Thursday, November 27, 2014

Two Musicians - A Modern Story

"Penny wise and pound foolish" - Old English proverb

"Some people will be stumbling over a quarter to pick up a penny" - Unknown 

This is a true story:

Two musicians have gotten together to make a recording. One of the musicians is in a world famous rock band and sometimes performs headlining at festivals in front of 200,000 people. He is at the apex of his dream and career; the other musician is a singer with three records released but no real success to date.

By some miracle (for the singer), these two have found themselves working together to make the singer's next album. 

Also for that next album, there are a line up of several famous musicians who have agreed to help out on that recording; some famous musicians will co-write songs with the singer; some will perform on the album for the singer; some will do whatever they can; all to make a fun project and to create "magic" in the studio for what could be the singer's big break.

Our team consists of the famous guitarist and not famous singer. 

I'd like to refer to the guitarist as "musician" as this musician is multi-talented and can play many different instruments. The singer, well, the singer is just a supposedly talented singer. 

The singer and the musician are supposed to get together and write the songs for this new album.

Usually, when two musicians get together in this sort of case, they meet and get excited about making music. Making music is exciting! They will then find the time to meet; one brings a guitar, and the other a notebook, and they begin the process of singing back and forth to each other and playing different things; they begin to create together. They begin to have fun making music. They begin the magic of making music by communicating their thoughts, ideas, and dreams all turning them all into songs. They love music and love what they do so much that you couldn't keep them apart!

But, with our singer and musician in our story, there is, though, one big problem with this situation; the singer and musician live 8,000 kilometers apart! They live on opposite sides of the world. This makes it impossible for the two to "meet" everyday and spend time together and share ideas and sing together to make songs and music.

Is it impossible to make music together for these two? Not in this day and age! Today, people can use SKYPE to talk to other people on the other side of the world for free! 

Isn't that wonderful? Free! Technology saves the day! Hooray!

Our singer and our musician can talk together everyday and make music; they can dream together and cry and laugh together to make our singer's record. 

In fact, there are several good examples of musicians who are making fantastic music this way, yet they live on opposite corners of the world! 

One of my favorites is Lola Dutronic. The singer lives in Germany; the musician lives in Canada. I have spoken with both of them by SKYPE before too as I am a big fan of theirs and I play their music on the radio in Japan. The musician and the singer told me they "meet" on SKYPE (sometimes several times a week) and share their song ideas and laugh and have fun (of course, writing music with someone else is fun, isn't it?). The musician in Canada makes the tracks and then sends them to the singer in Germany. 

It's MAGIC! The ideas become songs! Beautiful and wonderful songs too! And these two never meet. They never go to the studio. They even make videos for their songs "together."

Here is my favorite song from Lola Dutronic. It's called, "Everybody Loves You When You're Dead."

Isn't that fantastic? I love this song. Amazing, when you think about it that two people who did not meet directly could make such wonderful music...

But I digress... 

This blog post isn't about Lola Dutronic; it's about our singer and musician.

Our singer and musician have been "working" on their record now for about three months. As far as I know, they have written no original songs together yet. Nope. None. Zero. Nada. Why? In that time, the singer has spoken on SKYPE to the musician, probably, at most 5 or 6 times. How could this be?

Is this a problem? I don't know. But the singer complains about it a lot and so does her manager. I wonder why they don't do something about it?

The singer complains that she doesn't have a computer that works properly so singer is unable to SKYPE with musician!!! What????

Now, think about that for a moment... 

This singer is not famous nor successful. Yet this singer gets the chance to work with a top world-class musician(s). This is singer's once in a lifetime chance. Chances like this do not come - ever - for most people; but singer gets the chance all musicians only dream of. 

Alas, singer is unwilling to spend $600 ~ $800 dollars on a used computer that will allow singer to talk to musician on SKYPE everyday, if they wish. 

Perhaps this singer is not hungry or smart enough to be successful?

The singer also has a management company that is spending a lot of money on the studio, etc., in the tens of thousands of dollars, on this new record for singer. 

Wonderful management company. 

But management company won't spend a relatively small $600 ~ $800 dollars on a used computer that will allow singer to talk to musician on SKYPE everyday, if they wish. 

Wonderfully short sighted management company.

Perhaps this singer's management company is not hungry or smart enough to help their talent become successful? It seems that way, but they will complain about it constantly.

The chance of a lifetime yet neither the singer or the management company will spend the $600 ~ $800 dollars on a used computer that will allow singer to talk to musician on SKYPE everyday, if they wish. 

If I had this chance nothing would prevent me from doing everything that is needed.

Now it is months later, and there are no songs yet and the management company is getting really upset and complaining.

Who is crazier in this situation? The singer or the management company? I'm not too sure...

But I do know that this situation is ridiculous.

If I were the singer, this would never happen. I'd do anything to get my chance. I'd even steal a computer. Yes. I would. And I wouldn't get caught either.

The obvious choice here is if I were the management company, this would never happen; I'd make damned sure that my singer had the basic tools to get the job done and get it done right. That should be obvious.

I don't know. Penny wise. Pound foolish.


James said...

You can actually buy a new laptop for about 30,000y these days, so it's actually worse than that. Throw in a bit more for a headset and/or a decent USB microphone, if you want to get fancy.

Hell, most smartphones these days will run Skype, so this singer may already have a device in his or her pocket that would run Skype.

But that would be pretty silly.

Anonymous said...

This is a interesting story. I am thinking of it as a bad management story. One person is a member of a famous group that has SOMETIMES played to an audience of 200,000. The other member of this separated duo either wants the fame/success or not. Some creative types are notoriously bad at being practical. Others, such as the late Kurt Cobain had copious notes of mundane elements like his touring band's van. There is no fire under this musician's butt or the management company are not true believers. A thirsty man won't let limited water fall through his fingers.

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