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You don't want to be a musician who gets on other people's nerves with slow packing on stage, annoying self-promotion or pompous behaviour. | Photo: Sander Sammy (Unsplash)
You don't want to be a musician who gets on other people's nerves with slow packing on stage, annoying self-promotion or pompous behaviour. | Photo: Sander Sammy (Unsplash)
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TOP 5 Bad Habits in the Music World

Summer and festival season is pretty much over, and if September is kind, it will treat us to a few more late summer days with magical sunsets. If you managed to do a social media detox during the holidays, that is an extra bonus. Anyway, it was a discussion in a Facebook group for musicians that brought me to today's topic, where a frustrated drummer was addressing the lax attitude of a colleague who had no regard for the time constraints of changing bands on stage. And those "Oh my God, why are you punishing me" moments arise quite a bit not only in the real world but also in our favourite virtual meta mix. Let's take a look at the top 5 bad habits in the music world.

1. Slow packing

If you're playing at a festival, always rush to rebuild the stage. Drummers, prepare everything in advance, put the cymbals on stands, unpack everything possible, and then assemble everything with graceful and, most importantly, fast movements. Feel free to practise the style of the guys who change tyres in Formula 1. The same goes for keyboardists, guitarists, bassists and of course vocalists. Today's modern, digital equipment is a great way to get your band setup faster. Try thinking about and practically implementing a fifteen-minute setup for your band.

I played at The British Country Music Festival in Blackpool at the weekend and the organiser gave us five minutes for a line-check stage set-up (we played a line-up of vocals + acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keys, bass and drums). Of course, it wasn't five minutes, but it ended up being about fifteen. However, it was a rush and thanks to that we managed to play all the songs of our setlist. This is an extreme example (and slightly absurd on the part of the organizer), but that's just the reality of festivals. So be quick, efficient and respectful to other performers' and bands' times. They'll be happy to invite you back next year.

2. Offers that are easy to refuse

Looking for a guitarist for a rock band. I will write lyrics to any song. Are you a laid-back guy who can strum power chords? Would anyone like to produce a worldwide hit? If anyone is looking for a guitarist, let me know. Hey, we just released a video for a hit song... Give us a like and a follow.

Similar tempting offers can be seen day in day out on various online forums or musician groups. You can probably guess the response and success rate. If you are looking for someone to join a band or are interested in joining a band yourself or offering your professional services, be as specific as possible, but, at the same time, concise and to the point. An introduction in no more than five sentences will definitely work: what you offer, what you expect, and then add a link to your website or a quality online presentation with media-attractive content (photo + video is an absolute must). It's good to be original and, if you have a tasteful sense of humour, funny too, but I recommend focusing more on the facts and letting your work do the talking without unnecessary self-flattery.

Here are a few examples of phrases that will work as a repellent for any successful musical collaboration (found at the Czech online music forum "I'm not a self-centred wanker", "as for the genre, that's up to you" and the top comment at the end "if you're a singer and you like money, big beat and you're from anywhere in the Central Bohemia region, call us".

3. Smarties

Can I put cover versions of famous songs on YouTube? Sure, cool. No problem. Yeah, great idea. This type of answer will never help you, and it comes from people who are always "cool", "on top of things" and whom, for myself, I call smartasses because they have the answer to everything. YouTube is very sensitive to using someone else's audio or video material. It's watched by AI and other security measures (including thousands of people whose job is to monitor for violations of posting rules), so at best your cover version (if you use audio from the original in it) won't show up in certain regions and you'll have advertising on it. At worst, they'll delete your video outright and may even block your entire YT channel. Always take the trouble of checking guaranteed advice and recommendations from unknown "smarties" in discussion forums and groups. You won't be surprised if something is far from "cool".

4. Limited sources of inspiration

This is such a classic that has many forms and variations in common practice. If you have been active in a limited local scene for a long time, your standards and perception of the wider context may become slightly stunted. The result is then ridiculous and often embarrassing attempts to reinvent America. Over and over again, stupidly, round and round. It's only natural that the first time you do something, it just isn't right. The first attempts at an instrument, the first vocal line, the first lyric, the first gig and the first studio recording are usually experiences you want to forget about later. It's only over time that they become those romantic, nostalgic snippets that you like to reminisce about over a glass of wine in good company. Otherwise, it's good to keep an open mind, travel, try new things (and not just music) and have a healthy dose of sarcastic perspective on your work. It will keep your taste and charisma up.

5. How (not) to start a band

Let's go over what to do to make sure that no one, but really no one, responds to your offer to start a band. If you do the opposite of the recommendations below, you're home and dry (sic! A band is a monster that often has a life of its own).

  1. Write your advert in capital letters only.
  2. Ignore the grammar rules.
  3. Be overconfident and show the world right from the start that you're no pushover.
  4. Or vice versa. Show the world that you're a pessimist from the start and don't actually believe you could succeed in anything.
  5. Have exaggerated demands on your band members.
  6. Demonstrate firm rules and a firm hand in running the band. In music, business is first and fun second. Make it clear that the band is just another form of a stock company and you will treat it as such.
  7. List as many bands and artists (ideally from completely different genres of music) that you want to follow.
  8. Or vice versa. Don't write anything about the music you plan to play. It will work out somehow.
  9. Use a generic photo.
  10. Use a really cheesy, blurry photo of you playing in a local pub.
  11. Use a video shot on your phone with an overblown sound of you playing solo after having seven beers.
  12. Do not share any link to the web or social media.
  13. Do not share your personal contact.
  14. Finally, be sure to insult or disparage a genre of music, a race or a religion, and add your opinion about the current political situation.

Can you think of any other fun facts that you have personal experience with? Let us know in the comments below the article.

Tagy bad habits just for fun

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Marek Bero
Bass Gym 101 books, touring & session bass player, football tactics aficionado.