If I had a 16-year old son come to me and ask for my help setting up his band, I'd no sooner give him an extended lecture on the ludicrousness of his idea. You can’t be thinking right if you want to make a living out of music. At least not here on this side of the globe.
Scary the way I sound like my father. But in fairness, my father never went against my playing in a band, which is to say I had his tacit approval. I’m sure he had his misgivings. If I hadn’t maintained a day job, he would have probably given me his extended lecture on the ludicrousness of my band every night I’d show my face at home. So there, I am my father’s son. Mendel’s peas prove inheritance indeed. Now I’d like to prove a point.
And now I come to the crux of my discourse today - that to pursue honest music here you can’t depend on it to be your livelihood.
Notice I said ‘honest’ music. Point being there are ways you can actually make good money in music. Let’s explore the possibilities then.
Number one - you can play in a show band - don club wear or flashy retro outfits three times a week and sing “Buttercup” to a similarly geared crowd talking in Taglish between delicate sips of mixed drinks topped with garnishing. Yeah, you’ll have ‘em clapping and screaming and maybe occasionally, you’ll earn a stalking fan if you look and act cool enough or can say “wassup y’all” with the right twang. But would that be honest music? You’re not even a musician strictly speaking. You’d be just a glam, fancy-clothed instrumentalist with groovy moves paid by the hour. And up on stage, it wouldn’t matter if you actually liked what you were playing so long as the crowd does. I mean, who actually likes to play “Buttercup”? I bet you not even the show bands do. So I ask again, would that be honest music?
Number two - you can ride the pop wave - seek out what’s hot and learn the moves, imitate the fashion, and pick out a top Billboard artist you can imitate. Just make sure you can pull it off, fashion-wise and voice-wise or risk making people cringe, which can be good if you plan an alternative career in stand-up comedy. Yes, you may sell a multi-platinum record faster than you can say, “I’m a born diva” and earn endorsement deals with the next wonder product after papaya soap. The money would be all too real but is that what you’d really want? To guest regularly on talk shows hosted by Boy Abunda and promote your album of 12 songs written by 7 different writers plus the standard remake of an old classic made popular years before your screaming teenage fans were born? Can you honestly live with yourself living that way? Okay, maybe you can. Money is everything; never mind what self-help books say. But would that be honest music belting out the high notes of songs you didn’t write for giggling fans holding up placards with your face on it? You’re still not a musician strictly speaking. You’d be just a glam, fancy-clothed song interpreter paid indirectly by the masses. So I ask again, would that be honest music?
Number three – you can write novelty songs – pick out any one nursery rhyme and replace with unbelievably absurd lyrics and sell it to greedy record executives. More points and pesos earned if you can think up a dance move to go along with your song. Anything that involves gyrating body parts is usually a hit. Okay, so now you are actually writing songs and earning money from it but writing songs to please a clueless horde that watch noontime shows isn’t songwriting in my book but shameless prostitution. Nothing more and nothing less, like anything could be lesser than prostitution. Of course, there are people who actually enjoy being prostitutes. Making them as sick as the profession is old.
Number four - you could be a videoke host, act gay or act normal if in case you are
gay and make fun of your audience with degrading jokes while hosting videoke parties, or how about number five - a singing telegram, bring flowers to giggling coeds on dormitory hallways while singing cheesy valentines, or maybe number six - a waiter who entertains diners by wearing silly headgear singing birthday ditties in three versions to patrons pretending its their birthday so they can be the center of attention for 6 minutes.
I could go on and try to test the limits of the maximum allowable length for blog entries but I think I’ve more than made my point. You can’t make money making honest music on this side of the globe. But there are alternatives.
So why do I keep doing what I’m doing? I’ll save that for another entry.