Why you shouldn’t form a guitar band in 2017 in the UK: It’s madness


So you want to start a band. For one thing, you’d better love music for the sake of music rather than seeking fortune and fame, otherwise, you’ll be sorely disappointed. There are multiple reasons this:

A. People are no longer as interested in guitar bands. It’s not the 70s anymore, man. For a long time, local musicians would be a key part of a town’s entertainment. Before TV, the internet and the high volume of recorded music that we now enjoy, people would listen around the piano at the pub to hear their favourite songs. This is no longer the case, a phone with an internet connection will do this job for a venue more consistently and for far cheaper than a guy who plays piano or guitar. The artists of the 1960s and 70s are as highly regarded as they are due to them coming at the perfect time in the transition, they were skilled enough to be rockstars, not having had the internet to learn the basics separated the wheat from the chaff for that generation. They were also the last of their kind before an oversaturation of the market created the climate for the decline that we are still experiencing.
B. The modern guitar bands/artists that we do see, are, for the most part, a limited and warped selection of artists, which after making sure they appear as bland and unoffensive as possible, are often bankrolled by the record labels. If you join a band today with the dream of playing gigs you need to ensure that you bring an audience with you so that the venue’s bar can make money. Local music venues that claim in their advertising that they support their local music scene do not do this. They usually have bands play for free and ask them to sell tickets to the show to their friends, like pyramid schemes, this will only last so long. You might get all your buds to come along to the first gig or so, but after that you’re going to struggle to sell your tickets, which means you make less money for the venue and are therefore not worth investing in. These venues you are starting out in for your first gigs do not give a shit about your band, they only care about their bar making money.

C. Unfortunately for people in their twenties or those born in the 1990s, we are living in a decade that follows on from decades of the accumulation of bands and artists that have been working, and continue to, from all the way back to the 1950s. That’s six and a bit decades of our popular musical landscape collecting numerous popular artists that crucially put lots of bums on seats- seats that emerging artists no longer can access at increasingly diminishing decent local musical venues.  Diminishing in part, due to the unprecedented ability in recent years to carry one’s entire music collection in their pocket, removing the need for music lovers to seek new artists in the volume that they once did. New emerging artist hunting is now engaged in by a small group of music lovers who are not like the majority of the music world’s target audience. Cheddar cheese is the most popular in the world, not because it tastes the best, but because it’s the most basic and therefore has the best mass appeal. And it’s the same story with music generally. Clever successful artists know that they need to be careful in how clever they make their songs. Kanye West has some very clever lyrics slipped into some of his songs, but he also knows how to write a simple memorable hook as well.

D. Let’s not forget, before the advent of music being treated as a mainstream consumer product, this whole music thing has never happened in quite this way before. As a consequence, people are probably not going to go nuts for you in the same way audiences did in footage from a Stooges gig back in the day. Expectations are too high as the reception to guitar bands has now entered a “post displaying admiration” phase. Get used to folded arms and blank expressions whilst you play your heart out, a stage the majority of bands are at until they reach national press coverage and an album sells well.

E. More people than ever play guitar thanks to instructional YouTube videos from the likes of Marty Schwartz (who doesn’t have a Wikipedia page somehow). This creates a huge influx of people who can play music and want to form bands as the venues increasingly disappear.

In conclusion, it is pure madness to form a band right now in the current climate. You probably shouldn’t do it and you would be mad to try because statistically you’re not good enough or crucially lucky enough. Lucky enough to find a great manager or be in the know somehow. But if you love it, do it. Just make sure you really do, because the higher you go, the path quickly becomes very steep.