You Are Never Just A Musician


The successful pop star has her hand in a half dozen different media and a half dozen different genres. Take Chrisina, she sings, dances, co-writes. She does philanthropic work, acts in film, endorses brands. She is a public face for hire and designs jewellery. She is not equally gifted at all these things but she gets by and she moves with the times. She rides the trends.

The successful indie band has its hand in half a dozen different media and half a dozen different sub-genres. Take Sonic Youth, the big kahuna. They sing and flop around onstage. They write songs, appear in film (documentaries, Last Days), endorse guitars and coffee. They maintain music labels and fashion labels, solo careers and various curation projects. They experiment. They move with the times. From no-wave to classic rock to grunge to classical / experimental to reissuing everything.

The successful local band has its hand in a few media and usually one genre. Pick any band you know personally. They sing, they perform, they write songs, appear on Youtube, self-release their albums (or have a friend do it) and maintain their often unrelated, increasingly professional day jobs, for money. The good ones do more than that: they book shows, books tours, take photos, blog, write, record, document, broadcast, inspire and encourage. They don’t – as rule – change with the times. Instead, they break-up and reappear as a new band.

The motivations are different but the activity is comparable.

Everyone rocks a diverse deal these days.

And that’s why ‘diversify’ is such a buzzword in industry: It works.

The focused pure authentic musician who only plays music is something that dumb white guys made up. It’s a bogus history with no real foundation. Forget this history.

If you play music, the question isn’t whether to diversify.

The question is: How well are you already doing it?


One thought on “You Are Never Just A Musician

  1. Nicky Wire: You’re always told scare stories about record companies, but we actually sat down and realised, we’ve done every fucking thing we wanted. We’d released singles, we’d spent thousands on videos, we’d had our choice of producer, everything. We just thought, what are we worrying about? And I’ve always thought, to this day, it’s such a relief for a record company when a band actually has a strong vision. It’s just a relief, because they’ve got to do less. It’s just fucking idiots who think the music is all that matters that get manipulated, really.

    The Quietus: Yeah, I suppose if you go in and say, we want to sell sixteen million records, the record company is going to say “excellent! Let’s get started!”

    Nicky Wire: Yeah, and you know, whether it’s Pete Townshend or Neil Young or the Pistols, a lot of our heroes, they did what they wanted to do and the record company made money off of them. It’s quite a simple equation, really. No-one’s more fucking hardcore than Neil Young about stuff like that, but he’s always been on a major record label and he’s always navigated himself through the shit. It just takes a bit of effort, but… I think people are longing for the days when majors signed more bands at the moment, really, because they’ve got no money. But that’s another conversation…

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