I've been nothing but nice to you, I'm such a nice guy, why are you more interested in people that are just going to hurt you, all you ever do is take me for granted, I deserve your attention, I was a perfect gentleman to you and therefore that means you should at least go on a date with me, I mean why won't you even consider having sex with me you bitch!”
Nice and incel share some letters. Ever noticed that?
Anyway! Take this sort of mantra, and put it into a musical frame.
One of the 10 commandments etched onto tablets many many moons ago, the tenth one in fact reads something along the lines of don't covet your neighbour's goods (it was good of them to clarify in commandment number nine that your neighbour's wife is off the table too, say what you want about the Lord, he checks the small print)
This doesn't work for a few reasons.
1) Earlier up in the commandments it mentions about keeping various bits of the weekend free/holy depending on your religion of choice. Have you tried getting midweek gigs!? Fridays-Sundays are when all the blasphemers come out!
2) Human beings, by our very nature will always want what we don't have, and that applies even more so if our neighbour has it.
Add into this the fact that music doesn't have a designated correlation between hard work and achievement. In what...99% of full time professions, if you work hard, you get what you want. There's a black and white line, there's a path you can follow, not so much here.
When you see others getting things, when you see that wonderful social media shine being buffed on somebody's feed, when someone gets that BBC play, that Sofar Sounds slot, that support, that playlist, that tour.
Why not me?
I work so hard!
I deserve that more than them!
I've been doing this for years.
Boom. Musical Nice guy.
And I can say this as 100% I have been like this before! We all have right? The gap between wanting the best for someone and wanting the best for someone if it means they do better than you is big enough to drive a fucking truck through. There are a few ways to curb things.
Firstly, there is ALWAYS a cause and effect in music. If someone gets a big one off support on a London show, you can bet they probably just paid for it. You can turn your social media blinkers off as well, but there's also this to recognise. The one thing to note (imo) that can help deter you from self entitled musical nice-guyness.
Music isn't fair.
It just isn't.
It's a simple concept. It's a super hard sell. It's a hard swallow.
Note to self, don't say hard swallow again.
The musical wasteland is littered with hard luck stories. Bitter tales of years spent on the grind, thousands of pounds and blood sweat and tears all to take some little concepts, and put them into 3 and a half minutes of digital media. Oh and then that 17 year old makes a track with her mate in her bedroom and it gets a million streams and now publishers want to sponsor her.
Jeez even that brief little case study above made me feel like a triggered twitter warrior with their finger stuck on the caps key, but that's the way it is. I don't even say that with grey hairs looming, bemoaning the rise of the stream and mumblerap (mumblerap is still shit though), I say that as somebody stepping back and looking.
Music in the modern era isn't driven by anywhere near as many rules as most of society. Music isn't fair because the concept of “fair”, a measurable scale of effort to success is so incompatible with music. The easiest “niceguyism” to fall into is the concept of entitlement, and in a world where nobody really owes you shit, er......nobody owes you shit.
People have different paths. You have yours. That right there is probably the best thing my manager ever said to me, as it helped negate those feelings. I'll probably write another blog about that and maybe some of the best advice I've given myself.
The other thing he likes to tell me? Look at my profile now vs 2 years ago when he took me on. Super basic tactic, and I swear he sometimes does it just to curb my moaning, but seriously...
try it, I recommend it, it's genuinely cathartic.
Unless your act is still terrible...then I don't know what to suggest!