The Oil Slick: Was Garage Rock Ahead of the Curve?
Garage rock bands are usually known for their effort, as opposed to their skill; more sweat than style, in other words.
We listen to bands that take their act on the road day in and day out, taking few breaks and seeing roadies more than their families. Bands that leave their mark on the stage literally, with blood, sweat and maybe a few tears.
Now other genres across music may be taking their cue from these road warriors.
With the music industry mired in uncertainty, the business model for a band has shifted dramatically. Recording deals are looking like a thing of a bygone era, and moving CDs is no longer going to cut it. Instead, bands are now expected to hit the tour circuit, and hit it hard, if they expect to play guitar for a living.
The days of selling a million albums (physically, at least) are all but over for the majority of artists. Now that music has been digitized and streamed to the world, it seems that the only thing an artist has left to sell is their stage presence.
Garage rock acts have been perfecting this business model for a while now; most acts realize fairly early on that album sales are never going to allow them to buy a second house. In order to earn their bacon, a band must visit every city twice and throw in a town or bowling alley along the way.
This way of thinking is rapidly becoming more of the accepted norm, as more and more artists are forced to rely more heavily on touring than they ever had to before in order to keep those mansions intact. Even the huge bands are amping it up. Red Hot Chili Peppers' latest tour runs almost nonstop from May through the end of November.
Although the music business may be in the worst shape it's seen in quite some time, the legions of hard-working bands who self-promote and tour relentlessly will still find a willing and receptive audience; provided their power slides are up to snuff.
John Grimley writes The Oil Slick blog for GuitarWorld.com.
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