I am a volunteer coach and administrator for the football team my kids play. Another parent mentioned to me how it amazes them the amount of work that volunteer coaches put in and that they put in hours of preparation just to organise training. On top of that, I work full time as well, juggling work commitments, and still taking time out to prepare and make training every Tuesday and Thursday and then help out every Saturday and Sunday. Just recently I spent seven weeks attending a Youth Licence course, so that I am also qualified to coach my kids.
So I am thinking to myself, is it all worth it? Am I making a difference? Are my methods having an impact? How many artists have walked away from their dreams or the direction that lead to their dreams at this stage. In the end, musicians are just volunteers to begin with?
I am always looking for ways to improve things. I am looking outside my circle, looking at what others have experienced and drawing on that inspiration, twisting it and making it better.
John Petrucci from Dream Theater more or less said the same thing in a Roadrunner interview about the upcoming self-titled album.
“I see every new album as an opportunity to start over. To either build or improve upon a direction that has been evolving over time or to completely break new ground. This is the first self-titled album of our career and there is nothing I can think of that makes a statement of musical and creative identity stronger than that. We’ve fully explored all of the elements that make us unique, from the epic and intense to the atmospheric and cinematic.”
Like Five Finger Death Punch, like Karnivool, like Heartist, like Stone Sour, all of these bands are focusing on their core uniqueness and expanding it in new ways. Remember my catch cry: Progress is Derivative. You keep on building what you started until a connection is made, between song and listener.
Then watch that one listener, hook another listener and so forth. Then you have the outlier, the one band that did things just a touch differently; Imagine Dragons.
The band did six-hour gigs at the main Las Vegas casinos when they started out. The set list was mixed up with cover songs and originals.
Playing the casinos were classed as hometown gigs. The big difference here is that those hometown gigs are not played to hometown crowds. Due to Las Vegas’s reputation as a holiday strip, the band performed in front of new people every night. They needed to adapt fast as live performers, so that they win over a new crowd every night. That is why their album is back in the Top 10 again, 10 months after it was released. The band is touring and winning.
They have the momentum going. The numbers and the stats are on their side. Night Visions was released last September. In the US alone it has sold over 1 million copies so far. The songs, Radioactive, It’s Time and Demons have sold in total 7.2 million digital downloads. YouTube plays for the three songs number over 100 million. Spotify streams for the three songs are also close to the 100 million mark. They performed and created as much as possible. That is the key. Created as much as possible. Progress is derivative and quality equals success.
They knocked on the doors so many times, and those doors finally opened up. They kept on improving on what they started and they got better at it.
And in relation to the kids football team, I am making a difference. 13 games into the season, they have won 10, drawn 2 and lost 1. As each day goes by, I am getting better at it and the kids are getting better at it. IT IS WORTH IT.