- 09 Jul 19
For the Hot Press Soapbox, singer Neil Eurelle addresses the stigma attached to musicians who play covers to make ends meet.
Most of my adult life, I’ve been a full-time musician. A brief stint in the corporate sales world quickly made me realise how much I needed music creation and live performance back in my life. I made a lot of friends, and learned a lot about spread sheets, but the suit and tie wasn’t for me.
I’ve by no means sold a tonne of albums, and I’m certainly not on the Top 200 Spotify streaming list, but depending on how you measure success, I’ve been moderately successful. I own my own house, the bills are paid and thankfully, no repo men are banging my door down.
I’ve always been amazed at the stigma that’s attached to musicians who play pub or cover gigs to make ends meet, when income from original music doesn’t.
I’m no stranger to this myself and regularly pick up the guitar to sing my versions of Prince or Beatles tunes for an hour or two, to put food on the table or pay the mortgage. I’ve always felt like an outsider for doing so though. What’s the deal with that? Does this mean I’m a fucking pretender? Don’t tell me I can’t write a decent tune. My 506 monthly listeners on Spotify tell me otherwise!
Surely it’s better to spend every moment possible honing your skills and improving your chosen ‘profession’. I use that term loosely. Playing other people’s music has helped me to become a better musician and to create better music.
The Rolling Stones’ debut single was a cover version of the Chuck Berry tune ‘Come On’. A cover version done well can launch a career. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in the X-Factor model. To me, that’s like Saturday night takeaway, feeding the masses with shit that’s just bad for you. Ironically, for most of the contestants, it often never ends well. Thankfully that’s a win for us.
In the modern music age, where the income stream is dwindling even further – as a result of the death of the CD, the record store and now iTunes – a lot of ‘successful’ bands also have day jobs or other sources of income.
Even good old Ed Sheeran is doing Heinz Tomato Ketchup ads. Did he really need to? Doesn’t he have enough cash to feed the families of all the other acts on the Atlantic roster? Maybe he’s sending them free tomato sauce! (I’m not having a pop at Ed. I think he’s pretty cool, especially after what he did for Red Nose Day in Liberia, 2017… Google it. Plus he’s also provided an endless list of choices for every wedding couple’s first dance song, like it or loathe it).
One of my favourite guitar players is Gary Clarke Jnr from Austin, TX. In between albums and tours, he is regularly found in the bars on 6th St in Austin, playing old blues songs with the house band. This is what makes him so unbelievably good.
In closing, get over the hump… do what you love to do and do it well, but make sure no one else is picking up your tab. If you can’t make it stand on its own two feet, it becomes intangible, and that’s when you truly are a bullshit pretender… (Enter the plethora of Instagram Influencers bankrolled by Daddy… you’re little more than masturbating material for a million teenage boys and perverts). I digress, read from top.
• eur(elle)’s debut album Dark Chromatic is out now. ‘eur(elle)’ is the artist name of Neil Eurelle