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I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

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I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Synthman_ » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:35 pm

After just receiving my latest Tunecore Song review only to find that the review was so insulting and so poor about my work that classes me as talentless after I've spent thousands of pounds on soft synths,plug-ins,lessons etc. I've finally come to a conclusion that my dream of becoming a successful musician is over.
The industry is in a mess and I think it's now pointless in trying to compete with these low lives who's appalling music now dominates the music industry.
I did what I did, the advice I took, the lessons I did, the many hours,days weeks and years of practising, the money I spent, I've failed and now it seems I might just as well look for something else to do.
I just want to say thanks to the people on here who've provided me with the much advice they've given me on here over the years. It's been challenging and fun but I think it's now time to think about doing something else.
Thankyou.
Respect,
Richard Steed
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Re: I've failed as a commercial musician...

Postby molecular » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:41 pm

Well, personally I'm sorry to hear that Richard. I hoped during your various threads you would find a way to actually enjoy making and sharing music, rather than go in the "fortune or nothing!" direction and I still hope that, but maybe you'll come back to it at some point with a different perspective.

Best, H.
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby shufflebeat » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:18 pm

God save us all from the opinions of idiots.
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:34 pm

Synthman_ wrote:... after I've spent thousands of pounds on soft synths,plug-ins,lessons etc.

This might be part of your struggle. You don't need to spend thousands of pounds to make good music, and if anything, having this array of stuff is more of a distraction from the process than an aid to it. From what I've read, you appear to be trying to accomplish too much, too quickly.

My sincere recommendation would be to drop back to a basic setup with a synth or two, a mic, your guitar (if you use it much) and your DAW of choice. Treat the DAW as a multitrack tape machine, and work on a track from the ground up (possibly one of your existing tracks) and simply try to capture the performances. Use the built-in effects in the synth, or the DAW, and use them sparingly - a hint of reverb, a touch of delay etc.

Get a good, honest mix with that and nothing else and I think the experience will be more than worth it to you.

If you do give up writing music, then you're probably trying to do it for the wrong reasons ... if you need the carrot of success to motivate you then you're on the back foot from the start.

There's a huge amount of mediocre commercial stuff out there, much of it aimed at the plastic, semi-disposable market fed from the pockets of people in the 10 - mid 20's age range... effectively factories churning out mundanity after mundanity engineered within an inch of its life and exceptionally unexceptional as a result.

Then there's a huge amount of really, really good stuff out there - apart from the obvious bands who have been doing it for multiple decades, there are so many good bands to discover. I've lost count of the people I mention Poets of the Fall to, for example, who've never heard of them (and that's just one example). Also, listening to some of the soundcloud/bandcamp material people on these very forums produce is really quite inspirational.

If you drench your work in every plugin and effect under the sun it's going to suffer for it. Move towards a more basic approach, practice, practice, practice and you'll find that you can slowly add to the toolset you use as you gain understanding of the process along the way.

And then, you might find things a little different. I wish you good luck.
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby desmond » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:47 pm

I find it difficult to relate to people who do music from *any* other direction than for the love of it, *but*, *if* you are going to target a market for purely commercial reasons, you've got to understand that market, and do what's necessary to "compete" in that market - which includes hiring, or the ability to network and work with the necessary people.

As a hobbyist, making music, learning song writing, performance, engineering and production - you've all been doing these things, learning, and have clearly improved along the way. This is a process, not an end result, and you are someway along the well-trodden path that we all here have embarked upon at some point in our lives (and either stayed on it, or fell off a few times along the way!)

From what I've seen/heard, you just aren't currently operating at the level where professional quality work is, and where the market expects (and this is nothing to do with the tools). This *isn't* a criticism, as by far most people, including those on this forum, also don't operate at those levels. And that's perfectly fine. Those things also include youth, fashion, marketability, credibility, artistry, and so many other things that we all wish we had but at some point have to face the reality that most people don't.

But if you've come to the conclusion that "music just isn't for you" because you haven't instantly had a hit with the first song that you really tried hard to make the best you could, and this was your *only* success criteria, then you're right, perhaps it isn't for you.

Perhaps over time you may modify your incredibly high success criteria downwards a little, and rediscover the essence of music and enjoy making some again. I sincerely wish you luck with that.
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:58 pm

Richard: The sort of Internet forums you've been going to are a bear-pit. Everyone's an 'expert' (in their own eyes) and being the Internet, people comment in a way that they would never do face-to-face.

Don't get me wrong; from many of the comments that have been posted here you almost certainly have more work to do, but also remember those positive comments here that have been encouraging about your ideas.

So as Eddy Deegan has said, maybe it's time to refocus and to start afresh. Perhaps concentrate on being a tunesmith and let others worry about being a performer and/or detailed arranger. Enjoy and create music for its own sake rather than as a means to an end. Who knows, with that approach, you just might be able to sell a tune or two? But are you ever going to be a household name? Probably not; but surely there's more to a good life than that?
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby OneWorld » Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:29 pm

Personally I think the best form of response is from an audience. That being said I've played in circumstances where only a handful of people turned up and on other occasions 1000's We (the musicians) enjoyed the gigs whatever. If anyone goes into music to make money - first big mistake. As Miles Davis once replied when asked "How do you make a $1million out of jazz?" He replied "Start with $5million"

Though I am not suggesting you looked on music as a way to easy money, it is anything but. Yes there is the commodity end of the market, you need an easy on the eye chickadee(or male equivalent) with a high twerkability factor backside, there are pop choon factories ram jam full of very experienced and capable writers that write to a format, and of course, and most importantly, £100,000's to spend on marketing and publicity - together with 'friends that have friends'

It's like any other profession, people who become the best in the business invest a lot of time(and like in your case money on all the kit) and then as anyone will tell you, the harder you work, the luckier you get. I used to go and watch almost any live music I could, the good, the bad and in-different. And of course when it came to seeing the best of them, I said to myself "F*ck me, I've got to be better than that - I have my work cut out!"

Enjoy your music for what it is, if you get the detractors, so what's the big deal, if you enjoy it, that's the best reward, if other people do too great. But in enjoying your own music, don't become delusional, as the old adage goes, "You can't polish a t*rd"

Another bit of advice (if only I listened to my own advice, I'd be ruling the country, nay, the world, nay, the universe!) listen to all sorts of music analytically, and listen to all kinds, bearing in mind, just because something is cool and ethnic doesn't mean it's any good. Am sure there's as much dross coming out of Daresalem as there is out of Doncaster etc But there is much more to music than the UK/USA For example we often see those polls where ask "World's Best Guitarist" and all the usual ones or trotted out - but no mention at all of the great flamenco players, or those jazz guys from Brazil et al
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Alba » Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:39 pm

Spot on, Eddy.

Richard, if you enjoy it then just keep playing. TBH if you don't make it as a commercially successful muso you've probably saved yourself a whole lotta trouble. Its not for everyone.

Bon Chance!
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Guest » Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:25 pm

Richard, any artist worth 'is salt 'as been through similar to you, Van Gogh, & others, never sold any paintings and The Beatles, + many others were turned down by those supposedly in the know.

Some opinions are just that, opinions, others also happen to be facts. Fact.

I'm of the opinion that your sea shanty has potential, others 'ere aren't, who's right? cos it cain't be both. Listen to some of the stuff posted by your detractors and by those who praise your work, then you can decide who's knowledgeable enough to actually assess your work accurately.

Any dang fool can put a track together or write a song, writing a half-decent one is what's difficult, you've achieved that regardless of wot a bunch of know nothings at Tunecore say.

Tunecore & its ilk is not were it's at man, it's/they're designed to fleece musos out of their 'ard earned dosh, their opinion is pointless/worthless.

There's always room in the charts for quirky original catchy tunes, up to you, but you will need pro help to bring your goal to fruition, so don't despair man, ball's in your court mate.

Artists never give in, it goes wiv the job, you gotta learn to take the ruff wiv the smooth bruvver.
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Crunkfingaz » Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:27 pm

I can hardly believe your post or your surprise at this?

You asked for advice, were given lots and chose to ignore it if it wasn't what you wanted to hear.

You spent £££££'s on equipment thinking it would be the magic solve to all your issues.

Whenever you put up a new mix, you mentioned what make of plugin you used, and then threw your toys out of the pram because it didn't work, rather than following the great advice provided by the years of knowledge on these boards
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby damoore » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:29 pm

Did they show you data at any time of their scores on material that has been a hit? Are they reproducible? Are they cherry picked?

As a young man I was very involved in theatre in Brisbane Australia. There at the time we had a theatre critic who was an infallible guide to any show.

If he hated it, it was a must see. If he liked it it was an avoid at all costs. As somebody said, those who can do, those who can't criticize.
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Alba » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:46 pm

I know of one artist who put some acoustic work up on, was it Bandstand? It was an early attempt at monetizing the poor buggers who thought the internet would democratize music and give everyone a shot. The idea was that you put tracks up and then people reviewed them. You had to review a certain number and then you could put up another track or if you didn't want to review you paid (kaching!) The tracks were dished up for review anonymously and you only knew who it was after you wrote your 200 words or whatever. They had a chart and monthly awards etc, you get the idea.

Anyway, this bloke is a master songwriter, 70s/80s vintage. Brilliant guitarist and singer and has a half dozen top ten albums and a couple of number one singles under his belt in the US. Spent ten years plus touring the world to massive audiences.

He put some tracks up under a pseudonym. He was torn to pieces. I sat and laughed reading the reviews. The tracks weren't a joke, they were great to my ears. He didn't get a single good review.

So...
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby awjoe » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:24 pm

Well, just what you need - one more piece of advice. Do this stuff because you enjoy doing it, and things will take care of themselves. I would love for my music to be liked by lots of people, but in the meantime it's enough that I like to make it.
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Dan LB » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:36 pm

awjoe wrote:Well, just what you need - one more piece of advice. Do this stuff because you enjoy doing it, and things will take care of themselves. I would love for my music to be liked by lots of people, but in the meantime it's enough that I like to make it.

^ this

don't beat yourself up too much Richard. It's supposed to be fun. If at first you don't succeed.............
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby damoore » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:41 pm

Alba wrote:

Billy Bragg springs to mind. Personally, i could never see what he had musically. But he just kept going out and playing and playing and bugger me he did it :)

I love Billy Bragg's work. It has an earthy no bullshit quality to it that makes it very personal. I also love Jacques Brill, Mose Alison. Neither of those are likely to have a "hit".
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Watchmaker » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:10 pm

Interesting. This is my first day here at Sound on Sound and this is the first post I've looked at and surprisingly, I have something to say to you Richard.

It was about 15 years ago when I was 35 that I woke up one morning and realized I was a total failure. I'd been touring in bands since about the age of 18 or so, working myself to the bone without any success at all, other than playing in C circuit clubs where the floors are sticky, the bartenders cheap and the opening bands vie for atrociousness.

So I woke up and I was a failure. I was dejected, morose, inconsolable for about two days when I suddenly felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. I wasn't a failure so much as measuring success and failure incorrectly.

In the intervening years since my awakening, I've continued to learn and grow as an artist, I explored other passions, went back to college and got a straight job (back when that was still possible).

I'm glad to hear you've "failed." Success teaches nothing, so here's to your education and a whole new set of doors to open. BTW, if your work isn't appreciated by the "commercial" industry it may be commercial success only follows formulaic, lowest common denominator dreck - with extremely rare exception. Also, it may be that what you think of as success isn't really.

Life's a hell of alot more interesting than commercial success, and while falling flat sucks the fat root, it's also where we learn about ourselves, and there's the beginning of a true gift. All the best!
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby desmond » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:21 pm

Great first post! Welcome!
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby Alba » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:34 pm

damoore wrote:
Alba wrote:

Billy Bragg springs to mind. Personally, i could never see what he had musically. But he just kept going out and playing and playing and bugger me he did it :)

I love Billy Bragg's work. It has an earthy no bullshit quality to it that makes it very personal. I also love Jacques Brill, Mose Alison. Neither of those are likely to have a "hit".

He's grown on me over the years too. I probably wasn't open minded enough (or something) to get him back then. Then again i didn't 'get' Floyd until my 40s.

Something someone said to me once that stuck... "when we play, everyone hears something different."
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby JohnHop » Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:58 pm

As Andy Partridge of XTC wrote recently in his book Complicated Game.


"To all the people who liked what XTC did—thank you, you made us stronger.

To all the people who didn't like what XTC did—thank you, you made us stronger."
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Re: I've failed at becoming a commercial musician...

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:18 pm

You might like to think on this, mate. The people on this forum have been critical of your work but also are now encouraging you to stick with music making. Could it be because they want you to stick around so they can kick you a little more? Well, maybe but probably not. It's because they know something special, which is that making music can bring great joy and satisfaction regardless of material success.

I'm a folky (as I've said many times before). I got into folk music 40-odd years ago. As a folky one thing you realise quite quickly is that fame and particularly fortune are never going to be yours. Even the very biggest names of the scene, Carthy and Kirkpatrick and the like, are not rich, just comfortable at best. The reason I stuck with it is because I loved the music and doing it and being part of it was joy enough for me.

Here's the lesson we've learned. Make music for the joy of making music. It will give you a happier life. Fame and fortune might come your way, but if it doesn't you're still ahead for the pleasure it's given you.

CC

PS A folk musician won the lottery. They asked him if it would change his life. He said, "Not really, I'll just do what I've always done, keep playing until the money runs out".
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