How close to (in some sense) ‘the stars’ do you have to get to feel like you might arrived ‘in the same circles’?
The six degrees of separation theory – based on somewhat dubious original studies but which successively longer-distance and to be honest less rigorous experiments have only tended to support – does of course pack extra weight within a relatively small and close-knit community – like, say, acoustic instrument-oriented non-classical musicians in the south-east of England. So it’s not that much of a surprise, perhaps, to find myself at only a couple of removes from name-droppable pro bands: the last time I was in a studio with a band, Mumford & Sons had left their drumkit set up the night before (honestly, they don’t even have a full-time drummer, why make so much mess? the bass drum only style seems to work pretty well live … ); I’ve just had to shift a planning meeting for a professionally made video showreel because the slot I originally had has been gazumped by Steeleye Span. Slightly more surprising was last night’s house viewing, but I think I’d better not jeopardise a not-yet-made decision on someone else’s part by scribbling on the open web about the situation.
The difference is, of course, these groups can expect to make money out of their time in the same place I’ll be in afterwards. In fact other people who run businesses can expect them to make so much money that they will lend them the cost of the project (I’m really really not looking forward to paying outright for this video) on the presumption it will turn enough profit for them to get their loan back.
So it comes, in a sense, down to marketing again – or in this instance sales. Anyone (that can find the cash) can go and record material in a pro quality studio, even do music videos and proper album packaging and duplication. There’s no quality / popularity / success bar (people might ask not to be credited to avoid embarrassment of association I suppose!). The separator is, can you get enough directly or indirectly back from it to be able to pay up to do it again? Or to not have to do another job? Or to only have to do your other job part-time? Otherwise it’s just an elaborate vanity project to make yourself think you’re a professional when you’re just an overproduced amateur.