On unpopular music

Some thoughts that arose from the experience of Friday’s WaveForms gig where the audience fluctuated but peaked at four. It’s not completely unexpected – crowds do not flock to listen attentively to music that has no rhythm and no discernible tune, and where the musician appears to be (and is) making it up as he goes along.  OK there’s jazz, but …   WaveForms was born out of admiration for Fripp’s Soundscapes, and he finds it hard to locate the audience for those. He’s been slow hand clapped by some audiences wanting him to rock out.  And I have played gigs as a member of a band to fewer people (I won’t name it but it was a damned good band!)

So with WaveForms, but that’s not all I do. I have the singer/songwriter gig also, and that doesn’t pull in the punters, nor does it attract much interest on this site.  So if I choose not to deny the fact, what then?  The paths seem to be:

  1. stop producing music for public consumption; play for my own enjoyment at home
  2. put more effort into marketing and promotion; accepting that I have a full time job, this reduces the amount of time recording and playing
  3. produce different stuff – focus on the type of songs I know people will like, not the songs that appeal to me, (and not WaveForms!)
  4. perform live more – website interest follows from a good live experience. I know I can play well live – I just balk at most of what goes with it.
  5. get my musical fun playing other people’s (popular) songs in a covers band.

Now I haven’t finished digesting these choices. (3) seems craven and unsatisfying, except in a balanced set of songs. (5) would, I think, be a passing fancy whose appeal would wear off. (1) is something I could contemplate now for the first time in my life, but that tipping point hasn’t been reached.  Which leaves (2) and (4) as hard to argue against. But hard to contemplate. They would require a deliberate commitment to do something I know I will not want to do when it comes up. That’s good.

This isn’t by any means a call for pity or declarations of support – I’m past all that! I just post it because I think it reflects what a lot of my friends in this musician-saturated city come up against. I know most of the readers of this page are singers and writers. Some have gone down one route or two, and I wonder if they went through a similar decision process?

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