As a musician, the most rewarding aspect of the job is writing music. Some may argue that it is more rewarding to make money while doing it, but that is far from the truth. Being a musician myself, and playing in many bands in many cities across the United States, I can attest that there is no greater feeling than that of a crowd going wild for your own musical creations. However, if a local musician were to set his goal to making a living playing music, it is highly unlikely that an original project would successfully supplement any lifestyle financially. In order to make any decent money in music on the local level, a musician must play covers.
Consider the pervasive nature of popular music in the United States. There are so many more media sources advertising popular music than good music. Sure, the term “good music” is relative, but the basis for this media is to turn a profit, not to enhance the musical experiences of its users. If it happens that the premier band on iTunes this week is a band that worked its way up through local scenes playing hundreds of shows and writing thoughtful music, it is purely coincidence. The fact is many more people are exposed to what’s being played on the radio and on Television and on the internet than to what’s happening in their own local scenes.
Unless, of course, you count the cover bands. “These days, you can't toss a fried eggplant strip at a street festival without hitting a cover band,” says Molly Snyder, writer for onmilwaukee.com. It’s a harsh truth that can be witnessed in countless music scenes across the nation. In many cities (not including ones where original music is big) cover bands outnumber original bands. Many nightclubs have weekend shows in which the opening act is a local original band, followed by a cover band closer. Some shows are restricted to a single band playing “Welcome to the Jungle” and the like for four hours.
Anyone who will disagree that cover music...