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why continue?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Requiem, Jan 16, 2021.

  1. Requiem


    Feb 26, 2000
    Costa Rica
    I joined this site on 1998, this is the first post I have ever made. I write now, because maybe there are people here that may understand and be emphatic with my story. I wont make it long. But I need help.

    Started playing back in 1994, I´m 40 now. Played in like 12 bands, a couple of solo shows, a couple of improve and jam bands, went to the first Bass/Nature camp Vic Wooten did on 2000, only guy from Costa Rica there; been in 25 studio recordings, do not have too many stuff online, because I´m weird or old school like that; I am self-taught, meaning that by now I still guess what I play, but have gotten pretty good at it, but played many hours, so I´m not that bad. I have been composing songs for the mentioned bands and could say that have created more than 50 songs. Not very known, but with a bit of high regards and compliments from my closest friends.

    Now here comes the issue. One important thing I should mention, before I start, is that I live in Costa Rica; there are less than 5 million people here, so its a small crowd, a though town to get by and even though its a a very progressive country, its still small and highly underdeveloped, specially in the arts world. To start, I have played with many "questionable" musicians, some of them good friends of mine, with great attitudes and always in time for rehearsals, but at the end, people that never put in the hours and the practice times, or the passion I did; so cool friends that maybe never got into music as seriously as I did. The years passed, many bands got dissolved; I would start a new project, I would write, arrange, compose and attend rehearsals for months, and then we would play one or two gigs and after that,intermediately the bands would separate, either by members leaving or simply by not being able to withstand the life, the minimal pressure, or I don´t why.... This has been happening for the past 22 years, and now I don´t know if it has been bad luck, faith, or maybe I actually suck at composing, or if its my context/country, my musically untrained friends, or ....not sure, but I am losing passion, faith and patience... Sometimes I don´t even want to grab an instrument, because what is the point? I will never have a good, long-lasting band... I will never have people around me that would believe in something greater that ourselves and be conscious and willing to leave something really good and special in this world, something that would transcend ourselves after we die, something that would get people high and make them feel happy, something out of this world....so... why even bother? maybe i should get my work reviewed or criticized, or find better musicians to play with... don´t know, but its been getting really hard to move on.... not that I´m looking to be famous or something dumb like that, but just something enough to make it sustainable and be always playing and involved in music...

    I love music, I play for me and for me alone, no recordings, maybe a few notes or something small and maybe that is my destiny, a daily, thing that happens when I´m alone... and that should be fine, but it has also kicked me in the balls, hard, for many years, through many good friends that now leaves me in doubt, afraid, depressed and in need of help,advice... I have been waiting for so many years to use this forum, maybe I will find some answers here, or advice, or maybe even a chat with someone that has had it similar to me. thanks
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
  2. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    It’s a big world out there. Have you tried collaborating with others from a distance? If there was ever a time to try pivoting to doing stuff online, it’s now.

    Aside from that, I somewhat understand what you’re feeling. There’s a big gap between your expectations and what your music community can do with and/or for you. And that can lead to disappointment.

    Not suggesting you lower your expectations (although that can help in some cases)...but you need to cast a wider net if you are to have any hope of finding collaborators that meet your expectations.
  3. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I think the thing to ask yourself is why you play. Most of your post is talking about frustration trying to make it big or leave something lasting, by which I assume you mean a well-known song. But at the end you say you play for yourself and your own pleasure.

    I've written or contributed to writing a few songs, none of them ever anything that got beyond a short-lived band doing a demo. One of those songs has one huge fan - the drummer's wife who thinks it's the most beautiful thing. I've never even explained to anyone what situation actually caused me to write it or what it's about (and I'm not going to here). But as far as I'm concerned, that's enough, if something I created served to do somebody some good in their heart, even if it's just one person. I mostly play in cover bands and get women to dance. That's just a little sliver of joy in the world, and to me, that's more than enough to make it worth playing.

    The way I see it, music is a good thing, and it's always worth putting more of a good thing into the world, even if it's just a tiny bit.

    May as well link my one good song: maybe I'll get a second fan!

    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  4. Vooter


    May 11, 2009
    Bronx, NY
    I'm 60, and my bass-playing trajectory is different from yours, but I've faced many of the same issues that you're confronting, and I'm sure many others have too. I "played" the bass as a teenager, but then went away to college and devoted most of my time and attention to my first career choice: drinking and drugging. I didn't pick up a bass or any other instrument for the next 15 years, during which time I managed to drift into a career (in publishing) and a marriage. The marriage only lasted for four years, and literally the day after the divorce papers went through, at age 32, I went down to the local music store and bought a bass (a red Peavey Foundation 4), and I've been playing ever since (this was in '93, so you and I "started" playing around the same time).

    What choices did I make, and what was I left with? I had essentially blown off my twenties, and with them, any real (albeit tiny) chance at musical "stardom" that I might have had. (In contrast, my cousin, who was a couple of years younger than I was, took the career-bass-player route, but by the time he had reached the age of 32, the window on any stardom for him had also essentially closed, and he now had a wife, kids and bills. He went back to school, learned a trade, and started his non-music career. He never stopped playing, however, and he's now a respected and sought-after local rock and jazz bassist.)

    The point, of course, is that neither of us had managed to grab the golden ring of musical stardom, but we were both still playing. Like you, I've played in a bunch of bands over the last two decades, have recorded a little bit, have gotten way better, and have reached a point in life where my bass is often one of the few things that brings me real joy. I'm not going to make any money at it, I'm not going to get much if any recognition for it, and most of the stuff I play (some of which is pretty good), will never reach any ears other than my own. But that's fine...it really is! I've come to realize that the ability to play an instrument, even just for yourself, is such an incredible gift, and that if I died today, I would die happy knowing that I at least hadn't wasted that gift. I had learned, I had played and I had improved...that's all that matters.

    My biggest piece of advice is to stop worrying about other people. No one's keeping score, and no one (outside of our loved ones and friends) has any real interest in what you or I are doing, or how our lives have panned out. They just don't. And it doesn't matter! We're all completely insignificant, but that fact should be a liberating thing, not a sad or tragic one. The important thing to remember is that whatever you have in front of you right now may be all you're going to get. Enjoy what you have...lamenting the past and worrying about the future just makes the present all the more difficult...
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yep. It's all in WHY you play.

    If it's about music and comrades, play whatever you can with whomever wants to jam. Keep an open mind. Break out of your comfort zone. Just play.

    But it seems notoriety is high on your list. You want to be highly-regarded for your craft. You want to be in a band that is at least locally "famous". If that's true, I don't know how to help.
  6. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    See what scene there is in your area and join in. As a bass player especially, you need a network of people to play with. This doesn't mean being in a band necessarily. I refuse to believe that Costa Rica does not have people playing some sort of music at a high level. It's those moments in real time, playing with others, that makes being a bass player worth it IMO.
  7. It's not Costa Rica, this is the landscape a lot of us face now, as most of the opportunities that gave serious musicians a reason to devote the kinds of hours to playing and practicing that pro-level performances require have disappeared just about everywhere. So you get people who have some decent chops but need to work full time and are only able to put hobby-level amounts of time into doing bands. That's been my frustration since I get back into music several years ago.

    I agree that this is a good time to start looking for online collaborative opportunities. There's more than one way to "do" music if we're willing to think outside the box. And I agree with hrodbert that we have to ask ourselves why we do this. I write music because music is in my blood and there's really nothing I can do about it. So, with COVID, I've been collaborating with musicians from all over; I'm fortunate enough to have a little retirement pension and I allow myself so much per month to pay session musicians to flesh out the songs that I've been writing.

    Personally, I find that a simpler way to work than trying to keep a band of friends together and deal with personalities and expectations; I can lay out what I need, they do the work, and I pay them for it, and if I like their work I will contact them for the next song if I need their instrument for that.

    It'd be nice to have a group of people around me who are dedicated to original composition, but the headaches of dealing with keeping a group like that working and functionally contributing are many. This way I can find people with good, solid chops who are working enough to keep their chops up; the only danger is if/when they decide they're no longer doing session work, or if they get too busy to work for what I can afford to pay, and then you have to find someone else who is good.

    So maybe not everyone has $100 to $200 a month to spend on what is, essentially, a hobby of songwriting. There are still ways to connect to that dedicated group of people now, and they don't have to be local. If you don't feel like you're at a place where writing and producing songs with session musicians is for you, you can still produce music with people who are interested in working in a similar way. The internet is making it very easy for people to find each other.
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i'm your huckleberry! nice tune! neat vibe! :thumbsup:

    it would be sad to think that you ever had it ("passion, faith and patience") and that now you're losing it. i'm thinking that right now you're being tested on your "passion, faith and patience." ;) you've noted some areas where your skills could use a boost...better have at it. and by doing so you can reorient ("passion, faith and patience") while you're improving your status in the music community where you live (that is: to play better with better musicians).

    you can change your goals whenever you want/need, but you "continue" because you're a musician (right?).... and the real musicians are the cats who never quit playing/creating/improving. good luck with your mojo! :thumbsup:
  9. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Thank you!
    JRA likes this.
  10. I love it. This is one of the biggest frustrations with being a small-time songwriter/producer. We create this thing that needs to be heard to be appreciated, and then we can't get people to hear it. It's rewarding when someone likes what we do enough to want to hear it more than just that one time they listened so they could say they did.

    One of the things I've done is create a streaming playlist for my friends who have music on Spotify. I can stream that playlist to listen, and I can also stream it in the background when I'm doing something else so that they can just get more plays. I don't even have anything on Spotify yet but I feel like if I'm going to look for people to listen to my stuff more than once I should pay that forward. I think there's a lot independent musicians can do to help each other out; we haven't even started finding our voice yet.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
  11. dangevans


    Mar 26, 2014
    A lot of us have a very similar story as you. I've been fortunate to stick with a couple bands through the years with people I genuinely like and enjoy performing with. It seems like, years ago, when I stopped trying to "hit it big" or "get noticed", that's when I started getting really good gigs. Not necessarily high profile, but enjoyable, decent paying gigs with genuine good people who were good musicians too. I think it is all about the people you are playing with- if they are good people, and not really all about their ability.
    Tough business out there, but it is much more manageable with people you like.
    JRA and LBS-bass like this.
  12. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Thank you! I agree. Part of it, for me, is the same as with cover gigs - I don't want people to listen to the song, or come to the gig, to "support" me like it's charity work. I want them to enjoy it, if they do enjoy it, and if they don't, don't bother. My mom's partner has a son-in-law or some such relation who records music she's always sending me. It's OK, but not my thing. I don't want to put people in the position of feeling like they have to smile and pretend they love it just to be nice.
    el jeffe bass, JRA and LBS-bass like this.
  13. Yep, I couldn't have put it better. Part of it for me is that I came up through the days when people just went to hear bands to enjoy the music; not out of any sense of obligation to the band members. So the idea that we should all be out there guilting our friends and family into feeling like they have to give our music a polite listen is just weird to me. Obviously people need to be curious enough to listen the first time, so you have to get it in front of them in some way, but I want people to listen because they think they might like it, and if they don't like it, I think they should feel free to find what they do like.

    Like I said to someone yesterday, it's a big world and there are lots of cups of tea in it :)

    The challenge for independent musicians is making sure people who would enjoy what we offer can know their flavor of tea is actually out there.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
    red_rhino, hrodbert696 and JRA like this.
  14. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    You just described what I have gone thru for
    the last 30 years and I live in New England/Boston area.
    It seems impossible to get 4 or 5 musicians together
    and agree on anything.
    OldDog52, BassikBrad, Wasnex and 2 others like this.
  15. bmusic


    Oct 22, 2017
    Los Angeles
    Similar trajectory: became a bass player in the 90s, was in some bands, did recordings that were well-liked by friends.

    Ya know what? It’s hard to keep a band together. Marriages fall apart most of the time, and a band is like being married to three or four or five people all at the same time.

    So most of my musical life is in recording, a lot of times with a singer I gigged with back in the 90s. Sometimes I do ask myself “What is the point? Why do I put so much effort into perfecting this snare EQ or that vocal reverb, as if there’s a legion of fans waiting for my next release?”

    Then I signed up with DistroKid and started putting my music out there, and my singer submitted us for playlist inclusion, and we got on a couple, and now people all over the world are grooving to us. A lot of people? Haha, no. But we’ve been Shazammed 11 times—that’s almost a dozen instances where a stranger heard my music and thought, “Ooh, what’s that?” and stopped what they were doing to find out. I will still continue to toil away in, statistically, the same amount of anonymity and obscurity I’ve always had, but it powers me on a little bit to know that, for a moment, I touched someone with my music. That maybe all of this is worth something.

    I submit to you that your music is worth something, too. So join the digital millennium and get it out there, but keep in mind that the core thing we’re accomplishing with making music is to create vibrations—with our voices and our instruments—that make the world a better place. Even if you just do it alone in your room, like yoga or meditation, and it puts you in a better frame of mind, which you then go out and share with the world—that, too, is your music contributing to the choir we all sing in. And that is worth it.
  16. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    this has more than a little relevance to the OP's lament.
  17. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I'll be 69 in a few months. I've played in various configurations for over 50 years. I had a setback 2.5 years ago in a "minor" stroke that messed with my right side and made it difficult for me to play (or write or type) but I'm very grateful it wasn't worse.

    I continue play to because I've played music since I was 9 years old and I'm not ready to quit.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
    DoFuzz, LowActionHero, KJMO and 13 others like this.
  18. L Anthony

    L Anthony Supporting Member

    May 14, 2009
    If your playing is just for yourself, then all the extraneous stuff shouldn't matter. If, however, as you stated, that you are more concerned with "leav(ing) something really good and special in this world, something that would transcend ourselves after we die, something that would get people high and make them feel happy, something out of this world", then there's only one way to do that -- by continuing to play, write and make music.

    I say this as a not very good bassist who plays at home for himself, but also as a writer who wants to create a novel (or novels) that people will enjoy and appreciate long after I'm gone. However, as a writer, I am excellent at legal/technical/persuasive writing, and below average at fiction. Nevertheless, I keep at it, because I know I can do it, and I learn something new every time I write. I feel and see myself getting better. (I've been writing fiction for decades now, and I'm still learning.) I do it for myself, despite my saying that I want people to enjoy something I've written after I'm gone. My thought process is, if I enjoy what I've written for myself, someone else will probably enjoy it too. Maybe that person hasn't been born yet, or maybe they've already read a snippet of something I've written that wasn't fiction that inspired them. My writing and non-writing life has been influenced in many ways, by many little things, much of it long since forgotten or considered trivial by the people who did it.

    In the same way, you might have already influenced future musicians without ever knowing it, in ways you can't imagine. A little riff that you don't even remember playing. An interplay between you and other musicians that people saw that transcended the actual notes being played. The main thing is to keep at it, especially because you will feel incomplete if you don't.
  19. swink


    Jan 10, 2019
    40 you said.... around that age everybody stands still by what they've achieved... most of us haven't reached as far as they wished... My advice is: Suck it up. Lay your bass aside for a while, give yourself the time to be depressed.... I'm sure one day some magnetic fields will bring that bass back where it belongs... in your hands with you playing it.:bassist::hyper:
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
    PsyDocHill and JRA like this.
  20. This is exactly where I am right now. But the reading I do tells me there's a smart order of operations to things, and that you need to have a following before you will be considered for playlist inclusion. And also, that you need to request inclusion before you release an album or single. Is that how it worked for you?
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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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