20 Reasons Why Musicians Get Stuck at the Local or Regional Level

Garvin

Pioneer Member
They left out a few. I'd also offer this, not everyone who is local or regional is "stuck" necessarily. I think we've had a few threads before that deal with the perception of success in music. It's a very individual thing.

That said, this is a pretty good list of some of the larger issues we all have had to confront at some point with bands. Definitely worth taking a look at if you feel you are stuck in the local/regional eddy.
 

Fuzrock

Silver Member
Being in a cover band myself, I don't feel "stuck" at all. I'm very content and feel like we're a success on a local level. It also fits in good with my family and day job. I feel lucky that I get to play as much as I do.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
That covers a few pitfalls for sure, if you're focus is on numbers measurable progression. Count me in the "happy in my shell" crew, but irrespective of how content we think we are, I think we'd all like a bit more recognition deep down. I certainly have a desire to do the best job I can.

For the success centric, that list only just touches on one of the biggest pitfalls of all, A BLOODY GOOD TUNE! Not necessarily airplay friendly, but a good hook is key to almost all great stuff. Ok, there's always a place for musical prowess stuff, but musicians really are a tiny target audience considering the percentage of players who are convinced that technique transcends all other skills.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Nice article, but it seems to make "who you don't know" equal to "goals you don't have". In my experience, it's ALL about who you know and who you stay in contact with. If you don't know many people, THAT should be your goal...
 

TomRaaff

Member
Nice article, but it seems to make "who you don't know" equal to "goals you don't have". In my experience, it's ALL about who you know and who you stay in contact with. If you don't know many people, THAT should be your goal...
Yeah, well, if either one is lacking then you're on the wrong track right?

Interesting post! I'm still within the starting phases with my band but I think we've got most of the points covered and I sense a certain potential for the points that are yet insufficient. It feels like a list of points that we're all aware of within the band, but haven't spoken out yet.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Interesting read. Get focused, get serious, and get on the same wavelength or you will not grow. That's what I get out of it which makes sense.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Those are certainly 20 reasons. Not the only reasons, but 20 good ones.

#2 is always the hardest, and probabaly the one that was the toughest to deal with.

#17 is the worst though. One band I was was negotiating a record deal when the singer flew off the deep end into endless drinking. Killed everything we had worked for.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Apart from the offensive assumption that anything other than national fame is being "stuck", it doesn't start out good:

Ever wonder why some talented local musicians never get that elusive record deal?
I know they're supposed to be a golden ticket to a glorious fairyland of money and adulation, but those elusive record deals have destroyed as many bands and careers as they have made. More.

Or why the careers of some signed artists or American Idols stall out just past the starting gate?
The writer might mention that getting signed is no guarantee of anything. The company doesn't even have to release your record. They can shelve it indefinitely while they decide what they're going to do with it- maybe spend millions publicizing it/maybe dump the run in a landfill and write it off- leaving you dead in the water for months, years, or forever. This happened to a close friend of a close friend- he drank himself nearly into liver failure over that one. Someone else very close to me was in the early 90's the pet project of the president of a major label, but two weeks after the release of her record the company was bought by a larger Japanese company, and they fired the US management and unceremoniously dumped her and all of the other developing artists. Bloodbaths like that are frequent. I know a handful of other people who had major label deals end badly, but I never got the full story on them.

Anyway, the advice is fine, if contemptous ("why artists suck and don't get signed" might've been a better title- I'm half-surprised he didn't include poor hygiene on the list). Most musicians should take more responsibility for their careers. But I wish the guy would be honest about some of things that can happen to you that are outside of your control, so artists can make informed decisions about whether they even want to get involved with major labels in the first place.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Todd, I'm inclined to agree. When I was gigging regularly I did want to "make it" ... superficially ... but not as much as I wanted to play music I enjoyed. I also wanted job security, to know that I'd be able to pay the rent and afford to eat well.

I was never adventurous enough to take the plunge into starving musiciandom, a prolonged life phase that many ultimately successful musicians in this country went through. It takes a certain personality type to do this, and to deal with the general hardships of the scene (very late nights, feral carry-on, dictatorial bar managers etc). You need to be tough, and I'm soft.

In my heart of hearts I always knew making it would be an uphill battle because, while my bands were pretty good, we never got our lineups quite right and were too soft to cut away the dead wood. We also enjoyed eclecticism, which doesn't help if you want to make it. I've never played in bands where I had to play more or less the same thing, song after song. I still don't want that. My bands have always been democratic and it seems to me that most successful outfits have a leader to provide a clear vision and direction.

It also didn't help that we tended to be stoned off our tiny heads for much of the time :)

Ultimately I was happy if we played well, had a good stage sound and the crowd wanted encores. I still feel the same way.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I was watching the Clutch documentary "Live at the 9:30" last night, and it occurred to me that these guys have achieved what I would consider, the best form of success any musician could hope for.

They're all close friends and their all very down-to-earth personalities.

They play unique, accessible, fun, catchy classic American rock music...and they do it WELL.

They call their own shots, write and record all of their own music.

They tour relentlessly and have earned a massive "underground" following, worldwide.

They practice and refine their sound, on every new album.

They no longer have major label backing but they do well while making music for a living. I think they've done all the right things, in terms of a successful music career.
 

Fuzrock

Silver Member
I was watching the Clutch documentary "Live at the 9:30" last night, and it occurred to me that these guys have achieved what I would consider, the best form of success any musician could hope for.

They're all close friends and their all very down-to-earth personalities.

They play unique, accessible, fun, catchy classic American rock music...and they do it WELL.

They call their own shots, write and record all of their own music.

They tour relentlessly and have earned a massive "underground" following, worldwide.

They practice and refine their sound, on every new album.

They no longer have major label backing but they do well while making music for a living. I think they've done all the right things, in terms of a successful music career.
I love Clutch and agree that they get better with every album give or take the occasional song. I think that Jean-Paul Gaster would be the ultimate candidate for drums if Led Zeppelin ever reunited. As far as Clutch not having major label backing, is that really necessary anymore? Do groups that just make recordings and not tour even make money these days? With today's technology I could see a band marketing themselves on the web while touring independently and making a fine living.
 

Pkaneps

Senior Member
NOFX started their own label and do pretty much whatever they want. I know we all can't be so lucky, but I wish I could do that. Play music because you love playing music, and not worry about what the audience thinks. On top of that, the audience loves it, so it's a win-win.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I love Clutch and agree that they get better with every album give or take the occasional song. I think that Jean-Paul Gaster would be the ultimate candidate for drums if Led Zeppelin ever reunited. As far as Clutch not having major label backing, is that really necessary anymore? Do groups that just make recordings and not tour even make money these days? With today's technology I could see a band marketing themselves on the web while touring independently and making a fine living.
No, I don't think it's necessary at all, which was kind of the point I was making in saying that it's the best possible scenario, IMO. I would prefer this type of arrangement (a touring band as a business), as opposed to having a major label involved.

JP Gaster is undoubtedly my favorite rock drummer of all time. I like his playing much better than anything I've heard from Bonham, on the old Zep albums. He's definitely standing on those shoulders but I think he's taken that big rock sound to a whole new level.

Have you checked out this "9:30" documentary yet? It's excellent! JP talks quite a bit about his sound, gear, influences, etc.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
The writer might mention that getting signed is no guarantee of anything. The company doesn't even have to release your record. They can shelve it indefinitely while they decide what they're going to do with it- maybe spend millions publicizing it/maybe dump the run in a landfill and write it off- leaving you dead in the water for months, years, or forever. This happened to a close friend of a close friend- he drank himself nearly into liver failure over that one. Someone else very close to me was in the early 90's the pet project of the president of a major label, but two weeks after the release of her record the company was bought by a larger Japanese company, and they fired the US management and unceremoniously dumped her and all of the other developing artists. Bloodbaths like that are frequent. I know a handful of other people who had major label deals end badly, but I never got the full story on them.

Anyway, the advice is fine, if contemptous ("why artists suck and don't get signed" might've been a better title- I'm half-surprised he didn't include poor hygiene on the list). Most musicians should take more responsibility for their careers. But I wish the guy would be honest about some of things that can happen to you that are outside of your control, so artists can make informed decisions about whether they even want to get involved with major labels in the first place.
All true.

I had a buddy who's band got signed to a huge deal with Warner Brothers. WB spent something like 80 to 100 grand to make their record (most of the money going to a name producer), plus the cost of two music videos. Right as the album came out, the head of WB record got fired, and that was it. The videos never got aired, and the CD went to the 99 cent bin.

The album was great, but it didn't matter.

Too bad, it was a really good album
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I had a buddy who's band got signed to a huge deal with Warner Brothers. WB spent something like 80 to 100 grand to make their record (most of the money going to a name producer), plus the cost of two music videos. Right as the album came out, the head of WB record got fired, and that was it. The videos never got aired, and the CD went to the 99 cent bin.
Do you know what happened to the band after that? Were they able to hang together?
 

k-train78

Member
Nice little read lol. But like others here have said, it doesnt list everything. The main thing Ive found with my band is that we had great music and people loved our hit ready songs, but we didnt have much for IMAGE. The industry wants bands signed that will start a wave of new trends if their music is flooded out there for people to enjoy. So the past few months we worked at our imaga and really defined ourselves and it worked perfect for our sounds and style, and that night we had an AR representative that we have befriended come up to us and just say WOW. Lol now were actually working on things that will most likely get us signed within the next half year to year. Image is a big thing, cuz theres a ton of great bands out there but they just dont do anything that would be considered to start trends. If you dont have other local bands trying to do something to look or sound something like you, then you need to switch things up.

Then of course there is the tried and true saying, "Its not what you know, its WHO" ....very true lol. That AR representative that were friends with and book with was one of the best contacts weve made. Partyin and going out to social events and shows can take ya pretty far....along with image, a band must also act as a much followed public figure, even if not quite yet. ;)
 

Fuzrock

Silver Member
No, I don't think it's necessary at all, which was kind of the point I was making in saying that it's the best possible scenario, IMO. I would prefer this type of arrangement (a touring band as a business), as opposed to having a major label involved.

JP Gaster is undoubtedly my favorite rock drummer of all time. I like his playing much better than anything I've heard from Bonham, on the old Zep albums. He's definitely standing on those shoulders but I think he's taken that big rock sound to a whole new level.

Have you checked out this "9:30" documentary yet? It's excellent! JP talks quite a bit about his sound, gear, influences, etc.
I wasn't aware of the documentary before today. I will definitely be seeking it out now that I know about it.
 
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