Why Musicians Should Be More Like Fergie (Yes, It’s About Her Terrible National Anthem Performance)

Fergie recently performed the National Anthem at the opening of the NBA All-Star Game. And it was uncomfortable to listen to.

But there’s something musicians can learn from this incident.

In the video above, you can see Chance The Rapper, Jimmy Kimmel, and an assortment of basketball players either laughing or trying not to laugh.

The internet had a field day with Fergie and tore her apart.

Legendary basketball player Charles Barkley said he needed a cigarette after her performance.

Fergie apparently noticed the uproar and responded.

“I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA,” she said. “I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.”

And that’s what musicians should take from this whole thing.

“I wanted to try something special…”

“I’m a risk taker artistically…”

Don’t be scared to try something new. Don’t fear taking risks.

Yeah, it may not always work out. But sometimes, you can get something really great if you step outside the box. We should all be more like Fergie in this way.

As the street artist Banksy once said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

And middle-of-the-road art doesn’t bother anyone.

So go disturb some people with your art and you may just comfort the people who really need it.

Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper laughing during Fergie’s rendition of the National Anthem

Joe Saylor: From A Small Town To The Late Show

This is Joe Saylor’s route to CBS.

Joe Saylor

Saylor, jazz drummer and Indiana, Pa., native, landed a spot on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as a member of the house band, Jon Batiste and Stay Human.

In this role, which he and the band earned last year, he has assumed the title of “jazz cowboy,” according to the buzz on social media.

Well before stepping onto the Colbert stage, he and his band opened a concert for rapper Asher Roth. Saylor played tambourine while his bandmates played melodica, saxophone, and tuba.

“These people came to see a rap concert,” Saylor said. “And what they saw first was basically two toys and two archaic instruments.”

Saylor told the story:

“About ten minutes into it, people just started booing and we had never experienced that before, and we just kept playing and we just kept going harder and harder.”

It still was not going well, so Batiste, the band leader, gave Saylor the green light to solo.

Saylor said he was thinking he had to get the crowd into it, and then he noticed a nearby microphone. During his solo, he smacked the microphone with his tambourine with so much force that the stand fell to the ground, causing eardrum-blowing feedback.

The crowd went wild.

Joe Saylor

“From that point on, they loved us,” Saylor said.

If you were to go back in time even further, you would see him selling his drum set just to make a living. He was determined.

Even if he had been driven to homelessness, he said he would still be sure of his choice to pursue music.

“There was never a time where I wanted to give up or had any doubts,” Saylor said.

His drive to become a jazz musician started at 12-years-old when his father took him to see Roger Humphries, Pittsburgh-born jazz drummer who’s played with folks like Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Charles.

“That night completely changed my life,” Saylor said. “From the minute I walked into that club, I knew I wanted to play jazz. Roger changed my life.”

Throughout school, Saylor played the trumpet and the upright bass, yet the drums stayed constant for him. Ever since the age of three, he had been playing drums on a kid-sized kit that his father bought him.

Saylor said his love for drums first welled up in church when he watched the worship band’s drummer.

“I would always watch him play,” he said. “I was fascinated.”

Then after graduating from Indiana Area High School in 2004, Saylor set off on his pursuit of a career in jazz. He earned his bachelor’s at Manhattan School of Music then later his master’s at Juilliard School.

His tenacity to be his best is clear in the way he plays his instrument.

You may see him gripping the crash symbol against his body as if it were trying to escape while he beats it with his drumstick. Other times, you may see him drumming on the body of his kit as opposed to the skins.

He has even placed his foot on top of his tom drum during a solo.

The skills he has developed have earned a lot of people’s admiration, but he doesn’t seem to get distracted by that. He said he wants to focus on uniting and uplifting people with his art.

“Anytime that I play music for people and it touches them and uplifts them in a certain way, that’s always the best feeling for me, to know that I have that kind of impact,” he said.

“My goal is to uplift and love people through music.”

Even if it means selling his drum set or risking a life on the streets. Even if it means withstanding a booing crowd or sharing the screen with celebrities. 


This article first appeared in my music-magazine-turned-podcast, Musicateur.

5 Tools To Help Boost Your DIY Music Career

DIY musicians will tell you, it ain’t easy making a living through music, but it is possible.

Boost Your DIY Music Career

So anything you can do to boost your DIY music career is a step in the right direction.

With that in mind, here are five simple tools you can use to do just that.

Music distributors

boost your DIY music career

If you want more people to hear your music, you need to go where the people are.

Not everyone listens to music on the same platform. Some people like Spotify, others like Apple Music, and even others like Pandora.

That’s why music distributors are really helpful — they’ll send your music to almost every website that streams and/or sells music.

To get involved with a distributor, you can check out my guide for selling your music online.

Evernote

boost your DIY music career

Evernote is how I do my songwriting now. It lets me organize notes, attach voice memos to my lyrics, and allows me access on the app or desktop.

You can create tags to easily find a song you’re working on. And you can easily share notes, like if you’re writing a song with someone.

I’m pretty much addicted to it. Check it out here.

LANDR

boost your DIY music career

LANDR is an automated mastering service. I now use it for every song I need to master.

They use the same technology that Spotify or Apple Music uses to recommend other songs and artists to you. Somehow, they’re able to identify the sonic properties of a song and then master it based on that.

And you know if I’m using it, it’s affordable. You can either pay under $10 for a master WAV file or set up a monthly subscription for about $25 a month.

If you produce and record music, you should check out LANDR.

Upwork

Upwork

I use Upwork, a website that connects freelancers with clients, to find a lot of music writing jobs, but I also get jingle projects, songwriting jobs, and pretty much any music-related work.

It’s the key to me being able to work from home.

I highly recommend you look at the jobs on there.

A PA System

Let’s admit it — nobody likes dealing with a sound system. Not even the sound guy.

But having a nice PA system is an investment that can make your gigs so much easier. No more praying that the venue will have a half-decent sound system. No more annoying your one friend with a PA system.

I have to admit — I don’t own one. But I want one. And this Rockville PA system looks like a good one for under $300.

So give these tools a shot and let me know what you think!

Play Each Concert For The 1%

I once played a gig with an attendance of about 100 people. Doesn’t sound bad, but 99% of the people seemed like they didn’t care.

Live music
Sometimes concert attendance will feel like this

You see, me and my band were the musical entertainment before a non-music event. So the people weren’t there to see us.

It felt like the seats were empty because, after each song, nobody clapped. It was so weird and awkward.

Just silence.

Actually, I shouldn’t say nobody clapped — the soundman did.

He was the 1% that actually mattered.

And that 1% is what I should’ve been concerned about the whole time. Every concert I play should be for the 1%.

Let me explain: the 1% are the people that actually care. The people that honestly enjoy your music.

Even if it’s just one person out of a hundred, the concert will have been worth entertaining that individual.

I’ll perform through awkward silences if it means only one person enjoyed it. It’s all about connecting with one person at a time.

And it turned out that this soundman wanted me to play for some festivals that he runs. So the event ended on a high note.

You never know who’s listening, so play each show for the 1% — for that one person who cares.