Hey everyone, this is going to be another one of those more conversational blogs where I just say what’s on my mind, so if you prefer the journalistic stuff I do (interviews/reviews etc) then I’m just letting you know that this is going to be a little different.
A few nights ago I was chatting to someone I’ve known for quite a few years about music and his experiences of being in a touring band.
I came to know him through his band Miss Conduct back in 2007, after my friend had seen them at The Underworld in Camden – coincidently when they were shooting their first music video – and kept telling me to check them out. Being that this was back in the day when MySpace was popular I found them on there and gave them a listen, and I’m so glad I did because it led to some great experiences that I’ll never forget.
At the time I discovered Miss Conduct I was going through some personal drama, and I think the reason I took them to my heart so passionately was because their music helped me through it. Fast-forward a month or so and I’d booked them to play a private show (which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before so I’m not going to get off track and go into it now.) It was a great night, they were such lovely people and to this day it remains one of the best experiences of my life, and a huge talking point with people I know.
Since then life threw some pretty hefty curveballs their way, and after a couple of line up changes as well as various other reasons, the band went their separate ways. As a fan it was disappointing, but I also considered them mates of mine and knowing their music and how hard they were all working, it was upsetting because you could feel that they were on the edge of something; they just needed that break.
Over the years I’ve kept in touch with a few of the guys through various social media outlets, and seeing how they’ve all moved on with their lives, does sometimes make me wonder where the band would be now if things had been different. So, as I said, I was speaking to one of the guys about this and he sent me some of the old demos they did that never got the chance to surface. As I was listening to them it just hit me how good their music was, to the point where I just felt saddened by the fact that nobody is going to get to hear this stuff because it’s bloody good.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had this thought either. Over the three years I’ve had my blog I’ve tried to reach out to as many bands as possible that I like and believe in. As a result I’ve reviewed and interviewed some really good bands – A Day Overdue, Since Forever, Promise Me Tomorrow and The Heartrates to name a few – some of which, for one reason or another, have since disbanded. As a music lover, it’s never great to hear when a band with so much potential decide to call it quits, but as a keen interviewer it also makes me think of the impact it has on the members themselves and where they go from there.
I know of people who have had to give up playing music for various reasons and it breaks my heart to hear because, I’ve always wanted a career that I love and I’m lucky enough to have found it, so when people tell me that they’ve had to give up what they love it makes me wish that I could give them another opportunity, to help them in some way. I think that’s why interviewing is my favourite area of journalism because I like getting to know people, getting to know the personalities behind the music and showing people how hard bands actually work nowadays and how much the support of a fan-base really means to them.
You can have the best professional representation but more and more nowadays, with the incorporation of social media and networking, it seems like it’s the passion of the fan-base that determines whether or not a band is successful. More and more bands and artists are independently producing and releasing their own music without the need of a middle man, to the point where the fans are rendering A & R almost redundant, which is challenging the common assumption that being a mainstream artist equals success.*
Most of the time I find out about bands on the off-chance or by recommendation, and even though they may not be a household name once you become aware of them, you find that a lot of them – The Cab, The Summer Set and Room 94 to name but a few – have huge fan-bases that span across loads of different countries, made up of some of the most loyal and dedicated fans out there. Room 94 have trended worldwide on Twitter on numerous occasions, and have recently charted at number 5 on the Official UK charts ‘Independent Singles Breakers Chart’, and at number 15 on the ‘Independent Singles Chart’. Being an unsigned band, that kind of achievement is all down to the unrelenting support of the fans.
First and foremost I am a music fan and I get just as passionate about my favourite bands as anyone else, journalist or not. Whilst I want to pursue journalism my ultimate goal is to one day set up a record label, to have a platform to give the talented musicians that I believe in that chance, that break that they deserve. I also try to do this on the blog, as you may have noticed when I like a band or an artist I tend to feature them a lot, and it’s the same principle, I just want to do everything I can to get more people listening to these up-and-coming bands and be a small part of their journey.
I don’t know the ins and outs of why bands decide to call it quits, but there are so many bands and artists out there that I would have signed in a heart-beat, that I would’ve fought for with all my energy, to make sure they got/get the exposure that they and their music rightly deserve. I don’t know if that would change the outcome of some bands’ fates but I’d like to think that I could help in some small way.
Music isn’t an easy business, and nowadays with so many artists trying to break through independently, building up a fan-base through technology it can be both easier and more difficult. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t, and even though it can be heart-wrenching when they don’t, it can just be down to luck of the draw.
… So go on, get looking! You never know what you might find.
*I wrote an article about this subject for my start-up online magazine which you can read HERE if you’d like to. (2nd feature.)