9 Reasons Why Bands Break Up

1) Money

From baby bands to superstars, unfortunately, money is the main reason bands break up. The baby to mid size bands that legitimately cannot survive on the income their band is generating tend to get tired of living well below the poverty line. Each member, one by one, begins to peel off to ‘fall-back’ on their accounting degree and to ‘start a real life.’ Music is not for the faint of heart. For the superstars, it comes down to the perception of fairness. Coldplay famously splits every song equally four ways. Even the acoustic ballad that Chris Martin clearly wrote by himself, every member gets an equal songwriting credit. Some may call this not fair, but if the other band members start to see the lead songwriter sitting first class driving a Ferrari when they’re slumming it in coach, driving a Hyundai, it ain’t gonna end pretty. It’s less messy this way. Don’t try to argue that your guitar riff leading out of the bridge should earn a 15% songwriting royalty, just split every song equally and it’ll work out in the long run.

2) Clashing Personalities


Above money, this has killed most of the greats. Noel and Liam. Sting, Summers and Copeland. Henley and Frey. Axl Rose and Slash. And it happens at every level. These are the acts you’ve heard of, but there are thousands of bands who never broke out on a mainstream level because they just couldn’t get along. Typically, one member starts to take over control much to the others’ dismay. And the resentment settles in. Or one member takes over the leadership position to fill the void of a manager (in the early stages) and no matter how much success they see, it’s never enough and the others’ start questioning the de facto leader – never giving her the recognition, thanks or acknowledgement of the hard work she put in.

3) Allocation of Business Duties

This goes along with the above point. In this new modern age of the music industry, bands are able to grow much bigger without the aid of a manager, label or booking agent. However, if the band members don’t execute the assigned business duties, resentment within the group can become overwhelming. If each member isn’t organized and responsible enough to at least make it to rehearsal on time or cover simple business duties, the band isn’t going to function. A band in the modern industry needs to be run like a startup company. No longer can you be strung out, carried into the venue on a stretcher and thrust on stage. It doesn’t work like that. The modern rock stars (and mid level bands) who are making it work are smart, responsible, hard working and business savvy. And have their shit together.

4) Ego

Every successful musician has an ego. You have to. If they didn’t believe that their songs (and show) deserved an audience paying the ticket price, they’d never perform live. That takes confidence and a bit of ego. However, when one of the band member’s ego starts to make him believe that he is better than the others, is when the band’s days become numbered.

5) Conflicting Goals

The conversation every band needs to have from the get go is what are the goals of the group. Do we want to have a family life at home or do we want to live on the road? Do we want to take the major label risk, or go at it indie? Do we want to build it online first or live first? It’s surprising how many bands don’t have the goals discussion early on and 3 years into the project, when they finally get a big tour booked, the drummer explains that he doesn’t want to tour – seemingly out of nowhere! Make sure everyone in the band is on the same page before it’s too late.

6) Musical Differences

This is the reason that the band’s publicist always gives out to the press. Most of the time it’s complete BS. However, legitimately, some musicians like to evolve and experiment and others like to do the same thing they’ve done since the beginning – which has “been working.” If the members can’t agree on the musical direction, it won’t work and shitty solo careers typically follow.

7) Fatigue

No matter how successful a band becomes, sometimes the grind of the road can become too much. If it’s a touring band and the members tire of touring, it’s going to be hard to transition to a licensing/merch/sales/digital-only act. For the digital-only YouTubers, creating weekly videos might get old and exhausting. Luckily, touring is the logical next step – however, it typically takes many YouTube stars a few tours to become profitable.

8) Significant Others


There I said it. Whether it’s Yoko Ono or the husband who wants to start a family with the musician wife, significant others will eventually tug the musician in a direction that is not conducive to the band’s best interests. That is unless the significant others are involved WITH the band. The most successful girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands and wives take active roles in the success of the band. Be it the tour manager, manager, booking agent, accountant, promoter, publicist or social media manager, if the significant others are not directly involved in the band’s success, they will resent their love spending so much time away from them. And ‘music’ then becomes a dirty dirty word in the relationship. Almost as toxic as the ex’s name.

9) Drugs

The list of famous musicians who have ODed is endless. There’s no Nirvana without Kurt Cobain. Or The Doors without Jim Morrison. Trey Anastasio of Phish famously said to his bandmates “If I don’t get out of Phish now, I’ll die.” The band revealed that they had become enablers of each other and it was nearly impossible to get through a tour without serious drug and alcohol use. Only after they got sober could they reunite and healthily continue forward.

20 biggest band breakups in history according to TVOM. 

The Perils Of Starting A Band

It’s the old story. You’ve been mastering the guitar in your bedroom for a solid few months now. The chord changes are getting quicker, the fret buzzes are becoming more infrequent, and you’ve even got the hang of a solo or two. You’re ready for the next step.

You talk to your friends about this. It turns out a couple of them are also ready to take things to the next level; one of them even has a friend, usually a Dave, who has their own drum kit set up in their parent’s garage. And then, like a lightning bolt hurled down from Zeus, your whole world is illuminated with a single, all-encompassing thought:

 

LET’S START A BAND.

The idea of being in a band has captured the imagination of disenfranchised teens for over half a century. Life on the open road, sticking it to the man every night, playing by your own rules – what could be a more perfect reaction to the grey drudgery of adult life? This is your ticket outta here, your raison d’etre, your destiny.

But wait.

Could anything ever really be that simple?

Here are a few common pitfalls you’re bound to encounter when starting up your band. Hopefully you’ll find some solutions – or, at the very least, some solace in the fact that these are tribulations and trials every fledgling band must endure.

 

Say My Name!

Your band name is your flag to fly, your badge of honour to wear on your puffed-out-with-pride chest. Settling on a name you’re all on board with early on is a great way of strengthening the unity between you – it also makes the whole project seem a bit more real. But this is easier said than done – not only has your moniker got to sound good chanted by legions of fans, it also has to tell them what you’re all about. A few things to bear in mind:

 

Check your band name isn’t already in use.

A quick internet search should confirm this for your, and, if carried out swiftly, should help you avert the awful sinking feeling Blink must’ve experienced when an Irish band of the same name made them add the 182. It’s one thing to cause confusion as to which band people are trying to book or go to see; it’s a whole ‘nother when you find yourself in a trademark-infringement lawsuit.

 

Stay away from inside jokes.

Don’t choose a name you think is funny at the time but other people don’t get — you don’t want to wince each time you have to explain your in-joke to death. Similarly, using a reference that’s either too oblique or too overused will soon lose its appeal. And avoid names that are too long for legions of fans to call out and scrawl onto banners (though you could always abbreviate if it still sounds catchy – see CCR).

 

In the Garage

It’s entirely possible that Dave’s parents’ garage is soundproofed, but unfortunately such treatment isn’t standard issue. You really don’t want the neighbours to kill your buzz by asking you if you wouldn’t mind turning those amps down ‘just a little’ – you really want to be able to practice at the volume you intend to perform at.

If you’re very lucky, one of you will know someone who can grant you access to a soundproofed or isolated space either free of charge or at a reduced rate. If you’re less lucky, pool your resources and see how often you can afford to use the nearest community centre, scout hut, or, better still, rehearsal studio. Shop around online and you’ll most likely find various places being advertised where you can let loose.

Check out GarageCabinets for some tips for building a garage music studio at home. 

 

Communication Breakdown

Communicate about your sound…

If you want to write a fantastic new chapter in music’s hefty tome, you’re all going to have to start on the same page. Regular and effective communication is the key here – make sure you’re all at the same place at the same time expecting to do the same thing. It’s going to be tricky to fuse you punk-rock down picking with slap bass, jazzy drums and rap – and if you don’t mention this early on, you could find yourself becoming resentful. Talk about what your influences are, couple them with your own abilities and limitations, and you’ll figure our what you can make sound decent.

 

… about your arrangements…

You’ll need to communicate carefully when you’re learning songs – even more so when writing. Bands like to put their own spin on covers, and you really need to talk about what you all expect from this spin, rather than just playing it over and over again at practice in a way you’re not all happy with. Be mindful of each other’s parts, as well as your own. And do pipe up if you think the guitar solo needs to be longer, or if there definitely was supposed to be another chorus in there somewhere.

 

… about your commitment and conflicts…

If you want to get good, you’re going to need to practice together as often as possible. Sure, you might all have jobs and family commitments, but so does everybody. Just let each other know in good time. If Dave’s parents want to spring clean the garage, make sure you give yourselves time to find another place to play. Also, even though you might think you already know your part inside out, it’s not just about what you know – it’s about how you gel as a unit. Hang out, make each other feel at ease, and the songs will become second nature. That really comes across onstage – it’ll be like you’re reading each other’s minds.

 

… and iron out your disagreements OFF STAGE!

Woe betide the band who airs their dirty laundry in public. Don’t allow disagreements to fester, only to erupt in an embarrassing spotlit argument. It’ll look like it’s come out of nowhere if it happens during a gig, which will either incite jeers or fears. Nip the negativity in the bud behind closed doors – most people come to gigs to have a good time.

 

Let’s Stick Together.

Organizing yourselves effectively is vital when it comes to booking and promoting your own gigs. Once you’ve got your set together and are ready to take it out on the road, you’ve got to be pretty on the ball. Along with practicing, make sure the other preparations are delegated evenly among you. Contacting the venue, creating a social media stir and giving out flyers are not all one person’s job.

You also need to be super organized on the day of the show. Make sure you all have transport for yourselves and your equipment, and plan your route if you’re heading out of town. There’s no point showing up an hour early only to waste it circling the venue looking for the entrance. Strike up a friendly conversation with whoever you’re in contact with at the venue, and they’ll tell you what to look out for.

Accountability is everything – you’ve all got to be responsible for your own gear, and you’ve also got to be as supportive and understanding of your other members as you can manage. If you forget your second lead, there may be a benevolent sound technician or a friendly member of another band who’ll lend you one; otherwise, take the hit and go without one of your effects pedals. If you forget your pedal, that’s on you. After all, Dave wouldn’t expect you to bring his sticks for him. Try not to point the finger of blame, but also don’t let it get to the stage where management of the band’s equipment falls on one member’s shoulders. Many bands use checklists – a simple solution for a worryingly prevalent problem that still only works some of the time.

 

Their Egos Again.

There’s no room for egos in a democracy.

While you deserve to be confident in your own abilities, it’s also your duty as bandmates to celebrate each others’ talents. It’s a sorry state of affairs if a calm, logical discussion can’t resolve any inter-band conflict (i.e. the song selection, the band name, the radical outfits). Every brain is capable of new ideas, and each one deserves respect. The loudest voice is often wrong. And in love with itself.

Read about 10 singers with unashamedly massive egos by BBC.

 

Talk everything out, be fair and give reasons for your opinions.

And remember – it’s never a bad time for a compliment. Remind yourselves you all came from the same humble beginnings, and success is more due to luck than talent. You should never feel you can’t voice something that’s bothering you just because you expect to be shut down. And, looking down the other end of the telescope, if you sense an issue, feel free to ask what’s up. Just try not to make your tone too accusatory.

 

Hey Money Money

It’s a crime. But, as it’s one everybody commits, it’s to be considered a necessary evil. Artists aren’t in it for the money, but we all need a dollar. In the early days, it can seem like a tall order to generate so much as a penny from your band: you need a demo to get shows, you need shows to earn money, you need money to record your demo, and so on and so forth. So you need an opportunity to break this absurd circle. The simplest solution is to earn money via other means, which will most likely mean keeping up your day job, which by proxy eats into your music making time. But it’s not impossible – far from it, in fact. Many bands were still working 9-5 even as they were becoming known; there’s no shame in it whatsoever. If anything, it’s testament to your devotion and determination.

Another financial consideration is the acquisition of money from promoters, and the division of your spoils between band members. Don’t expect to make millions right away – it’s probable that you’ll only make petrol money before you start drawing larger audiences. But in lowering your expectations in this regard, every little handout you receive will seem all the sweeter. The only reason you’re receiving any of this money at all is that you’ve actually put a band together, learned a bunch of songs and performed them to the best of your ability, so give yourselves a pat on the back. And do not shy away from asking the promoter or venue owner directly for your money – they knew this was coming. Some of these people can be upfront and approachable, others like to sidle off and hope you forget. Knock down the office door if you have to, because you’re no pushovers.

Don’t fall into the ‘all gear and no idea’ stereotype either. By all means treat yourself to better sounding and better made equipment as you progress, but at this stage you’re not going to win as much respect if you show up with an all-guns-blazing ’59 American Strat that you can barely play than if you wreak auditory havoc with your £200 Squier surging through a Roland cube. Don’t squander your fortune on lavish gifts – purchase only what’s needed for the continuation of your band. This doesn’t include strippers and champagne.

 

Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll

This hackneyed threesome is the downfall of many a serious artist. Many view the two former proclivities as a reward or even a right earned by their proficiency in the latter; others abuse them by way of a coping mechanism, numbing themselves to the stresses of a highly demanding schedule. Dipping your toes into these murkiest of waters rarely end up improving your chances of success. Ego boosts are fine, but excessive quantities tend to result in egomania. And mania of any kind is generally bad.

The ‘no boyfriends/girlfriends’ rule may seem a trifle unnecessary, but outside involvement does often spell trouble for a band. Just look at Spinal Tap or Courtney Love. What this rule is really trying to achieve is the preservation of a set of values that the band’s survival depends on. Prior commitments must be honoured, and if this leads to conflict or even ultimatums, you’re going to have to talk it out. There’s no reason why, with careful communication and compromise, you can’t all achieve you goals. The most logical and sustainable approach is to reach a balance and keep it up.

 

Motivation, Such an Aggravation. 

Perhaps the most difficult problem of all is keeping yourself (and each other) going. When you find yourself penniless at the end of a string of dates and have no petrol money, when you’ve been practicing a new song you’ve been trying to learn for what seems like forever and it just won’t come out right and you can tell you’re all starting to hate it, when you’ve seen that one negative comment that just bugs you all day, you’re really going to need each other. Sure, support can come in the form of fans, of friends and of family, but the truth only comes from within the band itself. Because it’s a truth you’ve written together.

What you’ve got to realize is that life in a band is all about taking the rough with the smooth. You can’t expect to headline Wembley Stadium after only a few months – even a few years. You must absolutely be prepared to play to countless empty rooms for a pittance, and you must absolutely not allow this to faze you. Keep reminding each other why you started out; if your reasons are sincere, then you’ll be able to look beyond the immediate strife, and take from these less gratifying experiences the knowledge that you’ve found something you’re prepared to go through anything for. This is your art, and this is how you will suffer for it.

With any luck, you’ll flirt with disaster in each of these areas and learn firsthand how to come out on top. Sometimes being in a band can be like wading through treacle infested with lying sharks; sometimes, it’s more like learning to fly, and having the whole world cheer as they watch you soar overhead. Some people can take the criticism better than others; some people are quite happy to take a band to a certain level then throw in the towel and call it a day; some people literally care about nothing else. Maybe it’s not important to decide what sort of person you are yet. Maybe heed a few of these warnings, maybe dive in at the deep end. But most people would agree these are all risks worth taking – those moment when everything falls into place are worth any number of petty arguments and personal struggles.

Local Band The Lifestyle Resists Conforming to One Genre

New Local Band The Lifestyle

The smoky aroma of barbecued chicken wafts in from the grill on the deck. Inside the two-bedroom apartment, four young men discuss the latest music news while hardcore band Figure Four screams through the speakers.

For the last few years, these boys have been living out their prime as a rock band. Yes, they’re living “the lifestyle.” And as luck would have it, The Lifestyle is the name they chose for their band.

Playing music at a professional level is a long-term goal for The Lifestyle because of the passion they have for it, says Adam Horning, freshman in pre-business and guitarist for The Lifestyle.

“Music is very central in all of our lives,” he says. “I think that’s a better reason to be in a band than just to be in a band.”

The members of The Lifestyle seem unable to agree on how to categorize their music, which may be due in part to the diverse musical styles that have influenced them. Some of the genres the members like may be a surprise, coming from an “emotional pop-punk” or “indie emo rock” band (depending on who you ask).

“We listen to hip-hop, country, uhh … well, mainly just hip-hop and country,” jokes vocalist and bass player Mason Viera. “No, we [also] listen to emo, top 40 stuff and really underground indie stuff.”

Viera says he dislikes naming specific bands because the last thing he wants is his band to be associated with sounding identical to other rock groups.

“You hear some bands and you’re just like, ‘Oh, they sound just like so-and-so,'” says Viera, freshman in pre-advertising. “Whatever we sound like is just a product of the many different kinds of music we listen to.”

Although they don’t want to act as if they’re superior to everyone, part of “the lifestyle” is taking a step back to evaluate the music scene they live in. One of the frustrations members of The Lifestyle have is a current trend for Iowa bands to conform to a specific genre.

“It seems like all the local bands are getting sort of meshed into one big hardcore scene in Des Moines and even Ames,” Viera says. “When a pop-punk band wants to get harder, they just start screaming. I don’t want that to happen to our band.”

“Even though that’s what’s popular, we’re not going to conform to it,” says drummer Jason Junge, sophomore in civil engineering.

The mention of Zach Johnson, the most recent addition to The Lifestyle, seems to strike a nerve in all of the original members. It should be noted that Johnson is 16 years old and happened to be unavailable for this particular gathering.

“Zach’s the youngest member of the band, and that means he attracts the youngest fans,” Viera says. “When we were on tour, he would never help load the equipment because he would be surrounded by a mob of 13 to 14-year-old girls.

“It’s annoying how they worship him like he’s Justin Timberlake or something.”

Despite these comments, the attitude the band members have toward Johnson are not all negative.

“At first we were skeptical, but we knew we wanted to broaden our sound by adding another guitarist,” Viera says. “He eventually clicked with us. We think we’re lucky to have found him … but of course, we still hate him.”

Now having played together for several years, Viera, Horning and Junge have experienced some of the highs that go with being in a band, as well as learning the difficulties of self-evaluation.

“You can write a song and say, ‘Yeah, it’s good,'” Horning says. “But after practicing and playing it over and over, it’s so hard to judge as a final product, since you’ve been through the whole creating process.”

Considering their youth, the members seem to have matured rapidly as a band and are able to stick to a certain formula for making satisfactory songs. The kids explain their songwriting method with a creative analogy.

“Mason bakes the cake, Jason frosts it and I light the candles,” Horning says.

“And Zach eats the cake before it’s done,” Viera adds.

Check out this article from The Press-Enterprise about Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs top new music festival coming to Long Beach.

10 Things Every Band Should Know And Do

1. Set Realistic Expectations

If I had a pound for every artist or band that believed quality music would eventually be rewarded with exposure and a massive fanbase I probably wouldn’t need to work a day in my life again. Through my studio and in my role as record label owner, manager, and producer, I have seen a large range of talented people make their start in this industry. Unfortunately, I have seen quite a few give up when the realisation hits of the work needed to even get their friends to share their page on Facebook. Despite what you may have read about your favorite artist, they didn’t appear out of nowhere and they didn’t suddenly get discovered on youtube because THAT video was so awesome.

They all will have done one thing. They kept performing, auditioning, networking, uploading, sharing and writing even when no one was listening because they believed in themselves and no one was going to deter them. I remember sitting in an industry meet hearing Tony Platt (producer for Bob Marley, AC/DC, Motorhead, etc.) explain that to make it in this industry it takes a huge amount of ego sprinkled with realism. If on some level you don’t believe that you’re awesome and everyone should listen to you then what is driving you to get up on stage?

You absolutely should think your music is awesome. You are the first investor in your career and anything but unwavering faith will let it be a hobby at best. These days, the cards are stacked against you with radio play being less influential than it used to be, majors taking even fewer risks, venues having an abundance of bands to book so finding good paying gigs are hard to find, and year on year only between 1% and 1.5% of albums released sell more than 10,000. So when I am asked what should a band do when starting out, my reply is always this – manage your expectations before you do anything else. If you don’t keep a level head and manage those expectations, you will either find yourself being carried away by the hype of small victories or disillusioned when your first bunch of gigs or your first release doesn’t go as well as you thought it might. This is by far the most important thing you will do in your career at any point.

 

2. Develop a Look

Ok, so I’ve heard it all before. You’re unique, you don’t want to look like a boyband, you don’t want to look like something you’re not, you wouldn’t know what to wear, it’ll look lame if an outfit is thought through, you’re just a free spirited rock band. Those are all good points so let me just clarify. You don’t need to wear matching suits and sit on stalls until the song changes key to tell you to get off the stall and walk toward the audience. We are talking relatively low-level coordination of clothing here, I’ll put it in the simplest way I can, don’t turn up to a gig looking like you were watching footie with your mates on the sofa an hour before the gig. No one is suggesting that you wear a suit or colour match your clothes throughout the band but at least make your clothing look intentional, let the audience see that you took the gig seriously and are a professional, you will never progress beyond pub band if you don’t develop some kind of look on some kind of level. No need to call Gok Wan, just be sensible and imagine what you look like to the audience.

 

3. Create a Marketing Plan

Important to some, pointless to others but necessary for all. Quite simply, without a marketing plan, you are likely to bounce from one opportunity to the next and without drawing lines between them, they will stay just individual opportunities that will struggle to form a big picture. Establishing answers to the following four points at the start of your career will help you move on in a more defined, deliberate way.

What are you selling? I would hope you haven’t said music as the answer here, if you’re reading this then that’s a given. Really think about what you are bringing to your fans. Why are they going to love you more than another band in the same genre? This will help you when promoting yourself or trying to sell your band to a promoter or venue owner. If you can explain this in a couple of sentences, then you have cracked the biggest element of marketing and promotion.

Who is the target audience? This is overlooked far too often, yet it shapes how you market yourselves, which venues you approach, which festivals you want to play, titles of songs, which bands you want to support, which radio stations will play you. The Pokemon attitude to fan base building (gotta catch them all) will rarely help any band build momentum. At some point you need to decide which demographic you are going to focus on, for example, rockers over 30 aren’t going to want to go to a gig full of teens and teens aren’t going to be able to attend some venues. You want fans from one gig to be talking about you and getting their friends to come to the next one or buy the album; it’s harder to achieve this if you don’t focus on a demographic. You can always revisit and expand this later once you are embedded a bit more and have a sustainable fan base.

Who do you sound like? The bottom line here is most bands try to say they are unique and they don’t really sound like anybody. They’ll say their music is so unique it’s hard to describe. First of all, that’s simply not true! Unless you are the kid from the book/movie Room, who has never experienced anything but four walls and some furniture, you cannot claim your style is unique. All music is influenced by something that came before, and there’s no shame in saying that, saying your style is reminiscent of an early David Bowie or has elements similar to the Beastie Boys is not the same as saying you copied them. So why pigeon hole yourself? Let’s use a blogger as an example, a popular and somewhat lucrative way of promotion for bands starting out, they will answer your email enquiry with a feeler asking you to tell them a bit more about your band, they will want to know more about your band and if you don’t know how to describe your band, how can you expect them to? One of the key things they will want to know is ‘who are you influenced by,’ ‘who do you sound like.’ If you say something like ‘we’re doing something different and unique’ or ‘we don’t really sound like anyone,’ you probably shouldn’t expect to hear back from them. To a journalist or anyone who has been in the industry more than five minutes those kinds of answers tell us at best that you are still developing and you haven’t fully realised your band yet, in this case, most will pass on you and wait until you have a clearer message. At worst you sound like you have no idea what you’re doing. When a journalist or blogger reviews you, they are banking on you doing well and becoming big, so they have the bragging rights of saying they found you early on, some will even take some credit for your rise, however, none of them want to have a site full of band reviews/interviews that aren’t around anymore. Knowing this answer will also help you with algorithms like Youtube, Spotify, Deezer, iTunes, etc. where having it dialed in that you sound like David Bowie will get your track or video in front of the eyes of people who just played a Bowie track or searched Bowie on Youtube.

Who is your competition Let’s be clear, we’re not talking Battle of the Bands or X Factor here. This is simply to know who else is traveling the same journey you are, other bands at the same stage of their journey, making similar music, booking similar gigs, etc. You’re not going to try to knock them off their road, but it will help you greatly if you keep an eye on their journey, see what’s working for them, was a recent gig successful for them? Did they get booked onto a festival? Have they got more page likes? Take a look and see if they’re using a strategy that could work for you. Perhaps network, get in touch and support each other on social media or through gigs. When this is done properly you can progress quite nicely, just make sure you don’t get too envious if they seem to be catching bigger breaks than you, just see if you can find out how that’s happening and what you can do about it.

Positive Engagement

 

4. Interact With Your Fans

Long gone are the days when a band could enjoy living in a spotlight outside the reach of fans with interactions limited to signing autographs outside the venue or hotel. The relationship between a band and their fans has morphed over the last few decades into a much more intimate 2-way conversation. This shift sees the most successful bands building a fan base in 2 key ways

a) Social Media – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reverbnation, etc. Most bands allocate a network to a band member to look after i.e., drummer on Facebook, a singer on Twitter, etc. Spread the work otherwise, you will end up with loads of social media profiles that aren’t interacting and being kept up to date. You don’t need to be on them all but do the ones you are on well.
b) Gigs – using hometown as the nucleus of their outreach, less hoping some big A&R person makes it to their gig, more relying on word of mouth to help spread from venue to venue moving outwards from their home and friends. Socialising/Interacting with fans after the gig really helps as well.

The lesson here really is that the most successful independent bands have a close relationship with their fans, I will touch on content in the next point, but consistent uploads, messages, fast responses to fans posts will all help. Fans want to feel that they are on the journey with you and even contribute to your ongoing success so bringing them a little into your world goes a long way.

 

5. Content Is King!

This may seem obvious, but I see so many examples of it being done badly. That gig you had that was awesome and had a great crowd might be a good candidate for uploading and sharing, but if the sound distorts every couple of seconds and the picture is too dark or blurry, you are just going to irritate your fans. These days everyone seems to have a phone that records pretty good video but in all cases just run through a whole video before upload to make sure it plays nicely and sounds good. The same goes with images – blurry pictures are an unforgivable sin, and an overkill of black and white pictures just make myself, and other professionals think you don’t have any clean images as black and white covers a lot of quality flaws. There are lots of good amateur photographers out there looking for experience work, contacting a local college would help you find a good affordable photographer if your budget is tight. Behind the scenes/impromptu pictures and videos are also a great way to make fans feel more involved, they shouldn’t look staged but do cast a critical eye over them before uploading and just make sure nothing pops up in there that you feel represents your band in a bad way.

 

6. Nominate a Speaker

Talk between your songs but not too much. Some of the best gigs I have been to are ones where the band have engaged with the audience. A little comment here, a question there, observation, bit of banter between band members, etc. This will make you just as memorable as your music. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this has to be your lead singer’s job. Some of the most charismatic, confident lead singers are awkward and shy when trying to talk to the audience. Choose someone who is confident talking; maybe it’ll be two members who bounce between each other. It’s not uncommon to see the bass player and a guitarist share this role to take a bit of pressure off the singer so they can catch their breath and get ready for the next song.

 

7. Artwork

There is a reason I’ve separated this from content. Artwork (album/Ep/logo design) is more deliberate. It carries your message even more than your music. Why? Because it’s the first thing, people will see long before they click on the link to listen to you. This is all too often the point where they will decide whether to check out your music. It may be the poster on the door of the venue promoting your gig next week, the album you want them to buy on iTunes, the page you want them to like and many more scenarios where the visual representation you choose goes before anything else you have to offer.

 

8. Music Bloggers

These can be your greatest ally in the digital age but just writing to a blogger won’t get you a mention. Before you even attempt to send an email to a blogger first take a really good look at their site, don’t be so desperate to be written about that you overlook clumsy formatting and bad writing. Look at what the majority of their content looks like, what and who they are writing about. Take Pitchfork, for example, they are a tastemaker blog who rely on big traffic; they are unlikely to cover you unless you have something big to bring to them. Consider these steps before contacting a music blog:

It’s not about your band—Your email to a blogger should be more about fulfilling their needs than selling your band, they rely on page impressions and adverts and they have decided what type of blog works for them to do this, if they predominantly review albums then contact them for that, if they look to write about undiscovered bands then use that, if they mostly do live gig reviews then invite them to your gig and so on. You are unlikely to get a response if your email is generic and shows you know little about what they do.

Choose wisely—You only get to launch your album once, bloggers want to be the first to find you, the first to announce your news, the one to say ‘i told you so’ to their readers when you blow up. If someone else has written about your album a week before that’s where all the traffic will go, bloggers will hardly ever cover something already done elsewhere unless you’re Iron Maiden or something so when you are looking at bloggers choose carefully who you contact for which purpose, contact your no.1 choice first, wait a while, follow up with a courtesy email. If you don’t get a response, leave it, go to your second choice and so on. It could be that the ones that didn’t reply took a look and decided you don’t have enough presence yet so make a note to go back to them later for another reason.

Too much information is bad!—Keep it simple! A blogger doesn’t want to scroll through reams of information the first time they open an email from you. If they are interested and want more information, they will ask you. This is where a press pack or one sheet will be very useful. Try to keep your first contact email to just a few sentences, bloggers tend to get a lot of emails, so they won’t spend too much time reading, the three main things you should include are:

Introduction – Introduce yourself, mention their blog and show some knowledge that will tell them you’ve taken a good look at it beyond the first page.

Objective – Tell them what it is you’re doing and what you want from them. Do you have an album coming out soon or do you want them to come to a gig and do a review of your show? What’s in it for them to do so?

Links – Forget putting your Facebook page under their nose, they want to see and hear your work. Lead with SoundCloud or YouTube links to your strongest tracks.

 

9. Practice Like Someone’s Watching

So, you book a rehearsal room or meet at a mate’s house, and you sit/stand wherever and play in a very jammy enjoyable way but you are meeting regularly and getting that sound tight. Rehearsals are fun right? You’ve got past stage one, let’s call this the garage band stage, to get to the next stage which we will call quality gig band, you need to do one key thing – practice like someone’s watching, try to make as many rehearsals as possible if not all like mini gigs, stand in your stage formation, practice the segways, time your set, develop a range of sets for different times so you can respond to short notice gigs with any set times without adapting anything at the last minute leaving less to chance.

Take it one step further and video your rehearsals from time to time, see what your set looks and sounds like to the audience, really be hard on yourselves, see how you can improve, what you would have liked to be different if you were the audience. Invest in a good PA system so you can take on private function gigs and either get good at setting your sound or make friends with a sound engineer to help you out either as a favour or a small slice of your gig fee. Finally, be flexible with your equipment, these days it’s not uncommon for bands to share equipment especially in smaller venues where there isn’t enough space for 4/5 bands worth of gear. Experience different amps when you can and know your pedals inside out so you can get the best sound possible when using someone else’s amp.

 

10. Make Great Music

I would certainly hope that by this point you have at least written some songs. Write lots of songs, but understand that not every song is worthy of an audience hearing them, writing bad songs is good experience that paves the way to better songs. Be critical of your work and ask friends who are capable of honest feedback to give you constructive advice, don’t be afraid to cull songs that don’t fit the flow of an album or a set list. Just as I’ve said above content is king, and there is no more important content than your music.

Finally – Good Luck, I Hope To See You Out There!

How to Survive Your Band’s First Tour

So, your band’s first tour is coming up. It’s a very exciting time, but as you may have heard, touring is harder work than you can even fathom. It’s one of those things you won’t ever quite understand until you’ve done it. But there are things you can do to help make life a little easier on yourself as you adjust to being stuck in a bus or van for weeks on end with your bandmates. The steps in this first tour survival guide will help you ease into life on the road.

 

1 Make a Tour Itinerary

There is nothing that will help you more when you’re on tour than a tour itinerary. Sometimes an agent will make one for you, sometimes a manager or road manager will, and sometimes it’s up to the band themselves.

A tour itinerary isn’t just a list of the dates you’re playing. Ideally, it will include everything you need to know about every day you’re on the road. Basic things to put on the itinerary would be the venue name and address, a contact person and a phone number, and email address.

If you have any interviews or appearances scheduled, those should go on the itinerary, too, with details about times, special notes about location, parking, and other items that will be relevant to know in advance.

You’ll also want to include the show schedule, and include not just the time for the show’s start, but the times for load-in, sound check, and when the doors open.

Your itinerary should also have a sheet of important phone numbers and email addresses for everyone involved in the tour: band members, management, driver, agent, PR company, and anyone else who has had any hand in planning any part of the tour, who you may need to reach at random times.

 

2 Map Your Routes

Do not wake up each day and try to Google Map your journeys on the fly. Know how long the trip is from each show to the next, by doing your mapping before you hit the road. Print directions for each leg of the tour. Being the new band that gets lost on the way to the venue, holds everyone up, and doesn’t get a sound check are things you want to avoid.

 

3 Know Your Budget

Your first tour is not about getting rich, which is a very good thing considering it’s probably going to cost you a chunk of change. Before you hit the road, run the numbers. Factor in your guarantees, so you know what you’re earning, then estimate gas costs, set a food budget for each day, and have a little set aside for emergencies, like flat tires.

Here’s something important: Don’t count on door split money to get you from town to town. If you don’t have guarantees, be sure you can support yourself on the road, and the extra cash coming in will be gravy.

 

4 Set Some Ground Rules

You should have fun while you’re on tour, but life on the road can get out of control in a hurry. Too much partying will lead to late arrivals, sloppy performances, conflicts with venues and local promoters, in-fighting in the band, and a variety of other problems. Make sure everyone in the group is committed to making the shows the most important part of the tour, and you should do just fine.

 

5 Look After Yourself

It may sound like something your mom would say, but it’s true: You’ll be at your best on the road if take care of your health. Tour budgets lend themselves to the fast food life, and driving for hours on end isn’t an ideal part of any fitness regime. However, do the best you can to eat well, sleep well, and move around when you can. Touring is draining, and you’ll make it through a little better is you say “no” to the occasional supersize. Eat an apple. You’ll be better for it.

 

6 Book in Advance

Remember that all-important tour itinerary? Well, to make it, you’ll need to figure out a whole lot of details in advance. When it comes to accommodation and travel book in advance, if you can. Hotel rooms get filled, transportation tickets get sold out, and all sorts of things can go wrong with last minute bookings. Plus, you’ll avoid any in-fighting within the group (a major touring hazard) about how to travel or where to stay if you figure that all out before you hit the road.

 

7 Know How the Money Will Be Split

It’s common for touring musicians and road crew to get a per diem or a daily allowance for their expenses. When you’re new to touring, you may not have enough money to give everyone a per diem, but if you do, decide what it will be up front. If everyone is going to be expected to support themselves on the road, decide up front what you will do with any cash you make from shows. If that money is going to be used to cover group expenses like gas and places to stay, fine, just make sure everyone knows.

You could decide to split up income evenly among band members after you pay for group expenses, so everyone has a little cash in their pockets to do their own thing, or you could split up a portion of it between everyone and save the rest for future band expenses.

The Best Bracelets for Men

Let’s face it, saying that a man should never wear any jewelry is very narrow-minded. Sure, there are people that believe that nothing but a watch and a wedding band is acceptable, but the times are changing. To be fair, there definitely is such a thing as having too much bling on yourself. But, you should never be too shy to simply wear a bracelet you like. Also, you should really know how to pull it off.

 

To start with the basics, the first thing you should focus on is to make sure your bracelet works well with what you usually wear. If you enjoy the preppy style, a rope bracelet should be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you prefer rock ‘n’ roll, you should go with solid stainless steel. Essentially, the important bit is to use the bracelet to accentuate your style.

 

In addition to that, the second rule you should follow is – be moderate. Overdoing it can cause “adverse” effects. Wearing one bracelet is great, but packing up a dozen bracelets on your wrist might be too much. But, there is one issue with buying a bracelet – there are way too many choices for you. So, to help you out, we have created this short list of the most popular models.

The Guitar String

These bracelets are an excellent conversation piece, and they cost next to nothing. They are actually made out of authentic guitar strings, and they look great. Furthermore, they are very comfortable due to the fact that they are easy to bend. Of course, make sure to know how to play the guitar before buying a bracelet such as this one.

Brass Bar Cuff

If you are a person who doesn’t like to overly complicate things, just go with a simple Cause and Effect cuff. It is simple, discrete, and most importantly, it combines well with every style.

Shinola Double Wrap

Shinola is a company that most people recognize for their excellent watches. However, this brand also offers incredible leather goods. One of those leather goods is their Double Wrap leather bracelet. After all, leather goes well with anything.

Paracord Bullet Bracelet from BRZN

This heavy-duty bracelet is an ideal gift for any gun-loving, red-blooded American. BRZN is a company that believes in upcycling, so they make their bracelets from actual paracord and real bullet shell casings.

Kiel James Patrick Catesby Jones – Navy Style

Kiel James Patrick is one of the most popular creators of preppy accessories. So, if you enjoy your nautical trips, you will not make a mistake by paying some attention to this bracelet. After all, no other company really replicates how well Kiel James Patrick captures the spirit of New England. The Catesby Jones design is easily one of the most popular styles out there.

Tanner Goods – Single Leather Band

Coming from Portland, Oregon, Tanner Goods prides itself on making excellent leather products. And, of course, that includes their bracelets. To be a bit more precise, our favorite is the single leather band they offer. You can even ask them to add a monogram to the leather.

In the end, these are just our recommendations. After all, the final decision is on you; we just hope this list can help you make it.