Artist Musician – Once you catch the songwriting bug, you’ll soon want to venture into the world of performing.
Each of these routes has its pros and cons, so we’ll discuss them here to help you make the right decision.
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But if you want to know everything about being an artist or a band, keep reading.
If you start writing songs in your bedroom or anywhere else, you’ll get used to working alone. You sit there in a world of your own making, giving birth for weeks until you’re ready to emerge as a full-fledged musical butterfly.
Unfortunately, those weeks will turn into months if you get stuck because you won’t have anyone else to follow your ideas. It also becomes a problem if the song you’ve written doesn’t meet the standards for whatever reason – the first time someone hears it is when you’ve put all your time and effort into it, so it’s going to be a huge blow to you.
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In many cases – Coldplay, Oasis, and Nirvana, to name a few – the band has one designated songwriter and leaves it up to other musicians to bring the song to life and give it its signature sound. That’s all well and good, but it’s much more likely to create resentment later than a purely collaborative approach.
If you bring a seedling of an idea to band rehearsal, your bandmates will be much more enthusiastic. They will become much more attached to it if you let them water it, trim the leaves and otherwise nurture it until it matures.
No matter how confident you are in the direction a song is going, you can never underestimate the value of a second or third opinion—you may be repeating yourself without even realizing it.
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Having said that, the phrase “too many cooks spoil the song” comes up just as often. If you deviate too much from a proven recipe to satisfy the personal taste of each team member, you risk cooking something that is disgustingly tasteless.
You have no one to thank or blame for your achievements, no matter how successful or unsuccessful they later turn out to be.
If you play a raucous set, then all that enthusiastic applause is just for you. Knowing that all that hard work you’ve put in is finally paying off can be incredibly satisfying.
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However, if your kit breaks a bit, you will have no one to turn to and you will have to shoulder the entire burden of responsibility. This has been enough to put musicians off in the past, so be prepared.
When you are part of a team, a win for you is a win for them because they will share their successes with you.
When you write a song together that is a hit with the crowd, you can share the glory. When you accidentally let a stinker go, you can get together and work out where you went wrong together.
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Stereotypically, a singer will get more attention than a bass player (unless the singer IS a bass player), which is unfair in a democracy. Standing on stage in front of a cheering crowd can do wonders for the ego – but it also whets the appetite, so if one of your members is more hungry for fame than the others, they may get triggered and may need to be put back in their place.
Simply put, if you have no one but you to write songs and play shows, you’re going to have to work hard.
In addition to your songwriting duties, you will be solely responsible for booking your own concerts, arranging your own transportation and your own advertising (including managing all social media profiles and producing your own merchandise).
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If something goes wrong, it’s nobody’s fault but yours. If you leave your freshly printed t-shirts on the train and can’t sell them, that’s your business. If you forget the lyrics to your new song, tough.
On the other hand, at least you’ll know that everything is up to your personal standards. You won’t book gigs at venues you don’t want to play, and you won’t add songs you don’t want to play to your set list.
In theory, you can achieve much more and be freed from the stress of responsibility. One of you could be responsible for selling merchandise, one for booking concerts, one for updating social media pages, etc.
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It works like a dream – until someone starts slowing down. It’s more noticeable when there’s a group of you, where one member stops coming to rehearsals, doesn’t make important calls on behalf of the band, or doesn’t give his share of the pie too often.
It can also lead to another problem that a solo artist doesn’t have – members being fired and replaced, or even breaking up completely.
A solo artist cannot “break down”, he can only take a break from performing. They won’t have to suffer the painful guilt they have to deal with when they have to kick someone out, or the devastating heartbreak they experience when their pride and joy crumbles into nothingness.
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If you’re traveling alone, performing alone, and staying alone in a hotel room, that’s an awful lot of loneliness for one person. You, like many others, may be perfectly suited to this way of life – you are on your own to collect your thoughts and develop your ideas and you don’t need to rely on anyone else.
Some solo musicians hire backing musicians to further round out the sound. Bob Dylan, Jake Bugg, David Bowie are examples of musicians who achieved success on their own, but often played on stage with a full lineup, but also alone. But they often end up as mercenaries and are not allowed to enter the inner sanctum that is your creative mind.
This may be the route you want to take, but keep in mind that you will need to pay the session and touring musicians for their trouble, so you need to settle down first.
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If a solo artist is a lone wolf, then bands are the complete package. Every decision is for one, one for all.
This is great for building camaraderie during hard times or boredom – you have each other to help each other through hard times or just to have fun. You also have the support of teammates who share your vision, so you feel protected to be part of something bigger than yourself.
But even that has its downsides. It’s extremely difficult to manage a group of people who are almost always in a good mood – anyone can leave at any time, and if one of those wheels in the form of a team member falls off your car, runs off the road, or just runs away.
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Now that you know the pros and cons, you’re in a much better position to decide whether to share your song with a group of capable friends or keep it to yourself.
Both are viable options; it mostly depends on what kind of person you are and what kind of musician you want to be.
If you want to dive into music production and learn how to create professional sounding mixes…
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Joe Hoten is an avid songwriter, songwriter and songwriter and a regular contributor to bands for hire. Bands for Hire is a live music agency offering a wide range of live wedding bands – acoustic groups, string quartets, jazz bands and more – across the UK.
Joe Hoten is an avid songwriter, songwriter and songwriter and a regular contributor to bands for hire. Bands for Hire is a live music agency offering a wide range of live wedding bands – acoustic groups, string quartets, jazz bands and more – across the UK. View all posts by this author
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