Difference in playing versus gigging - Jemsite
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-07-2014, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Northern California
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Difference in playing versus gigging

I have a couple of friends in a local band who hung it up and went different directions. There were in a fusion/pop band where the leader wrote and played lead guitar and all other arrangements. He was the genius we all looked up to and swore would make it from this lonely, nowhere town.

While this band was definitely his, he didn't want to take music out of the neighborhood or even his house that much. It's been said he's even happier playing sitting on his bed unplugged more than he is filling the local nightclubs and wowing crowds which he found as a distraction anyway. Who wants to hear, "Play Freebird" from drunks every weekend anyways?

One of the other guys who did rhythm guitar behind him ended up getting an itch to play out more and landed a guitar backing once famous 70s and 80s acts on the Las Vegas strip and makes a good enough living doing so. At the very least I am sure he gets to hang out with good ole Wayne Newton and all the girls. The local papers call him the one success from the small town of Monterey (California) and often wonder what happened to the local band leader (the talented one) whom everybody was sure would go somewhere. But for us locals who often are escapees of large cities and stress/big time from various fields, we see the guy who sits on his bed being happy as much the success as the guy who went bigger.

Sometimes the talented one is the one with the drive to go to a bigger city and put up with breaking in to a tougher, more aggressive scene. But if a guitarist/musician can make huge breakthroughs but for his ears only without the need to become a professional, all the more power because it's between him, his instruments, and the muses/gods who bring us music. Most who know him say he's evolved, even to the point of not caring about what others think.

But when I was younger, in my teens, I used to think bigger was always better but don't necessarily think so these days.


Last edited by 63Blazer; 12-07-2014 at 02:34 PM.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 05:03 PM
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Re: Difference in playing versus gigging

Great topic. I used to think that way too. When I was in my late teens I was in local bands, one band in particular was liked and had no trouble getting gigs doing original material. However, I wasn't the player I wanted to be (still not, but I'm learning all the time and enjoying the achieving the small goals I continuously set for myself), but what we played was basic metal and I got by with pentatonic stuff. When we played and got compliments I always felt like an imposter, I was listening to Vai, Malmsteen, Becker, Satriani etc., knew what good players should sound like and it disillusioned me to no end. So, I'm much happier playing for myself than when I was gigging because I know things now and can do things now that the younger me couldn't have even dreamed of - I am by no means content with my playing, but now when I play it feeds my appetite to play and learn more, the younger me sat in a rut and couldn't see a way to any real improvement.

More on topic, I know a guy who's a great drummer. About 10 years ago when he was 20 he found himself in what I would call a great local band. They had a good guitar player, singer, bass player etc., They played original material and became quite popular locally. Within a year they were signed up by a large international record company. They were given studio time in London, Berlin and Copenhagen. They played support on some high profile gigs in Europe, were driven or flown everywhere and could be completely forgiven for thinking they had arrived. About 6 months into this when they had just finished recording their 1st album with only the mixing left to be done they received a 5 minute call along the lines of "sorry guys, we're pulling the plug, we thought that rock was on the rise again, but trends over the last few months completely contradict that assumption, so this isn't going to be what we had hoped!".

You would think that was the end of the story, 5 disappointed musicians who had their dreams torn apart and the record company parting ways. Unfortunately for them it was far from over. Within weeks the record company began the process of recouping their losses, the deal they signed covered the company. The studio time, engineers fees, cars, flights, instruments etc., were all advances. They were sued for about 2 million and had to declare bankruptcy. Almost overnight they went from the guys who were living the dream to the nightmare of extreme disappointment and debt. They were all between 19 and 22. It had quite an effect on each of them, the drummer whom I know, had put off university because his career was taking off, now he works at whatever he can find to make ends meet. He doesn't play and has too many financial committments at the moment to think about going back into education, so he's kind of trapped for the time being and quite understandably wants nothing to do with music or the music industry.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 07:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2015
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Re: Difference in playing versus gigging

Well, thats rly a interesting story.

I know a drummer, 18 years old, can play Dream Theater, Animals as leaders... totaly crazy and learns alot faster than me (and i rly try to not sound arrogant here, but I'm a very very fast learner on guitar). Whatever, this is some crazy amount of talent, but he got NO drive to bring it out, he loves to jam and to play with others but not want to do really big things, its sad cause theres so much lost talent.

But afterall we do music for ourselfs, thats the main thing, right?
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-17-2015, 10:35 AM
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Re: Difference in playing versus gigging

@Laobi. That's a horrible story! Essentially your first deal is more of a loan to make the record. The record company is like the dealer in Vegas; in the end they always win!

I used to play out a lot more often when I was younger and had the dream of "making it". Despite being a major metro area our scene kind of sucks. It sucked even in the 90's but it was much better then than it is now. The upside of the modern world is that you can write and record your own music and send it out to the world to hear for next to nothing. "Making it" for a rock act these days is next to impossible. Rock isn't doing well for record companies who, themselves, are looking for margins in a world that rampantly thieves music. I think Indie guys do better in sales because they're often acts people physically SEE in their town playing live. I was fortunate enough to open for a band called "Man On Earth" a little while back and they were awesome! I bought their tunes as well. Great super-nice bunch of guys too!
As far as playing out it seems the only way to get gigs on a regular basis is to be in a cover band; in this town at least anyway. I don't like the idea but I might cave in and do it just for the fun of playing live. IMO I spent years and years learning to play to write my own stuff and I genuinely enjoy what I do with my original work. The last time I did the cover gig it became tedious and boring. Why spend all that time learning to play only to feel unfulfilled as a creative person?
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-17-2015, 12:50 PM
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Re: Difference in playing versus gigging

Eh, I think it's a matter of being able to define what success means to YOU. 63, the "genius" in your story may have wanted nothing more than technical proficiency and the ability to play and write better than he did the day before, whereas the other guitarist's objectives were clearly to make it as a professional musician. Arguably, they both were equally as successful, but were so by achieving different objectives.

This is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about myself, for obvious reasons. I love music, love playing, love jamming with people, and love the process of writing and recording music and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from it. Releasing my debut album a couple months ago was a HUGE personal milestone and "bucket list" item for me.

I'm also a financial analyst by day, enjoy my day job (not as much as music, and it comes with its frustrations, but it interests me), and know that the odds of me ever being able to live as comfortable a life as a professional musician as I can through succeeding at my day job are essentially zero, given the genre I've chosen to play. If I wanted to "make it" as a musician, I'd have to quit, spend a lot of time teaching and doing self promotion, and the best case scenario would be to transition any personal success into a gig with a successful pop or country band as a backing musician (see: Andy Wood and Rascal Flats). It would involve a lot of personal and musical sacrifices, and I don't know if I'd love it as much as I would recording and releasing instrumental rock in my home studio and not giving a **** if it sold or not, because it was just a hobby and not my livlihood.

Idunno. I think I've been successful in achieving my musical goals, and I'm active enough in the online guitar world that I've been able to share my music with a whole bunch of people. My major yardstick with "Zero Mantra" was for people to enjoy it and for me to at least recoup my costs, and assuming people aren't lying to me, I've done the former (and I know I've done the latter). Anything above that would just be candy.
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