Seitenwechsel #20 – Cancel The Astronaut

Der Name ist und bleibt gut gewählt, der bleibt hängen. Vor Kurzem stieß ich auf diese kleine Band aus Edinburgh und mochte ihre Musik, also schrieb ich einen kurzen Beitrag. Die Band stieß auf meine Worte und berichtete im eigenen Blog darüber. Kurz darauf standen wir in Kontakt, und ich fragte ganz locker nach, ob sie nicht vielleicht Lust hätten, uns ihre Perspektive auf das moderne Musikbusiness darzulegen. Matthew hatte Lust und haute in die Tasten, und zwar richtig. Freut euch auf einen langen und interessanten Einblick, den ich wie immer nicht übersetzt habe, um ihn nicht zu verfälschen.

Hello. Nico was kind enough to ask me to write something about my experience of being in a local unsigned band, which, in conclusion, is a lot like being in a very small and unsuccessful army: 95% of your time is occupied by banal, mundane and utterly boring non-activity, and the other 5% is spent in complete and absolute terror.

I’ve included some of my thoughts on the Edinburgh music scene, which is all I’m even vaguely qualified to talk about, since we are a very small band, and rarely bother to leave the city, let alone the country. I’ve also included some personal reflections about what it’s like to be in Cancel the Astronauts, which will have no relevance to anyone other than those people who are in Cancel the Astronauts. You should still read it though…

The Edinburgh music scene is very healthy and has benefited from the energies of some very talented and extremely dedicated individuals, as well as some frankly excellent bands. Edinburgh’s biggest and most successful band of recent years, Broken Records, worked incredibly hard to get signed, gigging endlessly up and down the country, and their well deserved success has been great for the city as a whole. It reminds people that Edinburgh can produce great bands that should not be ignored. Withered Hand is pretty closely affiliated to Fence Records and has just signed a deal to get their album released in the USA, and Meursault are just about to embark on their second(?) european tour. These bands are all brilliant and you should all go and listen to them if you haven’t already.

From my perspective (and I know nothing because I’m a bit of a cold fish) two of the most important people responsible for the resurgence of Edinburgh’s music scene are Matthew from Song, by Toad, and Bart from eagleowl. Now there are other people that I could mention, and there are undoubtedly plenty of others that I can’t mention, because I’m shy and don’t know many people, but when we first started three years ago Matthew and Bart seemed to be in or around the best things that were happening musically in the city. Matthew writes Song, by Toad which really is in my humble opinion the best music bog I’ve ever read. While I tend not to like everything he enjoys I find myself coming back to SbT because it feels like a real community, it’s beautifully designed, constantly updated with reviews, videos and podcasts, and is home to some fantastic bands like Meursault. It’s become much more than just a blog, so much so that Matthew has become a blogger/label boss/other things full time.

Bart from eagleowl spends an awful lot of time organising great gig nights like Gentle Invasion and the Retreat festivals, and also appears to be in almost every decent band in the city. Apart from us of course. He has always encouraged us, gave us gigs, and helped to promote other bands and gigs and venues. All this, and he’s in a cracking band too. It’s because of the efforts of people like Matthew and Bart that Edinburgh bands have so much confidence at the moment, and have a strong network of fans/friends/influential people on which to rely. Matthew and Bart both thoroughly deserve the success they’ve had with their respective endeavours because they’ve worked so hard.

As a band it tells us that it’s not enough just to write songs and stick them up on MyspaceI mention them because their example is evidence that if you want to do something well, then you have to spend an awful lot of time on it. As a band it tells us that it’s not enough just to write songs and stick them up on Myspace; there’s so much competition now that nobody’s going to find you. Put on your own gigs, help other bands and promoters with their gigs, start a blog, use Facebook and Bandcamp and Twitter, make some cheap videos and put them up on your own Youtube channel, give away some music for free, make your CDs and website look really beautiful, GO AND MEET PEOPLE, etc, etc, etc. It’s not enough just to be in a band, it’s necessary to look like you’re in a band too. And it’s pretty easy to do with even a minimum amount of effort. This is something we are admittedly very bad at, and is probably one of the many reasons why we are not superfamous, but we’re trying to get better.

As for us, it can certainly be very frustrating being in an unsigned band. We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve made friends with some wonderful bands, such as Kid Canaveral, French Wives and Come On Gang!, all of whom have a bigger profile than us. We’ve been able to get some great gigs through our association with these guys and I would encourage any new bands to go out there and make friends. It sound silly and obvious but it’s nice to make new friends and if people think you’re a good band and nice people then you’ll benefit from those sorts of connections.

We’ve also had some some great support from local bloggers and music journalists. Scottish blogs such as Aye Tunes, Kowalskiy, Peenko and the Radar guys have consistently plugged our gigs, given us great reviews and played our music to people. All this really helps to increase our profile but much more than that encourages us to keep going, keep writing songs and playing gigs, and provides some necessary armour against the more frustrating aspects of being in a band. For example, we have been playing gigs for three years around Edinburgh and we still often play to very small audiences. As a band you want to play to as many people as possible and it’s easy to get down when you’re playing to tiny crowds. It’s tough not to take it as a rather large hint: you’re rubbish and noone wants to come and watch you! It’s on these occasions that you need strong self belief, and having the support of enthusiastic bloggers and other musicians really does make a difference. As such, I can’t overemphasise enough to new bands the importance of building up positive friendships and contacts online.

Don’t expect to make any money either. In fact, expect to lose a bit of it.Don’t expect to make any money either. In fact, expect to lose a bit of it. There’s a lot of music out there right now and it’s very easy to get. Illegal downloads have probably had a big effect on successful bands but probably not on us since noone has heard of us anyway. Perhaps it means that labels are less likely to sign little ands like us because of the risks involved, but I’ve no real idea to be honest. I’m of the opinion that if you keep writing better songs, songs that are so good that they can’t be ignored forever, then eventually you’ll find an audience and a way of making a living out of music. That might be nonsense though.

Don’t give up. If you really believe that your music is good and is worth making, and properly believe that too, not in an embarrassing Liam Gallagher-esque ‘I’m great me’ way, but in an ‘I’ve actually thought a bit about it, and yeah, I think we’re good, but we’re determined to get better still’ sort of way then don’t give up. If you stop because it’s frustrating and tiring and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere then I can guarantee that you’ll never get anywhere. So just don’t stop. That’s my only real advice to anyone, and the only thing I’ve actually learned from being in Cancel the Astronauts. Hopefully we’ll get to the stage where we’ll decrease the percentage of boredom/terror to something a little more terrifying like 80%/20%. I would like a bit more terror in my life.

I think that’s everything I can think of. Bye!

Homepage der Band


Was soll das hier? Wir sitzen auf der einen Seite. Wir hören Musik umsonst, bei Streaming-Anbietern wie, Spotify, roccatune. Wir kaufen die ein oder andere Platte oder bezahlen für einen Download. Wir gehen auf Konzerte, kaufen Merchandise-Artikel und bezeichnen uns als Fans. Wir lesen Blogs, wir kennen die Hype Maschine und diverse Onlinemagazine. Und, wenn wir ehrlich sind, dann laden wir auch das eine oder ander Musikstück illegal herunter. Das ist unsere Seite.

Und auf der anderen Seite sitzen die Musiker. Denn die Musikindustrie ist genau genommen nur der Vermittler. Sicherlich ein wichtiger Vermittler, der eine Menge falscher Entscheidungen getroffen hat und trifft, und den man mitunter auch verachten kann. Aber auf der anderen Seite sitzt meines Erachtens der Künstler. Und dessen Meinung zur aktuellen Lage der Industrie geht in meinen Augen sehr oft einfach unter. Dabei wäre es doch gerade interessant zu erfahren, wie Musiker heutzutage leben, womit sie ihr Geld verdienen, wieviel Herzblut mit jedem nicht verkauften Album verloren geht, wie anstrengend das dauernde Touren ist, woher das Durchhaltevermögen kommt, warum man sich das überhaupt antut.

Und aus diesem Grund möchte ich die Musiker fragen. Ich bitte ausgesuchte Künstler, auf meinem Blog ihre Meinung kundzutun. Ihre Meinung zu Fans, zu illegalen Downloads, zu ihrem Arbeitsumfeld, ihrer Lebenssituation, der Musikindustrie, dem Musikerdasein. Dabei sind sie in Form und Inhalt völlig frei. Ob das nun ein kurzes Statement ist oder ein Kurzroman, ich mache keine Vorgaben.

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