Factory Music (def)
Origins of Term: Greg Lassalle
Definition of Term: This is the term I’m using to describe the circuit of playing cover music in residency venues. This is frequently in bands where the artists change with one’s hormonal cycle and the venues and conditions change as frequently as your favourite characters in Game of Thrones die. I’m mainly using this term to describe the typical 6 nights a week gig I have come into contact with in Asia and the Middle East, in anything from duos, to 4, to 7-piece bands. It isn’t as cold as the definition sounds… factories can create great things… but they also can be slightly soul-destroying – depends how long you’re there for and how you use it.
Can you be an inventor in the factory and a worker? The designer and the cog? I don’t know.
There are so many musicians on the road in the 5 star circuit, whether it be through companies like el-live productions, Hear and Now Entertainment, or other independent agencies or bands. All these agencies and musicians move between multiple gigs. As Jimmy Holiday of Hear and Now Ent says: ‘Every gig has its pros and its cons,’ and the same goes for every agency and band. I’ve only worked in the industry for just over a year now, having worked 3 different contracts in Beijing, and Abu Dhabi. I have realised, despite the multitude of people in the industry, there is definitely a gap in online material for people in this residency industry. I want to invite other experienced musicians on the road to comment and share their experiences and knowledge and create an online community for the Factory Music Scene.
These jobs are incredible. Seeing the world (although mostly the middle east) in 5 star hotels, with 5 star food, and getting to do what you love every night. I do still love it. But doing it night after night- certain realities may get to you:
Sometimes you’re just a glorified jukebox, with people poking at you and kicking you when you don’t know their song.
A plane is just a glorified van.
A fancy venue – a glorified pub.
This post is about the ‘groundhog day syndrome’ of the residency gig (a term I credit to Paul, the guitarist/singer of The Rocks residency band). It happens in any line of work, this is one of the few times when it can happen in music though.
It’s the reality that hits, of going to the same gig, night after night, four 45s (more or less) a night and getting varied, but similar reactions: A couple of nice people and nice compliments, a couple of idiots causing trouble, a couple of assholes being cruel (of course there are also people that inspire you or that you inspire and they remind you why you love what you do… but that’s another post). The funny incidents or people being dragged out the bar drunk off their tits, dancing ridiculously, or dramas of fights can begin to appear like clockwork and become disinteresting. The musical kicks can diminish as you realise most people don’t really care (and this isn’t wrong, just a reality) – and if they do, they only care that you play Hotel California, Zombie, or songs that you really don’t know (and they’re offended that you don’t know it). Nothing wrong with it, and nothing wrong with the people, I’m sure they’re lovely people… it just can get tedious.
It’s an experience I know artists like me, Sam Brown, and Emily Clark are going through despite LOVING performing and playing music. We love what we do – except the syndrome can still get to us and we can sometimes feel trapped. And we have nothing on the people who’ve been doing it for over a decade (and there are many) and I’d love some comments from those veterans.
Sometimes you can feel like: No matter how hard you work or how great you sound, you will not earn more, nor will you create a great name for yourselves, as you will easily be replaced, and members of your band will move on and different contracts come up – nothing is permanent. You add new songs, but you always go back to the same repertoire. You create friends, but they come and go as you do.
ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST!
Once again I do love what I do and on great nights I get an absolute fire out of it (like the night I’m editting this- after I first wrote it lol, we artists are drama queens), but when a shitty day, some factory rust, or an infection of groundhog day syndrome get to you: Here are some thoughts to keep in mind and things to do to help keep your passion aflame:
- REPEAT AFTER ME: You can’t please everyone. (The same way you can’t let every comment that you’re the best guitarist in the world go to your head, you can’t let every negative comment get to you either – it will break you)
- HAVE FUN AND MAKE IT FUN (if that means ridiculous outfits. If that means making stupid jokes and taking space inbetween songs. Enjoy the small things, the small victories, the small acknowledgements.)
- Change things up. Add some of YOUR favourite songs to the set – if you’re having fun most likely so will the audience (find awesome musically douchey arrangements of songs that you’ve done so many times they kill you inside, try a different style of performance or talking to the audience).
- Don’t put pressure on yourself. ALLOW YOURSELF OFF DAYS – ACCEPT THAT THEY HAPPEN (There is no perfect, and exactly like the track, doesn’t necessarily entertain or impress an audience. Whatever you do, Factory Music is a job. Don’t let it own you. 6 nights a week for months and months on end- you’re not going to be ok all of the time, you’re not going to LOVE it all the time. It’s just life. it’s Ebb and flow.)
- RE-ASSES YOUR WHY- FIND YOUR MOTIVATION (AGAIN). (think about why you’re doing it? Then try incorporate that motivation in your daily and nightly routine. )
- REMEMBER THE KID: all he/she wanted to do was play music for a living. Think of how proud your younger self would be, and not the stupid now-you who’s all like ‘you should be doing more with your life, seeing more places, doing more things, practising more, sleeping with more women, sleeping with less woman, partying less, partying more etc… you get the point *eye twitches* accept where you are and who you are and enjoy.
- SEEK OUT ADVICE. (It can be quite lonely being on the road. You’re surrounded by professional entertainers who put on a happy face for a living, you don’t realise they might be experiencing the same difficulties or blue funk as you. Especially for men, who have a tendency not to talk about icky feelings and such TALK ABOUT IT to people who understand).
- KEEP CREATING (I don’t know very many artists, even in the factory music scene, who don’t get a kick out of creating. Keep Creating, keep learning. And if you can get some small cash on the side for creating tracks, or teaching lessons. DO IT! Allow your reach to extend beyond the same bar you’ve been working at for however many endless nights).
That’s just some musings off the top of my head. I’d love to create a more substantial list. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you are a musician and have any feelings of groundhog day you’d like to share, and any advice how to avoid it – COMMENT! And send me messages.