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Starting Out

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by 50cal58, Aug 7, 2012.


  1. 50cal58

    50cal58

    Jan 22, 2012
    I've been playing bass for a while (In full band settings and at church and stuff), but I'm just now starting to get asked to play out to gig more. Any advice for someone starting to play at local venues? I've been told of possible tour opportunities for the future.
    Anything that's worked, or not worked, for you would really help.



    The wealth of knowledge and experience on here is really amazing.

    Thanks guys
    -Cal
     
  2. Mackluth

    Mackluth

    Jun 9, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    What exactly do you want to know? Happy to help, just want to know which direction to point you in.
     
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Cali Intergalactic Mind Space - always on the edge
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
  4. 50cal58

    50cal58

    Jan 22, 2012
    Thanks man, I'm out in Rochester Hills.
    But like more so how to book gigs, and any successes in like expanding a fan-base, or successes getting noticed. Anything like that would help especially considering youre from Michigan as well
     
  5. 50cal58

    50cal58

    Jan 22, 2012
    Or if theres anything I'm missing.
    Anything you've really struggled with,
    What to expect and stuff like that too
     
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Cali Intergalactic Mind Space - always on the edge
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
  7. Mackluth

    Mackluth

    Jun 9, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    Congratulations on starting to play out, it's a riot!

    As far as getting gigs goes, the first priority is going to be getting some decent recordings (doesn't have to be fancy, just make sure the band is solid in them), some publicity photos, and a bio and make a facebook band page. try to get as many of your friends to like your page as possible as I think you need 200 likes before you can get a personalized url for the page. There are other sites like reverbnation or bandmix, as well as some free electronic press kit sites that would be worthwhile places to have accounts set up.

    Once you have that you can start emailing or calling venues that tend to have live music similar to your style. Michigan is, like most places, really tough for original artists, so if you are an original group, don't expect to be making money from your gigs any time soon. My band did a gig outside of Chicago once and they stiffed us, not only on our pay, but didn't even give us gas money. We did one show in Clinton township and we got gas money from that one. I don't think we ever received more than a few bucks from any show we played in Grand Rapids.

    On the other hand, decent cover bands tend to do alright playing in bars.

    Open mic nights can be a fun depending on the crowd and can be good for networking. If you go, make sure to talk to other bands or artists playing that you like, try to get to know the people hosting, and if it's a smaller place and/or the owner is supportive, try to get to know them.

    I've picked up a couple things from lessons I've had to learn the hard way. First is, if you're going out of town/touring try to get a contract signed by the venue for payment. That Chicago show sucked, and part of that is my next lesson.

    Be wary of managers. I don't know if you've heard of the Bless You Boys (A Grand Rapids band that got pretty big in the area, had an offer for a $500,000 record deal, but the band fell apart. There's a really good documentary about their last tour that won some awards, it's worth checking out). My band signed on with the same guy that managed their band and a few others in GR. The band was paying him about $400/month for his services, and he got us maybe 1 show a month for about 4 months, and none of them paid. Talking with former Bless You Boys, they too felt that hiring him had been to their detriment and ultimately led to their decline. Managers aren't all bad, and maybe this guy could have been good with the right band, but for us and all the other local bands that were working with him, he wasn't.

    That's not to say that all managers are bad, just to be wary, and ask for references. Just because they seem to have a good track record, doesn't mean they do. Make sure you know what you're paying for. Better yet, take care of the management yourself. Book your own shows, and ask for advice from people you trust to give you an unbiased opinion on matters. If you do decide to work with somebody, they should really be working off a percentage (10-20% of what you guys make) rather than a retainer. In my opinion, if they don't believe in you enough to work off commision, then they are not worth working with.

    The most important thing is networking. Talk to people you know and find out who they know. Talk to people at shows you attend, and people that come to your shows. That's the best way to get your foot in the door.

    All this info. is in my experience and opinion, so take it for what it's worth. If you have any more questions, let me know.
     
  8. t77mackie

    t77mackie

    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Don't get hooked on smack.

    Ask other people to deal with drunk a-holes.

    Have patience with singers and guitar players.

    Always warm your hands up before a show.

    Keep lots of spare batteries and cables and back up equipment.

    Use a tuner.

    Have fun.

    Don't take it too seriously.

    If you can't play well, play loud.
     
  9. 50cal58

    50cal58

    Jan 22, 2012
    I really appreciate all the advice guys. My friends are in an original band that just played at the crofoot, which is pretty big for them considering theyre young and just starting out too. But they have a booking agency and said that when were ready we can just hop on their shows, which will be an amazing thing to have. I've talked to the other guys about money and stuff, and theyre like me. Theyre not really in it for the money, its just something we like to do and getting paid just makes it that much cooler, but it isnt everything to us.

    t77mackie: its all good, im under age and straight edge, but thanks for that. I've heard a lot of people saying to make sure to keep your hands clean and warm before you play to play better, so it must be true!

    Mackluth: That whole Chicago situation sounds like it sucked alot, but thanks for all the advice. I'll really take it to heart. If we ever do get the chance to play somewhere that far away I'll do my best to make sure we're at an understanding with the manager of the place.
     
  10. XtheDeadPawn

    XtheDeadPawn

    May 24, 2008
    Texas
    Simple advice get paid up front and agree with the promoter/owner to a end time.
    (Bring a watch and set the alarm to that time then stop when time is up)

    If promoter/owner wants you to go on longer tell him you want a little extra cash try and make it at least worth your while.

    Bad news/sad truth:
    Trust worthy owners/promoters are hard to come by they sometimes have offered me a drink (I don't drink sXe too so I have a soda) then they dedeuct it from your pay. However they are the ones that offered me a drink.
    See? Not very trustworthy.

    Too make matters worse most times what you get paid (If you even get paid) isn't really enough to call a paycheck more like a donation. I think the most my take ever was was around $50 but, then again the promoter gave us $30 a peice (5 guys) and we sold some merch so that really isn't like I made a killing.

    I am in a punk band so most times I play at houses garages and abandonded houses so we hardly get paid at all. I think we get about 5 gigs a month 2 usually at a bar.


    Oh yeah some more advice
    1. watch your gear AT ALL TIMES!
    2. Ignore the drunks yelling requests.
    3. Wear comfy clothes and bring backups in case you sweat through them. Nothing worse than sticking to the carseat.

    OFF TOPIC A BIT: How old are you 50cal58? I'm 22 and STILL sXe so I hope you like me stick it out till you die. I am proud another sXe guy is on here.
     
  11. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Cali Intergalactic Mind Space - always on the edge
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    If you're under 18 then you need to look iinto the work rules that apply when you play where alcohol is served.

    If it's not about 'the money' then you won't spend the time necesary to protect yourself from peoplewho want to rip you off, especially when it comes time to sign a contract written by someone else.
     
  12. 50cal58

    50cal58

    Jan 22, 2012
    XtheDeadPawn: I'm 16, but my whole music career I've been playing with some very experienced people from my church who are a lot older and well seasoned musicians. So I like to think that I got at least somewhat of a headstart. I've been playing in full band settings almost the whole time ive been playing. It hasnt really been me and a few buddies in a basement (Which might also be a set back in creativity when it comes to writing my own stuff) but I've been playing in front of a lot of people in full band settings And yea I'll stick with it til the end.

    Stumbo: It isnt about the money, but if someones offering me money to play music then I must be doing something right. I can take advantage of having a little extra cash to hopefully improve my gear or promoting or merch or what not. I believe that when you're starting out, if it is all about 'the money' then its very easy to get discouraged. I'm kind of expecting to get ripped off sooner or later (I'm not saying I'll let it happen, or that I wont protect myself from people who want to rip me off), but coming from a position where it doesnt matter to me either way, I can live and learn from it if it does happen
     
  13. XtheDeadPawn

    XtheDeadPawn

    May 24, 2008
    Texas
    Just to state: I don't really care if I make any money either. The bar and club gigs are where my band gets band usually at squatter, garage, and backyard parties it's more of a free thing cuz it's for friends our punk scene is pretty small so we try and encourage growth by having fun get to gethers and try to get people to just come to enjoy music. Also we try and not make anybody pay cover charges we hate making people pay those. So that limits the clubs we'll play at.

    Almost forgot 50cal58 remeber to bring picks. Even if you don't play with one chances are your guitarist might forget to bring his/her extra. I play with picks so I have been careful to bring extra my guitarists have sticky fingers.
     
  14. I am also 16. I've graduated high school, so in my state, I'll be able to work bars as soon as I turn 17.

    Arm yourself with knowledge and skill. To become reputable in the scene, involve yourself, teach yourself, and get yourself out there. Be smarter than the next guy, better, faster, but remember that it's not a competition and even if you "win" nobody will care.

    Once you get a band, put together a website or press kit. I always used Reverbnation. Talk your band up. Email club owners. Go to other local shows. The more people see you, the more they think of you. Make a good impression always. Be polite, just edgy enough, not annoying, and be ready on a moment's notice. Be everywhere you can at any time and have a virtual presence (text, facebook, whatever) with everyone you can when you're not there. Stuff will fall into place.
     

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