Myths of the Musician


imageI have had a couple of pretty busy weekends doing what I love most, playing in my band. I figure this would be a good time to blog about the life of a local musician and maybe a little about being a bass player in a local band. There are a lot of myths about being a musician that I’d like to clear up in this week’s blog. Take note of the shameless plug.(see pic above)

First myth: We just show up, plug in our instruments and play.

I’m sure that it looks that way, but there is a lot of work involved in becoming a musician, even playing bass. Trust me, there are a lot of people out there that think playing bass is easy. It’s not easy at all, it’s heavy, there’s no glamour and people are always asking you stupid questions like, “Why does your guitar only have four strings?” or “Do all bands have a bass player?”. I wonder if Gene Simmons or Geddy Lee ever had to answer those questions.  There are hours of practice required for any instrument and that will add up to days,  weeks, months and even years. Granted, we have all seen bands that don’t really practice. That is usually for one of two reasons. 1)They are so good, they don’t really need practice. 2) They are so bad that practice won’t help. I do have to say that everyone remembers a great band and a terrible one. Nobody remembers the mediocre ones, so my advice is if you want people to remember you, either practice a lot or not at all.

Myth number two: Bands that play original music work harder than cover bands or vice versa.

Both of these things require a ton of work! If you do original music, you have to write and perform good songs that people like, unless of course you’re happy just playing in your basement in front of a howling dog and posting the videos on YouTube let’s be honest, we can’t get enough of people posting videos of themselves playing music that only an animal with no thumbs can enjoy. Once you have written these original songs, the tough part is getting people to listen to them and hopefully come back to see you over and over again. Being in a cover band requires a ton of work also, but a different type. Cover bands (like mine) don’t have the luxury of playing only songs that we wrote. We have to learn songs that other people have written and perform them, so they sound like the songs you all know and love. People already know these songs, so you can’t fake your way through them. It’s not easy to do this, if you want to do it right. The last thing you want to do is do a song by say… Motley Crüe, come off stage and ask someone in the crowd, “What do you think of Motley Crüe?” …and they respond with, “I love Crüe! Do you guys do anything by them?”

Myth number three: We make good money doing this.

Have you ever heard the term, “Starving Musician” ? Granted, a good portion of us musicians don’t look like we are starving. That just happens to be the kind of weight you gain when you drink the free draft beer at the few bars nice enough to give you the perk of enjoying the cheapest thing that they have to offer. Some bands will play for free or even pay to play. I’ve never paid to play, although after the gas money to get to the gig and back, cost of strings, the hours of loading, setup, performing, packing up and then unloading, …at times I average about thirty six cents an hour. Hey, I’m still getting paid, though! The investment of money and time will rarely equal out to a local band making a profit, unless they are getting big bucks and those bands and the bars that will pay them are few and far between. No, I don’t get paid less, because I play bass. That’s why I’m the one who collects the money at the end of the night.

Final myth: We get a lot of girls, because we are in a band.

Ha! For me, I spend most of my time setting up and playing onstage. There are a lot of girls out there and as we play, they start to drink and then dance. As the night goes on, they get together with the single guys in the crowd. After we’re done playing, all of the girls have usually already been swooped up by opportunistic air guitar gods in the crowd or the rare air drummer. There are no air bass players. The ones who stick around after we’re done packing up are generally a slightly prettier, drunker version of Golem from Lord of the Rings, but with a much worse personality. Being a bass player, I have heard this before, “Can you introduce me to the singer?” along with, “Oh, what do you do in the band?” I usually answer both of those questions the same way. I just hang my head and walk away silently. Mini myth: singers get the girls, because they’re the most attractive and soulful ones in the group. Nope. They get the chicks, because all they have to do is grab their mic and their cowboy hat and then they can go hit on girls while the rest of the band packs up their stuff.

In conclusion, the next time you go see a band, give them a little more credit. It’s not easy, it’s not cheap, but it sure is fun.(kind of like having sex with a stripper) Applause goes a long way and so does a free drink, so why not give us both? Also, go up to the bass player and tell him that you like his bottom end.

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About: Ted Snyder

I'm just a guy who loves the simple things in life. I play bass, love craft beer and enjoy all things horror. I spend my time walking or hiking with my dog, going out to restaurants, bars and to see local bands . I stay up late and get up early. My idea of a great time is sitting on the shore of any body of water and having a beer.

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