... about how various members of bands have a naturally different status, in practice, and in people's perception.. the front man/woman, the songwriter/composer - the person who will do the talking, the person who focuses the identity of the music
Let me premise this with saying that if I could, for every live show,
I would list the musicians I’m playing with that night, as part of the
billing. And in an ideal world there would be credits, like on an album,
so everything was completely fair.
But why would that not work ? There needs to be a single name that tops everything, exclusively.
Well in jazz it can be different – particularly in instrumental,
improvised jazz, where you sometimes see a list of musicians, as the
band name. In that genre there is such an ethic of equality of
musicians, that even 1 musician writing the songs, undermines the
primacy of the players, so that’s partly why it has to be improvised.
They often eschew vocals with lyrics also, because they must know that
words tend grab people’s attention more than a pick hitting a guitar
You might point out that many classic rock bands are collaborative
endeavors. But still there is the front person. Somehow there is that
one person who enjoys being more public, and is in fact often better at
it. Even bands with a strong stick-together ethic, will see just 1 or 2
people doing all the talking. Often there are the straight up interviews
with the front person, and interviews with anyone else, will have a
“behind the scenes” tone.
So far, what I’m suggesting is known to everybody – it takes all
kinds. And in music its: extroverts and introverted specialists,
lyricists and instrumentalists. But the truth is, this makes things ripe
for unfairness. And we all play into it.
If you argue that lyrics are especially important, or that the
songwriter/composer are who really make the music mean something, you
have to recognize that in most cases there’s a pretty steep hierarchy
involved. Songs and lyrics need to be realized, and without the
chemistry and talent of other musicians, no one may ever have heard
certain songs or lyrics. So there’s a symbiosis there of all the people
who go into recording or performing music. You can even say that not all
the components are equal. But honestly, in the end result, they end up
very – very, un-equal
For something so symbiotic as a musical performance, or recording,
it’s striking how much it’s TOP-MAN-TAKE-ALL. But still, We relate to a
singular name, and identity for something. So this petty hierarchy as I
call it, is not likely to ever change
I say this from years of inside experience on both sides of the
issue. Even as a record producer, my role has been similar to that of a
another musician on the record. And I have my own band, with a
revolving group of musicians, so uuhh… we just use MY NAME.. it just
“makes sense”. But I stand to benefit very disproportionally from
anything good that could happen – cause my name is right there at the
I’ll just end with this – Think of music history. History is written
and remembered as a collection of those single names – TOP-MAN-TAKE-ALL.
And everyone else is a footnote. Thankfully, there are those who really
care to look in depth at everything and everyone that went into the
music. So, that’s something I suppose