Features Dec 16, 2010 at 4:00 am

What It's Like to Fail as a Musician in This Town

Joan Hiller Depper


Oh for fuck's sake. Who are the Cold War Kids? They are famous?

Also, as someone who has continued to play live shows every single year since 1985, and every single week since 2000, if you aren't doing it because you love playing music, QUIT! You are never going to be "famous" or whatever Cold War Kids are. And who cares? Eat your mom's salad in your home town and play your shows there and kiss your girlfriends there and make your life there. Or not! Do it in Seattle! But do it because it's what you love!

All of your little "horror stories" add up to some minor inconveniences for a young man who has a lot to learn and not much to lose. So lose! And learn! Good fucking luck! Ha ha!
Making a living as a musician is hard no matter what, but it doesn't help that you guys clearly never did your homework. Seriously - you run off to Seattle to become bigshots, but you didn't take the time to figure out what clubs would provide a friendly crowd? Or what bands would be good to connect with? WTF? You're coming to a new city with a new music community; you can't just expect success to fall into your lap. If you seek a serious career in music, then treat it like a serious career already. That's the thing too many musicians don't seem to get.
I'm with #1. The music scene has changed so dramatically that unless you're in it for the love of it, there's really no point to go on with the mentality of "making it big" someday. I love playing music BECAUSE of places/experiences like The Comet or the local coffee shop that pushes aside enough tables to fit a drum kit and a few amps.

this is like an extended version of
i anon , a bad one . this guy's story in no different than a million other bands . you have a better chance of winning the lottery than being a hit rock band . frankly dude the big name producers left town after the grunge fad went south , like 5 minutes later . you were better off in cali than seattle . its more than who you know , some times its who you blow . i don't think you blew anybody let alone the right some body . if you were into rap i could tell you how to pull that off. you make a bunch of money selling coke . you buy 8 sets of lyrics from mnm for 200k , then you drop the same money to dr. dre plus a cut of the back side for the beats , and rip a cd . then you drop that cd with a check for 50k off at virgin or capitol and wait 6 weeks . tadah ! rap star !
I'm glad you came to terms with your crushing sense of entitlement, because it was pretty suffocating the first 2/3rds of your piece. 99 percent of bands aren't going to "get big." Some of those that do won't deserve it and probably won't be as talented or as interesting as you perceive yourself to be. Being on a stage may get you laid once or twice, but you're not going to be snorting coke off the asses of groupies. There are thousands of people in this town and others that hold down shitty day jobs and spend their evenings practicing unremarkable songs. The good ones do it because they enjoy doing it, warts and empty rooms and late nights included. The bad ones do it for social acceptance and unrealistic ego-filled rock-star dreams. Go play some songs at an open mic night and quit bitching - no one owes you anything.
Your problem is that you didn't move to Portland, the promised land for whiny, self-pitying indie boys. You wouldn't have become famous, made money or got laid there either, but it's cheaper and marginally warmer than Seattle.
Fuck You.

band life sucks. its hard. its supposed to be. thats why no one hardly "makes it".
"Making it"....by the way-what the fuck does that really mean in 2010 anyway?

Hopefully more idiots that start bands for ridiculous reasons will read your essay and decide not to do it, like you. Theres too much mediocrity and some serious Darwinism is needed stat.

my GOD you infuriate me
Moving to Seattle to make it as a band? It isn't 1993. Not to mention, half of this town has bad taste in local music--look no further than the inexplicable popularity of Fences and the existence of Barsuk.

Nearly everyone struggles in their chosen field. I've been writing for 7 years and while there are moments I rue the existence of certain publications and certain writers for getting the credit I want for doing something I already did, I continue to keep nose to grindstone because I love writing and can't imagine doing anything else. As has been pointed out, if you don't love something and are in it only for a modicum of fame and some money, you're going to fail.
You shouldn't even be aloud to start a band until you read "Get In The Van". If anything, just for the lessons in disappointment and work ethic.
Also, The Stranger...WTF?! Is this a joke?
Dear Ben, The system you are participating in was functionally over with 11 years ago. I'm sorry. Now all we have is a superstition. If you do certain things they will lead to certain results. Napster, Itunes and Myspace collapsed the system your are trying to use. Its ok. Things change. That thing old never worked that well any. Say it. Its OK.
A year and a half isn't that long to pursue something that's important to you. If you really love it, adjust your expectations and keep doing it. Also: Learn a trade. Just in case eternal rock stardom doesn't work out as a career path.

Not saying this to put you down (like a bunch of others on this thread) just telling it straight.
What a self-indulgent knob! Thanks for the laughs!
Hate to join the chorus, but somebody call a WHAAAAAMBULANCE.

I've played in a band for 10+ years and never once whined about "making it." Making it is not as important as having fun playing music.

One of the biggest shows of my "career" happened at the Central Saloon on a Thursday night in what was the worst snow storm of the year.

There were 12 people there, but we rocked like there were 15.
Hmm, are we sure this isn't Ben Lashes?

Apologies for bringing up that unpleasant memory.
each and every one of you embody the sad and sometimes (though not demonstrated here) valid assertion that seattlites are passive aggressive asshats. i'm sure that you all feel wonderfully comfortable sitting by the glow of your computer telling this man how awful you think he is, but have you seriously thought about what it takes to write about your own naivete? i don't pretend to know a thing about how to make it in the music business, but i do work in it. every day i see people like the author just trying, and yes, some suck. but they try and they get up each day doing what they love. some decide on other paths in life, as it sounds like this man has, but who are you to berate someone for attempting to put words to how people struggle as he did, all the while inserting in an ever so subtle manner the humor with which he views his past. apparently you all missed the point here...
So, tell us more about this Genevieve Flaversham. She sounds hot.
First of all, your timeline is fucked up. Let's say you moved at the beginning of 2007. January. A year and a half later, is midway through 2008. Which means it's almost 6 months before you hit your "3 years broken up" point...it's not almost 3 years.

Secondly, your "dues" were only 18 months on one scene. With music that the scene is SATURATED in: "contemplative indie rock." Fuck off, emo boy. That's not DUES. Did you even get around to releasing an EP? The Cold War Kids had 2. And planned their own tours.

Thirdly, you quit your fucking job to be a musician, but you weren't the most committed of troubadours?! There's another of the answers to your failure.

It's nice you have a growing awareness of the gross sense of entitlement you had. Still have, probably. Because, if you didn't...
Play in a band cause you like playing music and you'll never be disappointed. Play in a band cause you think you'll end up getting blown by Zooey whatsherface and you'll be disappointed almost most of the time.
Jeez, the guy wrote an already self-deprecating confessional article about his failings and realizations for the casual amusement of others. Tar and feather him!

My name is Chris and I did actually move here with a mediocre band in 1993. Wasn't much different then, either. ;-)
Thank you for sharing your story. As someone who has had the very same thoughts (but in a different field), it's a nice reminder that's just not how life works. My advice to my nieces and nephews is "Get comfortable with the fact that life isn't fair."

Anyway, sharing your story made me feel better.
@18 Yeah, more Genevieve Flaversham. The Flaversham. yeeeeoWWWWWW!
It gets better.
I also moved here to start a band and I'm going through the same thing but at least I expected it. It's not supposed to be easy. It might be for some bands but this is Seattle. I think the "scene" here has been pretty stale since the early 2000's hence the horrible bumbleshoots year after year It's still a great place to be a poor ass musician. After reading the other comments....I feel like we moved to the wrong city. Fuck you assholes! It's tougher then you think.... not only has Seattle lost it's soul with the Grunge scene but this city does not rock anymore....try Austin
@16 The point is that he now feels entitled to get paid for writing about his grotesque sense of entitlement. Those of us who aren't so entitled, are entitled to bitch about it.
Yeah. You lost me at "along with the other three devastatingly good-looking members of my band." Congratulations on that at least, it's rare to lose me after the very first sentence. Then jokes about vitamin D deficiency, rain, and pining away for the glory days of high school in California? Seriously?

Or is this supposed to be some sort of post-irony-irony?
should have moved to Olympia instead.
@16 -- thank you. perfectly and beautifully said.
Is this Ben Bishop Jeopardy Champion from Seattle? http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/te…

I'm not a Jeopardy champion! NO FAIR NO FAIR NO FAIR
I actually wouldn't have minded if this had been a longer piece, just because it was well-written.
Oh for god's sake ...

Go play Rock Band 3, you miserable twit.

Or move to NYC where you can moan about how hard it is to be a real band and people will give a flying fuck.
Blame the ))))))))INViSiBLE BOSS)))))))))
@31 - It certainly could have been a better piece if it was longer, funnier, and more of a 'series of unfortunate yet hilarious anecdotes' sans the somewhat blank-faced 'I, Anonymous' tone, but that doesn't make the author a bad person, as a majority of the other commenters seem to imply. His disillusionment and coming to terms with reality don't seem to be enough for some people - he must be punished!
@28 for the insightful Pay Your Dues You Miserable Twit win.
Wow, this is a lot of anger for such a modest article.
He clearly had no idea what he was getting into - and he said so.
He's not quite sure what happened - and he said so.

This piece is a well-written peek into the confusion of folks who get into bands without even knowing their own motivations. If at the time you'd asked him if it was all for fame and fortune, I'm not sure he would have known the answer. It's a decent confessional. I like a good confessional.

He made some misguided assumptions and a lot of mistakes and had the courage to include his name when telling us about them. I've heard whining much worse than this. I'm inclined to cut him some slack.

Would you rather read a piece that says: "I did everything right and now I'm on top of the world" ?
Is Seattle the land of angsty has been/never was musicians or what? Lighten up, assholes. Kid had a dream. Seattle shat on it. Perhaps deservedly. Maybe not. It ain't easy making a living at rock and roll is a hard earned lesson. It'sa tough one to swallow when complete and utter shit bands are making a killing.

The injustice of the music scene is massive. Even Mark Arm, who has done more for Seattle music than any jerk-off in this comment section ever has (including me), has to have a day job. Of course, bands back in the early days of the grunge scene had one huge advantage: no one in America gave a rats ass about seattle and so the rest of the world left us alone and some of those kids went on to develop something they fucking owned. and it was great.

Good on ya, Ben bishop, and the rest of you can go fuck your damn selves.
Can we just sum this up with a "couple of gullible fucks haven't encountered the real world that - regardless of city - will attempt to shit on them at all costs"?

Not that white boy problems aren't interesting...
Just dropped in to ask where I can get that Fred Perry sweater from the illustration?
@11 Excellent comment, both content-wise and compassion-wise.
If the first adjective that comes to mind about yourself is "devastatingly good looking" -- your band is shit.
@42, you're stupid. He was making a joke.
I can forgive the whininess and naivete as the follies of youth.

But you probably should have realized that bringing 'contemplative indie rock' was bringing sand to the beach. In Seattle, when you start a band, you're handed some Buddy Holly glasses, and accordion, and you have to pay Vampire Weekend 20 dollars.

Also, here's some free advice. Try touring first.
Interesting and funny article. Thanks for humiliting yourself one more time for the edification of...errr...someone, I'm sure ;)

On a more serious note, it's problematic how self-effacing and grovelling musicians are in the hope of getting blown or becoming famous. If we would all stop grovelling, and demand a little respect universally, perhaps we wouldn't be so universally ripped off by everyone from a greedy club owner to the big pig record companies who are more than happy to rip artists off to fatten their own wallets. We really should learn something from the actors guild. But that kind of cooperation among musicians is a ridiculous dream as long as any of us behave like crack whores for fame or affection. Oh, my apologies to crack whores. At least they get *something* back for their grovelling.
Describing your music as contemplative only makes me think YOU aren't.
Since pretentiousness seems to be the name of the game here, let me just say I hate indie rock. You failed because you came to a place where you won't stand out. The mid 2000's were all about scensters wanting to be DCFC or Joy Division, so your not really presenting a new idea. Know your role & shut your mouth you whiny ass bitch.
i blame guitar hero for giving the youth unreasonable expectations of stardom
also, writing this article during the winter months when all Seattlites are grumpy, under-exercised and vitamin D deficient probably wasn't the best move.....
This isn't our most empathetic season of the year.
I just listened to his music and well, it's terrible. There is no other word to describe it. This guy needs to grow a pair, and learn to write songs that don't sound like a retarded combination of The Dredsen Dolls & Death Cab For Cutie. He lacks destiny... Don't believe me? Check out his page
I liked this story. It was funny and contemplative. I've never been in a band, but I have had the experience of moving to Seattle looking for the PBR-soaked pot of gold. I was smushed into poverty and disbelief. But I was young, naive and didn't realize how much work you have to put in to get a career going in a well-educated and creative town like Seattle. For a few years I felt righteously indignant. Then I realized righteous indignation wasn't going to pay my bills or get me out of debt so I woman-ed the fuck up and got to work. I'm proud of the small successes I've had in the five years I've been here. I bet if Ben had stuck around he could have pulled that off too.
Good article, understandable disappointment. Ten years ago you could have gotten a job on the record label side of things and taken all that disappointment out on younger, up and coming bands. You'd become drunk on their tears I tell you!
what a whiney little b*tch. Either your music sucks or you didn't try hard enough. why don't you blame everyone in washington for your problems so you can be a poor victim? this article irritated me.
You're still a musician. You can sit down and play the piano right now.
Wow. Based on the comments, it appears Seattle's music scene is awash with jaded assholes. You're all just pissed off that you didn't write this article, which I found quite enjoyable.
#54, totally right.

And furthermore, I agree, your band was full of devastatingly good-looking guys.

Not to worry, Seattle will get over their obsession with The Head and The Heart soon enough and another lame band will capture their attention with nothing new or creative.

Keep writing music.

Most that commented totally missed the point and need to up their Vitamin D supplements, the moody fucks.
Actually Seattle is full of hard-working, driven and smart musicians that are looking to get their hustle on.

It's called the music business for a reason. If you want it handed to you on a silver platter you are S.O.L.

Look at the Spits. That band wrote the book on how not to be a shitty local band. They work their asses off, tour relentlessly and are bigger out of Seattle then they are here.

Want something? Work for it. Ben, I'm sorry you gave up so easily. That says more about you than the rest of Seattle's local music scene.

As someone who has been a musician for a good long while, and has done so in a couple different places, I can assure you that seattle is a terrible place to try to make a living playing music. It is a fine place to be a hobby musician.

The only way to get ahead is to capture the attention of a taste-maker. Some bands play 3 times in a basement and get 'the deal', others play relentlessly for 10 years and get nothing but the satisfaction of a job well done. Some folks have the finances and/or wherwithal to keep plugging away with zero return, others chose to invest that energy and expense elsewhere.
Well, if you'd kept playing you could have probably screwed a few hipster chicks โ€” they dig angst.
Easy summary: you sucked, had no idea how to get better, and had no idea how to try to tap into an audience that would appreciate your shitty music -- and there are tons of people in Seattle and elsewhere who appreciate shitty music. Not bad as a writer, but only time will tell if you're a one-trick pony.

There have been a few great bands who have moved to Seattle and done well, but they are vastly outweighed by the mediocre shitstorm that started around 1991. If this is your announcement to the world that you are done trying to play music for other people, then it's welcome. Maybe if you played music for yourself from now on you might get somewhere.
The article was really funny, and would make a good longer piece too, I'd think. And may I just say some of you are making me think twice about visiting Seattle, at least until I can find some kevlar underthings...
First of all, this is a column, not an article. Second, I've heard Sat'n's music, it blows.
First, why Seattle? It had literally 1000+ bands BEFORE the recession started - probably twice that now. How many of them will 'make it' in the Dick-Clark biblical sense you allude to?

Secondly, read the news. In Seattle, you will only get respect as an original and unforgettable act if you suicide/murder/OD on heroin. That's because the taste-trenders here have incredibly immature POVs, and Seattle is very largely a repressed, parochial depression hole. (There used to be a great music magazine here called The Rocket. It died for lack of income. The trendy-posers couldn't read it.)

Feel better? Now: suppose you're actually good. Try Idaho or Utah or Oregon. When you've been recognized for greatness someplace like that (like Eliot Smith), get in touch with Bumbershoot. Play there and with that imprimatur you're gold at any of the moss-monkey shithole of your choice.

Or, you could start a record label. That worked for a couple people. Try to put out records by people likely to OD or suicide in a few years. It's even better if they sleep under freeway bridges.
P.S. Still think Seattle's The Place? Turn on a radio and listen to the music they play. That will teach you more about what a bitchin' music scene this is than any words.

Ever notice no venues here have chairs? People don't go to listen, they go to get laid. When people in Seattle start getting laid (and monkeys ... etc.), there won't be any more "music" venues.
"A man's Mr.Mustache,is a man's freedom."
Wow, there are lots of tightly wound people commenting on this thread. I thought the article was hilarious, sounds like he's making fun of himself more than complaining. Apparently all the haters getting mad on here thought the Stranger actually wanted to help some guy plead his case for why his band should have made it big- oh wait, they would never do that, it's a fucking joke, Genevieve Flaversham?! No one has had a name like that since
Dickens. This made me laugh twice, once for how much it sucks to be a mediocre band, and twice for hard it is for anybody in Seattle to relax and have a laugh, you guys need to get laid. And I didnt notice this sad sap ever mention getting blown for being in the band, I bet he was jerking off into all that dirty laundry the whole time, poor guy.
Just focus on making a good record...the rest is details...
What a fucking whiner.
Oh no! You had to move equipment in the rain? You shouldn't have to do that to play music!

Sounds like you were in it for the wrong reasons. Probably better that you hung it up. In the very least, you'll save the music scene from having to deal with yet another overpriveleged, pompous bunch of wannabe shitheads with a disproportionate sense of entitlement.
Wow, Seattleites are fantastically whiny. Keep up the shit vibes, Sloggers!
When you're in a scene like Seattle's it can sometimes distort your vision. You play shows with bands that sometimes get amazing press, local radio support and a lot of "buzz" while many other bands (including yours) don't get that attention. And it makes you wonder why them and not you. Sometimes it as easy as "Band X is far more talented/prettier than you". Sometimes it's not so easy to put your finger on it. You can either go on doing what you do or you can let it consume you, and then ultimately consume your band. I think the author Ben's story is universal regardless of the scene.

@25. Don't send bands to Austin! Austin's local music scene is completely shitty. Try Houston. Much more DIY and less pretentious.
Yeesh. Count me among those defending Ben. This is called a confessional piece, people.

That said, I think there is a pretty important lesson implied by this - that an all-or-nothing attitude about your music career is likely to lead to disappointment. It's much better to gig locally and concentrate on what's important - making the very best record you can. Fame doesn't always result from good songwriting and clever arrangements, but you've sure got a better shot - especially when you're mining low-energy territory like Caravel did.
Maybe you should try switching to figure skating.
The art for this article reminds me of David Brent looking at the camera after telling his secretary Dawn that she is being fired for stealing post-its.
Um, when somebody writed a self-deprecating piece about their naive and unrealistic expectations and "grotesque sense of entitlement", what kind of jerk feels the need to pile on and say "HEY! YOU WERE BEING NAIVE AND HAD UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS AND A GROTESQUE SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT!"?

The whole thrust of the article is how ill-advised and poorly-executed this effort was. You don't need to explain that to the person who wrote the damn thing, for fuck's sake.

I liked the piece. *shrug*
I have to agree with what someone else said: most of you on this string are a bunch of jaded assholes. No doubt a bunch of wanna-be indie hipsters whose bands sucked, and therefore wished they had at least written this article. It's so easy to be a critic and hide behind a comment board, but really, that just makes you a sorry-ass pussy.

Sometimes you have to just take an article for what it is, and not throw your own personal failings into it.
@16 is so right. I thought it was a funny, charming little piece. I think it was supposed to be funny.

@9 Ron, you are not *allowed* to make the rules.
*Damn it*
If you wanna be a star of stage and screen
Look out! It's rough and mean!
It's a long way to the top
If you wanna rock 'n' roll.

Channel some of that disappointment/anger into a good song. Next to love, being pissed off about the "unfairness" of the world is one of the most fertile grounds for art.
he saw his hometown peers get famous. he admits to thinking 'me too'.


i hope this guy is writing now because he loves to write, not because he needs to be a famous writer.
I'm with 16. I don't think I would have liked Caravel, but it seems pretty clear to ME at least that the first 2/3rds of the article were purposefully overplaying the sympathy card. He's clearly setting up some laughs at his own expense.

Yeah, moving to a city unprepared expecting you're going to make it is silly; but that's. exactly. the point. of this article.
The challenges are what make this an interesting story. It's a bit unfortunate/depressing if this column is the end of the struggle. Maybe we could have a quarterly check in on how it's going. Keep at it. 80+ comments means something.
I saw Brad play the High dive on a monday night and it was spectacular !
@64 has some very good and very true points.

Seriously, don't come to Seattle to start a band. We can't even keep tracks of the ones here already.

You are way better off staying in whatever hell hole you live in, and touring nearby, and maybe dropping in to Seattle once in a while, before you ever MOVE here.

For fuck's sake.
I'm really confused on why someone would move away from Orange County to "make it" as a largely unoriginal band. Orange County is the nexus of unoriginality, look through any issue of Alternative Press and you'll see a bunch of SoCal dudes dressed in their closest approximation of My Chemical Romance in order to "make it". Seattle really isn't the place for musicians who go into rock simply to be adored - I can't think of one successful person from Seattle's music history that has followed this path.

Also, you kind of parred yourself by naming your band a name very close to the name of an ice cream shop. Was the name "Baskim Robbins" taken already?
This is what the world will now know of the "Seattle Scene"...fucking pathetic

Sometimes i think "the only reason i write music is because it makes me feel good" is just as trendy as "i write music because it's the only thing i know how to do. it's either write music or starve"

if you claim to not have any ego in your work and vision then you're pretty much a liar. it's only human to have hopes of leading the pack. in fact, it's more than human, it's survival of the fittest.
Ben, and bandmates: at least you tried. And you write well, with humor, irony, and self-awareness. Best of luck in your future endeavors!
@89 The "world" doesn't watch MTV anymore
If your not willing to believe in the dream till your still believing when everyone else has quit (aka ... you) then you never believed it at all. band members quit or your band breaks up? get a new one! get dicked over at a gig? book another one! don't like the weather? too fucking bad move then! as a matter of fact if the weather were nice here i'da quit playing years ago to hang out in the sunshine ... but every winter that rolls around I hole up in a sound cave and remind myself of how tough you really have to be to continue playing music in Seattle. mediocre music apathy, non-paying gigs, passive-aggressive attitudes, cynical crowds and partly cloudy with a strong chance of rain is daily routine here. and if you take the easy way out and quit ... then thats exactly what every asshole that every told you that you'd fail wanted, cuz as long as your not successful at anything you love ... then they don't have to be either. get back on the horse and write music YOU want to hear and fuck what everybody else thinks. Lionel Hampton toured internationally till age 93 with his jazz fest one year before he died. mind you he was more "successful" ... but thats because he loved it and NEVER quit! would you rather hear "nice article maybe you should just be a music writer?"
You left Santa Cruz? That place within an easy drive to 6+ million folks (the pop. of WA), and another 30+ million within 8 hours. We all make mistakes, but not usually that big.

Good writing though.
what a bunch of cynical curmudgeon assholes!
most of the comments on here must have been typed by penis fingers because they are DICK.
the guy tries on a little humility & admits that the endeavor was more than he could stomach & you see it fit to shit in the open wounds.

it is sad to read that there are so many people who are aroused by the naivete of others & only took their hands out of their pants to type something shitty (& then i get all riled up & act like an asshole too).

what is wrong with trying, being an ass & failing if you can admit it, learn from it & laugh at yourself?

@15 you are a dick. seriously.
Ben, thank you for an honest article that reflects your painful growth as an artist and a person.
My hat is off to you.
Never mind the cynical barbs that others on this thread have aimed at you; they identify with your dreams and disappointments and are ashamed of them. With that shame comes anger, and then comes the desire to bury their anger and shame with you.
You're an artist: never forget that. I ask you to take your anger and sadness and get back up there on that stage and do it anyway. I know it feels like nobody's watching, and it hurts that no one is watching, but let it out anyway. Let your COMPLAINT be your ANSWER. Do it again, in spite of, because.
Those of you who delight in stomping on this guy's piece, I pity each and every one of you, because you're beyond the point of wanting to help yourselves, and can only delight in dumping on others.
Keep at it Ben. Thanks.
I've been playing out for 30 years. I did a bunch of the stuff Ben did. He's right, it's a really stupid way to go.

Somebody said something about playing music because you love to play it, but even more important is to make music because you have something to say with it that people need to hear.

If you're making art, you need to find an audience. They're not at the bars. I've been the asshole in the corner with a guitar and a PA while people re-enact their volley ball spikes on the table in front of me. It's kind of your job to get them to listen, but if they're not there to listen, you're likely wasting your time.

We stopped playing clubs in 1997. We started doing small house concerts (this after two records) and defined success as playing to 11 people who were there to listen and having them enjoy it.

We kept doing house concerts and then moved up to renting the Sunset Hill Community Club, and putting out another record and being able rent out and almost fill 400 seat MOHI - ONCE A YEAR - and Meydenbauer, and some other places and eventually a few festivals where we played in front of 4,000 - 6,000 people.

But it took us eight years to get there and eventually you do something wrong, or people decide your music sucks, or the economy goes into the toilet and the highlights mostly illustrate how small the margins really are.

And once you've played in front of a crowd that roars like that, well, unless someone is buying you into major market radio, that's what you get.

Good on ya Ben, for being able to write a piece about what it's like to dip your toes into it and learn that it's not the glamour life the major labels want people to believe it is. If you can get that lesson over quickly, you might be able to find a framework that gets you past the disappointment of the numbers and into a place where you make some music that people might hear and love.

But if the music and the writing isn't driving *you* - find a passion that feeds your body and regardless do something that will put a roof over your head. The music isn't doing that for people with names these days.

Is it just me or is this article quite light-hearted and self-deprecating and entirely aware of the inherent humour in its vainglorious, frustrated struggle? And that most people, in their criticisms, appear like humorless blowhard assholes?

No, it isn't. Good article Ben. Chunklet ran a piece a few years ago about how much it sucks to go on tour; this does a great job of dismantling the ideas that come before that.
There's nothing more worth doing than music. Before recording, composers (including many famous now) wrote music all their lives, never get it performed. Some of them took 50 years for the world to discover.

It's not like that any more. You can perform it, record it, and using some software put it somewhere for free where people all over the world can find it. Almost anything you can do (with some competence) will find someone who digs it. They can share it easily.

You don't need to grovel or get ripped off to find an audience any more. 15 YEARS ago I read about a guy in Edina, MN that nobody in the US knew about, because ... well it's the US. But in Europe he was BIG NEWS. (P.S. Europe has grown-up tastes. Phil Dick was right: the U.S. is still stuck in Roman times.)

Anyway, If you love music, there's nothing more worth doing. Do it. Let nothing stop you. Route around the damage. All You Need is Love.

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