Friday, November 24, 2017
Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
BAND CRITIQUE HOTSEAT PT. 2
Originally Posted: 02-15-2013 7:14 PM
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Picking up from part one last week, I was asked to check out an LA friend’s band at a rehearsal. I could only stay for about 30 minutes, but the female lead singer was an hour and fifteen minutes late. The songs were truly the weak point for the band and I knew I would be in the hotseat. So I told them the only thing I could--my truthful opinion. And, guess who the songwriter was. Yep--the horribly late female lead singer, we’re call her “Kathy”. She was one of those 5’11” women that wear 3” heels. Somehow I had to tell the truth and still get out alive.

So I started: “Well… the songs were okay, but they didn’t knock me out. Song 1 was the one that caught my attention the best, followed by number 3”, I said. Then I immediately started to compliment them individually about their playing and singing. There was no issue there, so those compliments were easy. Next I asked them questions about the band’s goals. A couple people spoke up and I learned they wanted to “go all the way.” Kathy said, “I want to have 4 or 5 records.”

So then I asked her the magic question, “Ok, cool. Who’s going to fund the 4 to 5 records?” Kathy looked a bit put off by the question and said, “I don’t know, we’re not thinking about that.” So then I told her that they really should start thinking about that because how they fund will define who they are and their career path.

I told Kathy the band had a couple different paths that they could travel down. One path is getting a label to fund her records, tour support, etc. In that scenario, I told her, she needed to understand that the label will need to assure their investors that the band’s songs have money making potential. Songs make or break a band’s career. I told her that melodically, their songs were like a multitude of other bands, and they didn’t stand out. I asked her if she was prepared to use songs from established songwriters if a label felt it would give her band the best shot at commercial success.

“*BLEEP* THAT”, Kathy said, “I’m not going to sing other people’s songs. We don’t need a label, they need us!”

I looked at my friend the drummer, who has been surrounded by the music industry much of his life, and he gave me a “she doesn’t get it” type of grin. So there I was, discovering the band’s weakness in under two minutes flat: Kathy.

I continued. “So that’s a pretty firm boundary for you then--you’d walk away from a deal if a label liked you and the band but didn’t like your songs?”

“Definitely”, Kathy snorted. “This is my art. I write the songs for my band.”

I said, “Ok, so then are you willing to take the band down with you?” Kathy looked stunned. “And I guess I should ask, is this your band or are you guys a democracy? I mean, I’ve just met you--I don’t know how you work.” A couple others spoke up and said, no, it was everyone’s band. I seriously think that that was news to Kathy. Then came Kathy’s meltdown:

“Well I’ve written 100 songs and these aren’t even the best ones and these songs haven’t even been produced yet! You can change a million things in the studio! You’re telling me what this baby’s gonna be before it’s born!”

I told her, “Believe me, I get what can be done in a studio. In 26 years, it’s been my job to polish my share of turds. Now I’m not calling your songs turds, but they aren’t attention getting, they don’t stand out. A great song doesn’t have to have a full production to be “heard”—it’s the blueprint you go into a studio with to build a great production. If you want a label to be the ones to fund your records and career, the label has to believe that your blueprints are worth their money spent.”

I continued, “But a label is just one path. If you can’t compromise with the people who can write the checks to make you a household name if you ever get that chance, you can always try to talk producers and studio owners into giving you free time. But anyone worth trusting your project with is going to ask for an ownership position, and probably some pay too. And if your songs aren’t amazing, they’ll find other songs or write them for you because it’s not just your personal success that’s on the line here. It’s the success of all your bandmates too and the producers and contributors that contribute to try to help you. Or, if you can’t compromise with producers, you can always pay for everything yourself. You have several options!”

“There’s been a load of compromisin’ on the road to my horizon”
--Rhinestone Cowboy (L. Weiss)


NOTE: Rhinestone Cowboy, one of Glen Campbell’s biggest chart toppers, also wasn’t written by Campbell, despite his great looks, deep rooted industry connections, record deal, and legendary session musician work.

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Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
A DAY IN THE LIFE
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