Thursday, March 17, 2011

Duff McKagan: Writing a great song is no longer enough

Duff McKagan is in Austin this week at SXSW, where he’ll be speaking about the business of music, as well as playing the first show with his band, Loaded, since December of 2009.

In the latest edition of his column for Seattle Weekly, Duff elaborates on his thoughts about what it takes for artists to make it in today’s business environment, the need to adapt quickly, and a sense of the bigger picture.

Here's a taste of Duff's advice:

The subject that I will be speaking on is the ever-changing field which a touring and recording band must adapt to. Most of the younger bands I know about have become mini-geniuses at things like inventory control, Tune-Core, and the price of gasoline in different regions of the country. You have to be smart and have the ability to adapt quickly these days, as WELL as write a great song.

Back in the 1980s, when I got my first major-label deal, I simply couldn't have cared less about how everything worked in a business sense. It all seemed so massive and beyond my scope of knowledge that I just sort of shut down intellectually and turned a blind eye to some really important things. I didn't realize that, as a principal business owner in GNR Inc., I was paying everyone who worked for us, and that they should have provided me with sober and clear-cut reportage of our growing empire. Luckily--and it was only by the fact that we sort of ruled by fear--no one really ripped us off. Sure, we overspent and were not that smart about our personal dough--but in the end, no one who worked for us blatantly stole. They could have.

Our Loaded gig Friday at the Austin Music Hall is a perfect example of how things are changing in my industry. Partnerships with outside sources are now just a personally agreeable way to make touring affordable. Monster Energy Drink is sponsoring the gig, and also sponsoring a bunch of our tour. It was mutually agreeable to me because Monster just wants to be associated with certain rock bands. They don't want you to overtly advertise or publicly pimp their product. It is just more of a word-of-mouth thing that seems to work.

Check out Duff’s full column at Seattle Weekly here.

Duff McKagan's Loaded Duff McKagan's Loaded

Duff McKagan’s Loaded – Attitude

Osaka, JP – October, 2009

See also:

Duff McKagan launches wealth management firm for musicians
VIDEO: Guns N’ Roses - Duff joins Steven Adler in London
Guns N’ Roses: Duff joins Adler’s Appetite in London
Guns N’ Roses: Duff talks about 2010 London experience