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So you have a Band, Now What?

Updated on May 26, 2009

The first thing any new band needs to recognize, memorize, and put into practice is that you are nothing more than a brand name of the product you manufacture. I know that takes the glamour out of it, but the sooner you recognize this the sooner you can make a business plan that works. Yes, I said the “B” word and that’s what it’s all about Baby!

For example, you don't buy Blink 182, you buy the product they provide. You buy the product Blink 182 offers and that’s an excellent product. How did they start and how did you find out it was something you could buy? Study bigger bands for how they made it and you’ll see that its simple logic. No one will buy the product if they don't know what it is. You’ll quickly find out that the first and ongoing items on bands "to do" list is to build a following, keep that following, and gain exposure.

The web has made some important break throughs for bands, but there are a million bands all competing for the same following you are, no matter what genre' you are in. The good thing about the web, is it's all about talent and marketing. You can build an online presence whether or not you have a "show" as long as you have some kick ass sounding recordings, a tight, fresh sound, and know how to market the hell out of yourself. Here you become the pimp. But remember the online presence should be first a service to fans you all ready have and second a venue for new fans and opportunities to find you at.

You need a local following like you need air and this is where your first and most persistent events should come from. When you are first getting started, don’t even worry about who your following is. If Aunt Maude and Uncle Humphrey like to get out and party, invite them along. The club owner wants money first, “coolness” comes later.

If you live in some backward Podunk town, then focus on the next biggest town closest to you, get a killer set together, and go for the gusto. Plan to visit jam nights as often as possible and religiously at that. This is where you will gain an education, tweak your show to fit into a live setting, and meet some great contacts.

Get to know other bands and try to make some practice parties and trade shows with the bands that have the following you want to have. While you are at it, never, ever, ever talk bad about another band. The music industry is incestuous and your bad words will come back to bite you in the ass.

Some of the bigger local bands will be happy to show you the ropes if they decide they like you and their following would be a great place to grab some fans for your own band, so play nice and make friends. While you’re making these friends, stay sober, or at least as sober as possible. Being some jacked up oddity is not going to get gigs for you.

Speaking of being nice make sure and be nice to the ugly groupie chicks. For one thing, they are probably friends of the really hot groupie chicks, and for another thing, if you piss them off, they'll be hell bent on destroying you. As those groupie chicks have a tendency to be huge bar flies they can be a bigger influence than you might realize. So, just play nice. In fact, put them to work as part of your street team, have them collect email addresses for you and get people to friend your band’s MySpace for you. This will help them feel special and you have no idea how their loyalty will pay off big time for you.

One of the biggest secrets in the local gigs is that no matter how tight you play or how fresh your riffs are, the club owners are always going to favor the band that brings in the bucks. Sad but true. The band that has the biggest, thirstiest, hungriest following is going to win hands down, every time. Money talks and unfortunately it doesn't always recognize the best talent, only the best sales people.

If you are an all original band, that’s great. You’ll still want to know a few covers for back up. Unfortunately a lot of people will only think you are good if you “sound just like….”. So pick a few of those totally worn out radio songs that you’ll puke if you hear one more time. Some people just really love that familiarity and if your originals aren’t hooking the crowd, the covers will help save the show for you.

Also, get in the crowds face, make them engage with you. Your whole goal at a show is to have that crowd begging for more of what you have to give them. The most impressive thing I ever experienced was when one of the bands that were playing my club told my lighting tech to turn the house lights UP. This woke up the sluggish crowd and a great time was had by all. Another time, the guitar player jumped straight from the floor onto someone’s table without spilling a single drink. That went down in history and will definitely get some attention if you can do something similar. The moral of that is it just isn’t good enough to sound good, you actually have to entertain.

Here are a few items that need to be mentioned at every show, it’s just good manners:

  1. Remind the crowd to tip the bartenders and servers.
  2. Thank all bands that are playing with you that night whether you are the opening act or main event.
  3. Thank the club owner/promoter for having your ass play in their club in the first place.
  4. Thank the crowd for coming out.
  5. Try to find a current event that’s hot. Did the town’s football team win a big award? Is it a college bar during finals? Find something that the crowd will relate to and mention it casually to help warm them up.

This is a lot of info and I hope you all learned something. Just remember a band is a business.  Know when to do business and when to seriously jam and you’ll be a step ahead of the other local bands when it comes to broadening your opportunities.


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    • HappyHer profile image

      Tracy Morrow 7 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Thanks Richieb799. I used to really enjoy the work I did with bands. It's my pleasure to be of service to up and coming bands today.

    • Richieb799 profile image

      Richieb799 7 years ago from Cardiff, Wales UK

      I think you have covered a lot of vital information here, extensively! hopefully you will help some 'original' bands make it!

    • treading concrete profile image

      treading concrete 8 years ago from Jungle of steel.

      Awesome hub!