You Can’t Paint Over Bad Music

Submitted by Peter Åstedt

I don’t know if it’s a trend right now, but I get in suggestions to check out acts that have very strange stage shows. And not just a strange show, also strange styles like experimental folk triphop. I like when you do something new, but the rule is still do something new but  it has to be good or to say excellent.

It’s like baking a cake, you can go safe and bake a strawberry cake. Nothing really can go wrong with a  recipe that has been here for generations and everybody likes it. Then go for to be different and put in a layer of mustard and soya sauce. No, you don’t need to try it, will be awful. Same here in music, you can put in a layer with blueberry to make it different, you need to understand what really would elevate that strawberry cake. To do that you need to know how to make a strawberry cake from the beginning.

Here is what I see with the artist that I got invited to see. They don’t know how to write a good song from the beginning. Many are classically trained and that really kills your creativity in many cases. Some just don’t have the skill. They still want to be on the stage so hide that the songs are not that good they throw in layers of just awful things that really don’t go together. To be sure to try to fool people they decorate the cake with everything they find.

It doesn’t help. Even if my strawberry cake with mustard layers and some tuna fish was made to look like a perfect strawberry cake in three layers like a wedding cake. When I taste it I will be disappointed.

I’m the first one to say that you need a good stage show. I just hate when the band just goes on stage and looks just, like they did in the audience. Part of this job is to make a great show. In the backbone, you need the songs. I would forgive an artist with great songs looking like the average joe. But an artist sounding awful looking like pogo the clown won´t work.

You can do whatever to attract people. When you have lured them down you still need to give them satisfaction in a musical way. We saw a band the other week. They had a great stage to perform on. They wanted to be different so they put all the gear on the floor so the audience could get closer. Everything was built on that the band was jumping up and down and doing things at a very high speed until they were sweating incredibly much. Problem was that the songs were seven minutes long and progressive. The show was fun for the first five minutes then you had seen it all and the songs were not good. Everybody left in the middle of the second song let’s say so.

Learn how to control the basic stuff like good songs and a decent stage show. After that, you can start evolving. Just making a spectacle is not enough for an hour show.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.