Is It Ever Acceptable To Gig For Free?

UnknownExposure, every musician’s least favorite word in the english dictionary. For those of you that don’t know what this means, allow me to explain: Exposure is the supposed “polite” way for venues and potential clients to tell you that they can’t pay you for a gig or performance – it’s more commonly used in the original music scene rather than the covers circuit because most original bands “just want to get their name out there.”

This word that venues seem to think is a currency does not pay the bills and is a nightmare for those people who have music as their sole source of income and if you ever post a gig listing in a “musician’s wanted” Facebook group with the line “THIS IS NOT PAID BUT”, prepare to get lynched for the foreseeable future.

However, I’ve always wondered something:  Is it every acceptable or beneficial to gig for free?

This is the part where every musician in the entire world is screaming at their screens, calling me deluded and  stupid whilst mixing the two with various combinations of expletives – but I implore you all to stop and think for a moment and allow me to list a few examples that many people miss:

  1. Wedding Fair’s

Pretty much every friend of mine who is gigging professionally appear at a few of these every year and nearly always come out with a few bookings a year which will amount to a substantial amount of their yearly earnings. Weddings pay extremely well and can also lead to more bookings from the wedding guests for other events, if you haven’t given a try, I’d recommend it – one of my friends has been performing at weddings all over the world all year round for the last few years!

2. Open mic’s / Jam Nights

I admit, the chances of getting work from events like this is very rare compared to wedding fair’s and showcases but you do never know who’s watching! I personally have picked up both performance and teaching work through these sorts of nights and had great fun whilst doing them so it was a win-win.

3. Doing a mate a favor

Again, I’ve done this a fair few times and it’s not only led to other work but it’s also helped me build relationships with fellow members of the industry both on and off stage. The way I see it we do this for a living primarily because we love it, the money is an added bonus and there is nothing wrong with doing the odd free stint for your mate! Clients are obviously different though, so make sure not to get the two confused!

There are three reasons as to why gigging for three isn’t too bad. It isn’t something I’d make a habit of but it also isn’t something I’m completely against. For those that are struggling to decide wether to take a free gig, always ask yourself what this person is doing for you – are they lining up future paid gigs that are set in stone and certain? Are there people in the audience that could get you paid work? and lastly, have they done you a favor in the past and simply deserve to be repaid?

It’s a complex and never-ending debate but there are positives to working for free sometimes, just don’t make it a habit, you’re going to want to earn a sustainable living!

 

Does Jess Glynne need her hand holding after Isle Of Wight Festival ban?

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Glynne on stage

Pop star Jess Glynne has been sparking a lot of bad press lately after pulling out of her Isle Of Wight Performance just hours before her stage slot. She attributed her unprofessional conduct to “anxiety and exhaustion” but has been accused of partying until 7am with the Spice Girls the night before her show.

 

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Jess Glynne with Adele and The Spice Girls the night before her planned gig

Her team reportedly had already set the stage but fans were left disappointed after festival organiser John Giddings came to the stage and announced the last minute cancellation, as a consequence to this, Glynne has been given a lifetime ban with Giddings saying “She will never be booked to play the Isle Of Wight again.”

When I first heard this story on the radio I was absolutely appalled. Pulling out of a booked performance or press engagement is something you don’t do at any level but when you’re meant to be working at the top of the industry, it’s even more disgraceful. Of course, the anxiety and exhaustion claim could be legitimate, especially as this isn’t the first time she has cancelled a gig, the last time being the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekender.  On the flip side though, she could just be losing her touch.

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The Isle Of Wight Festival 2019 was a success despite Glynne’s refusal to perform

A friend of mine and I were discussing wether Isle Of Wight made the right decision in handing her the lifetime ban with him making the point that they have missed the opportunity to “leverage one of the top charting artists of today”. When I asked what was meant by “leverage” he suggested that he would’ve negotiated a situation for 2020 in which Glynne performs for a much reduced fee and explained that this would benefit both parties as “they would’ve saved themselves quite a bit of money and fans still would’ve been able to see their favourite performer on stage, albeit a year later.

Now, I could see how the suggestion could work very well but I make the argument that Giddings did the right thing to send a message to other stars that a cancellation this late for a festival of this magnitude would be met with extreme consequences and I can predict that no other artist will pull a stunt like Glynne has.

It does seem to me that the once well respected singer is starting to create a bad name for herself with top level players and if I were her management I’d get a grip on the situation quickly and seriously assess Jess’ ability to keep a handle on her career. We of course, can only speculate as to the circumstances of Glynne’s actions and hope that nothing like this happens again.

One thing is certain, the star has some bridges to rebuild if she wants to continue making a name for herself in an already cut-throat business. She’s already issued a public apology stating  it was ‘not her intention to let fans down but she had to do ‘what was right for her physical and mental health’, but will this be enough to keep her name in lights?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Listening To Music Increase or Hinder Productivity?

This is a debate that’s been going on for as long as I can remember, especially in schools and in the workplace. Everybody has their own way of working of course, some prefer complete silence whereas others want a full on rock concert going on in their office.

There has been test after test to determine what the “right answer” is and it seems like there is never going to be anything completely definitive – the correct answer purely depends on the person and the situation.

For exmaple, I find that listening to music whilst I work helps me focus on the task at hand (like writing this post) and block out everything else around me – l’ve also used music to help my memory when it comes to subjects that I’m rubbish at like Maths. My Maths tutor at college was amazed at the affects music had on me, suddenly something  I couldn’t do 10 minutes ago was as simple as 1 2 3 (no pun intended but feel free to laugh.)

Now seems like the right time to introduce you to an infographic created by WebPageFx, an internet marketing company. I discovered it from an article on the Linkedin Business blog and was both pleased and blown away by the numbers, have a look:

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As you can see from the above, the overall concensus is that listening to music whilst you work is the best thing for you to do. Lately I’ve been making the effort to read up on music and the brain and am putting a lot of time into showcasing the importance of music therapy for those with mental illnesses. Music has incredibly positive affects on the human mind – the infographic shows that increased concentration and productivity is one of them.

Of couse there are people that can’t work with music in the background which is fine. Sometimes I have to turn it off because I’ll find my musician’s brain taking over and I’ll start analysing the song, it’s a habit of the job I suppose – but 9 times out of 10, I can’t survive those 2000 word Music Education essays without rocking out to my favourite aritsts!

What does your experience with music and productivity look like? Leave your thoughts and lets discuss!

The Ex-Factor: Is Simon Cowell Losing His Grip Of The Music industry?

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Music industry mogul Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell is one of the most influential and famous music industry moguls in the world. He has dedicated his life to building solid brands such as his label “Syco” and worldwide talent competitions like The X Factor,American Idol and two “Got Talent” programmes in the U.K. and U.S.

The success he has acheived in his career cannot be disputed. However, in recent years it has been no secret that rating on all of his shows have dropped significantly, it even looks like The X Factor UK is getting either axed completely or given a complete overhaul by Simon and his team.

THE X FACTOR: Logo.
THE X FACTOR: Logo.

Well, that looked like the plan anyway. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be gaining the backing that Mr Cowell had hoped for. This coupled with the ever dropping ratings and the recent shocking news of girlband “Little Mix” parting ways with Simon’s label “Syco” really has made me start to wonder if the music mogul is losing his touch and influence within the music scene.

Although he has been known to give stars the breakout they have been waiting for (Louisa Johnson, One Direction and Olly Murs are the top three examples), his shows have also been plauged with negative press, with accusations of fixing and many former contestants  openly speaking about the fact that they had no control over their song choice during the audition process and at other stages in the competition.

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Capital FM Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium – Arrivals Featuring: Louisa Johnson Where: London, United Kingdom When: 11 Jun 2016 Credit: WENN.com

In my mind, there isn’t really any use for shows like X Factor and Got Talent anymore. The shows have become less about talent and more about commical acts gaining airtime to drum up ratings, Simon has lost sight of what the music industry is about and is ruining careers before they’ve even started in some cases.

Furthermore, musicians and artists are becoming increasingly aware of how easy it is to release their own music without the need for a contract with a big label. I think that this will be the ultimate cause for Cowell’s downfall.

 

He has created success stories I won’t deny that. Equally, he has used artist’s lack of knowledge to take advantage of them during the most crucial time in their career. Simon isn’t the only selfish big name in the industry, but I think he has made too many mistakes and that his time at the top is coming to an end.

I know he won’t give up without a fight, but a fight means doing desperate things and the first thing that’s going to happen is the increase in low-standard contestants being placed on TV for commical appeal to increase ratings. I for one, am not looking forward to the industry being turned into a circus for the benefit of one person.

Has the biggest industry name become an ex-factor in today’s modern music world? I guess we shall have to wait and see.

 

Break Up With Your Girlfriend I’m A Whore?: Everything wrong with Ariana Grande’s latest release

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Ariana Grande comes back into the limelight with new album

After taking a short break from releasing records, pop music sensation Ariana Grande has come out with a new album titled “Thank You, Next.” I was scanning the tracklist earlier today and came across a track with a title that rang alarm bells immediately, it is titled  “Break Up With Your Girlfriend I’m Bored.”

The title pretty much explains the gist of the track without anyone having to listen to it. There’s a man that Grande is clearly interested in, unfortunately he is spoken for. Of course you can see where this is going. Sweet little Ariana doesn’t care about the man’s relationship status and basically spends the entire song encouraging him to break up with his partner and be with her instead. She even goes onto sing about how she knows it’s the wrong thing to do, but she doesn’t care because she’s bored.

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Ariana performing with fellow popsar Justin Beiber

I listened to the track as well as scanning the lyrics and let me tell you, don’t be shocked if the act of cheating in relationships becomes even more common and “normal” than it already is. Grande is (supposedly) a role model for many young teenage girls with many youngsters wanting to be a world famous popstar like her. It is due to this fact that many of her fans will soak up the lyrics of her songs as if it were a verse in a holy book. So, if she’s talking about wanting to break up a relationship to get the man she wants, the chances of her fans thinking that this is the right way to go about things is pretty high.

I’m not saying that just because Grande is in the public eye that she needs to write PG material, but writing songs about wanting a man to leave his girlfriend for you because you’re bored isn’t exactly the most positive message to be preaching. This society needs celebrities that use their fame in a responsible way, by encouraging people to be accepting of different cultures, sexualities and genders and writing songs about working hard to achieve your dreams.

Grande is preaching one thing and one thing only; if you want something, spread your legs and wreck some homes to get it.

Break Up With Your Girlfriend I’m A Whore – That seems a much more fitting title to me.

I don’t know what has happened to sweet little Disney Ariana, but she has developed all the class and morals of a backstreet sex worker and it’s certaintly not a pretty sight.

 

My Top Five Love Songs

imagesWell there we go, another Valentine’s Day draws to a close. Cards, flowers, chocolates and vairous assortments of gifts have been exchanged between loving couples all day long. Rest assured to those singletons out there, you can come out of hiding, It’s all over for another year and normal serivce has now resumed. With love being so high on the agaenda yesterday, it got me thinking about love songs. I must admit I am a sucker for the ocassional heart-wrenching ballad. With that in mind, I’ve decided to compose my own list of my top five soppy love numbers. In no particular order of course:

1) If You’re Not The One – Daniel Beddingfeild

This is a particular favourite of mine. With great instrumentation, arrangement and lyrics I’m sure most poeple can connect with, it really is almost the perfect love song. Nothing too heavy, just a good old fashion chilled out 00’s ballad with some lovely harmonies thrown in for the musician’s of the world to understand and appreciate.

2) Hero – Enrique Iglesias

Keeping up with the theme of acoustic guitar led 00’s pop-ballads, we dig up this bad boy from the time capsule. Any male singer looking to get the attention of the ladies is bound to have this in their set list, and if they want to really seal the deal – They’ll sing it in Spanish! I have always loved this song at all times of year and you’d best beleive that being the overly-emotional aritst that I am, I’ve sent it to a few girlfriends. A great number, but a track that many would class as a one hit wonder. That is unless you were a huge Enrique fan and had his whole back catalogue.

3) I Found Lovin’ – The Fatback Band

Now we’re heading even futher back in time as we zoom straight back to the 80’s. Instantly recongiseable with its synth intro and lead riff, this is a song I’ve been raised on due to having an 80’s music nerd for a Dad. This is possibly the funkiest love song I’ve ever heard and also had the pleasure of covering in bands once or twice and my god it’s fun being a keys player if this is in the set list!

4) Bless The Broken Road – Rascal Flatts

Most people don’t know this but I am a HUGE country music fan. The level of musicianship and songwriting in most country music defies belief, so much so that it’s inspired me to save for a ticket to Nashville in 2020 – but that’s a story for another time.

Originally written by Bobby E Boyd, Jeff Hanna and Marcus Hummon, this romantic hit ticks every box when it comes to country music writing and is actually one of Rascal Flatts’ highest selling records, peaking at number one in 2004 and staying there for a total of 25 weeks. It could of course be argued that the success celebrated by Flatts’ frontman Gary Levox and co wasn’t actually theirs to celebrate. Nonetheless, the track was a hit and continues to be in most romantic dinner date playlists across the globe.

5) Careless Whisper – George Michael

Alot of people reading will now be groaning and rolling their eyes as I hadn’t managed to dodge the typical George bullet. I’m sorry, okay? I’ve recently started working with a George Michael Tribute band and I’ve offically caught the bug (no, not that one, mind out of the gutter please…) Moving swiftly on and back to the music, everyone on the entire planet who isn’t a toddler or a newborn will recognise the unmistable sax riff that opens this ball of musical cheese up. Often found on the guilty pleasures list if you’re not aged 40 or above, but even the “cool kids” can’t deny it, that sax gets you everytime!

 

And there we have it folks, my top five love songs. Now, as I finish writing this it is 12:36am which does in fact make the date the 15th January thus, Valentine’s Day is no more, lovey dovey couples who are far too fond of PDA can get safely back into their little love nests and normal people can go about their days undisturbed! I like love and affection as much as the next man, but a whole day of it is just a bit too much.

Is The CD Dead (and is it killing the music industry?)

cd-81826_960_720.jpgThe CD or Compact disc has been the most popular form of audio consumption for years, decades even. Everyone remembers their first CD, mine was Mcfly’s “Room On The Third Floor” – A great record that I still own. As time has gone on and generations have succeeded mine, I have started to notice a decline in the purchasing of CD’s, in 2019 people much prefer to stream their music instead of having a physical disc copy.

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HMV have been fighting closure for a number of years.

The rise of streaming coupled with the slow death of brick and mortar music stores such as HMV have made me really question the future of the CD as a viable audio consumption and distribution method. Let’s be real here, what are you more likely to do, add your favorite song to your Spotify playlist for free and from the comfort of your own home OR go out to an actual store and spend money on a CD? Unfortunately, the majority of the modern generation, including myself, would choose option one.

 

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Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming platforms

The only time I’ve even seen a CD in recent situations is if I go to see an unsigned live band and they happen to be selling an E.P of some kind, but even then the band rarely make sales and would be much better off promoting their Spotify handles.

Why has the music and audio industry become so streaming heavy? Purely due to the convenience OF streaming. As stated above, in order for someone to grab the latest tune, all they have to do is add the track to their Spotify playlist with one simple click. Frankly, the modern generations have become lazy in many ways of life and would rather not venture outside and spend money when they can get the music they want online to stream for free.

So, we’ve looked at why the CD is becoming less and less popular, what does that mean for music industry professionals and the music they write, produce and distribute?

Let me start this off by saying that it’s not a pretty picture. It is near on impossible for unsigned artists to make a solid living off of streaming royalties, if you want to make money from your music, you’ve got to think of other ways to do so. I can imagine some of you are skeptical about this so rather than take my word for it, lets look at the actual figures.

Pretty shocking numbers right? What the above image tells me, is that in order to make any form of decent money purely from streams, you have to have serious backing from a label. Obviously, bands at all levels make the majority of their money through touring and merch sales anyway but its a real kick in the teeth for artists knowing that in the streaming world, their music that they’ve worked extremely hard to create, holds pretty much zero monetry value.

I’ve heard the argument that if you want to make money from your songs then you’re better off selling CD’s. My response to that is always that nobody in this day and age is going to buy a phsyical CD when they can just go home and stream the track online. It may be an extremely pessamistic way of looking at it, but no matter what bands do, the reality is there is no money in selling records anymore.  This is the conseqeunce of streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

I’d like to wrap this up by encouraging music consumers and fans to support their favourite unsgined bands by going to shows, buying their merch and if they have a CD for sale, by that too! They would’ve slogged in the studio for days, sometimes even weeks to get the record finished, the least they deserve is some form of small finacial reward.