Monday, May 14, 2012

The Work - A Manifesto For The Underground Musician

Adapted from my song "The Work," winning entry in the No Coast 2009 Beat Competition.

Our communities in the underground and popular music scenes must make continual progress. In the global village there is no East Coast, West Coast or Mid-West style; the playing field is level.

When I turn on the radio, I'm unimpressed by the content. Most of today's popular singles will not stand the test of time. It's depressing that many music fans need to be drunk or high to enjoy them. Today's top-ten is a joke.

We as musicians should do the following to improve music:


Strive to compete on a higher level than our own geographic region, and seek influences from the world at large. This is how we will grow. Our style can draw from the distant past but should bring that style to the level of present and future. Draw inspiration from other regions, other genres and other eras.

Write what deserves to be heard and repeated. None of us were formally invited to be music makers - we showed up unannounced to a party full of egos and posturing.

To open the doors to creative success, practice relentlessly. Compare yourself to and compete with your favorite artists. A following of listeners is not a right, you must earn it. Focus your creative power to have an impact. If you believe you are better than everyone else, you will not improve - but be overtaken by those whose humility motivates their improvement.

Continue creating - if not publishing - new music. The alternative is stagnation. Make new music. Share it. Perform it live. Make a name for yourself, but never rest on your laurels.

Music is usually an outlet or way of life - not a source of income. Only the most business savvy are able to make a living from it. Even if you press and distribute your own CDs, you are not relevant as a musician until you perform for live audiences. This will mean doing many gigs for little to no money. Put on your best possible performance for the biggest and smallest crowds alike.

By definition most artists are average. Many plan to get better but don't follow through. Being good means more than thinking highly of yourself. If we don't speak intelligently from our hearts and minds, we will fade into deserved obscurity.

Too much music is self-similar and repetitive. Stop. Let art imitate the richness of life: past, present and future. Good music, precisely because it is not repetitive, is worth listening to again.

"Possibly I’m thought to be a prodigy to wanna make a mockery of monuments to modern mediocrity."

You can listen to this essay in song form on my Soundcloud:

1 comment:

Ray Myers said...

You can view the song lyrics here, which corresponds point for point with this essay.