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I didn’t mean to learn about the music business

On December 10th 1 Comment

I swear I didn’t. But it’s been a side-effect of my delving further into the world of musicians. Understanding musicians without understanding the economic and social conditions they work in is like understanding fish without knowing about water.

One of the books that deeply affected me back in music school was A Social History of Music by Henry Raynor. It looks to be out of print but there are copies to be snagged on Alibris, Abebooks, Amazon, etc. It’s a history of how musicians made a lving from the Middle Ages to the Beatles.

It was many years ago when I read it, but it helped me understand how musicians have been constantly improvising and renegotiating their arrangements with society. This allows me to take a long view with respect to the current upheaval in the music industry. It informs my sense that musicians who are clever and relentless will find a way to thrive.

FOMC House Party for NOLA musicians

On December 3rd 1 Comment covering , ,

Last night the Future of Music Coalition threw a fundraising party for Sweet Home New Orleans. It’s an organization that helps musicians in New Orleans. Guests of honor were Al “Carnival Time” Johnson and Mike Mills of R.E.M.

There’s a lot of concern on the long-term impact on our culture from the Katrina debacle — the loss of the next generation of musicians that might not be nurtured in NOLA. This is consistent with the FOMC mission of creating economic and policy conditions that will allow musical culture to thrive.

It was a very relaxed affair, with informal but nice food and drink and easy mixing with the headlining guests. After a while Mike mounted the little bandstand and played a few songs supported by local musicians, including a lovely one about baseball — I believe it’s the one he composed for the Roberto Clemente tribute titled Gift of the Fathers. He finished with a stirring Don’t go back to Rockville, in tribute to our proximity to the suburban Maryland town. Then Mike stepped down to the edge of the bandstand to play backup when Al “Carnival Time” Johnson took the stage. Read more »

Terminology of music groups, con’t

On November 30th 2 Comments covering ,

Yesterday I wrote something about small groups we call “bands” vs. small groups we call “chamber music groups”. And today this video comes online. Spooky.

The link will take you to a heavy metal band fronted by a violinist and a cellist. Chamber metal?

Terminology of music groups

On November 30th 1 Comment covering , ,

When I write and speak about the human dimension of music groups, I usually fall back on calling them “bands”, an unsatisfactory and misleading term. I’m afraid it leaves out a lot of people, particularly chamber musicians.

I’m about to launch a project that I call “BandStories” but I really want it to be about any music groups. My main focus is on self-led groups, though I’m also interested in the social dynamics of orchestras. Read more »

Musicians and Entrepreneurs, part 2

On November 29th covering , , ,

Here’s a blog post about business startups that has a lot to offer for people in performing groups. Go read it.