Dear Velvet Elvis: Should I Join Musical Forces With My Significant Other And Other Burning Questions!
Hey babies, Velvet Elvis is here to help you navigate the treacherous waters of being a musician in the 21st Century. No question is too big or too small for The King of Musical Advice. So fire away while I demolish this plate of peanut butter and banana sammitches!
Dear Velvet Elvis
My husband and I are both aspiring musicians and lately we've been thinking of doing a musical project together. What words of advice do you have on the subject?
If you're interested in following in the musical footsteps of Chris Stein and Debbie Harry from Blondie, Pat McDonald and whatever his wife's name was in Timbuk 3, Richard and Linda Thompson, Stevie Nicks and Lyndsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, and Christine McVie and John McVie, also of Fleetwood Mac, all of whom achieved their greatest musical success with their respective spouses, by all means join forces with your soon-to-be-ex.
It's what we in the biz call a win/win, especially if you want to stick a fork in the relationship and still be forced to see them on a regular basis, unless, of course, the tension from such a messy split ultimately breaks up the band and ruins whatever upward career trajectory you may have had.
Dear Velvet Elvis,
I'm wondering what you think about soft synths vs. standalone synths?
Without knowing your current set-up or what you hope to accomplish with your synth of choice, the best I can do is throw out some generalities. For starters, if your current performance or recording set-up is already computer-based, then soft synths are probably a cost-effective solution that will allow you to get right down to cutting tracks. However, if you hate the idea of creating music by clicking notes on a piano roll with your computer mouse and want the spontaneity and feel of actually playing music, then an actual standalone synth would be your best bet.
Of course, then you have to determine which of those synths suits your needs. Do you want MIDI capabilities, or want it to work seamlessly with your DAW? Do you want a compact synth with 25 keys for maximum portability or do you want more keys so you don't have to worry about remembering to hit the right button to switch octaves mid-song?
Do you want weighted keys and aftertouch and, if so, how much extra are you willing to pay for such a keyboard? Do you want a monophonic synth or polyphonic? Analog vs fully digital? One with a wide array of presets or one that allows you to tweak your own sounds?
Or maybe you'd just like to go back to college and get that psychology degree and make your parents proud.
Dear Velvet Elvis,
I'm in one of those all-girl AC/DC tribute bands and am currently playing up to 20 shows a month. We dress in skimpy schoolgirl outfits and make thousands of dollars a night. After playing in other bands for the last ten years that made nowhere near that much money, being able to actually pay my bills on time and afford a nice apartment is a much-welcome change.
As if that weren't enough, in order to fill the rest of our calendar each month, we're also performing as an all-girl Iron Maiden tribute band, playing almost as often and making just as much money.
I can't help feel that we're sacrificing our dignity and playing upon our sexuality rather than our musical talent. I mean, our only real selling point among the many AC/DC and Maiden tribute bands already out there is that we're "all-female", which isn't really all that original anymore either.
What can I do to keep from feeling like I'm selling my soul?
Are you fucking kidding me? There are literally hundreds of musicians, both male and female, that would give their left nut to be in an all-girl tribute band. Every twenty seconds in America, a struggling musician sells their soul and rarely do they come close to getting as much as you do for it.
Let's face it, the music industry is kaput. If you were to try to make a living with your own material, the things you'd have to do to get on the radio or signed to a major label would be much, much worse than dressing up as a sexy schoolgirl in an all-girl AC/DC tribute band.
It sounds like you've paid your dues. Enjoy the fucking ride. When opportunity beats a path to your door, don't lock yourself in the bathroom until it goes away, grab it by the throat. And if you feel yourself starting to take it for granted, just remember what it felt like not being able to pay your phone bill and then worrying that maybe someone was trying to call to offer you a gig such as the one you have right now.
There is no shame in being successful. As for selling your soul, it could be argued that you did that the first time you dressed up as a sexy schoolgirl version of Angus Young.
Superior St. Rehearsal Facility
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