Musicians Oblige Peer's Request For Honest Critique

Categories: Digitalia

Dustin Foreman apr12.JPG
Rocks Off likes to troll the musicians' section of Craigslist in an effort to catch interesting acts at their very inception. Usually we get the same old thing day in and day out:

Need FOC (Friend of Christ) bass player for worship band. Must have ride.

18 SERIOUS singer looking for band. Main influence is Evanescence.

Frustrated young man wants an honest appraisal of his music.

Wait. What?

Dustin Foreman (right) is a 20-year-old transplanted singer-songwriter from Austin. He's quit his job to pursue the rock and roll dream, practicing his craft four hours a day fueled only his love of music.

Thus far success has eluded our young friend, and he placed an ad on Craigslist asking that some fellow musicians of enhanced status tell him what he could to improve his work.

Rocks Off was in a twisted wish granting mood on that day, and decided we would oblige him. Foreman sent us along two acoustipop numbers called "You Might Save Me" and "Drop of Rain." To our ears, they're songs in the process of becoming their eventual selves, but fairly good starts.

Don't worry, our ego hasn't eclipsed our good sense so much that we're going to assume the "enhanced" status Foreman requested. Instead, we sent the samples to four of the Houston musicians we respect the most.

First up, our own award-winning musical partner, Bill Curtner:

Dear Dustin,

Yes, being a professional musician these days is not easy. Limited funds and resources can frustrate even the best of us. I would like to give you some free advice that may or may not help:

1. Clean up your promo material - When you send a journalist or fellow musician or anyone a sample of your music...please cut out awkward silences, pops, coughing, etc. There are plenty of free editors online that are easy to learn. You might also want to take a better promo picture. No matter what you hear...Image is important and so are first impressions.

2. Enunciation, diction, and range - If I could understand your lyrics, I would tell you how I felt about them. It is very important to sing clearly. Pronounce the words. On the second track, you attempt to sing in a lower register. Being a former vocal coach, I can tell that those lower notes are out of your range. With pitch practice you might be able to expand your range.

3. Don't quit your day job - Don't take that as an insult. If your family needs income, get a full time job. All of the artists I know have a day job. The reality of the modern music industry is grim. There are no more 7 record major label deals. Local and regional clubs do not pay well if anything at all. Also, working keeps you honest and hungry. Just my opinion.

4. Get a backing band - Throw a nickel and you will hit a singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar. Get a solid three piece band behind you and you will have a better chance of success. Start off finding a good melodic lead player; write four or five really strong songs then, build a simple but tight rhythm section. Remember, keep it simple.

I hear some raw talent. You kind of have a Lifehouse/Verve Pipe sound. I can respect someone that works four hours a day on his material. Dedication and hard work are traits you will need in order to succeed in any avenue of life but, if you need money GET A JOB!

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