Music is completely subjective in nature, but most people agree that the most renowned rock bands are those who sell out arenas to spite displaying as much aptitude for their instruments as Stephen Hawking does for Murderball.
Most angst ridden (and rather unfortunate looking) teenagers pick up the guitar in hopes of being the next Eddie VanHalen... And getting all the groupies ones heart desires. Many of these young chord mangling hopefuls begin with an acoustic guitar since they are much more affordable, and to the listener sound less reminiscent of being shot in the ear canal with a nail gun, in the hands of an amateur musician.
Many young guitar players set out with the best of intentions to learn the instrument. Most find that after two weeks of noodling around with 4 basic chords and still not displaying Steve Vai-like technical ability guaranteed to attract adoring vagina like moths to a light bulb, many delegate the instrument to the furthest depths of their closet. Only to be fished out several years later to be sold for pot money.
Congratulations, you possessed enough socially awkward traits and enough hours at McDonalds to have actually bought yourself an electric guitar and amp and still allowed yourself time to practice. Maybe you even learned how to play a few Metallica songs without beating them into the musical equivalent of tub girl's mess. So what's next for a fledgling rock star?
Chances are an amateur guitar player has run across a couple of kids at school that are as socially inept as they are and also play instruments. Maybe they've even decided to be bold enough to ask those other kids to start a band?
Hypothetically, they say yes. Now these people have the problem of finding a practice space. Most bands start out in a cluttered garage somewhere, or possibly in a spider infested woodshed full of dry rot and black mold. These early conditions of misery should suffice as a taste of things to come as a band while they work out bad cover songs and simple 3 chord progressions with little to no harmony. After all, they now need to learn how to work with other musicians.
When a band sticks with it and has fun to spite sucking so bad the police are called to every practice, they may get some gigs lined up. Most beginning gigs do not pay (much like being an internet comedy writer) and the band is usually accepting of that just to get their name out (also much like an internet comedy writer). Fortunately for new bands just starting out, teenagers have terrible taste in music, and that's exactly who their audience is going to be until everybody turns legal drinking age. At this junction, one or two things happens, as explained in the next section.
When high school ends, usually the band does too. Fortunately for most musicians, Universities aren't often banging down doors ready to scoop up handfuls of burnouts who would rather blaze up and solo over the top of free form Phish album jams stolen over a torrent site. So if they're lucky all 4 members will keep the band together throughout community college and start playing bars for money.
If one or more members of the band ends up going to a University, another bass player and/or drummer can assuredly be found at which ever Junior College they attend. After a couple months of getting new members up to speed on material, they may be ready to hit the paying bar scene.
This is where the magic happens. This is where all the hard work and dedication starts to pay off.
There's seldom a greater feeling than playing for an audience when a musician knows there's a few hundred bucks in it and the possibility of a drunk college skank that will sleep with them at the end of the night, if only as a passive aggressive stab at their overprotective father.
For the most part, it's been noted by most touring guitar players that bar gigs are the most fun as the pay is generally okay for the amount of time and actual work put in. Plus the crowd is usually "intimate" and will often send up drinks to band members to show appreciation if they're enjoying the music. Even the greatest guitarists have been heard talking about smaller venues being much more fun than playing for an arena of 30 or 40 thousand people.
After a while, a band gets feeling like it's time to take on a manager and go on tour. This is done on a local, regional scale at first.
This is probably the shittiest time in a bands career. Not only do you leave the comforts of home, but you do so by sleeping in a van full of equipment with 3 or 4 other dirty dudes... For weeks at a time.
Even if you have an indie band with some token chick bass player, the smell doesn't get much better.
You're still working for a few hundred bucks a night and that's split between all the members. You also have to pay for gas in an ancient relic of a vehicle, packed full of equipment, left over from the halcyon days of 59 cent gas. Tip: Get very used to surviving off of dollar menu beef and cheese and taking a shit once a week. A shit that has the consistency of dark matter.
You might actually stick it out on the road. You may actually get signed to a label. Granted it's not likely to be a major label, but if you do manage to gain the interest of an indie label with your shitty Death Metal, Ska-Jazz, Country fusion band it's highly recommended to sign the contract. Just read over it first. Contracts are notorious for having hazy wording that can be easily misconstrued by the legally uninitiated. This can end up with the label owning the rights to all the music you produce under that label. You may also find yourself legally obligated to produce 5 albums in 5 years as well as tour in support of those albums.
The fucked thing is, getting an album worth of good material is difficult. This is why bands like Metallica and Tool sometimes take 5 to 10 years to create an album worth buying... Or in Metallica's case you just ride the wave of all the good shit you made in your prime for the next 20 years.
You've managed to get as big as The Stones and you've got the sold out sports arena to prove it. If Mtv still played music instead of shitty reality TV dating shows, your video would be in constant rotation. Even the radio edit version of the first (and only good) track on your new album is being played so often that the people that actually liked your music to begin with would rather drive an ice pick into their eardrums than hear your fucking single one more time.
But to spite the fact that even though the people that elevated you to guitar god status now cant stand to hear your music, you sell out entire stadiums to people that have no honest appreciation for rock and roll music and buy the concert T-shirt as a souvenir rather than genuine advertising support of your band.
You have all the Yes-Men you want to shower you in enough cocaine to make your tour bus look like wintertime in Aspen Colorado. There's literally a hundred hot chicks waiting in line for a chance to give you an enthusiastic blow job and you wipe your ass with any dollar bill with a denomination less than 100. Life is pretty good, right?
Several years pass and you have bumps on your dick that doctors can't even identify and holes in your sinus large enough pass a finger through from all the coke you've snorted out of groupie snatch. Things are fucked in a bad way but you and the guys hold it together just long enough to record one last shitty album before your lead singer offs himself with a bad batch of heroin or a simple shotgun blast to the face.
What does the future hold for you and your surviving band mates? Well, there's always a VH1 Behind the Music special, isn't there? And you'll always make residual income off the royalties from your first few albums that remain timeless. Hopefully you didn't blow all your money erecting a palace made of gold when the money was flowing into your bank account like lesbians into Lilith Fair...