OVERRATED?(2)

Despite the suggestion otherwise, I believe all this attention our city [Montreal] is getting will do nothing to make our community any healthier; and actually could serve to mess a lot of things/people up. I absolutely believe in organic growth and if a band takes it’s time, rather than trying to get as much as quickly as possible, they will be much healthier for it. The longer you take to develop before the greater public takes notice and starts being critical, the stronger your interpersonal relationships within the band will be, the better your playing will be, the better your music will be and the stronger your ties to the community you come from will be. All of this will come in handy once the stress of being in the public eye sets in, and this is important.
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I find managers and publicists to be the opposite of organic. Kinda like trying to win the race by taking steroids. The true victory is managing to win without them…and it’s possible…trust me. All that the aforementioned people will do is assist you in growing faster than you really should, and ultimately shorten the lifespan of your band (while taking 10-15% at the same time…what kind of cruel irony is that?). Bands get suckered all the time from people offering to “help” them. All that “help” really means is “cash-in on”. There is nothing that a band can’t do by themselves, or at least, there is nothing that a band shouldn’t try to do by themselves at first, before trying to enlist other people to fast-track them.

The thought that, as some of articles have suggested, there are major-label scouts with their eye on Montreal seems to me akin to when pirates invade a city looking for virgins. I know of no indie band who made the move to a major-label with a happy ending to the story. There are far too many casualties, and the story is always the same. Sell lots of the first major-label record, much less of the second, and (if they haven’t been dropped by then), even less of the third record….and then no one cares anymore.

The trouble is this damn idea that indies are somehow “farm teams”. That there is something wrong with staying on an independent label if you are selling 50,000-100,000 records, ‘cause you could be “playing in the big-leagues”. I mean the truth is, a band will make more money selling 70,000 copies on an indie than several hundred thousand on a major, and they will manage to retain far more control over their band and their music, so why do people still entertain the notion of getting a major label deal? I guess it’s about fame and vanity, ‘cause it certainly isn’t about a healthy and long career.

In 2005, I think independent culture is finally strong again, at least here in Montreal. The thought of all of that being flushed down the toilet worries me. But it can happen very easily. All it’ll take is for all these successful independent bands to get starry-eyed, and once again the independent community will be abandoned. Bands like FUGAZI and SUPERCHUNK and GODSPEED are shining examples of people who have given back to their community, strengthening it in the process, and in addition, led rather long and healthy “careers”. But bands get greedy.

But why would a band go out of their way to become so successful, that they jeopardize their own longevity? It has been proven again and again that if you become wildly popular, it doesn’t last. The media needs fresh meat, and the turnover is quick. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU ARE A GREAT BAND . . . IT DOESN’T MATTER IF “ALL THE HYPE IS TRUE” . . . the media treats bands as if they are disposable, and until this stops, mainstream attention is more like a kiss of death than something healthy and helpful. So . . . why do people participate . . . and essentially shoot themselves in the foot?