John Browne premieres new track to fund creation of tuition website
As I’m sure everyone but the wildly naive and hopelessly romantic understands, playing in a metal band – even one with a record deal and international recognition – rarely pays all the bills.
Periodically we see bands taking the desperately sad decision to throw in the towel because they simply can’t afford to do it any more. Others have no option but to try and fit writing, rehearsing and touring around a traditional nine-to-five. A fortunate few carve out careers that give them the freedom to disappear for weeks at a time, or simply resign themselves to a life of relative poverty in the hope of joining the elite club that can earn a living wage from the album/tour cycle alone.
Achieving the critical mass of support to make that viable is hugely difficult. This is certainly nothing new, though; I can vividly remember interviews from around the time of Ire Works suggesting that even The Dillinger Escape Plan came close to calling it quits. I think we are probably all supremely thankful that they toughed it out.
But, gradually, musicians are innovating. Crowdfunding is proving to be an absolute godsend to bands of a certain level, with Protest The Hero being the most visible example. Singer/songwriters like Dave McPherson can supplement their income with low-overhead solo work.
Tech-metal musicians, in particular, are finding work in tuition on their chosen instruments, either in person on tour or at home and – increasingly – online through applications like Bandhappy, so all is not completely lost.
John Browne, guitarist and the main creative force behind Monuments, has announced an initiative that draws some of these potential income streams together into one neat and tidy package.
His ultimate goal is to launch a members-only website where – for a small regular fee – users can watch or read tutorial videos to tap his songwriting and guitar-playing skills and experience. And, as those recently released EMGtv videos testify, he’s no slouch in either department.
There will also be tablature, so you can figure out how to play Monuments songs without having to squint at a playthrough video, or paw at your fretboard attempting to figure it out by ear. And probably more besides that.
Obviously, things like this cost money. He’s starting his fund-raising efforts on a relatively small scale by releasing a brand new solo instrumental track, downloadable on a pay-what-you-like basis, with a minimum payment of one single pound. Bargain.
The track, “Agarthian“, is an interesting one. Necessarily instrumental, it features a fine example of Browne’s distinctive riffing style, which effortlessly mixes groove and technicality. The recording of Monuments’ second album is largely in the can, and mixing underway, so if this track is either an off-cut from the writing sessions for that album, or something he has written subsequently, it looks like the follow-up to Gnosis could be very tasty indeed.
I think this website is an interesting idea. Its certainly a little different to the standard fare, and plays to Browne’s undeniable strengths. The acid test, of course, will be finding out whether their are enough aspiring musicians prepared to pay for his advice, together with enough fans that may also be enticed to sign up by the prospect of new, solo music from Browne on a regular basis, especially if it is of comparable quality to “Agarthian“.
It should be possible to keep costs relatively low, so the number of subscribers needed to make his website viable, even profitable, may be surprisingly few. And, judging by the steady stream of technical questions he currently responds to on his ask.fm account there’s at least some pre-existing demand.
To whet appetites still further, Browne has released a playthrough video of the new track. Have a watch, and if it tickles your fancy you can pick it up through his musicglue page (link)