So you have a Band, Now What?
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
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
Here are a few items
that need to be mentioned at every show, it’s just good manners:
- Remind the crowd to tip the bartenders and servers.
- Thank all bands that are playing with you that night whether you are the opening act or main event.
- Thank the club owner/promoter for having your ass play in their club in the first place.
- Thank the crowd for coming out.
- 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.