“You should go on X Factor.” I’d be willing to bet that almost every musician in the country who’s got any basic musical ability has heard that line by now. Sometimes it’s said in jest, sometimes with genuine concern, sometimes I think it’s said because the person saying it can’t think of anything else to say. Every time you have to grit your teeth and grimace a rictus grin. Not this again.

The most annoying part about it is this idea that seems to exist in many people’s heads that merely being good at music guarantees you some kind of charmed life where a tv gameshow ( X Factor or its unwanted dull stepchild Britain’s Got Talent) or a chance meeting with a kindly record executive will catapult you into the big time. Does anyone really believe in all that stuff any more?

I’m not writing this to complain about money. I chose my life of border line poverty that lets me make the art I want to, and I’m damn proud of it. At age thirty I threw my entire life into a band with a stupid name. Six years later, despite playing festivals, making videos and albums and trawling across Europe on DIY tours, this band has yet to show any significant profit. It was one of the best choices I ever made.


My point is this – if you really care about that musician that you’re saying “You should go on X Factor” to, you should get involved with what they do. Getting involved can be something as simple as buying an album or going to a gig, for sure. These actions are commendable. Buying a cd from your mate’s band will undoubtedly do more for them than buying Adele’s will do for her. And to the many people who don’t go to small gigs, you’re missing a treat. I’ve spent a significant part of my adult life at live music events, and some of the best nights I’ve ever had have been attended by less than fifty people. Socially, small gigs can be much more fun too.

But I digress. There’s a million things you can do for music if you want your support to go further than mere lip service. For instance, you are reading this on the internet. Why not open a new tab with your favoured social media site and share the latest post of that struggling band or artist in your life? Do this every time said artist posts something for a year and the help you have given the band may be worth more to them than a cd sale. The way sites like Facebook work out how many people get to see certain posts is complicated, but the essential rule is that the more times a post gets shared, the more people will see it. If a band posts something you like and you don’t share it, they’re effectively losing out on a chance to build their audience.

But why stop there? Throw your lot in with the pulsating, socially dsyfunctional but friendly mass of the underground. Like photography and want to take photos of that band that lives round the corner? Send em a message right now ! You want to write a blog like this? Just do it, there’s people within a stones’ throw away that are waiting for your help, just walk right up to them and introduce yourself.


(At this point I’d like to say to all the musicians reading this, you’re included in this too. If your one of those who sits back and complains about the local music scene without doing anything to help it then you don’t deserve to be part of it and we don’t need you. Seriously. And ditto for those pseudo music fans who think attending a big music festival like Download or Glastonbury once a year entitles them to sit in almighty judgement on the music scene. Shame on you.)

In conclusion, it is fucking obvious that things like X Factor do nothing for the state of music. I doubt a single person reading this needs me to tell them that the next Nirvana, Bob Marley, The Smiths, Jimi Hendrix, Pig Destroyer{ insert your favourite band here} will not be discovered through a programme like that. If such game changers are to ever be seen again, they might just be playing at that weird but cool looking venue that you’ve always thought about going to but never actually visited. And though they might not admit it, that weird but cool venue is probably only a bad month or two or a neighbouring development away from disappearing off the map entirely.
So get out there. I’ll see you on the dancefloor, just don’t mention X Factor. 😉

Words: Johnny Kowalski

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About Voodoojukeboxzine (52 Articles)
Voodoo Jukebox - promoting underground, independent and bizarre music, based in Birmingham.