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Small Band Struggles with Jay: Where Is Music?



Again, this post has been fully done by the wonderful person that is Jay, however, I am going to leave a list at the end of the post as a bit of a guide, and you'll understand why as you read the post. So I hope you enjoy!

Welcome back to week three. If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably finding these writings have some utility or are of interest in some way. Whatever your reasons, I thank you personally for the time, I will also thank Grace for allowing me a continued input and platform to express these ideas and topics. Let’s get to it.

Where is music?
Most of us will be lucky enough to live in, or within proximity of a city or bustling town. If you are a countryside lover, you may not think it is lucky at all to be living in, or close to a city, and perhaps you would be right. A study done by the BBC last year showed that over the past decade in London 550,000 more people left the capital, compared to the number of those who moved into the capital. Not only this, but a trend showed that more people in their 20’s move into cities, and more people in their 30’s move out of cities. Why? Well, there are numerous factors involved and I’m touching the surface here, but job opportunities, nightlife and educational opportunities would all play a significant role. By the time people are in their 30’s, they usually have settled down, have a partner or express interest in finding one and starting a family, have a secure job, or are at least willing to work enough to not get fired. Maybe these are some of the reasons people in their 20’s are more likely to move into the bustling cities, and those in their 30’s are more likely to pack up and leave for the country. We can probably all agree that music, or at least the live side of music, would fit mostly into the nightlife category. I couldn’t find any statistics for it, but it would be interesting to see how many live shows are held at night vs in the day. This isn’t unique to music either, comedians, stage actors, dancers etc, all operate mostly in evenings. This is for many reasons. People work in the day, in summer buildings get too clammy and hot, lighting and video are a big part of a lot of artist’s shows and it can be tricky to stipulate the desired results without the blank canvas that is darkness, a lights best friend. Most gigs are also held indoors, however, and in windowless rooms too, so the lighting and video issue affects mainly outdoor shows. Regardless, we can hopefully agree most shows happen at night. Another thing we can deduce by looking at statistics is that the music industry is a city industry. Big artists who sell a lot of tickets need an arena or large venue to perform at in order to meet demand, you don’t find many of those in the countryside. For smaller artists, the cities are also the place to be. More venues mean more events, larger population means more potential foot traffic, it also means more competition, but we did that last week. For fans it means a diverse range of entertainment, you will come across a lot of artists, some are hidden gems you can find early and really connect with on their inevitable trajectory upwards, I’ve seen such artists, and played with them too. In 2018 a band called ‘Kid Kapichi’ from Hastings supported us at The Venue in Derby. They were phenomenal, and such a nice bunch of lads. If this write-up wasn’t rated ‘U’, I’d tell you a hilarious story from the evening. All I’ll say is, their bass player gave me exactly what I needed after that show. Ha Ha… I digress. Kid Kapichi have gone on to have a slot on Radio’s One’s hottest records of the week and supported Frank Carter on his 2019 tour, they deserve every bit of what is coming their way. On the other hand, there is a lot of garbage out there, it’s an oversaturated market and you’ll notice a lot of artists come and go, especially those who aren’t serious and just wanted some attention. I hypothesise that when they realise the enormity of the task in front them (making their art into a career) they accept that sometimes music is better being a hobby. I’m by no means, discouraging artists or bands, I’m merely stating what I believe to be true, it’s a tough game and promotors, venues and festival organisers are becoming increasingly keen in spotting those who mean business and those who don’t. A lot of younger bands and artists tend to start off ropey, but have great potential, watching some of these develop and grow is a joy too.
So, we can agree most shows are at night and live shows and events are usually hosted in the cities. Of course, countryside pubs have fantastic entertainment and wholesome atmospheres, but they aren’t the place you’ll typically find up and coming artists or bands. We also know from the statistics at the start that those in their 20’s are more likely to move to the city. Statistics also say 21-30-year olds attend nightclubs and events more than any other age group. All of this together would make one assume that an artists most prospective audience would be 21-30-year olds, living within a city, and for a lot of small artists, it is. The younger generations carry forward that which is new, innovative and more modern. My mother recently prepared an outdoor BBQ for my family, and I nominated myself, DJ, for the afternoon. I made a playlist of all my favourite summer tunes on it and to cut a long story short, Mum asked if I could send her the music. She followed the statement by saying ‘I don’t know where to look to find new music’. Now, for a middle-aged woman, I totally understand finding new music may be difficult (though it’s not THAT hard). But in my mother’s defence, even as a musician, I’m pleasantly surprised by the recommendations given to me by some of my younger friends. My 19-year-old friend Jared has widened my musical spectrum significantly over the past year through artist recommendations. Jared is also an incredible producer with a keen ear for beats and rhythm, check him out on Soundcloud, his artist alias is ‘JAJ’, I know he’s far too humble to give himself the shout outs. There seems to be a direct correlation between younger audiences and the championing of new/underground artists and music, I’m unsure of all the factors that contribute to this, I lack the time and research to make a full and objective analysis, and don’t want to fill this with my opinion. What I will say, however, is that social media, nightlife and trends will all play some role. If you piece all this information together as an artist, you realise something significant. If you were 18 years old and got a fan, also 18 years of age, and its 10 years later, that fan is now 28 and so are you. A study carried out by the Journal of Youth and Adolescence showed that music preference also has a tendency in many to change over time. If you are still producing the same sort of music you were 10 years ago when it was relatable to that 18-year-old, it likely isn’t as relevant to them now, and there’s no guarantee it’s relevant to the new generation of 18-year olds either. On the other foot, as a fan of music, I can say hands down my music preference has changed phenomenally in the past 5 years, let alone 10. I still like a lot of the music from my younger years, but my top artists 5 years ago would have been significantly different to my top artists now.

So, where do you find music? It’s a trick question. Music is everywhere, as we know. The radio, the TV, on your phone, your computer, you can make music out of anything, really. But if you want to find music in abundance as a fan, a journalist, a musician, a promoter or whatever, you should study your local city and the events they put on. You should take some friends to see a local band or singer or find out who the DJ is at your local club night, you don’t remember much of it, but the music was FIRE, right? You should ask your friends for recommendations, particularly younger people, because they might be in some loops that you are blissfully unaware of. Pay attention to support bands, support, support bands, as they may go on to have a hottest record in the world on radio 1. Finally, linking in with the first write-up we did, use streaming websites. If there is one thing they come in handy for, its playlists. There are thousands of new music playlists going up all of the time, you can’t possibly hope to listen to all of them… Which means there is more than enough to get stuck into if you’re lacking inspiration or are tired of listening to the same 5 artists on repeat. In my spare time, I like to read and educate myself on history, history plays an important role in many subject matters, music being one of them. Your favourite artists have inspirations, some dating back to the ’60s, there’s a treasure trove of really great music from all the eras. Is it any coincidence that James Brown is the most sampled artists of all time? I’m not so sure* Finding music is easy when we think about it, but it’s also constantly evolving and is an audience-driven market, so it’s not at all surprising that for some it can prove a challenge.

*James Brown is the most sampled artist of all time, however, I’m fully aware that the reason for this is more than likely due to the fact he has many (80ish) studio albums and has a time advantage over a lot of artists. NOT because all his tracks are ‘hidden gems’, though that is a matter of opinion.  

So here is a list of artists to get you started if you're looking for some new, small, unheard of artists to introduce yourself to.

JAJ
The Mocking Jays (since this is a series with Jay it's only fair we give them some promo if you've never listened to them before)

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