In it for the art: any advice for us creative types?
I've seen a bunch of "How to be a cover band" threads, but I haven't read any how to break even, and save money as a band who only does originals threads. I'm pretty sure none of us are expecting to make it big, but if anyone has any advice on how to:
break even on the road
get merch made (and designed)
book gigs (payed or not)
get ahead in your local scene (in any genre)
get your music out there (and noticed)
We would all love to listen to what worked, and didn't work for you. I'm sure that I'm not the only person seeking out this advice, and I know each of us will have to figure it out on our own, but if there are people out there willing to share that information, I think we could all benefit from it.
To all who contribute thank you, artist (myself included) don't always have the easiest time with business end of music.
This forum is a good place to start. Simply spreading your music around social networking sites like forums, Facebook, YouTube, etc builds popularity. If u can, record some songs And send them to a bar that books bands (google or help some in your area). Send them your demo and who knows, thy might let you play :) I have not actually done any of this yet but plan to in the near future
You know, there's a lot of advice people can give, but the only thing I can tell you for sure is to be yourselves. Play the music that says what you want to say, and comes from your heart. When you try to play originals to be "current," you will often end up chasing trends. To be very clear: You will get good at what you think it popular, and then tastes will change, and you'll be yesterday's news.
The best thing to do is play what you can really sell to an audience, and then to find that audience. And when bands do that, sometimes they get lucky, and what they are playing is the NEXT big thing. That's your best hope.
As for marketing, gigging, and all the nuts and bolts stuff, I'll let my fellow tb'ers tell you their ideas. My original band sounded like the seventies during the grunge era of the early nineties, and we should have been death on a stick, but our songs sounded pretty good, and we did manage to get into festivals, and get some local radio play. I was proud of the work we did, and the only reason we broke up was due to conflict within the band. I have no illusion that we were going to hit the big time, but I will always believe we could've at least stayed playing.
I wish you the best, and I hope you will listen to my advice. Nothing is more embarrassing than copping a style that isn't you, only to find out that style is a fad.
I think networking, taking advantage of social media, and getting your material out there in any way you can to start building a following is very important. When you're going the all original route, you really need to get people to know and care who you are and what you do. Anything you can do to self-promote and start building bridges is only going to help.
As much as we might sometimes wish it wasn't true, the music business is often not about what you know, but who you know.
One thing people always said about me was that I knew how to make an opportunity for nothing. I heard there was an MMA show going on and thought "Man, they could use some hard rock". Anti bullying campaigns, anything that would have us (and obviously that we supported).
One thing people loved is we went to Goodwill and bought a bunch of black shirts for $2 a piece. Really nice shirts. Then we had a local artist bleach our name and designs into them along with the date. It was our Friday the 13th show and he did some Voorhes like hockey masks in them. We sold them for $15 a piece and ended up making $190 on the shirts, as well as $150 for bringing 50 people at $10 a ticket. We paid the artist something like $20 to make up his bleach costs and spent something like $38 dollars on the shirt so we came away with about $280.
Also, legitimate (read: not pay to play) battle of the bands have gotten us some nice cash bonuses before.
I'll come back later with more in depth info
Money on the road? Tough one here. Although my bands have never toured I have played with and know bands who tours around the US.
For the record most tours..ok... all the tours were complete flops and were only really done for the S&G's they got from them. Most came back broke and had major issues on the tours..breakdowns, small crowds,little support,gear ripped off etc.
I did a show this past week with a NY band who stopped in our city north and was going on to Chicago. They played to about 15 people (us included) had no where to sleep (cars) in cold weather and made $48.00 but I saw them buying beer when the freebies were gone. To me that does not sound like allot of fun.
Other bands told me they barely made it from town to town and had hard times. Unless you have label support or spend allot of your own money its a tough road out there.
Our BL silkscreens our shirts and does and awesome job and they sell decent. Look for merch companies local and see if they will cut you a deal. Do not go overboard on merch or you will eat it if the band breaks up etc.
Best way to book is do your homework and network with other bands. My Rock band is new and unknown so we jump on bills with other bands. My Americana band is 4 years old, better known and we would never do multi band bills. We book like a coverband and get a decent flat rate plus perks but are a rare originals band that can do 3 sets and 3 hour shows.
Local scene? Network! look for online websites, stores, fanzines,radio stations..cut a demo and leave it off at stores like music ,book, records etc.Play out as much as possible and let people know when you do.
Getting music out there? Tough one again, try a good demo or EP and spend what you can getting it done but watch the budget.
Give CD's and downloads aways, sell cheap at shows, send them everywhere ..hope and pray.
My Americana band did a full length record that cost a bit and we got press,websites, podcasts etc, but in truth it did little to nothing for us.
Originals band are a ton of work if you are pushing to get noticed and seen. You have to committ allot of time and often for little to no return. This is why the true musicinas IMO are doing it and live for it...but are they crazy? Do they just have stars in their eyes? Are the stars blinding them along the way?
Trust me, I dig the passion and live it also to some degree but sometimes you have to ask yourself...why? You will meet some of these people in your travels and often ask why and maybe someday will do the same of yourself.
artists get payed too.
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