If there is one thing that could be said about Los Angeles, the City of the Angels, it would be that there is no way to get around all the lights, sounds, smells and excitement that come along with the territory. After all, it is the home of Hollywood, and that alone is enough to capture anyone’s attention. However, that’s just the film industry side of the city.
Then there’s the music industry in which so many musicians got their start that it would be an exercise in futility to attempt to count them all. If you are one of thousands who hit LA each year looking to catch that one fat recording contract, don’t get your hopes up before taking the time to do a few celebrity sightseeing tours. There’s a very good reason for this and one you will come to understand and appreciate.
Introducing the LA Music Scene
Let’s talk for just a moment about the LA music scene. Although not all of these singers and musicians were California natives, each of them got their start in Los Angeles and some of them in very special ways. For example, perhaps the biggest name to ever get their start in LA without actually being from LA would probably be Elton John. That’s a story in itself and an exciting start for a young, relatively unknown British pop star.
What happened to Elton John in that one visit on August 25th, 1970, became history and it is believed that, if he hadn’t performed at the Troubadour, he wouldn’t have skyrocketed to such fame. After having done eight shows in six days, he became such an instant hit that Elton John would be the biggest rocker to hit the billboards since The Beatles. That’s the LA music scene that every young musician hopes to find upon arrival there.
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Your Name in Lights?
There are so many other big names that came out of LA, and if you want to know who they are and how they are related to what’s going on now, check out this guide to the LA music scene. On this site you will also learn about their self-serve/DIY recording studios where fledgling musicians can lay down tracks before approaching any of the big labels like Capitol Records. Pirate is the parent company that has organized studios in the United States – LA just one of several cities – and has studios in the UK, Ireland, and Germany. The guide you are being referred to makes mention of the fact that even The Beatles and ABBA rose to fame there. It’s a magical city to say the least. Even so, if you are going to bring your craft to the big boys, you might want to rent one of Pirate’s studios to lay down a hi-tech professional product.
Elton John wasn’t the only singer/songwriter to get a huge break in LA. Let’s look at some of the biggest names, many of which you will probably recognize right away:
- Etta James
- David Crosby
- Liza Minnelli
- Richie Valens
- Snoop Dog
- Brian Wilson
And, some of those are icons in the music industry! Brian Wilson has always been the poster boy of what had been called California Surf music, but that wasn’t really a genre. Today the music of the Beach Boys is classified as pop rock but the ‘boys’ are still going strong to this day, exactly 50 years after recording their first hit in 1961.
Everyone Has Their Own Style – Or Should Have!
Part of the reason why there are so many one-hit wonders is that those bands or solo artists have nothing original to offer. The LA music scene, if explored properly, will show you how to take the best that another artist or group has going on and to then make it your own. The style variations have to be strong enough so that you don’t come across as simply a cover band. No one is saying you must style your sound after your personal idols, but if you do, make it your own!
One thing the talent scouts actually hate is a sound that is modeled after someone else. If they can sense a bit of that style going on, it is usually acceptable – not okay, just acceptable. However, if you can be inspired by the sound of someone else without actually sounding like them, you’ve got a shot at it.
Bringing the LA Music Scene Home
Once you’ve had the opportunity of a lifetime to get up close and personal to the stars that set the bar for you, it’s time to take it home. “Home” doesn’t have to be your physical place of residence either. By taking it home, you are giving yourself permission to bring something you love with you to make it a part of your own sound. For just a moment, consider where we would be if the masters hadn’t inspired each other in what would look like a musical challenge in today’s world.
Beethoven was said to have been inspired by Schubert who in turn was inspired by Akademie, a fundraiser written by Beethoven. It was here that Schubert found inspiration to organize a benefit of his own and the two went on in reciprocal admiration until Beethoven’s death. So, what then does this have to do with the LA music scene? It has pretty much everything to do with it! Unlike many of today’s artists, these cultural icons found a way to make mutual admiration work for them. No, they didn’t copy each other’s sound but rather took the good from what they were hearing to morph it into a better sound for their own personal style.
That is what the LA music scene can do for you as a budding musician. Just don’t let yourself get too tangled in the web or you won’t break free. Take it and make it your own and you will have done what you set out to do. You will have been inspired by the greats.