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Steve Ison
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IAC Prime Member


Steve Ison

3/2/2008 11:58:14 AM

How To Be A Loser
A 'Seminar' idea developed from Anjulis suggestion on another thread.

1 SPEND YOUR TIME IN YOUR BEDROOM developing your inner world.Listen to strange introverted,spacious,melancholic music like Nick Drake(or any creative,interesting stuff that isn't in fashion and has little value in the current marketplace)


Live audiences have very specific needs.They're out for a 'good-time'..Primarily alchohol fuelled,they demand upbeat, simple music-preferably songs they already know (covers) that they can feel comfortable and familiar with.

They want to see'n hear well-balanced, upwardly mobile,extroverted natural entertainers-happy people with thick skins and no inhibitions or complexes.Simply put,they want winners.Not a loser like you..

3 BE OVER 30 (or even better 40 or 50)..The image-led record companies demand winners.
winners sell.....
Winners are primarily young,pretty, sexy people that can be easily moulded,categorised n shaped into neat disposable packages for the marketplace.

As a loser tho,you're free to be as old, rough,individualistic,wildly idiosyncratic-outsider as you want..


Winners know there's little point in spending much time developing their art, when there's more urgent,pressing concerns that need immediate attention..
Becoming 'tight' n professional.Learning how to produce music to create a slick 'radio-ready' sound.
Working on the image,the angle,planning the succesful marketing campaign.
Creating a dazzling 3rd person press-kit stuffed with great photo's n press-clippings.

Networking n making contacts who can further the career.

Winners realise(quite correctly) that in a market-place that dosn't demand imaginative,creative music,spending more than the absoloute bare-minimum of time on songwriting is counter-productive.Especially when there are far more important things to be getting on with.

As a loser tho,you're free to get closer to the (probably) non-commercial heart n soul of your art and spend as much time as you want writing songs :)

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3/2/2008 12:08:10 PM

From one Steve to another- thanks. I really don't need any instruction on how to be a 'loser' (I've got all the points you mentioned down pat). However, it's good to get a little "confirmation". Have you ever considered the priesthood?

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3/2/2008 12:08:54 PM

I'm a loooooo - oo-oo-ser

but I'm not what I appear to be

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3/2/2008 12:14:58 PM

I got my Loser card here somwhere...
Ah shit!, I Lost it ...'cause I'm a Loser. Truth be known, there are no winners, or losers, just People who play well with others, and those that don't (I guess).
Love and infinite Peace,

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3/2/2008 12:21:03 PM

My toe tag says "outcast"------------ I guess it's the same thing!


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Hugh Hamilton

3/2/2008 12:26:51 PM

I for one would LOVE to do all those things, come out a wiener...er - winner - and prove you wrong, Old Chap...


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Susan Raven

3/2/2008 1:02:41 PM

1 Nothing wrong with bedroom studios these days... and your inner world is the thing that makes you unique! It's right to develop it!

2 Play live as much as you can - just play at the right places. Forget about pub gigs, find the good places where people go to listen to the music, like festivals, folk clubs, restaurants... gigging is where it's at for making sales.

3 Forget about the record companies, they are a dead-end street, us over 30-somethings are way better than anything they will ever have!

4 You can't have the one without the other!

Nice post Steve - just trying to stay with the positive side of it all!

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3/2/2008 1:24:24 PM

" I'm a loser baby....so why don't you kill me ? "

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The Man With No Band

3/2/2008 1:30:16 PM

The cool thing is .....
I really feel like a winner when I'm hanging out with all you losers !!!

I guess that puts me in the worse than a loser catagorie ... LOL !

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3/2/2008 1:39:33 PM

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream. Wandering by lone sea breakers, and sitting by desolate streams. World losers and world forsakers, for whom the pale moon gleams. Yet we are movers and the shakers of the world forever it seems.”

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Hugh Hamilton

3/2/2008 2:14:31 PM



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3/2/2008 2:19:31 PM

Hm. I fit most 'o the categories...except I'm not 30 yet. Not even close. :) Aw, but 'loserdom' really isn't so bad. Because alot of the 'young' and 'pretty' and 'popular' musicians (take Brittany Spears , for instance) seem pretty unhappy to me. Hummmm.

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Bob Elliott

3/2/2008 2:39:05 PM

It has always been my theory that if we really hit the real creative gold, it trumps all that (plainly true) stuff you wrote. I mean, I have this theory that if someone in their independence actually makes a recording as good as say, "Family Affair," or "Fool on the Hill," or "Folsom Prison Blues," or "Angeles," "Lovin' is What I Got," if someone hits that high a level of a recording, it will trump all and find it's own way of surviving due to quality.

I mean, something as coverable and well written as say "Everybody's Talkin'" or "Imagine" I believe should be able to have a robust life even if it were just a clear recording of one instrument and one voice....the writing has that flavor wherein others would want to cover it, and that is a powerful quality.

Try the test in your mind over much of the clearly 'good' indie music you've heard. Is it written so well that you had to try to play it a bit on your guitar, or you found your own writing clearly inspired?

Those types of powers trump it all in my mind.

That's the theory.

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3/2/2008 5:25:21 PM

Okay....so if I can replace "Never Play Out" with "Don't Play Out for a Long, Long Time", then I think I've nailed it!

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Kevin White

3/2/2008 6:11:42 PM

I dunno ...

I figure if I'm happy ... whatever ... measured against a life led.

Given tolerance, understanding and deeper meaning than simple art.

Art's a thing ... like plumbing. Plumbers can be artists ... hence the term artisans.

Music, fine art ... electricians ... craftsmen. Don't diss the folks who work in other arenas. We musical plumbers have less import to individual households than the other artisans whose expertise (or lack of) they have to deal with every day.

It's all good. It's not drama.



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3/2/2008 6:28:37 PM

Everything is a drama. Emotions are dramatic in and of themselves... Life is dramatic... and art (music) is never just a thing... it is a life born out of a life. It feeds and heals much like food and extremely important to our spiritual and emotional well being, and growth as a whole. It is a primal need since the beginning of time.

Anyway... I thought I'd post this little semi-lengthy missive I've recently happenstanced across...

"The importance of Art ... To some people art is very important, to others it is nothing. To most, it is nice, but fades besides the everyday problems of physical survival, housing, food, money, children, etc.

As far as I can see, the value boils down to what you think you are: A meat machine or a spiritual being. For a meat machine, naturally anything that is not about physical survival is very secondary. For a spiritual being, who knows what is important? Basically, that would be up to the individual spiritual being to decide, wouldn't it?

But there appears to be something about art that really means something to many of us. The fact alone that some people are willing to spend more money on a single work of art than most people earn in a lifetime should make you think. It might be wrong or right or something else, but it definitely shows that something is goin on there.

One pertinent issue is that "art" is defined much more broadly than most people realize, but that is a seperate chapter. The fact is it is an observable fact that art makes people happier, and also that happiness is one of the most important factors in life, even if you only look at bare survival. Just for instance, only unhappy people commit suicide, so it should be clear that being happy is great if you want to live long! Not to mention that happy people are more productive, and production is basic for survival.

Based on that I feel it pretty clear that art is not a mere "luxury", but rather a vital ingredient in the lives of the peoples of Earth. It probably does little good to go into great arguments with those who believe differently, for this issue, like so many others, easily borders on beliefs."

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3/2/2008 6:59:56 PM

One more thing... There have been many artists that span the centuries that have had to work a job to earn money for their art that were not supported during their time... and there were also those that could not function when they were not creating 24/7. There are no set rules... but there is a mystery here and just because you can't solve it doesn't make it any less magical. It is almost the same question " Is there life after death?" and while no one can really answer that indefinitely, Life and Death are no more just a thing as air is unable to be grasped but for our lungs that breath it. We are everything and nothing all at the same time... and the latticework of our creations working together however significant or insignificant it all may seem is what makes this world go round and it's amazing how much of it works out everyday with all that goes wrong. It's almost a miracle... like a song that plays on forever and ever long as we have voices to sing and ears to hear...
If it were always up to money and the powers that be to dictate the terms of our art and what is to grow in our hearts or not... than really, is that really being free and alive ? Aristocrats, while being well educated, are not my idea of freedom. I want to choose... and I want choices... and it is important to have access to choices and it changes perspectives and lives and attitudes and builds bridges and expands empathy and of course, the negatives as well. Sound, vision, color, elements, everything that we create is part of us... and it tells our stories... like birds...it is always a call and a response. It is the only cure for loneliness without dependency. We are all so much more than what we think we are...

I feel better knowing Steve is here standing up for what he believes and that there is yet, still a platform for him to do so, same as for us all. And there is nothing oppressive or hateful about it... and too much agreement can be a terrible destination if you really think about it.

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Vincenzo Pandolfi

3/2/2008 9:57:49 PM

As long as we have passion and compassion, we are not losers...dreamers may be, but not losers.

Didn't Einstein say that 'Imagination is more important than knowledge'!!! We are the creative ones....because we have Imagination...


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Hop On Pop

3/3/2008 4:35:22 AM

Soy un perdidor.

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Red Roses Black

3/3/2008 8:55:29 AM

I don't agree with this. It seems that a consensus among non-commercially successful artist's (Not everyone mind you) is that most bands/artists who work hard to become commercially successful and create music that appeals to a mass audience lack artistic talent and merit. To me I just see it as different. Art is everything to all sorts of people, Just because it appeals in a commercial way does not mean it is any less of an art form or that they have any less talent. I don't judge "Talent" on how good you are at any single instrument or how long you spend perfecting all the techniques there are. Simply put art is CREATION, the techniques laid out for us are guidelines to help us CREATE. guidelines are meant to guide us, NOT restrict us. They are the, "this is what I did and it worked, so try it, and maybe it will work for you too." things, not the "Art is math, it is set and if you follow the right equations you will get the right answers". Thus if one person decides not to follow those guidelines or is simply not physically good enough to follow them, doesn't mean that they cannot create art that is better and more appreciated than by people who are virtuoso's of the guidelines laid out for their art form. It all comes back to subjectivity, one mans trash is another mans treasure. So if you hate the backstreet boys because they don't write their songs and have little or nothing to do with being creative and you've slaved for 30 years to become a guitar god but shy'd away from the limelight because it wasn't what "true" art was, that's fine. But why look down on people who choose to create art for the masses, they have created (or at least someone working with them has) art that they themselves are proud to put out. Even if it is motivated by monetary gain they have still worked hard to create the art. The only difference is that they look at it as a business as well as an art. You can argue that business is also an art form, Like any art it has guidelines to help people become successful at creating, but just like art these guidelines are just meant to GUIDE. You create a product, you create a new way to market and promote that product and become successful at selling that product. Moral of the story, Just create your art, and if you are happy with your creations, than forget about what everyone else is doing. Adopt the ideology that art is everywhere and everything, a tree growing from the ground is art, just as a man creating the plans for a boat motor that will be manufactured 100 million times Is art. Putting any sort of value on it, is only limiting yourself. Keep creating, and never have limits.

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Kevin White

3/3/2008 10:12:22 AM

"Success" has a mercurial definition. Some define it as money, others define it as satisfaction w/ one's work. Others have different shadings to define the word.

But being commercial doesn't mean successful ... as I've known artists who were commercial yet made little money and had no "life" per se -- and then they killed themselves.

Commercial is also fleeting ... as 60's artists aren't selling well now ... as neither is the Backstreet Boys ...

Point being ... there are no losers and winners.

Only players ...

The rest is the rest.



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Jo Ellen

3/3/2008 12:49:31 PM

If I can't be myself I don't wish to enter the competition. However, I have realistic expectations of myself. I have never endeavored to be famous, but even if I had tried I may have never made it anyhow. There are artists and bands on this site that every bit as good if not better than many who have made tons of cash in the music industry. I don't think the rules of competition are always fair, but I do know that in the end we'll probably all be better off for having a place like IAC and local bandstands to express our talents and ideas through music. So keep playing and singing, because in the grand scope of things we're all very young. :)

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3/3/2008 1:17:38 PM

I fit!! I fit!!! Finally, I fit. Born To Lose. (smiling) I Like It Like That.

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3/3/2008 1:18:08 PM

this thread has some interesting twists and turns----

I think Steves original thread was stated in a tongue in cheek way---but making a serious point
We make music because we are musicians---but I also create sculptures from Driftwood---so I am an "Artist" also ----and heres my point

Artists and musicians are constantly pressured by the need to make some$$$$$
from their "Art"
this can make them "testy" ---angry even--or defensive!
Van Gogh was not "famous" until he died---it's not fair but it's how things go

his Art was the same --alive or dead---it didn't change!!

go figure?

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3/3/2008 1:59:50 PM

"Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible."

“The music world is highly commercial and only the works of the biggest artists are really well known and widely promoted. Something like 10 per cent of music accounts for 90 per cent of music sales, while the remaining 90 per cent accounts for just 10 per cent of sales ? this system could therefore herald a revolution for little-known music and artists.”

Why does commercial music need defending ?

Why does the winner need to be protected from the loser ?

Thanks for this thread Steve your humor is appreciated as well your conviction and passion for what you stand for and in fact, you are standing for choices and I've never heard you shun an artist for achieving professional status or pop stardum.


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3/3/2008 2:59:30 PM

I haven't read the comments so forgive me if someone else said this. I think being a loser is a luxury.

I've chosen to make my art my career (because I have no other skills, tho i'm considering being a letter carrier) so I have to make compromises, all the while trying to preserve my artistic self as much as possible. I do things within reason, that I wouldn't do if I didn't have bills to pay and a son to take care of. I haven't sold out quite yet, but I may soon have to.

(I'm still an adoring fan of Steve Ison.)

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3/3/2008 3:26:13 PM

I think this thread is more of a challenge to what our perspectives of a loser actually is ... and done so in an entertaining and humorous way...

We all have to make a living. Who wouldn't want to make a living at what they love to do ? And is that really the issue here...

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3/3/2008 3:44:19 PM

there are no winners or losers in life, just doers and quitters.

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Steve Ison

3/3/2008 3:59:47 PM

Yeh Eliz..Being a loser IS a luxury..One i'm very,very grateful i have...I get to work about 16 hours a week in a very low-paid job (plus busking on a saturday) and am able to get away with this because i live in the UK and get over half my rent paid from housing benefit.(i consider it an 'arts' grant)..

If i lived in the states i'd probarbly be f*cked- and have to put in 40 or more hours a week just like regular folk-or (more likely) be an alcoholic by now grinding out the same meat n veg covers night after night in bars, just to survive..

To develop yourself as an artist you absoloutly need SPACE and TIME.

I feel sorry for you if you're losing the battle to develop yourself artistically as you want 'cos of financial pressures.

I'm not against people making a living from music or being succesful at all-like Anjuli said.Just showing there are different sides to things..

I'm just glad i don't have to create songs with the conscious motivation of desperately trying to fit into the current-marketplace...

Just 'cos i really don't like that kinda music generally......

Actually, neither do you..

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Steve Ison

3/3/2008 4:13:59 PM

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream. Wandering by lone sea breakers, and sitting by desolate streams. World losers and world forsakers, for whom the pale moon gleams. Yet we are movers and the shakers of the world forever it seems.”

Thats such a beautiful poem Anjuli..Really moving and inspired..
I'm gonna remember it line for line!
I've never heard it before but just googled it and saw it was written in the 1800s....Amazing..
So perfectly timeless-it could've been written yesterday-or even 200 years in the future and still have as much beauty,elegance and meaning..
Thanks for finding it :)

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The Man With No Band

3/3/2008 4:59:42 PM

If i lived in the states i'd probarbly be f*cked- and have to put in 40 or more hours a week just like regular folk-or (more likely) be an alcoholic by now grinding out the same meat n veg covers night after night in bars, just to survive..

Nah Steve .... I haven't put in a 40 hr. week for about 4 years now .... it's all about what one WANTS verses what one NEEDS ... My four kids are raised now and I won't ever work 40 hrs a week again in my life ... at least not for someone else ... err (that is unless it's a probation requirement )... :)

Call me a loser but I owe nothing to anyone (money that is) and I answer to no mortal man (or woman at present) ...

Nothing wrong with those that like working a regular job but I did it for over 30 years and I've had enough ...

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Kevin White

3/3/2008 5:03:59 PM

... or ... in my reference above ... players ... and people who don't want to play ... I wouldn't infer "doers or quitters" ... some may have never started anything to quit for reasons we can't judge.

But ...

I appreciate A for reminding me of something I'd forgotten. Artists are lives giving life to creations ... which will outlive them. In part, it's why I started doing music. I saw that at an early age. Music outlives the musicians. Same with film, same with sculpture etc ...

I could die tomorrow (like Laree, I'm 50 ... so the prospect ... inevitable for all, looms closer -- earlier, it didn't even come up on my radar of concerns).

People would come to my website still ... and I'd be alive.

Yet ...

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3/3/2008 5:22:40 PM

Speaking as an 85 year old bedroom effete who quit playing live in 1980, um...what was I saying? Oh, yeah. Something about those guys I wuz playing live with being the biggest bunch of loooooooooooooooooooosers in...I forget where.

One thing I do know! Uh....well, I did, for a moment there.

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Bruce Boyd

3/3/2008 6:02:05 PM

Just came across this in an ezine article about me:
St Croix Music
"The music that he plays is heartfelt and sincere and comes with great design and care. And the fact that he seems to be on the other side of the fence from bland commercialism and pop culture is gratefully received by this publication that is always in search of the real musical McCoy."
Guess that makes me a loser - but reading this thread I'm in really good company.

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