People always ask me, "what is it like, tell me the story of the road"
"Pack up a bag of shirts, a bag of shoes, lace up those sneaks and play the blues. We're gonna drive, eat, sound check, sleep and rock another gig then get back in the jeep" or something like that...
My band has been on the road for a minute now. When people ask me how long I've been on tour, do I say 2 weeks or 19 years? Both are true. We've been out in a van or a tour bus for 19 fucking years. That's what it takes.
These kids say they want to be famous and rich and what's the first thing I ask them, "Do you want to work hard?" If you want to make it in music, you better love it. I mean you've got to have a real passion, a real serious work ethic and have a bit of god-given talent if possible (while not necessary, it does help.) The key is work ethic. Are you ready to put in that type of work?
There's a singer/songwriter I've met a couple times this past year and he's given me a couple demos. The demos sound real good. I like his songs, I like his guitar playing, his voice, the kids got a good look and it seems like the whole package. He wanted me to play his demo for the label. He wanted to see if I could pass it along to an even more famous musician than myself. I looked at the kid and asked him, "Why?" What he was missing was, if he didn’t see the opportunity that I could give him -- the chance to get out on the road, build an fan base, get exposed, sell CDs -- then why the fuck would the label or anyone bigger than me care about him or his demo?
Is that harsh? Yes. But the bottom line is you need to have a base before anyone is gonna invest anything in you, and more importantly if they did ,your opportunity would be wasted since you wouldn’t have any fans to build upon and wouldn’t have made the mistakes you learn from along the way and wouldn’t be ready.
Back in the day you could make a demo and if it was really good you could get a record deal. Yes I just said you could get a deal without even touring, without even playing one gig! As crazy as it sounds it's true. My old manager worked with the Fun Lovin Criminals. They were fucking awesome. Never had a gig and made a sick ass record. They made it big for a couple years too. Those days are gone!
See, nowadays there's no easy road for guitar players and musicians. There's no record deals growing on trees anymore like there was in the '90s. You've got to earn it to own it.
My singer/songwriter friend came to a show last week and gave me a new demo, which I'm excited to hear. I asked him how the gigs were going and I was astounded when he said he wasn't gigging. WTF get out and gig! I told you you were good.
Believe me I get a lot of demos and unfortunately very, very few are close to good. But not gigging? Why? It makes no sense.
And here is the best-kept dirty secret you make a whole lot more money touring than you ever will selling records. Harder to earn loot on the road? Yes. Better way to support your family, keep you doing what you love and allow you to be creative? Also a big YES!
Here's where we are at right now. DIY. Do it yourself. Yes it's daunting. Yes, it's challenging but it's also liberating and exciting. If you've got a computer, a guitar and your hustle dialed in, you can indeed make it happen. You've got every tool in the toolbox right at your fingertips. DIY. Earn it to own it.
You see there's nobody I can play your demo for that's really going to change your world. You've got to change you're own world. There's no Santa Claus in the music game anymore. You've got to put your own presents underneath the tree know what I’m sayin'?!
You've got to gig man
You've got to post shit online.
You've got to make real fans.
Start by getting one fan! One fan that loves what you do. Then get a couple cute chicks to dig it. Then some college kids or a young couple. One person at a time.
After the sold out Atlanta show then other night we had a drink with Lenard and Kristin. They're a great couple who've been together for probably 15 years. We have all grown up together at our shows, which they never miss. They are at every Georgia show I ever play. It's pretty cool to think about how many people they've turned on to our music. They are real fans. You see it's door to door. You're a guitar player and a politician or a salesman. You've got to put in the time. That's what keeping it real is. Hard work.
Get creative, stay focused give it love, time and hard work. You'll get rich and famous or maybe you won't but you'll get damn good on that guitar. Now go pick up the phone and book some gigs. Then go practice!! I'm going to do the same. I wish I could get you a deal but no one sells records for you except you. Make something you love and figure out a new way to sell it.
For reals. It's the wild west, it's the California gold rush. Many will die, some will get rich. Stake your claim brother, make your world sister!
Good luck! Keep jamming and stay down and dirty.
Thanks, your friend, G. Love
If you want to hear more about where today's music business is headed check out Bob Lefsetz's blog.
G. Love, aka Garrett Dutton, has been the front man and founder of the alternative hip-hop blues group G. Love & Special Sauce since their inception in 1993. Widely known for his upbeat hits "Cold Beverage," "Baby's Got Sauce" and "Hot Cookin'," G. Love returned to his blues and country roots on his latest release, Fixin' To Die (Amazon, iTunes), produced by Scott and Seth Avett. A road dog if one ever existed, G. Love performs roughly 125 shows a year all over the world including Australia, Japan, Brazil, UK, Canada and the U.S. G. Love teamed up with Gretsch to create his own signature model, the Gretsch G. Love Signature Electromatic Corvette, which features a pair of TV Jones® Power'Tron™ pickups, deluxe mini-precision tuners and a cool Phili-green color scheme with competition stripe that would make ANYONE from Philadelphia proud! Check it out here.