So we looked at the pros and cons of function bands and originals bands from the viewpoint of the customer… but what about the musician?!
Perhaps you are a musician looking to join a band and aren’t sure which way to go? Perhaps you are already in a band but not feeling completely satisfied/not getting enough gigs/want to play more styles? Perhaps you are in a function and an originals band and totally happy…or finding it too much! Or maybe you’re just interested in the viewpoint of a musician?!
The thing is, there is no right or wrong approach. There is no magic formula which works for every musician in the country! You only have to look around you…at the charts, at the underground scenes, in hmv to see that we all have different characters with different life experiences, and different musical expressions. These next two blogs are therefore, in no way, a definitive look at this topic! They are in fact, just brushing the surface with a light feather!!…more of a pros and cons for each option!! I do however, hope that they encourage and inspire you – to look further into this subject and to get involved one way or another in using your gift alongside other like-minded musicians-there’s nothing like it!!
Some (but not all!) super creative types find they struggle, to play precisely what they’re given. My husband is one of these – he is an excellent guitarist and has the ability to play almost anything you put in front of him, but he would always rather play his own take on it, mix it up a bit, or really just play his own stuff!! This isn’t a character flaw (like I used to think!) – it’s about knowing our strengths and weaknesses. It’s not that he can’t play them…nor that he wont, its just that to him, time spent practicing a cover to perfection is time that could have been spent writing his own stuff, and he will always get more joy out of having the chance to play something new, something that has come from inside him, something that he created! So he works to his strengths! He has played in Function Bands and thoroughly enjoyed, however, his main focus is, and will always be, writing his own music, and performing in an originals band.
When Originals Bands start to build up a following, they have the joy of seeing their fans sing along to songs they wrote, to get to play gigs that you can only play once you have a following (a lot of live venues-including pubs these days-will only let bands play who can guarantee a certain amount of people will turn up…and basically buy drinks making it worth the pub’s while) and for the lucky ones, to actually make a living out of it (although we must be realistic here and recognise that these are few and far between!). I guess one of the biggest pros of playing in an originals band is the sense of ownership gained and the freedom to create and play whatever style of music is your genuine love and passion. Your genre is the one you’ve chosen… you’re music is the style you’ve chosen…you can push the boundaries however you like, as it is your band, your music, your life!!
Of course, there are always cons… and unfortunately, they’re all too well known by us ‘creative types’!
As much as you can have the freedom to write whatever you like, if your fans don’t like it, (or if you can’t get fans in the first place!) then your music is stuck between the band and the practice room! Building up a following is immensely hard (even with the growth of my-space/you-tube/sound-cloud etc), especially if you are not in a social setting such as school/university. Without fans, you have no gigs, and without gigs, you have no money and no place to sell merchandise! Without money, you can’t buy merchandise, and you can’t record your music – which wouldn’t sell even if you could, without fans!! And so we see a vicious cycle which has trapped many a budding musician/band!
The other major con is of course, the pain of negative feedback of your songs. Of course, all musicians will get negative feedback at times in their lives! And it’s never easy to hear!! But you need to be ready to hear it and take it on board if you are writing your own stuff. Not everyone will like what they hear! If this is purely down to taste (you’re writing metal, your critic is into pop!) then don’t worry too much!…shake it off and seek feedback from those into metal! But if the feedback is regarding song structure/choice of lyrics/musical ability, you better get ready to be thick-skinned and to work harder than anyone you know! Without a serious amount of determination and self-belief melded with a humility to listen to what others have to say and realistically wight it up, the harsh reality is, you will not make it in an Originals Band.
Playing in an Originals Band can be immensely rewarding and freeing, but it can also be extremely frustrating and disappointing. Knowing yourself – your character, your strengths and weaknesses is vitally important in deciding to play in an Originals Band. But if you do, then play with people you get on with and you’ll have the time of your life!!
In the next blog, we will look at part 2b: The Function Band.