A Rant.
Contributor
Written by
Candace Aum
August 2010
Contributor
Written by
Candace Aum
August 2010
For those of you who have read a previous blog of mine, you are aware of my musical background. You may also be aware that since the end of last year, I have distanced myself from the local music scene. However, before I embark on some well-needed ranting, I suppose I should give a bit of background on this lingering annoyance of mine. Speaking from personal experience, never would I have thought before I set foot on a musical journey, that there would be such immaturity, not to mention drama, backstabbing, greed, and many other negative traits, on the music scene. When I first started out, I was a 15-year-old who just wanted to play guitar. My primary goal was to have as much fun as Motley Crue and Guns n' Roses made it seem in their videos and live footage. Frankly, I think that is every aspiring musician's main goal: to have fun and to continue doing what they love. However, once I established myself musically and once my band actually plunged into the local heavy-metal circuit, my perceptions and fantasies of what the musical-life was completely changed. My first taste of the music business's realities came from the club scene and it's owners. In fact, the next time that you are out at a venue where live local music is performed, I can almost guarantee that the band you're watching is being treated like dirt. If not, then they either have good connections with the club owner, or they stick to their guns. In my experience, and excuse my language (I prefer not to use profanity when I write), the club owners are assholes. They will try to do anything in their power to avoid paying bands any money, despite the ridiculous amounts they make from the bar and cover costs, which they try to play down when discussing business with bands. The pathetic part is that most bands are desperate, and trying extremely hard to get their name out and be "discovered" by this mythical record label scout who's roaming the streets nightly, that they allow these club owners to treat them like dirt. In fact, dirt is what many of these musicians are willing to eat for the chance to simply play. Even though I have met many cool local musicians and am still friends with a few that are still on the scene, it amazes me that they don't stop for one second, use a bit of logic, and realize that is them who actually make the clubs money every weekend. Without the bands, the entertainment, there is no income from cover fees and the bar (ruling out the alcoholic regulars of course). Without the bands, there are no clubs. The musicians should be able to treat the owners in the insignificant way they treat the musicians! Yet the musicians fail to see this; blinded by their desire to succeed and be heard. Bands these days usually get paid either nothing, or just enough to be reimbursed for the gas used to get to the venue. It's almost sad. I remember how it was to talk to some of these club owners. As they would discuss gigs and money with us I could always hear the sub-tones in their voices that said THEY were the ones giving US the chance to play, therefore, we should be grateful to THEM. They spoke as if they were the gods of the music universe, rather than the booking agent/owner of a run-down club barely able to pay their bills. My band always got paid. We saw through them, and bargained with them until we got what we wanted. Our power was the popularity we were beginning to soak in, and we brought the people in thus giving the clubs business. We definitely had our disappointments though, and left the gigs upset. It reminds me of the song It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll) by AC/DC. AC/DC's frontman Bon Scott was not over-dramatizing when he wrote those lyrics. Furthermore, the madness continues, and it is not just the clubs and venues that poisons local music. In the midst of dealing with greedy club owners with egos larger than their venues, lies the problems inside the band. Of course, I am sure that not ALL bands have problems with troublesome personalities, but judging from the confirmation of tons of musicians from school and the scene, most of them do. From what I've gathered, most bands unconsciously develop a system that operates like this: There is the one member who organizes and makes sure everything is in order, booking gigs, setting up practices, and etc; the Leader. Next, there is the one member who is constantly disagreeing and causing trouble with the other members who wants to be the leader, yet is making no attempt to do the work that the leader does; he/she is the the Fighter . Finally, there are the rest of the members who just want to be in a band, more than likely musicians that the leader recruited to make his/her band materialize. These other members do not cause trouble and obediently play their role in the band; they are the Followers. Occasionally, there will not be a Fighter, but instead there will be the one member who isn't doing what he/she is supposed to, such as failing to learn songs, participate in practice, always late, and etc. This member is the Slacker. Back to my initial point, I never would have thought that it would be so difficult for five (in my band's case) people to get along. We once had a fighter and a slacker. I played the role of the leader. For most of last year, our fighter would come to me, the leader, complaining about our slacker, who I was pestered with enough as it was. Our fighter would also remind me daily (even months after the slacker was out of the band) of what a mistake I made by allowing him into the band in the first place. Meanwhile our slacker would ignore my efforts to contact him, and once we finally replaced him, our drummer and former follower began to stop showing up for practice, as well as showing interest in the band; another slacker was born. That particular drummer later quit on my birthday, 2 weeks before a gig, leaving us frantically searching for a replacement. We luckily found one, but had to cancel the show. It was too close of a call. Our fighter never stopped, though, and continued to cause conflict. However, by the time the new drummer had came in, and our singer beginning to have troubles with transportation, I was getting worn out. Worn out to the point where I wished I was struck by a horrible illness causing me to miss out on practice for weeks just to get a break. Why couldn't we simply just take a break? 1) It's not that easy. Once an unknown band has such momentum in publicity and high demand as we had, you have to keep it going until you're big enough to not slip by unnoticed. It's almost like starting a fire; you have to work very hard to get the first sign of smoke, then you must carefully protect the embers, allow them to set fire, then you must feed the fire until you get a large flame, which is much easier to care for. We were at the feeding-the-flame part. If we stopped, the fire would go out. It doesn't take much inactivity to be forgotten. 2) Our bass playing fighter would have given me hell for wanting to "take a break". Wishing for sickness was all I could do. Eventually, and not to go in complete detail, I was taken to my emotional breaking-point caused by our bassist. There was a huge fallout, and I couldn't find the stamina within me to start another band. It felt good in a way. I was finally free. No more clubs, no more band members, no more stress. I was fed up with everything and decided I wanted nothing to do with the music scene for a long time, if not forever. I am so grateful we didn't make it "big" even though we were getting close. It would have been a recipe for disaster at it's finest. The reason behind this blog finally begins here. Nine months after deciding to distance myself from "the scene", I get an email today saying that the former fighter in my band, our bass player, saw me somewhere this past Friday. The email was also about a small spat that a local musician and I had THREE years ago. Apparently this musician is still spreading lies about that three year old incident. All of this made me say, "Seriously?". I cannot believe that some people are so immature to be talking/gossiping about such things. Keep in mind, that these are all grown men who are talking about all of this stuff. I am DONE with everyone and everything from the music scene. I've been MIA from it for nine months. I don't want to continue hearing about petty disputes that another musician and I had THREE years ago, nor do I want to see people from the scene that I do not want to see, let alone have to hear about it from someone else that they saw me, as if I wasn't aware. The music scene is obviously an over-sized middle school full of immaturity and shabby drama. The people in it are more unintelligent than I thought if I still have to hear about gossip, too. I'm trying to get out of it, but apparently I am leaving a trail behind, because it still seems to follow and find me. So frustrating! Those people can play all the run-down clubs on Monday nights for little to no pay to their hearts content, as long as they leave me alone. I am done. I want OUT. -Candace

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Comments
  • Candace Aum

    Agreed. I'm just done from playing music publicly right now. Just in the privacy of my own bedroom lol.
    Thanks for the comment, and best of luck to you and your boyfriend's band.
    xoxo

  • I am dating a musician (he lives in Portland and plays for a band called The Dimes) and from what I have heard and witnessed first hand you are really onto something here. On the other hand if music calls to you as your form of expressing yourself and what you feel, there may be another way. It is so hard to try to fight the shit in the established art worlds, whether it is writing or music, and not be able to reach audiences who would love your stuff because it's kept from reaching them, but new technologies might make it possible in way it hasn't been before...