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View Full Version : Pearls before swine....



Tim Armstrong
April 9th, 2007, 01:21 AM
What happens when an absolutely world-class musician PLAYS FOR TIPS IN A WASHINGTON, DC METRO STATION? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html?hpid%3Dfeatures1&sub=AR)

All I have to say is, this explains why some gigs really suck!

Cheers, Tim

Tim Halligan
April 9th, 2007, 04:17 AM
The video player thingy wouldn't work for me...but the article was fascinating.


Cheers,
Tim

mousdrvr
April 9th, 2007, 05:28 AM
I've been hip to this for a while, the concept I mean, I tried to explain it to my band in Austin once who were feeling bad about a gig we did going flat when we had played like mad dogs. They thought I was shining them. and THIS cat is dyed in the wool virtuoso. :lol:

FUCK post modernism. Fuck it in it's stupid ass. Just imagine he had been playing half naked and dripping wet in a 30 second video clip while Jessica Alba licked his thigh. Just how many of those same people would be going on about how magnificent he was. Nothing is excellent or great anymore unless it is framed as such by a mound of money.

I don't really fault the peoples. I think it's more a symptom of the culture at large. Speaking for myself, if I'm out and about in a big city with my game face on, I usually don't have even a few minutes to linger over anything. Although you have to suck pretty bad for me not to give you at least 5 bucks if you have the sack to busk.

Still that cat WOULD draw a crowd in either Palo Alto or Austin. Not cause they're necessarily that much more cultured, but geeks usually can spare a minute or two even if they're way over worked and Austin just knows from busking.

Great post Tim thanks!



-mous

jerryskid
April 9th, 2007, 05:41 AM
What a great post...thanx man.....

AndyP
April 9th, 2007, 08:03 AM
Things haven't changed much.
Sting did this years ago in London, and people would either walk by or stop three seconds and wonder if he was a bloody look-alike.
Love him or hate him, there's no mistaking that cocksucker for anyone else. One hell of a busker, mind you.
Anyway, one of the lesser paydays for the Duke of Wallsend.
:lol:

MacGregor
April 9th, 2007, 09:11 AM
What happens when an absolutely world-class musician PLAYS FOR TIPS IN A WASHINGTON, DC METRO STATION? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html?hpid%3Dfeatures1&sub=AR)

All I have to say is, this explains why some gigs really suck!

Cheers, Tim

Fantastic find, Tim.

Even if that experiment is extremely unscientific [1] it shows nicely
how much we humans rely on context to recognize things.

SocialResearchMac

[1] we did similar experiments in my youth and the results were
unpredictably because of one single factor: as soon as more
than 2 people stopped and listened the crowd factor comes in
and more and more people would stop just because there MUST
be something special there.
If that would have happened here the result would differ in an
extreme way.

Tommy Fobia
April 9th, 2007, 03:19 PM
That's the sad truth of the culture we live in. It automatically makes me feel angry and disgusted. I'd like to think that it wouldn't be quite so bad here in europe, but that video could have easily been shot in London Victoria with the same result.

On a similar (but could be considered as a completely unrelated) note:

I was at a seminar last year in which a panel of people of different professions within the industry were discussing the MP3 format. There were a couple of successful producers, the editor of a national music publication etc etc, and finally the head A&R of the European end of a major label.

The discussion amongst other things was the need for a STANDARDISATION of mp3 formats sold on sites such as itunes, MP3.com etc. The argument from one of the producer/engineers was that the consumer doesn't know what they are getting when they buy an MP3, as the quality varies from site to site.

I know from my own experience that some mp3s I have got in the past from itunes are below the already poor-quality I have come to accept from such sites. The debate went round and round until the mook stated that the "General public simply don't care, or wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway".

I like to think that he's wrong, but I suspect that he is brutally correct in that statement.

Itunes have mysteriously started offering 'higher quality' versions of the music at a higher friggin' price, whilst still being in a compressed audio format. For $1.29 a song you may as well buy the CD. I think it shows how little genuine integrity is respected in this business.

Sorry for the off topic rant.

PRobb
April 9th, 2007, 03:39 PM
A few questions- first off, this was the morning rush when bleary eyed people are hurrying to work. I wonder if the results would have been different in the evening rush when folks are more awake and an extra 5 minutes doesn't matter as much. I also think the results would have been quite a bit different on a weekend when people are more relaxed.

And second, I agree with the poster who said if two or three people had stopped it might have "seeded" a crowd.

Johnny
April 9th, 2007, 03:56 PM
I think PRobb raises a good point...is it that people are cultural Philistines, or that they merely didn't have time to stop and listen? I LOVE music, but if I had somewhere to be, especially a job, I would have walked by.

I usually don't listen to music in the car for the same reason. If I can't give it my attention, why bother?

Goes211
April 9th, 2007, 06:04 PM
I think it is indeed kind of flawed.
Yesterday afternoon we went out for drinks, it was a beautiful sunny sunday, lots of street musicians, and we were in no hurry...so as we strolled along, I watched quite a few of them with way more attention than I would on any regular day.

Another thing in the specific case mentioned by Tim is that very few of us are educated in the ways of classical music (I include myself in the category of the uneducated). The guy could be the best violin player in the world...if you can't identify it as something special...it becomes just extra noise to you.

And also... expecting people to give their attention to music when they are on their way to work...that's like expecting a musician to give you a detailed response when you ask him a question while he's playing. It's unwanted information.

bunnerabb
April 9th, 2007, 06:18 PM
Art is supposed to occur within a specific sens d'endroit. There's a reason it costs less to record an artist than to promote an artist into a cultural icon.

It's hard to move steak without the sizzle.

Or as Elvis said:

"All this useless beauty."

lebouche
April 9th, 2007, 08:29 PM
Not sure I can be assed to go through the article again...were people on their way to work or on the way home?...thats a big question cos on the way to work most people are preoccupied.
Also, if you are going to publicly perform why not in a park where people have time to spare and are perhaps involved in an act of leisure.
If you are going to ask people for money they should at least be in a position to stick around to enjoy the performance...not on their way home to eat dinner before the dog gets it or about to face another hideous day at work.
:) Just another point of view before you write off the general public as philistines.

rockdart
April 9th, 2007, 08:42 PM
They were on their way to work, trying not to piss off the boss.

But another thing - this is a violinist. He was playing out there classical stuff.

Now - what's the % of people who actually listen to classical? One might argue that is should be higher than what it is, but people are going to like what they like.

Is the listening public even going to be able to tell the difference between a great, virtoistic violin player and a crappy fiddle player? Probably not. We see even today that crappy guitarist are preferred by the masses more than those who are incredible at it.

I have to agree where I read from somebody (at a different site) that this just reeks of elist BS. That a gifted violinist attracted little to no attention really shouldn't surprise anyone - and to conflate a 6th grade experiment with the state of pop/modern music today is like mixing marbles and bowling balls.

Tim Armstrong
April 9th, 2007, 08:58 PM
I do tend to think that context is extremely important. Even having Joshua Bell play in the exact same place but at lunchtime instead would've probably made a noticeable difference.

But I also think that Americans (at least East Coast Americans) have lost their appreciation for live music (or even music in general) in almost any setting. I base this on my own experiences playing in a pretty damn good resort town bar band. We've played gigs where folks responded like they did in the linked article! Seriously, finish a song that we played with passion and chops, and the tourists sitting there drinking and chatting just ignore us, or look at us curiously (or with hostility that we're interrupting them) for a second and THEN continue chatting.

This actually happened to us on Saturday night. We were playing in a bar/restaurant, and since we start at 7pm (prime time for the dinner crowd), we play pretty laid-back acoustic stuff. A large party came in and was seated right in front of the stage. My brother heard one of the women complain to her date "oh great, we're gonna have fun trying to talk over the band". And damned if that's not exactly what they did, talking louder during our songs. Unfortunately, the place was busy, so there wasn't another table, but it's not like there isn't a musical act of some kind there EVERY FUCKING NIGHT. It never ever even occurred to them that there were other customers in the place that actually wanted to hear the music...

Tim

Tim Armstrong
April 9th, 2007, 09:04 PM
But another thing - this is a violinist. He was playing out there classical stuff.

This was one of the very best violinists in the world, playing a real Stradivarius violin, playing absolutely wonderful music and playing it with grace and passion.

Great music is great music, labels are bullshit.

That said, I've already noted that playing between 7-8am while folks are trying to get to work is kind of stacking the deck against the guy...

Cheers, Tim

rockdart
April 9th, 2007, 09:38 PM
This was one of the very best violinists in the world, playing a real Stradivarius violin, playing absolutely wonderful music and playing it with grace and passion.

Great music is great music, labels are bullshit.

That said, I've already noted that playing between 7-8am while folks are trying to get to work is kind of stacking the deck against the guy...

Cheers, Tim

I have no doubt that he did exactly that. If people knew the treat they were in for, they probably would have left the house a bit early. Or not. Life happens.

A free show by an incredible musician is a novelty these days. Didn't the Beatles do it in Liverpool? Didn't Bach do it on Sundays?

Maybe if people had better access to better music and the ability to see it live and for free, maybe things would turn around.

McMusic players today can't replicate what was put together for them in the studio. The live show has lost its appeal.

The live show used to be the bread and butter, not another way to get piece of product out to stores and iTunes.

dwoz
April 9th, 2007, 10:58 PM
On the subject of "seeding the crowd".


I did something once, with my brother and a buddy, down in Boston. We were down in the financial district, where the "big" buildings are. We stood on a corner, looking up, pointing, and apparently talking about something "up there".

After about 10 minutes, there were about 4-5 people stopping to look too, and then we left. We came back by 1/2 hour later, and there were about 4-5 people looking up to see whatever it was that we had seen.

dwoz

E. Shaun
April 10th, 2007, 12:45 AM
Really interesting experiment, though the article was a bit too polemical for my liking. Context IS a crucial part of any art...you might even say it's an inextricable part. If you dress yourself as a busker, and play in a position as a busker, then people are going to think that you are, indeed, a busker...regardless of how phenomenal your talent is. If I was rushing to work, chances are I would have stopped for a moment, dropped in a few bucks, then rushed on. I'm one of the most cynical people I know, and yet I can't really fault most of those people for carrying on with their daily routines. The Brazilian shoe-polisher's comments bugged me a bit, but for the most part I wouldn't make too much of the outcome of this experiment.

Having said that, last weekend as I was on my way down to the Northwest Passage gathering, I stopped in Fairhaven (a district of Bellingham) for lunch. I parked a block away from the main corridor of the town, and after walking a few yards away from my car, I heard someone playing a banjo in a residential apartment...it sounded like it was on the second floor, and he had his window open. A moment later, he started singing while he played...and the guy was very good. I stood there for three or four minutes, just listening outside the apartment, before carrying on to find a place for lunch.

binaural turbine
April 10th, 2007, 01:05 AM
I wish I could see the video, the article was very engaging.

PRobb
April 10th, 2007, 01:58 AM
Art is supposed to occur within a specific sens d'endroit.

Why do you think art can only happen in Detroit?:Uh oh: :Twisted:

Cosmic Pig
April 10th, 2007, 03:37 AM
To me its a no brainer. There's a bunch of reasons why nobody gave a shit.

The media is constantly trying to pry our lids open with music to pour in the advertising and we've become acclimatised to music.

It was morning rush hour. Not many people have time to smell the roses on the way to work.

Classical music hasn't been popular for a few hundred years.

We live music every day and we think it's important, but to the average person it just isn't that high on the list. Lots of people would rather talk than listen.

We bitch about the 128 mp3's, but it says "CD quality mp3" on musicmatch next to the 128 kbps. So there goes media further alienating people from music. They do so hear it. they just don't understand why their tunes aren't grabbing them.

Every time music does manage to grab someones attention it will be snagged to sell cars on TV. Further causing people to tune it out.

As John Lennon says; it is what it is.

Cos.

emtou2u
April 10th, 2007, 04:57 AM
FUCK post modernism. Fuck it in it's stupid ass. Just imagine he had been playing half naked and dripping wet in a 30 second video clip while Jessica Alba licked his thigh. Just how many of those same people would be going on about how magnificent he was. Nothing is excellent or great anymore unless it is framed as such by a mound of money.




Ditto on the great post...thanks Tim...all double-blind, variable removed, bad-timing and miscellaneous short-comings aside...this is still a massive statement to how we live our lives.

mous-- i cannot 'amen' your statement above any stronger than i am right now just sitting here.

it's been years since i saw Koyannisqatsi (i loved this thread just so i could figure out how to spell it)...but it had a profound impact on me. it was at a time when i was only cycling everywhere and getting ready for a cross-country bike trip...very..."stop and smell the flowers"...period of my life.

i even make my living creating moments for people to reconnect with "stopping the internal dialogue", "taking time to enjoy life", all of it...yet...in the thick of it...would i have stopped? i cannot say. i hope i would have...unless it was payroll day...which brings me to my story:

for kwiksilver and robmacki and anyone else familiar with pioneer square in downtown portland you will know where i'm talking about...there are usually many street musicians performing near pioneer square. a couple summers ago there was the most amazing man playing white 5 gallon buckets on the corner in front of Nordstrom. truly amazing...i was moved. really moved. it was hot and muggy, he found a patch of shade and was playing his heart out. yes, for money, but more importantly he was in his "power". his smile, his eyes lit up, his overall enthusiasm, talent, presence, everything was so humbling...i still think it is one of the most incredible, most genuine performances of "music" i've ever seen. i was with my friend, lisa (who was at the northwest passage get-together)...we just stared. we had so much to do and we just couldn't move. finally, after about 20 minutes we "had" to keep going. i was too embarrassed to put money in front of him, i felt so humbled. i gave lisa a $100 bill (i would have given him every penny) and she put it in his bucket (the upright one :Wink: )...i wanted to see him find it...but i didn't want him to know it was from me...so we hid (yes, hid, goofy i know) inside the Nordstom's doors until he took a break (to hell with whatever we had to do!)...when he found the money he jumped up and started running to everyone who would listen - screaming like he won the lottery - you would have thought it was $15 million dollars! he was blown away...imagine. he was blown away. i just cried. i think lisa did too. not because we gave him $, but (at least for me) it was because he had so much "music", so much rhythm and energy to give the world and there he sat - bangin' on buckets. there was no $3.5 million violin...just 5 gallon buckets.

that's how i feel about many of the musicians i know - and many of the people on here. there is so much talent and even the word, "talent" isn't what i'm trying to say...there is so much 'essence' or 'other-wordly' communication that comes through music and it's a gift. i'm glad what i get to hear on here isn't mired in commercialism..i like that it's recorded in small studios or in homes...

to me. it's a gift to me that ya'll share it.

so...thank you Tim for the post...thank you for putting something on here that reminds me to 'take the time'...and that life is what happens in between the things that we're supposed to be doing.

ok...i'm all done bein' a long-winded girlie...:Roll eyes:

Cosmic Pig
April 10th, 2007, 08:41 AM
Emtou you do my old cynical heart good. Awesome post.

seagate
April 10th, 2007, 08:55 AM
Emtou you do my old cynical heart good. Awesome post.

+1

clicktrack
April 10th, 2007, 12:33 PM
Wow...the Prada-wearing devil is actually a softee :) Yes, great post, M2.

I did like this article alot...thanks Tim.

There are definitely flaws to the methodology...I mean hell...you take a reporter who probably never listens to anything but "high" music and probably wouldn't go anywhere NEAR a street musician, have him place a highly accomplished performer who, is himself highly removed from street performing and performing in a scenario where he isn't the star, and have him perform at a time when people are HIGHLY unreceptive to the performance...of course you get the results they got.

Having said that, it does raise a poignant point. I too was a huge fan of Koyaanisqatsi, Phillip Glass and the ideas they presented (even have the vinyl album somewhere!) also remind me that our culture doesn't spend the time we should appreciating whats around us.

emtou2u
April 12th, 2007, 01:16 AM
Wow...the Prada-wearing devil is actually a softee :) Yes, great post, M2.




hey....who you callin' a devil :Twisted:



....that's all...


(thanks)

kwiksilver
April 12th, 2007, 01:32 AM
...which brings me to my story:

for kwiksilver and robmacki and anyone else familiar with pioneer square in downtown portland you will know where i'm talking about...there are usually many street musicians performing near pioneer square. a couple summers ago there was the most amazing man playing white 5 gallon buckets on the corner in front of Nordstrom. truly amazing...i was moved. really moved. it was hot and muggy, he found a patch of shade and was playing his heart out. yes, for money, but more importantly he was in his "power". his smile, his eyes lit up, his overall enthusiasm, talent, presence, everything was so humbling...i still think it is one of the most incredible, most genuine performances of "music" i've ever seen. i was with my friend, lisa (who was at the northwest passage get-together)...we just stared. we had so much to do and we just couldn't move. finally, after about 20 minutes we "had" to keep going. i was too embarrassed to put money in front of him, i felt so humbled. i gave lisa a $100 bill (i would have given him every penny) and she put it in his bucket (the upright one :Wink: )...i wanted to see him find it...but i didn't want him to know it was from me...so we hid (yes, hid, goofy i know) inside the Nordstom's doors until he took a break (to hell with whatever we had to do!)...when he found the money he jumped up and started running to everyone who would listen - screaming like he won the lottery - you would have thought it was $15 million dollars! he was blown away...imagine. he was blown away. i just cried. i think lisa did too. not because we gave him $, but (at least for me) it was because he had so much "music", so much rhythm and energy to give the world and there he sat - bangin' on buckets. there was no $3.5 million violin...just 5 gallon buckets.

I saw that dude play many times.

As emtou2u said, he was pretty amazing.

kwiksilver