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Posts about Music

how to kill your band

On September 24th 3 Comments covering , ,

I’ve noticed there are a lot of ways to destroy a band. I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of different ways to make a band fail, so people who are seeking failure can destroy their bands more efficiently. This is a first pass at an authoritative reference. Please add your own as a comment. Read more »

funding a band like a tech startup

On September 24th covering , ,

It was bound to happen. I’ve been noticing the similarities between bands and startups as self-led creative teams. This item describes a band taking funding from an Angel Investor in return for 30% of future revenue.

This is a way of replacing one role of the record label, which was a source of funding during the formative days. It could go either way.

My question is whether the angel investors are competent to predict the success of a band — or whether they are dabbling in this as a high-risk hobby investment, the way some people invest in Broadway plays. Read more »

Who owns the orchestra?

On May 29th covering , ,

Even though orchestras are bigger and more complex organisms than chamber groups or bands, the same questions of ownership apply. Orchestras have formal boards of directors and union contracts, which are supposed to represent the interests of the larger community and the musicians, respectively. This can bring the issues to light in ways that in rock bands tens to be vague.

These questions are all over the place in the debacle taking place in Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus symphony is within a couple of days of closing down altogether. Drew McManus has been covering these sad developments in his blog, which is always instructive and entertaining. I recommend reading all of the posts with “Columbus” in the title for a case study of how music groups can be torn apart. Here is a letter from the orchestra musicians in Cleveland and Cincinnati to the board and management of the Columbus Symphony. It’s a good read. notice how much of the letter makes the point that the whole community hs a stake inthe orchestra.

I’m not at liberty to say

On May 25th 1 Comment covering , ,

The only thing worse than a blog that goes quiet is a sheepish post by the author while coming back to the blog. So I’ll spare you. I’ve been having some good experiences with my psychology-of-music-groups project, but the good parts have been explicitly or implicitly under a promise of confidentiality. so I have some good tales to tell that I can’t tell.

This, along with being absurdly busy, is pretty much why I haven’t said anything in this space for a long time. I have been thinking a lot about clever ways I can speak in public about what I have been learning, but it’s not easy. Read more »

Listening to the 20th Century

On January 1st covering

I’ve been reading Alex Ross‘s wonderful tome The Rest is Noise. A history of 20th Century music, it ties together what was happening musically as the vocabulary of the 20th Century was developed, along with what was happening politically and economically. If you want an antidote to the impression that “serious” composers lived on Mount Olympus somewhere, away from the gritty concerns of commercialism and popularity, you couldn’t do better.

Todays musicians have to find a way to reach an audience and make an income under conditions of uncertainty and flux. The old ways of doing things are breaking down and it’s unclear which of the new ways will endure. As Mr. Byrne might say, “same as it ever was”. This is the way it’s been for musicians since … Haydn? Mozart? Beethoven? This was especially tumultuous in the 20th Century. Read more »