If It's So Damned Easy, Anybody Could Do It
Skitzo Calypso has left the building. The popular rock band has left Sellaband to take up the crusade of garnering rock recognition elsewhere saying to the Sellaband community, “Instead of having a long mission statement, regarding our decision to leave, it can be summed up quickly – we don’t feel Sellaband is right for us. We are very appreciative of the support we were given. We made a lot of friends, along the way…”
Shift the scene to a blacktop basketball court a few years ago. My eldest son was struggling to master a bit of footwork that could give him the inside edge on an opponent. It was one of those subtle moves that seem so natural but require endless repetition before becoming habitual and automatic. After countless attempts and corrections he said…as only a teenager can, “SHIT! This is hard man.” I answered “Of course it is! If it was easy, anybody could do it and then you wouldn’t be anything special. Why would someone pay to watch somebody do something that they could do themselves?” It seems that this could be an axiom governing much of what happens in all things requiring extra effort so I will coin the phrase now…If it’s so goddamned easy, then anyone could do it.
Being successful at anything requires hard work and extra effort. Being a competent musician or songwriter requires much more than just playing the notes or rhyming every fourth line. At some point the music and lyrical content has to reach an elevated state that makes the public, fellow musicians included, appreciate and recognize the work as something more than what they could create on their own. As it was recently re-translated from the original clay tablets of Gilgamesh, “Neither multi-track recording software nor rhyming dictionary a competent minstrel doth make.” and further, “He who laboreth long all the days (and nights) of his life, though he standeth among chicks and beer even unto his knees, shall not become the Idol of the masses neither shall he signeth a record deal unless he playeth the game with fortitude and girded loins.”
Skitzo Calypso and Brad Cox are very good at what they do. They play well, write good songs, make high quality recordings and give their audience a memorable performance. In short, they have done the work that elevates them in the public eye in a way that makes those around them say “Man, I wish I could do that.” But success on Sellaband is another animal altogether. Success on Sellaband is measured by finding 5000 people to buy one album each, one person to buy 5000 albums, or any divisional permutation in between. Taking into account that the album on the auction block will not be produced until all units are sold, what seems at the outset to be a fairly simple proposition has become quite daunting for a number of artists who may have expected the process to be a painless one. Imagine being seated in a restaurant and the chef comes into the dining room saying, “If you will all please pay your checks now, I will take the money, run to the market to gather the finest ingredients, return to the kitchen and prepare a meal all of you will surely enjoy.” If the chef is unknown to you and the only criterion for being there is the word of a friend who had once eaten a sandwich at his house, well the whole thing becomes a matter of trust doesn’t it?
I’m sorry to see Skitzo Calypso leave again. Their first entry to Sellaband was accompanied by a flurry of investment and had they stayed the course their Sellaband album would certainly have been available for a matter of months already. It is impossible to say with certainty, but their second attempt on the internet crowd-sourcing platform may have been torpedoed by a combination of skepticism on the part of first time investors and the current economic climate. I know that the band has the good wishes of the Sellaband community and that Brad and the boys are very capable of the sort of work it will take to bring their artistic output before a larger audience.
There is no shortage of good rock bands on Sellaband. The departure of Skytzo Calypso, having been one of the more polished and radio-ready of the bunch, could send some interesting signals to some of the better bands in their class. It’s possible that some artists may see this as an opportunity and others might take their departure as an indicator of how hard it really is the get to the top of the Sellaband heap. Some bands without the time or support needed to generate proper interest on Sellaband might throw up their hands to say “Well Jesus, if a band like Skitzo Calypso can’t get it done then how can we?” and just give up the quest. Others might take this development as a kick in the ass to step up their efforts, increase their online presence, become more convincing to their non-Sellaband followers and realize an increase in investment.
Plowing the Sellaband roster for talent can be time consuming and I find that most of the artists of whom I am aware have been brought to my attention through communications with other investors, messages left on my profile and comments left on this site. One band that made themselves known to me through my website which I find of particular interest is an Australian group called The Bleed. Their music is straight forward, bare bones rock. They write good songs, record great sounding tracks, have really good group vocals and sound extremely radio friendly. After a period of inactivity they are back in action on Sellaband where time and their own efforts will decide if we are to hear a complete album from them. At present The Bleed has only one track posted on their profile page and without more to go on it wouldn’t be fair to offer an opinion on the wisdom of investing in their project. But those looking for a band to replace Skitzo Calypso in their portfolio would do well to check out The Bleed and ask them for more examples of their work.
And so, as the sun sets on another Los Angeles evening, Skitzo Calypso has left the building, The Bleed has re-entered the building and I will be adding another assignment to the homework of my private students. In addition to the usual scale exercises, they must now write 100 times, “If it’s so goddamned easy, anybody could do it.” Because making it, whatever that means, rarely happens unless one is prepared to become either Sisyphus or a dung beetle. Success always seems to include long bouts of pushing huge balls of shit up a very steep incline.