A few other quick hits….
There seems to be something of a rebirth of live music going on in the bars and restaurants in our area. This is a GREAT development, after many years of scarce opportunities for musicians due to the scourge of karaoke and DJs. I’m not sure what is causing this. Perhaps it’s a positive reaction to the proliferation of reality shows on television that feature singers in competition, often playing guitar? Does the popularity of those shows make people want to go out and hear live performances? I really don’t know, but the results are more work for local musicians. Here on Cape Cod, where we definitely have a seasonal, tourist-driven economic base it is expected that in the summer there will be work for musicians but in our small town there were at least half dozen places that had bands or single performers all winter.
I am a bit removed from that scene as I don’t really go after the bar work much anymore so I can’t tell what the pay scale is (my guess is that it hasn’t improved all that much) but at least a player can find work on an occasional basis if he or she is willing to put in the leg work required. This was not the case a few years ago. Hooray!
Last week one of my students asked me to recommend a good place to buy sheet music. Unfortunately, I had to confess that I didn’t really know any, not locally anyway. I suggested that he do some internet searches of the artists he likes and he would most likely find what he was looking for. This is a tough one – copyright issues come into play as it’s pretty easy to find free downloads of just about any music one seeks. It appears to me that music publishing companies have just about given up fighting this, which is sad. Writers deserve to be compensated for their work. But perhaps there is another mind set at work here. If an amateur player downloads the free (i.e., pirated) sheet music or even just a lead sheet/chord sheet of a song they’re interested in learning does that inspire them to purchase an MP3 file of that music? Music downloads are protected more vigorously so it’s much more likely that the artist will see some return (although as outlined in Byrne’s book, the cut taken by ITunes is almost criminal).
Some people still do buy printed sheet music of course. I think this is much more common when it comes to piano and vocal music, as compared to guitar music, except perhaps classical pieces. And when it comes to just basic chord sheets, an intermediate level player will most likely be able to figure out the changes “by ear” once he or she understands the basics of playing in a key and scale-line triads because in some genre’s such as country and folk music (and a fair amount of rock) the writers don’t tend to stray much outside the key a song is written in. Jazz is something altogether different of course!
Peace & good music,