25 things musicians need to stop doing RIGHT NOW

1. Stop wasting time when you could be practising

procrastinating
Let’s be honest now, playing GTA for 8 straight hours may be one of life’s peculiar joys, but it’s not going to score you that spot on a movie soundtrack or build your fanbase. No need to go cold turkey, everyone needs a break… but set yourself some sensible limits and dedicate more time to your music. Just 7 hours of computer games a day from now on, okay? Deal.


2. Stop thinking you’re not good enough

hardonyourself
Robert Plant can’t stand “Stairway To Heaven”, Pete Townshend thinks “Pinball Wizard” is the worst thing he’s ever written, and Thom Yorke thought Radiohead’s “Creep” was… well… “crap”. When you’re overly familiar with a piece of music, you’re naturally going to be incredibly critical of it, and when you spend so much time rehearsing the same songs it’s easy to lose that magical spark of enjoyment they once gave you. Go easy on yourself; that little ditty you absolutely hate might turn into your retirement fund.


3. Stop being unoriginal

unoriginal

At the moment, it seems genuinely difficult to find a musician who’s finding success by doing something interesting and original and not just standing on the shoulders of giants. Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t make it right. Ultimately, it’s harder to be noticed if you’re lost in a sea of sound-a-likes.


4. Stop trying too hard to be original

harrison
Almost everybody has ripped off something at some point. Remember when we said that Thom Yorke hated “Creep”? Maybe that’s due to the fact he totally stole the verses from the Hollies “The Air That I Breathe”. George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” is an almost carbon copy of “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons, yet he’s lauded as a creative genius. If in doubt, remember what Oscar Wilde said… “Talent borrows, genius steals!”


5. Stop buying more gear

gear
It’s an easy trap to fall in to: you want to sound better, more unique and more interesting, but you don’t have time. You want a quick fix. That new effects pedal is the answer, right? Well maybe not. Can you imagine how much your playing would improve if for every pound or dollar you spent on new equipment, you spent 2 on lessons? It might sound weird coming from an instrument store, but sometimes new equipment isn’t what you need.


6. Stop putting up with shoddy equipment

brokengear
Having said all that, don’t waste your precious time eking out the last, painful moments of usefulness from gear that’s past its best. You’d be amazed at the deals you can find on local buy & sell groups on Facebook, not to mention in-store promotions at your favourite music store.


7. Stop trying to become rich and famous

richfamous
The internet is rammed full of quotes from rich and famous people about how riches and fame aren’t all that, and you should just enjoy your life and get on with it. But… they WOULD say that, wouldn’t they? They don’t want to share that delicious fame pie. They want every last, sumptuous morsel all to themselves. In all seriousness, fame and fortune in the music industry seem to go hand-in-hand with lawsuits, alcohol abuse, addiction, depression and suicide for a shockingly large number.


8. Stop leaving your drink next to expensive equipment

spill
A mixing desk is no place to leave a latte. Beer does not belong on a guitar amp. A pint of water shouldn’t be tucked next to a stage monitor. Accidents happen, and not only do you run the risk of trashing your equipment, you might also electrocute yourself or somebody else.


9. Stop worrying about your ego

ego
The music business is one of the only industries in the world where being an egotistical, self-important exhibitionist is a good thing. It’s a world of show-offs, performers, braggers and promoters. If you haven’t got an ego, you might be in the wrong place.


10. Stop judging other people’s style

style

Mahatma Gandhi – revolutionary leader, influential speaker, industrial hardcore saxophonist – once said “live and let live”. Nothing could better describe the rich, colourful tapestry of genres, styles and subcultures that make up the music industry as a whole. Don’t get hung up on what people look like, what the tabloids say about them or what their fans wear. Let their music do the talking.


11. Stop turning your volume up

turnup

First off, you’ll go deaf pretty damn fast if you stand next to wailing PA speakers and guitar amps for hours every week. Secondly, it ruins the balance of the music. Volume isn’t a competition, it’s a tool. Finding the right balance between your volume and the volume of your bandmates is key to defining your sound. Thirdly, quieter gigs sound better. Science fact. Unless you personally enjoy the sound of your cochlea shrivelling, obviously. Turns out your mum wasn’t telling you to turn it down for no good reason after all.


12. Stop worrying about formats

formats
Speaking of science facts, blind-testing has proved time and time again that in regular listening environments, super-high-definition audio sounds absolutely no different to a normal CD. Vinyl is coveted like some kind of forgotten treasure these days, with hipsters fawning over junk-store “collections” like labour scabs panning for gold; but it has a lower relative dynamic range and poorer high frequency response compared to a regular, boring old CD or a well-coded MP3. Stop worrying about the format you’re releasing on or listening to, and start caring about the music instead.


13. Stop getting drunk before gigs

drunk
A wee dram to calm the nerves is one thing, but getting so wrecked you can’t remember how to fret a ‘D’ chord is another. Unless your name starts with “S” and ends with “hane MacGowan”, do your music a favour and stick to a vaguely sensible limit.


14. Stop forgetting to bring everything you need to a gig

gigbag
In the heat of the moment it’s all too easy to forget those vital bits and pieces that guarantee your performance goes smoothly. Not sure of what to bring? Check out our handy guide: “11 gig essentials you always forget”


15. Stop worrying about making mistakes

mistakes
Did you know that Shirley Bassey hit not one, but TWO totally wrong notes in the studio recording of “Goldfinger”? Do you care? NOPE. Sometimes mistakes are what gives music its character. What would the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” be without Michael Jackson’s bone-gratingly flat “ooh ooh baby”?


16. Stop playing gigs for free

freegig
Sure, there’s an argument to be made about the value of free promotion, but if you’re being booked by promoters and venues to play on a regular basis, you’re obviously good enough to warrant a slot. The venue will be making money from your fans, the promoter will be making money from your fans, why aren’t you? Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself!


17. Stop turning down gigs

gig
While performing isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, it’s pretty ‘up there’. There’s absolutely nothing as effective at creating new fans and engaging with your existing ones as playing live; giving it your all and showing everyone what you’ve got. If you’ve never gigged before, don’t let nerves get the better of you. Go to a few gigs, watch some shows on YouTube, get some ideas, and get out there!


18. Stop playing solos

nosolos
Kashmir, Under The Bridge, Everlong, My Dingaling… All incredible songs. No solos. If it works in the song and adds something exciting, by all means play one… just don’t fall into the trap of shoe-horning a solo into every single song you play.


19. Stop filling every silence

gaps
Some of the best musicians of all time are just as well known for what they don’t play as for what they play. Breaks, rests, silences, and gaps aren’t your enemy; think of them as a tool for adding emphasis to what you’re playing. That amazing little hook will sound so much better when it isn’t bookended by go-nowhere noodles.


20. Stop worrying about your lyrics

derulo
Here’s some lyrics from incredibly popular songs, pay careful attention to how bad they are:
Black Eyed Peas – “I Gotta Feeling”: “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Saturday to Sunday”
Jason Derulo – “Wiggle”: “Your booty like two planets, go ‘head and go ham sandwich”
Sam Smith – “Money On My Mind”: “When I go home I tend to close the door”
Eminem – “Love The Way You Lie”: “Now you get to watch her leave out the window, guess that’s why they call it window pane.”
Inspired? We thought so. Everything you’ve ever written since you were about 6 years old is better than that garbage. Go for it!


21. Stop smoking

smoking
This should be pretty self-explanatory, but you really, really, really should stop smoking. Forget all the obvious stuff like lung disease, non-smokers thinking you stink, decrease in sexual vigour… If you’re a singer, you’re systematically destroying your instrument; like a drummer sticking a pin through their snare skin twenty times a day. “Whatever, I’m young, I don’t have to worry about it until I’m older…” WRONG. Fancy another science fact? Of all people who have heart attacks before the age of 40, 95% of them are smokers. You’re only in competition with yourself, throw the pack away and get on with your happier, healthier life.


22. Stop turning up late

taxi
This is a pretty big one, but I’m not going to linger on it too much. We already covered it in our “17 annoying things you do that make your bandmates secretly hate you” article. TL/DR: You’re not a child. You want the work? Get up, get dressed, and get there on time!


23. Stop writing biographies

bio
I know you think that 2 page bio was pretty good and full of witty quips, and I don’t want to say that “no one cares”, but… no one cares. Avoid writing your own band’s bio like the plague. If you absolutely, positively need one, then get someone else to write it for you. Just like all those awesomely talented, under-rated musicians out there, there are just as many – if not more – absolutely amazingly creative writers doing great things for little or no money. Make contacts, get talking, spread the love.


24. Stop “talking shop” with absolutely everyone you meet

pickups
Remember when your momma told you that not everyone really wants to hear about that time your dog had worms? And especially not at the dinner table? Well, same goes for music-talk. There’s a time and a place for it, and the tonal difference between Fender pickup options is probably the last thing your significant other wants to hear after telling you how their day was. A time and a place, folks. Time and place.


25. Stop listening to advice from blog posts that are really just trying to sell you stuff

blog
Heh…

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Red Dog Music is the UK’s friendliest musical instrument and pro-audio dealer. Between our 5000 square foot Edinburgh shop filled with an incredible range of products, and our London showroom in Clapham specialising in high-end instruments, dj and pro-audio, Red Dog Music has you covered from north to south and from performance to playback.

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Guy Perchard

Digital editor & recording specialist at Red Dog Music
As well as being the marketing man-about-town at Red Dog Music, Guy is a busy, award winning record producer and mixing engineer. He is also partial to a chorizo stromboli for elevenses.

84 Responses to “25 things musicians need to stop doing RIGHT NOW”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Rick McKee says:

    Some lessons for all us muso types I think… Note to self – take heed of numbers 5 and 24!

  2. Dave Arcari says:

    great stuff guys…well said 🙂

  3. Colin Coates says:

    In life as in music …its all about being conscious ..!

  4. Kristin Ferguson take note haha x

  5. Don't argue with your sound man. He plays that sound board probably better than you play your instrument!

  6. Kurt Hines says:

    Stop turning up the volume? Pussy.

  7. Everything is good, except on 18. No song, without solo sounds good.

  8. Few and far between

  9. Few unnecessary points in the list. But good one though.

  10. That's not what my friends said at my band's last gig. But understandable point.

  11. Greg Hart says:

    number 12..tosh mate..60s & 70s music was mixed an mastered for vinyl, not to be 'tragically de-mastered by the CD age'… 'A night at the Opera' sounds better on the first 1975 press vinyl from 1975 than any subsequent format..unless you got a shit hi-fi! Number 16 however…. SPOT 100% ON! totally agree with that. ;0)

  12. Stop making pointless lists on music blogs might be a good start.

  13. There are no formats just music, if you want to be a hobbyist and collect vinyl then cool, but its like stamp collecting. get over it.

  14. Don't mistake singing loudly for singing well.

  15. Brett Conradie If you see your sound man with dual hearing aids, find you another sound man!

  16. Very well done. Spot on. Also, don't just wear the same clothes on stage that you loaded you gear in from the car. Consider the stage as where people come to watch you be more than just some dude schlepping an amp in thru the alleyway in the snow and watch you become someone they would buy records from. It IS important.

  17. Ian Ford says:

    Too bad most sound men have no idea what they're doing, unless they've been doing it for like 20 years.

  18. Dan Maher says:

    Ehhh Agree ??
    …Not so much!!

  19. Duane Larkin says:

    Love having a pro behind the board…but hate when it turns out I know more about it than (s)he does…

  20. Art Lowell says:

    19 is important. Also, try slowing things down so people get a chance to hear what you've created.

  21. I found only 1time when I found the right people to jam with,now they been deported,.

  22. If the sound engineer is under 20 . . . yeah, odds are you'll have problems unless they've been schooled in the real world.

    When bands I know show up to a gig and I happen to be mixing the board, they feel at ease because I'm a musician and I never stop listening to what's going on.

    If you're so concerned, bring your own sound engineer.

  23. Kurt, the reason for that is because in small rooms, guitar rigs will overpower a moderately sized PA and cause the overall sound to suck balls.

    If you want the crowd to hear nothing but your guitar, by all means, keep turning up!

    Some of us like to hear the whole band.

  24. You're probably into metal, cos that's where most solos lie, but you're telling me Judas Priest's "Breakin' the Law" doesn't sound good? That is probably one of the top 10 classic songs of the genre. No guitar solo

  25. Poster: Unless you are a successful musician right now… you need to just STFU.

  26. Jay David says:

    There are many songs with no solo that are big hits. especially today. most songs today have no solo for the simple fact that there are no great guitar players or singers anymore- but- still- a good song is a good song. as far as any classic rock or metal goes- there are plenty with no solo's and they kick ass!

  27. Jan Vorster says:

    What a load of douchery!

  28. Every successful artist i've ever worked for does all of these things. The writer of this blog needs to be shot!!!!

  29. Louis Brochu says:

    Make the world better, elect a musician.

  30. I started listening to Biffy Clyro, but I could not get hooked on them for long, cuz they dont have solos. I listen to few such songs now on then, but my playlists is always filled with zakk wylde, slash, synyster gates, mark tremonti, randy rhoads etc etc

  31. Hahaha. Yeah, no good artists have ever smoked. How bout this list… One: stop listening to fucking lists on social media. 2: Get the fuck off social media and meet real people… if there are any left. 3. Mind fuck everyone you can find by being yourself. 4. kinda like 3, Be dangerously original. I mean scare the fuck out of people by being so different. Make people wish they were you. Make them feel like their lives pale in comparison to the world where you live. People will listen to you because you are the greatest shit ever. Watch Dylan's Don't Look Back. That's how a man who needs to be heard should be.

  32. Ac Señeres says:

    do not follow ALL the RULES even this BLOG. do what you want. we all have our own definition of our music.

  33. Dusan Drahos says:

    solos sucks, mostly they are played ad libitum and people without jazz background just cant do it

  34. Freddy May Schafer Jimmy Page disagrees with you!!

  35. Hey Desperado, did you know that nature abhors a vacuum? Stop living in a state of suck!

  36. Gary Koral says:

    stop with all this…..

  37. Abe Vigoda says:

    Stay in school and don't do drugs.

  38. All good but I completely disagree with #9. I do music for the love of music, I don't care about "proving anything to anyone", and ego is never helpful. It's the main reason why the world is the way it is.

  39. James Day says:

    To many amateurs playing fro free!

  40. One of my worst fears and pet peeves is a house soundman with an attitude. True, if you argue it will only get worse, but too many times it's the guy behind the board that's arguing and STILL can't get the monitor mix right.

  41. You missed 'stop whining about not being able to make money playing music'.

  42. Paul Lea says:

    26. Stop listening to advise on Facebook. Lol

  43. You guys just took 99% of the fun out of playing music…way to go

  44. Dress like people paid and went to the trouble to come see you preform.

  45. Most of them couldn't hear a door slam!

  46. Eugene Cox says:

    Rylee Strange Absolutely Right!!!!!

  47. Oh God… Solos… The small man's leap to front stage… The seemingly endless screeching monotony of one's cock extension. Please. Solis are fine within reason. Every song and for longer than 20 seconds and/or any electric guitar? Go back to your garage. I'd rather listen to nonstop polka.

  48. Number 11 is the only real issue, IMHO.

  49. Ariel Escasa says:

    One thing's for sure, number 9 isn't something Kanye West has to deal with.

  50. Guy Perchard says:

    Would you like fries with that, sir?

  51. Guy Perchard says:

    Thank goodness for the UK's stringent gun laws. Thanks for reading!

  52. Guy Perchard says:

    100% yes to this. Great point! Thanks for reading 🙂

  53. Guy Perchard says:

    Let's meet up in 10 years and have a discussion about the benefits of playing super loud, as opposed to playing at a reasonable, serviceable volume. I'll start learning sign language now 😉

  54. "Leave your ego at the door, love the people, play the music.".
    – Luther Allison

  55. There's some good info here. Some bad info too. Acting like an ego-maniac when you are a local band that hasn't done squat will only get you despised. Yes there is such thing as a healthy amount of ego and a poisonous amount. Stop buying gear but don't put up with shoddy equipment? Most the rest I totally agree with. Turning down, not getting drunk or stoned at gigs or practice, practicing more.. lot's more good stuff. Goo on ya blogger! Job well done.

  56. Matthew Lane says:

    Does this mean no more 45 minute bass solos for me? Okay, let's make it 60! lol

  57. Bram Laan says:

    ever so right….!!!!!

  58. Davs Davs says:

    Amazing article

  59. Robert Brown says:

    You lost me at stop playing solos…

  60. Emi Emi Gui says:

    Hire a beautiful lady as a agent! 🙂

  61. Fliss M Cook says:

    Why don't you just Live and Let Live….. for goodness sake….. what a tedious list of do's and don'ts!

  62. Stop giving Shitty Suggestions

  63. Sharon Burry says:

    I agree… although its kind of difficult to sing in intimate tones with your guitar players amp on 11 +++++. Ya gotta hear to SING… otherwise your screaming on key (hopefully)….lol

  64. Mein Yazz says:

    Stop disregarding Qualified musicians based on YOUR FAITH!

  65. Rylee Strange Agreed, but the live version where K.K. does put in a solo is that much sweeter.

  66. No. 24, definately guilty your honour.

  67. That includes whisky lol

  68. and remember you're never to old to create and play music

  69. Guilty of 2,15,16,19,21 and YOU?

  70. Okus Dolphin says:

    And remember – There's always someone better than you – Like me for instance! 🙂

  71. Murgatrøid says:

    26. Disregard 1-25 and just do whatever the hell you feel like doing.

  72. Stop smoking is the best advice, isn't it?

  73. Chris Walker says:

    Musicians that want to make it, and be heard will put in the work and somewhat make it.
    Anyone who needs to do these things probably isn't worth listening to, musical darwinism.

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