I was recently at a gig and in a conversation with another artist about our band, which he knew little about. We were chatting about gigging and typical stuff when he asked how much original material we play at our gigs. I replied that we only play original material (accept one tribute song occasionally). He was very surprised at that answer. If you are in an original band, you might know why that is not a common answer. The industry provides little or no income for anything other than cover bands. Most bands will try to integrate their original songs in with their cover sets to at least make money to hopefully support the band. Sadly that is something most paying clubs frown upon and discourage it for the most part.
I was then asked where I expected the band to go taking that route. My answer was I don’t care where it goes. He seemed surprised and replied, “ I guess that’s the best answer.”
It got me to think about myself as an artist and what do I get out of being one. Let me first say I am and avid Podcast listener about the business side of music and being successful. Most all podcasts dealing with the business side of music are presented by musicians that have not become successful by the means in which they themselves preach. They are 100 percent correct on the information they offer and the ways to make it in this business, but do not necessarily have the proven record to back it up. Most of those podcasts will have guests on with people doing new ways to promote etc… and are very helpful and worth taking note of. But if I sit down and plan out all of the different ways to make it in this business, there is no way to have the time to do it all and be an artist at the same time.
Even more interesting about those podcasts is when they get a chance to interview a famous person who has made it in a big way. Ironically those interviews take on a whole different vibe. While the host will ask questions like- how did you do it? The artist spends little time on that as if he doesn’t really understand how the stars aligned to make it big and he spends more time talking about how to be true to the art. The artist speaks as though the creation of music is all he thinks about and all that really matters. Creating a single song is, in itself, a success. Not a financial success but a completed work of art.
As a working stiff in a full time job that is constantly on the verge of being outsourced leading to possible unemployment, it interferes with my musical emotional state. I never seem to have enough time for music. That being said, when I pack up my gear and load into another gig, (which might or might not have a crowd to play for), I hit that stage and the stresses of my daily world are nonexistent. The stresses of the stage are there, like feedback and power cutting out or whatever. But it’s like I just become unplugged from one world and plugged into another. This is what you might call my comfort zone. This is where I let go and let the music breath life through me. To me, playing music is an interactive relationship that consumes every part of my being, and I love that.
So when I’m asked -what do I expect to gain from all the laborious gigging that I do with the band, or where is it going? I honestly don’t care. Let it go where ever it wants to. When I am writing, I listen to the music as its being created and try to follow where it leads me. I try not to force it into submission because I want to feel its magic and see where it takes me. I live for that. This is how I think of gigging and nothing more. As long as I can afford to do it, my compensation is peace of mind.