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Is it DIFFICULT or UNLIKELY to get into a successful rock act?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by blankstare77, Aug 18, 2007.

  1. blankstare77


    May 19, 2006
    Let's say that I play bass trombone. There are 50 full time orchestras in the US, and most of which do not exceed 50,000 a year. There are 50 orchestras, and consequently 50 spots that are available. Once a spot is filled, there's a good chance that the spot will be filled for 20-30 years.

    Or there's playing bass for a rock band, which I'm eager to learn about.

    I'm planning for my life, so this issue is very important to me. Thanks for your input!
  2. Cactusgrant


    Jul 27, 2006
    Quick answer: Yes it is difficult.

    Also depends on how you define successful, do you want to be able to earn a living or do you want to be on the front of rolling stone?
  3. Just 50 full-time orchestras in the U.S.? Really? I would have expected the number to be a lot higher than that.

    In any case, I'd imagine that it's a long shot to get a full-time orchestra chair, and it's a VERY long shot to hold down the bass playing job in a successful (i.e. nationwide success) rock band. If those are your only two career options, I'd suggest you come up with a fallback plan.
  4. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI

    A friend of mine that lives in Nashville says that the best guitar player in the world works at a gas station pumping gas.

    Not only is ability important, but timing is key as well.
  5. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    There's a local guitar phenom who can play ANYTHING and bring tears to your eyes while he's playing it.

    He works at the local Dollar Store.

    This is not to discourage you, just to let you know what's in store.

    Good luck.
  6. Id rather play my own music than someone elses, but then again I dont have to really worry about money yet :p
  7. Music is an artistic job.

    Artistic jobs have alot of freedom associated with them, but they are also very tough to make a living off of completely. Most artists carry on a 2nd job, or in many cases the artistic job is the 2nd job.

    You'll have to have alot of determination no matter which course you choose, and a secondary skill would not be a bad choice.

    I'm not old in the least, so maybe my advice is off base. But then again, maybe it'll help ya.
  8. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    How well do you play, write and/or sing?

    Being good at all of these factors increases your chances
  9. blankstare77


    May 19, 2006
    I'm gonna practice a LOT if I plan on becoming a rock musician. I'm okay now, but I plan on mastering the fingerboard (notes, chord changes). When I get to college next year I'll do tons of etudes and play with bands as much as I can. Hopefully things will come out of it.

    What if I wanted to play 60s/70s rock 'n roll? Would it be a hell of a lot harder to gain popularity?
  10. jokn388


    Apr 11, 2007
    There seems to be a resurgence in the 60's 70's style of rock(Wolfmother comes to mind), so you get pretty popular with that style of music.
  11. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Be a people person. There are a lot of guys that get the gigs even though they could be whupped by the guy in the gas station.

    Keep a positive attitude and make every connection that you can.

  12. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    How many rock bands out there that are REALLY making it, on the level you're setting as your benchmark for orchestral work? I think you'd be hard pushed to name 50 major rock bands that have released seriously profitable material in the last 12 months. How many of those will still be sucsessfull next year? How many of them are looking for a new bass player AFTER they've made it?

    Looking up orchestra's in yellow pages, auditioning, getting a chair, and holding it down for 30 years looks EASY in comparison.

    Either is virtually impossible. To make a living as a musician, you can shoot for those things but realistically you're going to be chasing work where you can find it. In that case playing bass AND an orchestral instrument (more work + credability as a "serious" musicain), and more importantly teaching both is the only option that stands a hope of delivering anything with any certainty.

    Remember Steve Morse quit playing professionally for several years, as he couldn't make a living at it (worked as a Pilot). Until he joined Deep Purple he was still holding down a second job, despite being widely recognised as one of the best guitarists in the world.

  13. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Hey blankstare - I don't want to sound discouraging, I would just like to share a couple of things

    If you play bass well, of course that counts for something. And if you have lots of time to practice, then by all means do.

    But if you're looking to enter into a pre-existing famous gig be prepared to stand in line with a bunch of folks with the same aspirations as you. Lots of these bass chairs are passed on to ppl who are friends of the band, or friends of the person being replaced, or established pros looking for a gig ("Hey, So&so is available - let's get him"), or ppl who have been involved behind the scenes - techs, engineers, roadies. There is going to be a lot of competition for this one spot.

    The more musical skills you have to offer a band, the more you up your chances of being picked up. If you're going to college I would highly recommend you take all the vocal classes you can and learn the skill of singing. If you can sing lead (or, at least competent, strong back up parts) then your chances increase greatly.

    If you can write good songs then you can write your own ticket. I would encourage you to study composition and learn basic keyboards. I would also encourage you to learn guitar and start writing songs and jamming with others. Why on earth would you want to play 60/70s rock when you could write and perform 00/10s music? That stuff was great in its time, but I sure would like to see music progress rather than regenerate.

    Once you have acquired these skills, mikeyswood makes an excellent point about hanging around in the musical scenes that interest you and making yourself and your talents known. It's called networking. Go to shows and meet other musicians, make connections, get a good reputation - and then live up to that rep.

    I guess what I want to emphasize is there are no guaranteed methods of landing good paying famous gigs. There are things you can do to up your competitive chances and make yourself more desirable to established performing groups.

    Maybe you don't need college if this is your goal. If you have a good job you could take a few comm college night courses on singing, composition, keyboards, performance as well as get a good private bass teacher and just get out there and do it.

    Just some ideas. Good luck on your path!!
  14. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Inactive

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    There is difficulty, and there is an element of luck involved. Yes, we all know amazing players who will never be famous musicians, there is more to being a success than talent. As has been said, unless you're at the very top of the pile, you'll probably have it tough forever. Even when Stuart Hamm was playing alongside Joe Satriani in the late 1980's he had to work in a sandwich shop to make ends meet.
  15. It's not all about ability, either. A lot of getting a high profile gig would have to be based on appearance, attitude, personality, I would assume. You could be an amazing player, but if you come off like a jerk, people aren't going to bother offering you a gig.
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
  17. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Steve Morse gave a clinic at NT many years ago and told us that he pulled stumps for a living. Tal Farlow painted signs for a living.
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It is difficult AND unlikely you'll get into a successful rock act. However, if you find an act that has about $3 million to spend on payola, the likelihood of them being successful goes up a huge amount. But if you're joining an act like that, the likelihood of YOU making a lot of money isn't great, as the people who put up the money will make the lion's share of the money coming back in, followed by the bandleader, and the rest of the band is usually put on a salary.

    In short, don't get into music looking to make money. If you want to make money, be a doctor or a lawyer or a stockbroker. You can make money playing music, but the likelihood of it being your only job isn't great. It took me until I was 36 to be able to do it, and quite frankly, if something happens to Bowzer, I won't be able to do it anymore.
  19. Bayou_Brawler

    Bayou_Brawler The most hurtful thing ever realized

    Oct 23, 2003
    Ann Arbor, MI
    i wouldn't say difficult......i would say EXTREMELY difficult....that is if you get lucky and catch some breaks...

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