June 10, 2011
By Bob Burnham
I am a Broadcast Engineer and a Detroit area musician.
The bands I’m in and those involved have been the victims of the economy. Most of us are surviving on a personal level, but paying work for “your local band,” no matter how great they (the band) may be, is fairly rare these days (at least so I’ve been led to believe).
More than that, those of us who in the past spent time “pounding the streets” for band work are NOW a.) spending more time at the day job, b.) have taken a second job or c.) having other personal problems, or (of course) any combination of the above.
People in bands also become discouraged when the band commits to too many “freebies” that lead nowhere and the band seems to be in forever in a passive mode. The set-list seems to be frozen in time. The best way to get the best out of any performer is to help them feel good about themselves. I’ve spent a lifetime doing this at various levels, also as a former studio owner. When band members are bored or discouraged, they will not be at their “best:” In fact, they will be at their absolute worst. I've been on both sides of that fact.
There are two reasons I play music in addition to being a broadcast engineer: Fun and Money. The two go together. If it’s not FUN it damn well better be putting some money in my pocket!
When it IS a lot of FUN, anyone can survive as an actively playing musician when they have a daytime non-music profession. With no money, when it Ceases to Be FUN, I stop doing it, or at least move on to another project with people who ARE having FUN and making some money.
I’ve managed to have FUN for a as an actively playing Detroit area musician for decades, however, that music FUN has started to fade.
If it’s PAYING music work, the tolerance level may be extended a little longer, but without the FUN-factor, it won’t last..
But for me, the real “PAY” is that “religious experience” or “magic” we make when we play music and we are all in synch to each other.
In some ways, music IS my religion. NOT everyone is up to that “magic” level, but those that are, that I’ve worked with – know who they are.
Will we ever get back to prosperity?
Will people NOT be burned out on life and living, and playing the same songs over and over, and in a passive mode for (on top of that) NO Money?
I don’t have the answer to that, but in the meantime, I have a lot of stuff to accomplish.
I AM inherently optimistic and still look forward to making more “magic” on a daily basis and at least one more time playing music tonight (where I promise to give 110% no matter what).