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Welcome to the ramblings of SilverSpark:  

 

Follow the reality of being a musician in the 21st Century!  Share our elations, thoughts and and frustrations as we  follow our dreams and ambitions of making a living in the strange business that is the music industry.

By SilverSpark, Apr 8 2014 06:03PM

OK, OK, I know it has been a long while since I wrote in this blog. Things have been kind of busy...! But, enough now with the excuses...I found the below which I wrote some months ago...but which is still important to say.


Speaking with a good friend the other day we began discussing ‘Supergroups’...why some work (Humble Pie, The Band etc) some don’t so much (Zwan, Chickenfoot). We started talking of the challenges of being in a band and why some bands just don’t work. It reminded me of something that is a been a big deal to SilverSpark - finding the right people. Meaning chemistry.


I gotta say, of all the challenges that Musicians face in the battle to get that creative sound out of their heads and into yours, this has so far been the most difficult part for us. By a country mile. It can be a real nightmare and frustration, a ‘make or break’ kind of thing, and it is often completely down to fate as to who notices your advert and then who replies!


So what kind of person would you look for to join your band? Sure they need to be able to play or sing well and it would be awesome if they really are an exceptional musician, but then just as important than that is their attitude, motivation, future ambition, musical taste (well it’s gotta meet yours somewhere!), and the fact that if things go well you might need to be able to share a tour bus with them someday...oh and don’t forget that magic word, COMMITMENT.


How many bands don’t even get off the ground because people are leaving or not turning up to rehearse or whatever? Equally how many bands get way high off the ground (not recreationally!) then burn up after someone leaves and upsets the balance? Nothing frightened us more than adding to that pile and you wouldn’t believe how many people want to be in a band, but don’t want to be in a band!


There is another, second magical thing that is really elusive, and that is chemistry. To create the best, you kind of need to feel a kind of chemistry happening in the room. Now when a band has got this down, everyone can feel it – the band and the sound is bigger than the sum of its parts. We’ve felt it with other bands, and we’d kinda like some of that for ourselves! Yes Please!


So, after seemingly endless months of meeting with all sorts of weird and wonderful characters, some great musicians, some great, umm, ‘posers’ and some who were neither of those things, we felt unbelievably blessed to have met two awesome guys; ‘Hewey’ (Matt) Hewitson on Drums and Lincoln Spalding on Bass.


Something definitely ‘clicked’ with these 2 guys. After no time at all we were just flying through the set list with each one just sounding so good, it seems we’ve been experiencing a little chemistry of our own.

Never is chemistry more prevalent that during a recording session...You can hear the chemistry on our album ‘Flames Run Deep’...everyone brings their ‘thing’ – long may it continue...


Now available to pre-order, ‘Flames Run Deep’ is released on 2nd May 2014.



By SilverSpark, Feb 4 2013 08:59PM

Yep, so I mentioned in my last blog post that in being musicians for a living, we have had to come to terms with and accept the ‘business side’ of music (and did so very reluctantly, I might add!).


Well, the music BUSINESS it really is. So far our experience has taught us to be really, really, really, really, really careful not to get ‘bitten’. And there are people trying to ‘bite’ us on a daily basis, which has inspired us to pass on a little real life story, so please, especially if you’re a musician too, read on...


When the Internet came along, it changed the music business beyond all recognition. Major Labels were no longer the be all and end all, they no longer were the major gatekeepers holding all the cards. Their Marketing Execs, big studio budgets and access to large audiences were no longer the only way to get your music to the ears of the general public. Their power to get your album on the shelves was also undermined by downloads, and consequently not many of the majors exist anymore. All because they didn’t diversify and move with the times...they buried their heads hoping that times weren’t a changin’.


GREAT! How cool is it that it?! The music industry was blown wide open. These days anyone can record a song at home on their computer, or make a video, post it on YouTube, Facebook, whack it up on Amazon/iTunes and Bob’s your Uncle... they’re a Musician with a song on iTunes virtual shelves. (We did it. Even Uncle Bob can do it!).


Wait...’anyone’???


Yep! (and why not?) As a result we have a massive tsunami of ‘independent’ music out there, ranging from really awesome to really not so good, to be polite. Those serious about a career in music can easily make a great start, and those who aren’t can have a lot of fun and indulge a hobby in the way they want. It’s all swings and roundabouts though, great as it is for there to be no real barriers to achieving that mentioned above, it creates problems too. Like how on earth do you shine through that wall of noise? But that’s another story.


Possibly the most worrying problem, though, is the rise and resurfacing of the ‘Shark’. Music, as we all know, is something many dream of doing. I did, and Carley did too. And with so many people putting their music out there, either in hope of making it a career, or just to play rock star to their friends, inevitably there are those who simply want to make money from those dreams. Sharks. (Derr Dum...Derr Dum). And there are seemingly millions of them out there, ready to tell you whatever you want to hear in order to relieve you of your hard earned cash.


They can come in all shapes and sizes. Some in the guise of Indie ‘labels’, who kiss your ears (not literally) and tell you how promising your music is, but ultimately before they sign you, you need to pay them £0,000’s upfront for some ‘service’. Recording or PR for example. We were so close to falling for this ourselves that it isn’t even funny!


I’d like to be careful here to take the time to not to discredit the genuine Indie labels who are in it for the right reasons and really help break and nurture great artists. We have an affiliation with a US Indie Label ourselves, Indie On Air, based in Indiana, who are such good folks and genuinely passionate about music.


Those of you who have been supporting us for a while will know that we ‘dodged a bullet’ last summer in this exact way. Rather than hide it away, we’ve decided to tell the story in hope that it might help others avoid such a fate!


Here’s how it went down: Keen and full of motivation, we submitted our songs to a ‘label’ who expressed interest and wanted to meet us. We spent a lot of time researching these guys, checking out their past successes and their current roster. Looked pretty impressive and checked out. After chatting via email and a couple of SKYPE calls later, they invited us to their bona fide office and studio in London. Off we went, they said they wanted to “work with us” and we left feeling like we had a future with them, all that was left was to agree a date for the studio to kick things off.


Then came an email, along with a contract to sign, casually mentioning the cost of recording to “kick things off”. £3,000 for 3 days in their studio. Woah. Bit of a shock, right? But on the other hand, do we believe in our music? Yes we do. We’re happy to invest blood, sweat, tears and so also our hard earned cash to make this work. After careful consideration we said “Looks great, can we see a copy of the record deal you promised us, signing us to your label and what you will do for our career if we spend thousands of pounds with your studio?”


Needless to say, we never set eyes on this so called ‘contract’....and alarm bells were ringing louder than the day we had a BBQ in the Fire Station!


So, we called their bluff. We said “if you really believed in us and the music we make, then there would be no money upfront and a contract on the table” They told us if we wanted a record deal then we had to invest this money in their studio...interesting, then that without our £3000 there was no deal to be had....coincidence? We think not. We ran away, flapping faster than a naked Parachutist.


Since then, on a daily basis we come across these Sharks in ‘Pay to Play’ gig venues, ‘Play for Airplay’ Radio Stations, ‘Producers’ who promise the world for an upfront fee. A great place to meet them all is internet based ‘auditioning’ platforms who claim to ‘get your music out there’. On these websites you even have to pay to subscribe or pay ‘per submission’ to the Sharks. Crazeeeee! Imagine having to pay to submit your CV for a job interview?! (Although I might actually, if the job was Chief Taster at the Guinness Brewery...).


Don’t get us wrong, everyone wants to get paid....and rightly so if they have something genuine to bring to the table. But these guys don’t. What they have to offer won’t change your World. Generally, if someone asks for money upfront, walk away people. And so it seems that the musician is fast becoming the biggest customer in the music industry...


Happily, we’re now avoiding these guys, and getting a little success because WE work hard at it. And it’s a good job we love music so much too...we couldn’t live without it, or do it without you guys being with us for the journey...So hold on tight, it might be a bumpy ride!


Thankfully, all this was back last Summer. The moral of the story being that there is no sure fire way to overnight success, short of the whole X-Factor thing...and even then, your success tends to be over, overnight! So is that success or just 15 minutes of fame?!


By SilverSpark, Jan 18 2013 07:00PM

Welcome, welcome! Come on in to our first Blog post!


Seems every band/author/musician/artist/journalist/ has one these days, right? Social Media has gone nuts and we're all now (anti) socialising in this strange, stay at home and stare-at-a-screen kind of way.


I'm not judging though, we have to adapt to the new and embrace it. Strange though it may be, it is after all a means for us to communicate with you, and that really is a very, very good thing. Just know that if we could, we'd rather just chat to you all in a more 'real', human, in-person kind of way.


So, why the blog? Well, we want to share with you the reality of what it is like to be a Musician for a living in 2013. It is probably very different to what many of you might imagine. It's very different to what we imagined too. So in our blog we can share our thoughts, experiences, frustrations and elations with you right here. I'll warn you now though, there may also be a load of waffle too!


So the blog is going to be what's happening 'now'. So I should probably bring you up to speed with the story so far...


You might already know that Carley and I have been Musicians for 4 years now. Yep, we earned our living (every penny) entirely from playing music for the last 4 years. We met in 2008 working for the same company in London. Carley heard me play, I heard Carley sing, we shared a dream in life and decided to give it a shot. Why not? Life is about the journey and we both want to enjoy it to the full. So, we took a big, (and slightly crazy, by all accounts) leap of faith to follow our dream.


We quit our jobs, leaving behind that comfy monthly pay-cheque and went in search of some gigs. We found some too. Some great, some....not so much. Sometimes they were well paid gigs in nice places, sometimes we earned £30 a week in not so nice places. One thing they all gave us is experience. Invaluable experience of playing live.


We quickly realised that if we were to make it any further with our ambitions, that we needed to start looking at it differently. Be a little more canny. We didn't have a job anymore. This was our job. And we needed to see it like a job. Like a business infact. I guess we had never linked, and certainly never wanted to link, music with business before. Music is a beautiful thing. It means a hell of a lot to so many people, and seems like it has no place alongside money. But those who create the music need to feed and clothe themselves too. So, we put our minds to promoting ourselves properly, and with the need to pay bills and buy things like food, we needed to earn some more money. As many Musicians know, it is very difficult to get paid gigs playing your original material, until you become well known. So for a while we focused on playing covers, getting paid gigs and simply surviving on our music.


We'd been cutting our teeth for a while and learning a lot from that side of things. It did us a lot of good. Yet playing other people's music has often attracted a stigma amongst musicians "Oh, you play covers..." would be the words of many unknowing fools who discard you and your ambitions all too readily.

"Well, yes" (and we pay our bills with it, mate). We used to be guilty of that to some extent, thinking "why would you want to re-gurgitate other peoples' music when you can create your own?". Well, the good it has done for us is immeasurable, however all the time that creative spark yearned. It never left.


With too many nice riffs and ideas building up, we couldn't wait any longer and have created SilverSpark as the outlet for all that creative juice. Our absolute goal is and has always been to write, record and perform our own music for a living. This is the subject of this blog...and you're welcome to join us for the ride, we would love to have you along...


Til next time.


Matt


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