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DARK BLU / Blog

The BUSINESS of music

Bands who intend to succeed in a professional music career can often derail themselves from achieving anything by getting bogged down with a decision making process that hampers positive action and the achievement of goals and objectives. It would be one thing if decisions made were based on logic, research, facts, or common sense rather than just opinion and conjecture, but unfortunately, that was never the case and thus, without a plan, a forward moving direction, or clearly defined short and long term goals and objectives, all of the bands I was previously in didn't get anywhere toward developing a fan base and succeeding as a band.

In analyzing why every band I've ever been in failed to succeed at getting anywhere, it wasn't due to me, my temperament, my guitar playing, or my level of commitment to succeeding with a music career. I rehearsed songs before band rehearsal. My parts of songs have always been played tight for this reason. At rehearsal, I insist that songs are played again and again until they are tight. Until every part of the song can be played clean and tight. I'm a professional. What hampered progress was the combination of an ineffective decision making process that wasn't based on any sort of logical, researched and developed plan of action, and the others not having a high enough level of commitment to the professionalism necessary to go from being an average band of nobodies, to rock stars. Anyone who wants it bad enough will be committed enough to not only practice their instrument, but learn the songs and be able to play them tight time after time without giving half ass performances. For that reason, I abandoned the "band" approach and became a solo artist.

Since I no longer had to be in a "committee" and discuss every little thing with people who's opinions weren't based on a unified vision for musical direction, short and long term goals and objectives, or any sort of logic or reason, that made it easier for me to develop my plan. My plan is based on researching what local bands as well as successful bands were doing. I chose a musical direction that's different. I chose a vocal direction that is different. I chose a stage show plan that will work well for DARK BLU. I developed my "brand", developed my product (51 original copyrighted songs), got a logo made that easily identifies me and my brand, developed my own website, and submitted my demo to 150 indie labels in my genre (metal). I managed to get all this done without being forestalled by a "committee process" that I've never personally seen work in any positive way. I'm taking care of the BUSINESS end of my music career without interference from any interlopers, and am getting things done that just weren't happening when I was in bands that utilized ineffective decision making processes.

This may not be the approach for everyone, and yes, there are bands out there that succeed together, but having tried that and seen it go nowhere, I'm not going to waste any time and money on joining or forming a band with processes that I've personally seen, not work. I'm taking care of business MY WAY. Your results may vary.

The challenge of originality

If you frequent Youtube and listen to metal guitarists, you will find a large majority of copy cat Neo Classical guitarists who, while skilled in one way or another, lack originality and are really just copying what one successful guitarist has done. I appreciate the work of and am influenced by others, this man in particular (Malmsteen). My guitar teacher is influenced by him too and while he is a very technical Neo Classical player, he doesn't sound exactly like Malmsteen. Yngwie Malmsteen influenced a large number of guitarists by creating a style of guitar playing that is quite incredible. There is much to learn from listening to his music, but as an example, Paul Gilbert grew up playing Malmsteen's songs note for note (there are Youtube videos of this) but actually became famous for his own original style and more importantly, his original music.

A lot of guitarists are influenced by this one guy, but others picked some other "one guy" to be influenced by. Sadly, they end up sounding like that one guy and lack originality in their approach to guitar playing and song writing. Kirk Hammett and Steve Vai were both taught by a famous guitar teacher/recording artist (Joe Satriani), but neither of them ever made any attempts to sound like him. My teacher (www.thewizardofshred.com) is a great teacher and guitarist, but I make no attempts to sound like him. Most of the legion of copy cat guitarists out there don't write any original songs and if they do, they don't sound original enough to leave their mark as someone with their own identity. Of course, not every guitarist out there is capable of writing good original songs that rock, but I believe (as does my teacher) that it's absolutely essential to learn to write original songs while you are in the early stages of learning to play guitar. This helps the rookie guitarist to shape their style and tone to be something original, allowing them to explore their own identity and self expression.

Everyone has heroes. So do I. I grew up listening to every metal guitarist who was current in the 80's at the time. I learned something from all of them. What I chose to do was to develop my style, my tone, and my identity, so that, while songs I write may be reminiscent of the bands I like and listen to, I don't sound exactly like any of them. A listener will hear all of my influences in different songs I've written, if they pay attention to the details. If I had to call my style something, I'd just call it head banger metal for the simple reason that, my songs are designed to get your head nodding and some hair moving (for those who have long hair). That's my thing. That's my chosen method of self expression. I particularly choose to avoid sounding exactly like Malmsteen, while also exhibiting his influence in some of my guitar solos. This insures that I am always recognized as me and never mistaken for someone else. I'd strongly advise any up and coming guitarist to seek their own identity on their instrument because in the end, you want to be remembered for who YOU are, not for how much you sound like someone else who's already successful at being THEMSELVES....

DB