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The Key to Making it in music

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(@dneck)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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First let me define "making it" because the band "simple plan" has made me rethink my idea of musical success. I heard a simple plan song on the radio and it was well produced and sounded like music. But it was terrible all at the same time, the writing was the most bland, unartistic thing i've ever heard in my entire life. It sounded like the poem a 5th grader would write when his girlfriend breaks up with him, not art. It was a string of cliques and I doubt you could find one original line in the entire song. And yet these people are rich for their efforts. So a major record label is not success. A true original artistic creation is success, you know if your original or not, sometimes your 1-4-5 progression is gold perfection from thin air, and other times your just playing the chorus from "like a rolling stone" The difference is that YOU know whether you made it up or copied it. The same chord progression can be your crowning achievement or plagiarism, and what it comes down to is you.

I was thinking about some bands, some friends of mine, who has it and who doesn't and I had these thoughts. I have a friend who is an aspiring musician and she is currently at berklee. She is a solid rhythm guitarist who has an exeptional voice, but as I was listening to the "Rilo Kiley" cd "more adventurous" I realized why my friend would never make it (unless something changes) and why Jenny Lewis has made it. It all boils down to STYLE. She has no style and Jenny Lewis has it in abundance.

Style is hard to get though, some people could try their whole life and never have it, and some people are dripping with it from the moment they pick up their guitar. Style is the reason why anyone would want to listen to your song over the million other songs that on the surface would appear to be the same. Now I personally have no style at this point in my musical life, well maybe about a speck. But theres no rush, your style can't be learned or copied it just is. Style is the reason that you love the songs you do. I find myself learning my favorite songs and at first I was always shocked at how simple they were and I wondered why it was any different then song X that uses the same chords. Style is the answer and if you do not have that then you do not have anything.

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile


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(@ginger)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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Everybody who plays music has a style of their own. The difference i think is how they can perfect it. I think record labels look for certain types of styles and then you have to be very lucky to make it from there. I think as far as a band is concerned you have 3,4 or, 5 plus different people with different personalities and they all have their own style. I think the key is creating a style that incorporates all them together to get a real good sound or style.

If your a solo artist then you have to have your style out front with a band as back up. As a band they all need to sort of blend together. Usually what happens is the focus is more on the guitar player and lead singer. But, if a person plays bass or drums they tend to focus more on those people in a band when listening to a cd or watching live concerts. I know I do.

The music busines is full of copy cats. When a trend or style breaks out then alot of bands copy that and achieve a certain amount of success. Take punk for instance. (not slamming) We had an explosion of punk a few years ago and if you listen, they all just about sound the same. And most of them try to copy Green Day. I can close my eyes and listen and can't tell much a difference. The same happens in all styles of music though. When something breaks through other bands rush to try and copy it just to get signed. And thats what we been seeing the past 15 or 20 years and that's why I don't like most of the music out today!


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Style is like emotion: we all have it, one way or the other. You don't need style, talent, emotion, artistic ideals or anything like that to archieve anything. All you need is rock-solid determination and the willpower to do whatever it takes to go wherever you feel like going.

That, and luck.


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(@dneck)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 632
Topic starter  

Im saying that most people copy the style that they like. Now in the beginning there is nothing you can do but copy to build up your skill and comfort on your instrument. And im certainly not saying that if you do not have style now you never will. But at some point to be something novel and original you have to be doing exactly what everyone else does but with a little something that makes it yours, and that little something needs to be evident throughout. If you've got style than people could identify a song of yours even if they didn't already know you wrote it.

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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What has that to do with making it in in the music business? From what I gather those who currently make it are not that good in the style department. They excell in the 'shape of their behind' department instead. They deliver what people want. Thats the key to making it in anything: giving what people want. If you want to make anything, drop your artistic ideals. Those might help in making good music, but not in making it good in music.

Besides, what if my style just is Eric Clapton? Should I betray myself and fake another style just because Mr. Clapton was born earlier? And how can I be sure my style is unique anyway? And what do you mean with style in the first place? Can you have a certain style if you write in a wide variety of music, from dance to chamber music? If so, what would such a style be? And in that sense, isn't a personal style not simply a lack of personal progress? If not, when are you allowed to settle for a style and stop re-inventing yourself?
When something breaks through other bands rush to try and copy it just to get signed. And thats what we been seeing the past 15 or 20 years

No, that's what we've been seeing the past three thousand years. If anything the sudden emerge of electronical music gives more then less stylistic freedom. Compared to the strictness of certain periods in the past these days ain't that bad at all.
and that's why I don't like most of the music out today!

With all due respect, but there is no way on earth you've even heared a tiny fraction of 0.1% of the music made in the past fifteen years. The reason you might not like modern music is because you are looking at modern music you don't like.


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(@dneck)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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Topic starter  

read the first thing I wrote where I define "making it" (as not simple plan) haha

And like I said Rilo Kiley is what got me thinking about style, listen to a CD of theirs and you see what I mean. Some of it sounds really old and folky but it still somehow is unique and every song sounds like her.

Basically this all stemmed from her song "A man/me/then jim" which I would highly recommend to anyone. It is a great song that is very sad. What makes it great though is that it is kind of a mystery. I listenend to the song about 20 times and didn't get the whole story till I read the lyrics and really thought about it, and when it hit me I it really made me sad.

The simple plan song went something like this "im so sad no one is around, people kick me when im down wahhh" there was nothing sad about it because it was so poorly written it actually made me laugh. Jenny Lewis (singer in rilo kiley) her lyrics are so creative and unexpected it just really pissed me off that those people were on the radio.

And I know this place isnt supposed to be about bashing artist, thats why its ok to bash simple plan, if a real artist is a great painter, they would be the people who paint walls for houses, but they even mess it up and get a little paint on the floor and you know what stuff never comes out.

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile


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(@greybeard)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

I agree with arjen, as far as he goes - his cynicism is warranted.
To me, there's a whole world of difference between the two ends of the "making it" spectrum. There's the meteoric rise to "stardom", the 15 minutes of extremely well-paid fame, followed by an equally meteoric fall into oblivion. The thing that makes these people stand out is that they've not made it on their own talent - they've been "discovered" (where? under a rock?) by some "agent" from a music company and marketed until they bleed. Worse, are the acts that have been manufactured, rather than discovered - they've been put together in response today's market and tomorrow they'll just be discarded, like yesterday's newspaper.
The other end of the spectrum, is the act that has loads of that elusive ingredient "talent". They rise and rise and stay up there, for decades. They're never shoved down your throat, by their music company (it's unnecessary, their popularity sells records and concert seats). They have, to my mind, "made it".

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@ghost-rider)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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you know:

the problem is not with the industry. It's with the listeners. There is so much excellent stuff that you guys will never know about because you have not been exposed to it. The internet has changed music delivery.

Style is important. Style, to me, is like personality: everyone has one. I think that style is what makes cover songs so interesting. Some arrogant person on GN once said that Hendrick's version of "All Along The Watchtower" was superior to Dylan's bland original. Silly! Both have style. Hearing cover versions, makes one recognize how style affects the end product.

Your berklee friend has style: it just needs to be brought forward. How can it be otherwise? Can that person play and yet have no personality to bring to life???

Conversations about making it (even based on style alone) are really just bullshit. Nick put it excellently a while ago, when he described what it really meant to make it...i.e being welcomed to play with numerous international others at the drop of a hat etc.

Everyone has style: Arjen, Greybeard, even me! We all have style....

later,
Ghost 8)

"Colour made the grass less green..." 3000 miles, Tracy Chapman


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(@greybeard)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Some arrogant person on GN once said that Hendrick's version of "All Along The Watchtower" was superior to Dylan's bland original.
Interestingly, Bob Dylan actually plays Hendrix' version in his live show.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@improvgtrplyr)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 87
 

being a musician is just a job...it's a strange job at times but if you can make a good living by playing a guitar.....you've made it.

getting a hit song or being signed doesn't mean you're rich. you still have to tour and record the albums and hope you can sell enough to pay back the record company.

it's a rough job....a lot of players i know that spent years touring have bad teeth, blown out ears and a few bad habbits


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 P0RR
(@p0rr)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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The "special" musicians are the ones who have both "style" and "substance."


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(@voodoo_merman)
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If "making it" to you means fame and fortune, then practice your power chords with a metronome and join a young emo or punk-rock band. With luck you'll make the warped tour and maybe MTV.

If "making it" to you means gaining the respect of most of the best guitarists, then spend as many waking hours in focused practice as possible. Pay your dues as a session guitarist for awhile so you wont go broke. And eventually, with luck, you will get referred to someone big and have an opportunity to really gain some respect.

At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT...IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY -- A LOVE SUPREME --. John Coltrane


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(@ghost-rider)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Some arrogant person on GN once said that Hendrick's version of "All Along The Watchtower" was superior to Dylan's bland original.
Interestingly, Bob Dylan actually plays Hendrix' version in his live show.

Good point.

I just realized that I have no idea how to make it in the music industry. I never have and I never will. :)
Similarly, I have no idea how to measure an intangible like style and its effect on musical success.

Practice, Practice, Practice...

Ghost

"Colour made the grass less green..." 3000 miles, Tracy Chapman


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(@saber)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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Ya'll don't know anything. To make it in the music industry you must clearly get shot 18 times. Duh.

"Like the coldest winter chill. Heaven beside you. Hell within." -Jerry Cantrell


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(@cjmac)
Active Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 8
 

Here's my take:
If your passion is making music and your life affords you the opportunity to do that and live to a standard that you are comfortable with. Then you have made it.
And the rest of us are jelous

I wish everyone could be rich and famous for a day so they could see its not the answer.--Jim Carrey


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