Home arrow News & Reviews arrow What Really Makes A Hardworking Band? (PRS For Music, JLS, Westlife, Cancer Bats Feature)

What Really Makes A Hardworking Band? (PRS For Music, JLS, Westlife, Cancer Bats Feature)

Monday, 28 January 2013 Written by Heather McDaid
What Really Makes A Hardworking Band? (PRS For Music, JLS, Westlife, Cancer Bats Feature)

By this point, it seems almost old news that JLS were titled the hardest working band of 2012 by the PRS For Music with a staggering 34 shows across twelve months - yes, that is less than one a week. So it does beg the question - what exactly constitutes a hard working band, in their minds at least?

Barney Hooper of PRS For Music said: "JLS have once again demonstrated that they truly know how to engage with their massive fan base, performing live to as many of them as possible. Gigging is as important for the biggest performers as those starting out and its great to see that it is thriving in the UK. Congratulations to all the performers and their supporting songwriters who have together created the music that so many of us enjoy.

But JLS are not the only hard working artists, according to PRS For Music. They list other artists who came close to snagging the title, noting, "Westlife came in second place with 31 performances, followed by the reformed Steps with 25. Olly Murs and Florence + the Machine were fourth and fifth respectively."

From this, it seems that performing to as many of their fans as possible across the year is the real driving force of this. And that is honourable - of course hard working bands want as many of their fans to see them live as possible. Not the hardest thing to achieve when you're playing arenas, though.

This isn't to take away from JLS. I remember watching them on the X Factor - they packed quite a live punch and had routines and all that jazz, so I imagine that production and practice will have been upped heavily for their own live performances. X Factor has never really been a huge thing to me, but they - by the show's standard - were a breath of fresh air. They are talented, and I am sure they are a very hardworking band. But, I can't help but focus on the fact that at their current career level, they aren't going through the process of packing and unloading their own gear, sound checking and testing everything and driving between shows.

Every band listed will work hard in their own ways, and the title is literally being slapped on the band who totals the most shows. The fault is not of the bands receiving the accolade - of course JLS would be happy with the title, anyone would be; the fault lays with PRS For Music and their parameters of what makes a band the hardest working there is.

ImageLet's take Canada's own Cancer Bats as an example of a hard working band. Have a look at setlist.fm and you'll see they've played 11 shows already in 2013, and that was by January 25th. That's already one third of the total that made JLS the hardest working band of the year. On April 21st 2012, the band embarked on their Pentagram tour. They played six shows in one day. That's over one sixth of the shows the title holders played in a year. But they did it - in a day.

First, it's a case of quantity over quality of hard work, and those in contention are limited, for whatever reason. Take most bands on my iPod who are still in live circulation, and I can guarantee you that 90%+ will have played more than 34 shows across 2012. But they aren't included - why? It seems a tad exclusive, too tight to be a fair representation of live shows and touring. On the flipside, it's hardly reasonable to expect every single band to be included. Finding the fine line between being exclusive and including every single artist that seems more fair would prove difficult.

More so, hard work is not just playing shows. Sure, the most dedicated of performers may be exhausted from throwing themselves wholeheartedly into their concert night after night, but there are independent bands across the UK who do it all themselves. They drive around the country, they sleep in their vans, they load and unload their own equipment, do their own soundchecks and then - somewhere in amidst all the hard work - they perform their set. Isn't this flippant titling a disservice to the hard work thousands of bands do every year in order to pursue a love of music?

The title is too bold with too little to back it, and it's maybe something the PRS For Music should look at come their decision for 2013. The company seem good enough, with good intentions - "We are a society of songwriters, composers and music publishers. We license organisations to play, perform or make available copyright music on behalf of our members and overseas societies, and distribute the resulting royalties to them fairly and efficiently. We promote and protect the value of copyright" - but it feels like they could be a little more inclusive with artists and broader with criteria for this in the future.

Quantity of shows doesn't necessarily make a band hard working, nor does the quantity of fans they perform to. To find the genuine 'hardest working band' of each year would be pretty impossible, since there are so many dedicated to sharing their music with people and who apply themselves to doing that in many ways. But maybe there will be opportunity in future for more surprising bands to snag the title.

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