I saw something recently that made me think of this thread.
I was watching a popular TV show that airs on Showtime in the States. A Canadian actor whom I'm familiar with shows up on screen, has a bunch of lines and is in a couple different scenes - and I was floored - I had a moment of happiness for the guy and thought to myself, he's made it
After some thought, I realized that the show he's known on here in Canada also airs on network television in the States and probably has more viewers in the States than the Showtime program I had just seen him on. But I still felt as though this was a landmark achievement for the guy. Why?
The US media machine glorifies and over sensationalizes their talent. You see them on the covers of magazines, the topic of Entertainment Tonight, being harassed on TMZ. What's the Canadian version of this? How do we put our talent on a pedestal? If we try, it's usually on a level that can only be seen as a feeble attempt at copying the US, that ultimately falls short. Look at how big of a deal the Emmy's are treated as in comparison to the Gemini's, or the AMA's to the Juno's. One is a red carpet affair, the other is having some buds over for some brews to pat ourselves on the back.
Having mentioned TMZ, I saw a parody done by the good folks at "This Hour Has 22 Minutes", called TMZed. The "talent" that the videographers were following did not shy away, shout curse words at or otherwise become abusive - they were friendly, talkative and willing to share anything - in my experience, this is (for the most part), an accurate portrayal of a Canadian celebrity.
As a generalization, for us here in Canada, the American market is where you need to go to "make it". I'm not sure any of these thoughts would prove relevant to a band/actor/artist from Country A looking to break in Country B... Is it strictly because of a larger market? Is it how talent in another country gets treated differently? Is it because there is no
market in your area and it's just a necessity to even get noticed?
Why do I, as someone who has a bit of knowledge of the industry, still look at the actor I spoke of in a different light having landed a role on a US produced show when his "fame" can be attributed to the work he's done here in Canada? I dunno... it's odd.
Originally Posted by Tommyland
It always make me laugh when unsigned bands with say, a demo, hit the road with the intent of making new fans. Playing gigs doesn't always generate a fanbase. Shows are what you set-up to entertain fans after they've discovered you (through hearing your records, reading good reviews of your music, seeing you on YouTube, getting a burned copy of your CD from a friend of theirs, etc).
To me, this is like saying that bands don't have to poster for shows anymore because they can do all their promoting on the internet. It's still a way to at very least attract the attention of a potential fan. I know here in Toronto there is a still a good lot of people who go to shows to check out new music, I've met them, and although they aren't as plentiful as folks in smaller markets, (where there is nothing going on other than the show you are playing that night), they might have heard about the show from a poster on a telephone pole.
While I certainly can't argue that playing somewhere where people already know you is better than not, I would also add that I've done good shows outside of my immediate market because it was the second or third time we were there. The first time we showed up as nobodies, dropped a bunch of merch and came back 6 months later as heroes*. Yes, the internet has had a huge impact on how bands get out there, but not everyone (yet), gets all their new media this way. To sum this up and tie in my first thought on having fun, if you always approach a band from a dollars and cents point of view, you may miss out on the fun of hitting the road, meeting new people and making new fans. This also impacts how you are perceived, which again, probably ties in with what I mentioned above. To the average person, a band that has been on a tour will be viewed differently than a band who has not.
Originally Posted by Tommyland
I agree, although I guess some people also have bigger ambitions than others and want to make a living from music, etc.
For sure, I just see those I know who want to make a living doing something other than trying to "make it", they are studio guys, guys who play corporate gigs, etc... The mates I have that are trying to make a living by "making it" are typically spend more time working the business angle than writing songs and performing live.
Originally Posted by MikeM
This resonates strongly with me. I've had some minor successes along the way, but if I had set out to make a living, I'd have to consider myself a failure, too.
Instead, I'm still playing in original bands, always on the look-out for what's cool on the bleeding edge, and having a great time doing it. I think I've been pretty successful that way because I know I'll have a lot of recordings that I'm proud of riding with me in my coffin.
* - possibly a slight exaggeration.