Upon turning 70 years old, Dave’s dear sensei (since a teenage Utah community college stint), Larry Harper (among various monikers) curated 70 items of advice (at request of Annie Dandelion).
As such, between licks by Grateful Dead and master potter Marty Kendall, he riffs the list – ranging from practical to mystical to almost comical, many including nudity and space. Oh, also includes his ethereal autoharp songs (rescued from a ca. 1991 Zzyxz Rd cassette).
Canadian broadcaster Grant Lawrence posted a bit on CBC Radio 3 blog (now disappeared from internet and not archived) about “Backup Job Plans for Musicians” and i chimed in with unsolicited advice, [the article seems to be lost from the internets as cbcradio3 has ummm… disbanded] anyhow, ergo:
My advice is to have a backup plan which used your skills to help other bands. Keeps you in the mix and gives you an opportunity to share your knowledge and skills with other band folks who are on similar path/mission/trajectory as your own.
A few good ideas:
Silkscreen T-shirts / Merch Master:
Every band needs these and a lot of bands fuck this up or pay too much. Not just T-shirts, but other smart merchandise. At my day job, we made passports, tubes, guitar picks, stickers, scarves, flags… Get creative with your merch and people will buy it. Seriously, they want to give ya bread to keep participating in your culture.
I mean being a real designer, not just someone with Photoshop on a computer, to make poster art and album covers and so on. Packaging and March are too critical elements about the music business which are often overlooked. Look at the career (Vancouver legend) Bob Masse has built for himself since the mid 60s making awesome posters.
Social media promoter/community builder:
Fans are communities who desperately want to learn more about their favourite musicians, spend their money and rock out. Social media is the best way to build this community. Labels, bands and promoters are just catching on… Perhaps you can help them.
This one seems obvious and as difficult as making it as a musician but, with radical changes in the way music is recorded and released, there is huge potential for someone who understands both analog and digital recording methods.
Most bands have someone that kind of knows this game or they become too reliant on the labels, managers etc. If you are a touring road warrior who has built relationships with clubs, venues etc. but aren’t up for it anymore, work the phone and help emerging bands set up tours. You won’t get rich doing it for one band but doing it for 10 will pad your stats, especially when one of the bands hits big.
This seems a little reality TV-ish but many bands don’t have someone to instruct and advise them and care about them. Managers and labels usually don’t have the resources to dedicate to merging bands and so they are left to making mistakes and put in their career in someone else’s hands. Bands often need someone who has a deep long history with the music business but also has the empathy and insight to counsel and advise them on band dynamics. The right advisor can make the difference between a two album “flash in the pan” band and a generational band who last for decades.
The dance involves art and money, but not at the same time. In the first stage, it is paramount that the artist “reserves a protected gift-sphere in which the art is created.” He keeps money out of it. But in the next two phases, they can dance. The way I see it, Hyde’s dance steps go a little something like this:
Make art make money.
Make money make art.
It is the last step that turns this dance into a waltz — something cyclical so that the money is not the real end. Truly, for Jim Henson, money was a fuel that fed art.
When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before — make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.