In an article about The Backseat Lovers, the band's guitarist plays in front of what appears to be a white sheet. A drummer can be seen in the background.
Image via Google Images

How The Backseat Lovers Reflect the State of Bands

Their success proves that classic avenues of band recognition still exist and are a positive sign for talented, aspiring musicians.

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In an article about The Backseat Lovers, the band's guitarist plays in front of what appears to be a white sheet. A drummer can be seen in the background.
Image via Google Images

Their success proves that classic avenues of band recognition still exist and are a positive sign for talented, aspiring musicians.

The Backseat Lovers, is an up-and-coming indie-rock band from Provo, Utah, formed by lead singer Joshua Harmon and drummer Juice Welch at the age of 18.

In 2017, Harmon released a solo EP, “Angry or Occupied,” giving the public an early glimpse of his musical talent. Despite its unpolished nature, the release showcased Harmon’s songwriting abilities and his unique performance style. The EP was heavily influenced by country and folk music, departing from the indie-rock sound that The Backseat Lovers are now known for. However, even in their most recent releases, the band’s folk roots can still be detected, adding depth and originality to their music. “Angry or Occupied” included a solo version of the popular song “Sinking Ship.”

Harmon and Jonas Swanson, another member of The Backseat Lovers, met in line for a Velour Battle of the Bands. Despite being denied the chance to perform, they sat on a bench outside the venue. The two played their original songs for each other until they ran out of material. Harmon later introduced Swanson to drummer Juice Welch. The three hit it off and began writing music together.

The quartet of The Backseat Lovers officially formed in 2018. Joshua Harmon took on lead vocals and guitar, Jonas Swanson on backup guitar and vocals, Juice Welch on drums, and KJ Ward on bass. The band gained recognition when they won the Velour Battle of the Bands in their hometown of Provo, Utah. This was the same competition they were denied entry to a year earlier. Videos of their performance helped spread their name beyond the local area through YouTube.

The Backseat Lovers followed a traditional path to success, establishing a reputation locally and then utilizing pre-existing avenues for growth. While local competitions like Battle of the Bands were enjoyable community events, they did not lead to national recognition. But, their win at a Battle of the Bands competition jumpstarted their career. Such an accomplishment serves as encouragement for aspiring musicians across the country.

Today, the path to success for musicians is more challenging, as it is no longer based solely on talent. On the surface, social media appears to offer an easy way for musicians to get their work out there and gain recognition. However, this increased accessibility to a wider audience is also detrimental to the success of numerous talented artists.

Social media makes it easier for any aspiring musician to release content and try their luck. For many, luck plays a significant role in determining their success. For instance, artists like Jack Harlow and Iggy Azalea may not possess the talent to support their success, but their luck with social media helped them reach great heights.

The internet is overwhelmed with amateur “musicians”. These budding artists release excessive amounts of music without focusing on refining their craft. This saturation makes it harder for listeners to discover music they enjoy from artists with genuine talent.

For this reason, it is refreshing to see that traditional avenues are still available for musicians to gain some recognition, as evidenced by The Backseat Lovers. However, the effects of the market being flooded with amateur musicians are twofold: Not only does it make it challenging to discover talented musicians, but it may also discourage skilled musicians from pursuing their dream of making it big, leading them to take alternative career paths.

The music industry remains highly selective. Consider how many artists you listen to regularly. It’s likely you can only name a few. As more individuals aim to become self-employed musicians, the supply of labor continues to grow, but the demand for new musicians remains consistent. With a greater number of musicians, luck plays an even bigger role in determining an artist’s success.

Moreover, less committed musicians tend to view music as just a hobby. Even as they pursue their main passions, they still have the chance to “make it” in the industry. Pursuing music as a full-time career is a high-risk endeavor. This association poses a challenge for talented musicians trying to reach their full potential.

However, finding recognition and success in the music industry is still challenging, even with the required talent. This is due to the increase in people branding themselves as musicians. The notion that only the most talented artists rise to the top has been proven false. Influencers and celebrities backed by strong production teams and established fanbases are at an advantage. Their status allows them to bypass the process of gaining name recognition, the most difficult part of success in the music industry. As the market becomes over-saturated with such musicians, it is more difficult for truly talented artists to achieve success.

The ability of social media influencers to skip the crucial step of establishing name recognition makes it even more difficult for talented musicians to break into the music scene. Despite the many factors working against them, The Backseat Lovers’ ability to resonate with so many listeners speaks to their talent. Moreover, they are a reminder that talent can still outweigh luck in the music industry. Although this sentiment is overshadowed, aspiring musicians can use The Backseat Lovers’ path as a blueprint for success.

Writer Profile

Alexander Landgraf

The University of Chicago
Public Policy, Economics

Alexander Landgraf is a second-year at the University of Chicago. In his free time, he enjoys reading, singing and listening to music.

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