Band Meeting

Strategy is important to a band. How you maximize the collective effort is oftentimes the difference between a successful band and one not so. Perseverance is important, but getting flogged gets old no matter how durable you are.

What strategies has your band devised to accomplish “the goal” you’re trying to achieve? IS there a goal? I’m not addressing those of you making art without exposure needs. Most bands appear to be working towards something while the flame is lit. This is about THAT. Something.

The metrics say all bands need to focus on the performance and record to use the collection as a promo vehicle to get more fans & gigs. Once established, your fan base will buy your music. Until then, it’s free.

The funny part breaks down like this: if music is free (and it is for the most part whether you like it or not), why isn’t making music free as well? Even if you D.I.Y. there are costs. The gear needed comes to mind. And when is there ever enough gear? And the expertise comes to mind. Sure, there are plenty of stories about bands setting up shop in some ratty hellhole, with a modest setup, and flailing away until they “made it.” But how many of those stories are really true? And, how many fans actually paid for the music made in these hellholes by these recording novices?

The real catch seems to be that while music is perceived to be free, the cost required to make it is not free. And the fan doesn’t care about THAT. Eventually, if you have earned their trust, your fan may actually buy your music. But at what real cost?

So like an options trader weighing the pros and cons of a stock market move, a band needs to look at the entire picture when it sets out to conquer the world. I think you need to answer these questions BEFORE you begin The Quest:

  • What type of band are you going to be? (i.e. Touring band, bar band, artistic endeavor, hobby, etc.) Each approach requires a different strategy. I know hobbyists that take this thing very seriously, too. Establish the nature of the pursuit.
  • Determine the band commitment. Is everyone onboard 24/7 or is it all based on individual constraints? The best chance a band has is when ALL members are 100% in. Even relationships hurt your chances. This is not an easy thing to pursue and non band-mates rarely understand this drain.
  • Does everyone have a role (outside of the role played onstage)? There is NOTHING worse than the band-mate that takes off after the show forgetting their obligations as a MEMBER OF THE BAND! No roadies? Everyone helps load in & out. Period. Lead singers only hold a mic you whine? Then go to a karaoke bar and perform!
  • Do the math. Not knowing where the money goes, both in and out, is a HUGE mistake. Someone needs to do this and everyone else needs to help keep it all organized. Once you do this, the real costs of being the band are understood by all. What’s FREE yesterday may suddenly lose its appeal today. Handing out free discs may no longer seem like promotion when the word of mouth it will spread is minimal when offset by the bottom line.
  • PRACTICE CONSTANTLY. If you aren’t amazing, you suck! No one cares about OK. Everyone wants to be floored. Deliver THAT and a lot of these notions start to get taken care of in a much-less painful manner. Excellence SELLS.
  • Everyone writes. Bands that share the authorship are much tighter. If you don’t want to co-write or collaborate, go solo and hire the band back as your support. Otherwise, you’re just another ego-driven wanker who hasn’t done anything but talk. No one KNOWS what’s good without the audience. This is not the same as saying everyone sings or every song gets played. It’s simply a matter of sharing the wealth if there ever IS any wealth.
  • Pool material expenses. Everyone needs strings, sticks, heads, speakers, etc. Bulk saves. Go in and negotiate with power. No one cares about your pack of strings. But a box of everything is cash and it commands attention. This in turn gets the band respect at the store. Pick a retailer and negotiate. Most are willing to work with a real act if it means loyalty. Give it and get it.

It’s an old cliche that this is the music BUSINESS not a music vacation. It’s a very difficult thing to be a great band. Playing great, writing great songs and having people like you is only a part of the necessary equation. The steps I’ve laid out may sound boring or seem stodgy when all you want to do is shred. But, if it really is NO FUN and without merit to be this organized and detailed, the band goal may have been found, at last. It’s a hobby.


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