8/26: THE MULTI TASKING MUSICIAN SYNDROME

I’ve often spoken about the over touring so many bands are doing these days. Playing so much their draw starts to decrease because people get tired of seeing them. It’s a by product of the fact that bands are not making money from selling music sadly. But we now have the over saturation of artists being in way too many bands. Again, same problem behind it. Artists are just casting their line out as many places as possible to see where they get a bite. All looking for something that has some traction and can be a viable source of financial and creative success. But I see it as really becoming a bit of an issue because it is flooding the market with product that has almost no chance to break through. I have been sent music featuring an artist from one label and had another label send me another release the same week featuring the same artist. How much can you do? How many interviews can you have with one person in one week? How can fans invest anything into some of these projects when you know it might already be over before it’s released or they may never do a live show? Very confusing. You have labels that will release almost anything from some bands but not ever really work it past a week. Hired gun promoters are everywhere pushing things one week to the next until the retainer they are paid runs out and  then have moved on. Again I understand why it’s all happening but I also believe a less is more plan could work just as well. I miss the days an artist had one band and it was special to see them live or release and album every year or two. I know all things change and evolve but some of the multi tasking going on in today’s music world is hard to figure. It’s already hard when everyone is so over stimulated and with such short attention spans to sell music and get real traction, but when artists are hitting you with 3-4 projects or more a year you can’t blame the fan for being confused and not knowing where that person hangs their hat. Not blaming the musicians. The business has become the wild west and I don’t blame anyone for doing what they must to survive. But I have to think that it might be a better way if a band tried to just make a full commitment to one group and see what happens. Actually work and grow it and make all the focus on it. Tour, keep the priority in one spot. I have to laugh how a couple years ago my good friend Mike Portnoy was roasted for having several bands. Well guess what? Now almost everyone is doing it and it doesn’t seem so crazy.

Comments

  1. “How can fans invest anything into some of these projects when you know it might already be over before it’s released or they may never do a live show? Very confusing.”

    Not sure what you mean here, Eddie. As a huge Def Leppard fan, I’m connected to Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell on Facebook. Phil has released ManRaze CD’s and has Delta Deep coming out soon. Viv has the Last In Line CD coming soon. Joe Elliott just released the second Down N’ Outz CD. I’ve purchased all of these albums and I’m not confused that they are just side projects. Little to no chance any of these acts will embark on major tours. It’s just another creative outlet for the guys – most likely to draw interest from Leppard fans, or in Joe’s case Ian Hunter/Mott fans.

    There’s nothing wrong with someone like George Lynch working on multiple projects at the same time. It’s not “confusing,” it’s just more product from a guitarist I love. KXM – bought it, love it. Sweet/Lynch – love what I’ve heard and I’ll buy that too. More Lynch Mob on the way – bring it on.

  2. Who’s in this band, who’s in that band? Today, it makes me appreciate a band like Aerosmith even more, you know what you’re getting, and who! IMO, don’t put together anymore “supergroups”, unless/until you can keep them together! Old days, old ways, some things should NEVER change! :)

  3. Mark Ellis says:

    Good analysis, Eddie. I’m totally with you on the side-project frenzy, while I do understand why musicians have to do it. I want Chris Barnes growling about maggots in one band, not turning upto growl about maggots in three bands which are frankly hard distinguish from one another.

    I remember when Lars Ulrich sat in front of a Senate committee decrying how artistic content was being stolen and disbursed with no compensation for the artist. It’s all been download/downhill from there.

    I’ll channel Dana Carvey’s Old Man: “In MY day, Judas Priest came out with a record, and it sold millions of copies, and popular bands like Priest got rich, and went out in support of the record, and got richer, and we LIKED it.”

    I used to be so proud of my cassette tape collection, everything from all the Sabs, all the Slayer, Scorps, Leppard, and tons of one hit metal acts like Grim Reaper.

  4. Frank Rizzo says:

    I’m with ya Eddie. You make valid points but also don’t forget the financial perspective from the fans point of view. Not everyone can afford to drop $10 on iTunes for a record or $12.99 for the cd or $16.99 for a deluxe version of something. One of my favorite bands is Alterbridge. One of the greatest bands on earth. But they lose some of that magic because Myles is in a band with Slash, Mark has Tremonti & I believe the other two are starting their own bands now too. I don’t get it. What’s up with Jason Bonham? What band is he in now? Billy Sheehan? DuG Pinnick? George Lynch? I can’t keep up with how many bands they’re in nonetheless afford to buy multiple releases per year when a lot of the material quite honestly isn’t as good as their primary bands material!

  5. Eddie, your comments about new albums essentially disappearing after a week rings SO true. Heck, look at how mud promotion Priest did leading up to the release of Redeeemer. Now? It’s like it never happened. “Next!” I’m even afraid to check the Billboard number for it now. It’s become a sad by-product of our society that you can’t milk an album with strong singles throughout a year or so to keep a band’s momentum going. I wish I had the solution. I think what you and the guys are doing on Sirius is really the only thing keeping metal (at least) going strong. I can’t tell you how many new bands I’ve been turned on to since I started subscribing in ’06. But we, as a society, have virtually no attention span anymore. It sucks for these great musicians, because they are busting their collective asses off for pennies in return half the time.

  6. Talent/creativity/longevity stand on their own merit. Portnoy and others cast their lines out because they don’t have the combination of talent and creativity to create their own “brand” so to speak. This isn’t a knock on them at all…it’s just reality. In every genre…sports, business, music, whatever…you have superstars who stand the test of time because they are more talented and more creative than their peers. That’s just the way it works. In the heavy metal/hard rock world, the more talented and more creative have survived, if they’ve been able to stay alive. I don’t need to tell you who they are because everyone knows who they are. Most of the people about whom you speak are talented and creative people, but not to the level of the superstars who have survived. The free market is a cruel but honest arbiter. Making a commitment to one group to see what happens won’t change a thing for 99.9% of the people that I know you are thinking about…they simply don’t have the unique combination to succeed.

  7. “I have been sent music featuring an artist from one label and had another label send me another release the same week featuring the same artist.”

    Are you referring to Nikki Sixx here? Touring with Motley Crue; releasing a country tribute album; and promoting the latest Sixx AM….

    You make a great point though. However, there’s also the reality that the already-struggling major labels don’t allow bands to develop artistically or commercially. At best, they get one album, one single, and if that doesn’t catch fire, they’re on to the next band. In that kind of environment, “less is more” could leave you back at Square One without a label, promotion, etc.

  8. Beth Milligan says:

    You once again get the point across so well. You are right that to put themselves behind one project would in the end be the best, but that’s got to be easier said than done. This can never have been an easy way to make a living, but it appears to be harder now than ever. Tragic really that there is that pressure to do what they are doing just to stay alive as musicians. Thanks from your fans and on behalf of all the musicians who you also help. You’ve made a difference.

  9. Up until I read the last two sentences, all I could think about was Mike Portnoy!

    • Portnoy is really bad about this. He needs to stop putting together super groups and try to get back into Dream Theater.

      • Mike HAS made a commitment to Winery Dogs now. But everyone will always do side projects. But that is the band where he hangs his hat now.

        • Portnoy’s commitment to Winery Dogs will last about as long as he can squeeze a dollar out of it, which won’t be long. Again, don’t take that as a slight…but he’s not a major name, never has been, and will always be fringe for the most part. And that is what fringe artists have to do to survive. He’ll hook up with somebody else and do what he has to do to make a living, which is fine.

          I guess I don’t see this as a big issue like you do. It’s just part of the changing market…the strong survive.

      • I don’t think Portnoy will ever get back into DT as long as Mangini stays. I highly doubt the other members will kick Mangini out, especially if it’s just to get MP back in.

  10. I’m forced to agree with much of this. My take on it is: If you are going to be in multiple bands, then be smart, and only work one at a time. Put out the record, promote it, tour behind it, and then set up the next project. Releasing multiple records in the current climate may or may not be “confusing”, but it certainly is sensory overload – not to mention a hit to the wallet for fans of that musician/artist. Nowadys, much of the product is put out by smaller indie labels, who do not seem to realize or care that flooding the marketplace with multiple releases featuring certain artists muddies the waters and dilutes what they do on all fronts. So, not only do the artists need to be smarter about how/when product is put out, so should labels and artist management.

  11. Black Country Communion, Chickenfoot, etc

  12. Before I read any of the other comments, great article Eddie. You really hit on some key points, and I don’t get it either. I tell ya, seeing Rudy Sarzo, the perennial Ozzy bassist in Dio just wasn’t right, seeing Rudy lick his bass during “Heaven and Hell,” that just doesn’t work. Seeing Carlos Cavazo in Ratt when someone else is playing in Quiet Riot. The current Foreigner and Journey situations: it’s completely changed into a mercenary culture. The art, the music, suffers. I’m glad you have taken up the issue, and you should do more of this stuff on here, if you don’t mind me saying.

  13. Joe Pensanti says:

    All I know is, bands should stop charging 125 bucks for a concert ticket. Furthermore, even if you get a lawn ticket for, say, Kiss, it’s cheaper but not that cheap. And Kiss tunes down and Paul can’t sing anymore. Not giving 100% seems to be their mantra of late. Charging full price for the same staid setlist sans a song or two, the same costumes, the same show, and NO Kiss sign (on a VIDEO screen? Blasphemy!) all add up to one thing: the party is over. Time to do one last show with Ace and Peter and call it the day that should have been called in 2001. gene and Paul may not play in multiple bands, but their ridiculous hubris causes them to have side ventures that really, nobody gives a damn about but them. And the band suffers for it. look, Tommy Thayer had the best song off Monster. Really. And it really is a good song. It’s just too bad Gene and Paul are too busy with a losing football team and Rock N Brews to bother to write better material and do a different show. Not sure if this makes much sense being on this message board, but there you have it lol

    • “Freak” is the only great song on Monster, the rest are solid though. But “Wall Of Sound” sounds too much like “Love In An Elevator” for me to fully appreciate it.

    • Besides being dead wrong (Gene Simmons brought 125% to the show I saw about two weeks ago; beyond debate that he is NOT phoning it in at what, 64 years old??) what does that have to do with the original post? Kiss is actually one of the few bands that have kept it “pure” in terms of member over-saturation.

      And want to stick up for my man Mike Portnoy; at least his projects are different enough to be distinguishable, and different enough to appeal to a cross section of people. Transatlantic is one of the few true “prog” bands out there, and his playing there is totally different than Winery Dogs. Plus, as a drummer, the impact isn’t the same as say, hearing Myles Kennedy and wondering “Is this Alter Bridge? Solo? Slash? Something else?” Despite arguably starting the trend, Mike is actually one of the least offenders at this point.

  14. First off remember the days when bands like Rush & Kiss put out 2 albums a year and never stopped touring? In the 70’s if you weren’t releasing a record a year and playing 8 days a week you were considered a slacker. Now we’re suffering from oversaturation? The bands/ artist are releasing too many records and touring too much?
    I get it the economics aren’t the same. Which isn’t that part of it as well? This summer it was either Kiss / Def Leppard or Aerosmith / Slash or Motley / Alice? 25 years ago it wasn’t much of a question because tickets were affordable. So isn’t part of the blame the fact that ticket prices are so high? Which if Kid Rock can go out and offer $20.00 tickets and reasonably priced merch why can’t other acts take note?
    Also part of it is that albums are cheaper to make thanks to technology. So many bands are recording on the road on in home studios knocking down the costs. Everyone from Phil Collin to Mick Mars is using an amp sim plug in these days. So yeah ABC act isn’t spending 6 months in the studio anymore writing and recording and waiting another two months for mixing and mastering. And it isn’t costing $150,000 either.
    Add to the equation so many independent record companies out there look to stay afloat by signing anyone who might move some units. Which even before pirating the common record industry standards were the multi-platinum artist paid for the entire roster of artist. Still is.
    Eventually the cream will rise to the top. And that is the last point. At no other time has the consumer been able to sample before they bought. No here is the first single or video that’s all you get, no waiting for your buddy to get it to see if it was good (which if it was you’d probably just copy it to cassette) no buyer’s remorse for paying 15 bucks for a CD that had 2 good songs and a bunch of filler. The artist that create great music, promote themselves right, work hard and get that break will sell and gain an audience. The artist who have drained themselves creatively and are just chasing a buck won’t.
    Personally would rather be oversaturated with Rock than Pop music disgust as country, or Pop artist that think their rock because the scored a 30 year old Iron Maiden tour shirt. Besides…what other profession would you tell someone I think it’s a good idea to take a year off and not do what you do to pay the bills and put food on the table?

  15. O.K, I’ve read some of the other posts.
    When I hear those side projects I hear pros that go in and bang some stuff (I hate that we can’t cuss on this site anymore..) out in about 2 days, pro-tool the hell out of it and just slap some cover on it and put it out. This happens all the time. They go and do some shows, and are just banging stuff out, going through the motions even. Sure, it’s a great job, and they enjoy it, but they aren’t putting all of the their blood and sweat into all of those bands, maybe one is the wife, and the rest are mistresses? But then….I better stop…

  16. What announcement is red dragon cartel going to issue?

  17. Gotta agree Ed But it is the new reality. To think Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, did all their work from basically 1967-71. Or Rod Stewart doing 4 albums in 18 months with the Faces and solo. All classic stuff that still gets played today. The way people access music is totally different now. You can cherry pick off I Tunes or just watch or listen off youtube. Pink Floyd played all of Dark Side, Wish you Were Here, and Animals live before they were released because they were a real band not a “Project”

  18. Good points Eddie…the bands that were around in the day when you could make money from albums and concerts are not making the money anymore, but they have been around so long that the money they made early in their careers makes up for the lack of making it now. Then as a few have already said, you have what I would call the “mid-level” artists that have made money, but not beyond a certain time…Dokken, Ratt, and DreamTheater are examples of bands that had their time, but didn’t have the longevity during the money making times in the industry whereas a band like the Scorpions have been around for so long and are still relevant, that they may not be RRHOF worthy (although I think they are) but they have had a hell of a career, made their money and if they put out an album that doesn’t sell, it is not such a financial concern as it would be with a band still working because they NEED the money…Dave Grohl did this a few years back, and he is certainly a superstar…he did Probot, drummed for Queens of the Stoneage, played with the Foo Fighters, did the allstar album for his movie, etc… I also think some side projects may be the artist feeling their way to another outlet for their music…seems like creatively, very few bands remain intact. I don’t mind side projects, but kind of agree with you that I don’t want it to affect their main gig…As far as a band that seems to do it right…ACDC…they have never been a band that overstays their welcome, and I predict a sold out arena tour when they tour later this year…Plus a great album

  19. Eddie ( And everyone else as well) , what do you think was the last really successful supergroup? Audioslave perhaps ?

  20. Jim From Houston says:

    I think part of the problem is that a lot of the stuff Super bands are putting out is Very Average at best. There are few bands who put out quality CD’s, but most put out very forgettable stuff. Like Alice Cooper said yeah I get your angry but where is the song? Exceptions to this are Winery Dogs and Chicken Foot IMO. I hear these guys or those guys are putting a band together and listen to the early release and I think I’m not buying that. I did buy Chicken Foot CD’s though.

  21. So very true, Eddie. These guys have to make a living and it’s sad so many of them have to tour like they do. Making matters worse, they get that stupid “supergroup” tag put on their projects before anyone hears one note from them and a lot of times I think sets them up for failure.Sometimes, actual magic happens, like Black Country Communion, but more often it’s done and over in less than a year. Mike’s a great example of a great musician spreading himself thin at times, so is George Lynch. But like you said, it’s not just guys like them doing it now. The music industry is broken to the point that I don’t think it’ll ever return to how it was back in the good old days. But I agree that the less is more approach can work and bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden are great examples of that. AC/DC don’t even have an album out yet and I’m already excited about seeing them live again because it’s been so long since they last toured. Granted, those two bands are on a much greater level of success than most bands are, but it still shows what excitement it generates when artists haven’t been around for a while between albums and tours. Look how excited so many people were when Jake E Lee finally resurfaced.

  22. People just want the instant satisfaction of any song or band. FM radio format won’t even touch new stuff from older bands. I heard Neal Schon solo album good stuff but that wouldn’t be on regular radio. Most people don’t explore they consume what they only hear.

  23. Buy a football team or open a burger n beers joint..

  24. Van Helsing's Kid says:

    Frankly, the reason their new projects don’t sell is they are just regurgitated songs from their previous bands. Fans don’t mind if an artist does a solo project that is a way of them stretching themselves, playing a different type of music, say country or jazz. But when the stuff sounds like what was left on the cutting room floor from their bands last album, well the fans aren’t stupid!

    Here’s the new business model for new “supergroups” ( a diluted term-once upon a time you had to be previously in a major band):
    Release first album.
    Do small tour. Record that tour.
    Six months later, release live album of that tour.
    A year after release of first album, re-issue it with “bonus tracks” they may be stuff that was not good enough, or “alternate takes” which are the versions that were not good enough to make the album.
    Also release a “collectors edition” of this same re-issue with a “making of” DVD of you farting around in the studio.
    Remember you made this because you wanted to “do something for the fans that have supported the band all along” (the whole 12 months!).
    When none of this sells (apparently fans aren’t as dumb as you thought). Quit band saying they were not playing the kind of “rocking music” you wanted to play.
    Start new band.
    Release first album……..

  25. Most people have greatest hits syndrome they only wanna see the greatest hits live forever my opinion boring.

  26. earthdog70 says:

    I agree with Eddie. The side projects sink fast without even limited touring to support it. T&N from George Lynch is a prime example. Great record but-no touring=low sales. I do like side projects but it is hard to keep up with them all.

  27. I guess it all depends on each fan at the end of the day. I can appreciate a lot a artist and when he/she does a sideproject, even if it isn’t a Platinum award album, i may follow it. But id does not necessarily has to do with having them do this great new band that will make huge World Tours for the nex 10 years.

    Nowadays the music business is very different to what it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. This is why you see many old bands reuniting and world touring, many do need the money, and writing albums may not even come to be atractive anymore, or even they may not even have the spark of writing anymore as in the old days, or bandsjust stop recording music in order to focus more in touring to get more money, considering that touring, and many people do not know this, which is incredible, it is financed by the band’s money, so if you do not sell tickets, you may not get your investement back.

    For those, a little more thirsty of artistic expression, go out and do multiple side projects. Specially to those that even though you know they are great musicians, maybe if they just do it alone, will not be as atractive as being in their main band. I think it all falls into the context where you put it.

    But definitely, selling albums is not the thing nowadays, specially in the rock metal scene. Pop, is a “easier” market, comapring to our genere. I guess Eddie has more knowledge on the business, so he knows what he is saying.

  28. i think Mike Portnoy and DUg Pinnick are the worst offenders in this side project area. Don’t get me wrong, I love both artists but I gave up keeping track of all the projects they are in and could care less. I only care when DUg does a King’s X record(and maybe a solo disc) and with Mike it used to be Dream Theater and don’t really follow him anymore though I do have the Winery Dogs disc.

  29. Ticket prices are all I’m concerned with. It isn’t nor should it be my concern how much or how little an artist tours or how many bands he or she is with. It is their life.

  30. Lots of good points Eddie. Here’s my take: 1. FM radio will not play new music by classic bands. I love Sirius, but with the short commute I have to my job, it isn’t cost effective to pay for it, and I’m sure there are many people in that same boat. Rock radio sucks, same songs, over and over and over to infinity. 2. No videos get played by these bands either. MTV needs to take the “M” out of their name, can’t even understand why they still have a Video Music Award show WHEN THEY DON’T PLAY MUSIC VIDEOS ANYMORE! 3. Bands don’t tour like they used to. Back in the 70s/80s/early 90’s a when a band went on tour it was several months, not just a couple of months in the summer. Plus they would play more than just the big cities; any city with over 100,000 was usually on the itinerary. Now a lot of bands don’t even play certain areas of the country. 4. With that said, concert tickets are astronomically high. I understand it cost a lot to put on a show, and it is the major source of income for most bands these days, but the average Joe who’s living paycheck to paycheck can’t afford lawn seats 1/2 a mile from the stage. I still have tons of old ticket stubs in a poster frame and it staggers the minds of friends and my kids friends that I payed $15 for front row seats to see Iron Maiden. If they made ticket prices more affordable, maybe more people would go and you wouldn’t have 1/2 the arena curtained off for shows. Who knows, maybe bands could do multiple nights at major venues. You don’t see that anymore.

  31. Well said Eddie. What does everyone think about the state of record stores contributing to poor record sales? I know it’s kind of a vicious circle. For me, there’s one store I like to shop at that’s kind of in my area. But, it’s way out of the way. So, out of sight, out of mind for me. I would be buying more if there was a store closer by.

  32. Well your not going to see any new ones show up. I judge record sales since 2000 like how some judge the steriod era in baseball. A gold record in 1994 is respectable sure, but not really big or major. Gold record now is a big deal. Even in 2000 you gotta start looking at it different. Record stores are really a cult thing now. But just to be fair, even if the internet never existed, that dosnt mean any of these hard rock side projects would be taking off. Rock as most people define it would still be where it is.

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