Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Work

January 1, 2007

Work

I think it is highly underestimated how much work music is. Music is often maligned as an industry that is all green rooms, sightseeing, playing to huge crowds, and having a blast in the studio, and it’s really not that. There’s stress at every level of music, whether it be trying to figure out how to not get your stuff stolen during a show cause the venue’s in the bad side of town, driving long hours through boring countryside, playing to no one only to see people in filing at the end of your set to see the headliner, or lots of hours in the studio playing parts over and over again to get them just right. Not to mention countless hours spent writing the material that pleases the critics and fans.

Then, on top of all of that stress, balance the business side of the venture – making merch, selling merch, buying equipment, trying to get paid for shows, trying to make gas for the van, and (oh yeah) eating.

Then, on top of that, put the stress of putting the band before family, friends, and relationships – which is what is required of the position. Also balance a parade of dead-end jobs you work only to get money to finance the band – coffeeshops, bookstores, fast food, substitute teaching, waiting tables. Lose jobs, gain jobs, put on your resume that last job was terminated when band went on tour (can you do that and still get taken seriously?).

Then get screwed a couple times by bigwig hotshots in the industry. Then get a breakthrough song. Get screwed some more. Gain fans. Sleep on floors. Make friends on tour, lose friends at home (unless they’re in other bands). The reason scenes are important is so musicians have friends, cause all their non-music friends are long gone.

This job isn’t a 9-5 job – it’s a lifestyle. And yes, if you get signed to a major, you get perks like 6 months off to write an album. But the living and dying of most bands is in that part where you balance all of that crap for love of a dream. What is the dream? To play that one show to a sold out audience. To have the audience go nuts, singing along, screaming, loving you. To perform. Is it worth the stress? Is it worth the burned out shell of a life you might be forced to return to if your band goes under? Is the reward really worth the effort?

Yes.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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