It’s been a busy week drumming wise so far but, interestingly, not in the sense that I’ve just been playing alot. It seems to me that part of the music revolution that has taken place thanks to the internet now means that musicians can look to spending a good 30 or 40% of their time on admin. Maybe it’s always been that way and I’ve just never had the experience. Growing up and moving through my teens and twenties I definitely received the impression that musicians, rock musicians in particular, were too busy working out the intensity of the sounds in their head to be much concerned with promoting or organising their work. That was for managers and record labels.
As I said, more experienced professionals can probably put me right about all that, I’m just recording my observations and reflections as I belatedly attempt to go from amateur to semi-pro via Runaway Jack and Fusion Orchestra 2. Both bands are happily reaching the point where we are ready to go out and play and /or are wanting to find out if anybody else will enjoy the music we do! The difficult bit is that ‘getting it out there’ involves a whole lot more than just having a good sound.
It involves a completely new skill set – a skill set that has limited connection to musicianship. Runaway Jack, looking to get some local gigs, needs some paperwork to hand out. Simple, you think. But writing a flyer is all about presentation. Who’s going to write it? What should we include? Add into the mix an idea to have a logo for the band. Who will do the graphics? Plus researching and contacting all the available venues.
For Fusion Orchestra 2 the presentation problem revolves around the website. To be blunt, it needs updating. This is dependent on computer code skills plus again a whole range of promotional abilities.
At the moment none of these is presenting too much of a problem in terms of ideas. It’s the execution that stretches our abilities as musicians. For example, coming back to the logo idea. Runaway Jack can bring together lots of ideas for what it should convey and contain. What we lack is someone with the drawing skills to execute this.
I’ve no doubt that musicians of the 70’s and 80’s had a good deal less control over their media footprint than even humble Runaway Jack have – you only have to look at some of the awful album covers or fashion disasters even top artists were connected to to confirm this. But the flipside of this is that the modern musician has to add management and promotional skills to their other talents. And all of this takes time – time away from making the music.
So while I wouldn’t welcome a return to the ‘gatekeeper’ days of the big labels, I’d certainly welcome more ‘middle managers’ for upcoming bands who could advise and help them with some of the critical marketing aspects – and give musicians back time to make their music.