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That Doesn't Suck

by Christopher Knab , July 2011

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For my next 10 Blog Postings I will feed you a daily 'Reality Sandwich' to chew on.

The term ‘Reality Sandwiches’ appeared in a poem by the late Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. I adopted it years ago to explain that there are certain realities about the music business that must be chewed and digested in order to rid ourselves of any naïve concepts and beliefs about breaking into the industry. With this in mind, the following observations should be taken as wake-up-calls about establishing your career.

First Sandwich: Make Music That Doesn’t SUCK!

Since we do indeed live in a time when everybody and their sister can and does make their own music, that doesn’t mean that your music has what it takes to make it. A&R Reps are always saying, when asked what they are looking for, “We don’t know what we are looking for, but we’ll recognize it when we hear it.” What we can read into this comment is that your music must truly stand out in some significant, original, dynamic, and creative way.

95% of the independent music out there contains regurgitated ideas that were ripped off from some other more gifted musicians. Don’t copy! Borrow yes, but copy no.

Challenge yourself. What is it about your music that makes it stand out from all the rest?

From songwriting to musicianship, music intended for the marketplace must be performed and recorded capably. Music that sucks is music that does not grab your listener. Music that sucks is music that takes only 10 seconds to dismiss because the production quality, or the vocals, or the lyrics are pedestrian at best, or mediocre for the most part. Music that sucks is music that sounds like you’ve heard it all before.

If you don’t think a lot of the music coming out today sucks, drop by your local college radio station and ask them to let you listen to some of the hundreds of new CDs they get in the mail every week. You won’t even be able to listen for more than 20 seconds to most of the independent releases that flood the market today.

Make music that doesn’t suck and you will be making music that makes the listener’s hair stand on end, or gets their feet moving uncontrollably, or singing your songs in the shower because they can’t get it out of their heads. Music that doesn’t suck is music that packs people into clubs, and gets people so excited that they are willing to spend their hard earned money to buy it. So, what does non-sucking music sound like? It sounds like all the varied records that are selling around the country, and it sounds like what the people are talking about to their friends. It sounds like all the great music you bought for your collection.


Christopher Knab
is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: chris@chrisknab.net

Chris Knab's book,
'Music Is Your Business' is available from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.

Visit the
FourFront Media and Music website for more information on the business of music from Christopher Knab.

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Christopher Knab and Bartley F. Day's expanded edition of "Music Is Your Business" is filled with more insights into the business side of being a successful musician or band. Included are chapters on both Internet and traditional music marketing methods. The essential legal issues you need to know are explained as are music contract tips, how to license your music, attract distributors, get radio airplay and create a demand for your music. More...

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