Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Expectations and Finding your Niche (or Voice)

Let's be realistic.

The Beatles will never happen again.

The perfect storm of guitar rock pop music and right place at the right time and Ed Sullivan on television and British Invasion and the mystique behind the musicians and those haircuts and the suits and paying their dues in a Strip Club in Hamburg and having the right combo of personalities that turned them into media darlings and the poppy but simple but complex songs AND (just in case you didn't know, the all caps "and" means this is the most important part) actual musical talent deserving of all the accolades...

NEVER going to happen again.

We're too jaded.  Attention spans are too short.  Conditioned to always be looking for the next big thing.  More concerned with image than with actual staying power...

A phenomenon like the Beatles is virtually impossible in today's world.

Which is liberating if you're a musician.  Because it means you can lower your expectations.

The Beatles appealed to virtually everyone.  If you had a television, you watched their historic performance on the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964.  70 million people watched that performance, and the Beatles had a built-in audience for the rest of their careers (and beyond).

Lowered expectation: appeal to a niche audience.  The internet has made it possible for people to only pay attention to what they are absolutely in love with.  Everything else can be ignored.  And if you're an artist, you're going to be way more successful appealing to people that will become fanatics for you than trying to win over everyone and their mom.

I remember a time when I wanted to write songs that everyone would like.  If a song wasn't working, I would go out of my way to try and mold it so that it had a universal appeal.  And it absolutely killed my creativity and diluted my songs.  Instead of searching for something that was true and genuine and told a story that I could relate to and satisfied me, I was always critiquing my songs from the audience's point of view.  Which isn't a bad thing, unless you forget the reason you started writing a song in the first place. 

Every song should be a glimpse into a deeper part of you, a small window into your own life experiences, your personal perspective on the world, all of the intangibles that you bring to the table.  And just like all of us have different speech patterns and vocabularies and colloquialisms that we use every day, a song should be written in your unique voice.  Only recently have I been able to come up with a description of my song-writing voice, or at least the voice with which I feel most comfortable writing:

stream of consciousness pop rock
youthful exuberance

Hahahaha... even reading that I can't help but think of how forced that sounds.  And I feel like that's one of the beauties of being in Oh Girl.  When we're making up songs on the spot, I don't have time to plan it out and get in the way of my creative process.  It's spontaneous and a tight-rope routine and at any moment it can come crashing down around the two of us and we end up looking like A-holes.  And I absolutely love it.  It's climbing without a rope, a trapeze act without a safety net, Nascar without a seat belt, a road trip without a map.  It's deciding to go to Vegas on a moment's notice because you want mojitos from the parasol bar at the Wynn.  It's driving up to San Francisco for a weekend of festival music then staying up all night Sunday to drive back for work at 8 on Monday morning.

I know Oh Girl has a niche.  And I know that there are at least 1000 people that will absolutely fall in love with us.  And I can't wait to meet all 1000 and make up songs about each and every one of them on the spot...

Wow... once again this blog post has meandered through the forest and back again.  Have I mentioned how much I appreciate you taking the time to read?  Here's a test.  The first 3 people to read this blog then post a comment that refers to this blog update on the Oh Girl Facebook Page wall will have songs made up about them at our next three rehearsals.  We'll video tape the songs and give you a personal shout out at the beginning of each vid.  Then we'll post them on the Oh Girl YouTube Page for everyone to enjoy.

It'll be a small "Thank you" for putting up with this little guilty pleasure of a blog.  I'm falling more in love with it every single time I update. =]

And, to the lucky 3 that have a song made up about them, thanks for being the first 3 of 1000...


  1. Couldn't agree with you more about the Beatles. They were loved by all, until older adults started seeing small cracks in thier clean cut armour. When music is really good, it will always be good. What is discouraging about alot of music these days is its a fad. It has no staying power. You're over it. It doesn't sink into your bones and haunt you

  2. Ahhh but you gotta love a 1 hit wonder

  3. I love the fact that I was there when "Oh Girl" was birthed :)