A question I hear rather a lot is “how do I make it big?” or put differently whats the best way to get your band noticed in a saturated market?
Well before you read any further I’d suggest you have a look at this interview with Dave Grohl discussing his views on the subject :
A couple of things that Dave says that I’d really like to pick up on is firstly that “if you’re good people will listen”. This is true so before you start to book the studio time, gigs etc make sure you’re really good, make sure as a band you gel and you’re tight as f*ck. Not everyone is going to like your music but everyone can recognise if a band is good at what they do so make sure you’re at that stage before you start gigging. Remember you never get a second chance to make a first impression so be the best you can be.
I recently did a recording for Brighton band The Fragile Creatures which you can find on my examples page. I’d already done a bit of research on the band as I do before any of my recordings and just by looking at their website and other social media I could tell from the examples they were professional. This was confirmed when I got to the gig for the soundcheck, the tracks I had heard on their soundcloud account had the same energy live, they were well rehearsed and ready for the gig. The way they interacted with the sound guy and me is testament to their professionalism, polite and helpful but with a clear vision of what they needed from us.
Dave Grohl also brings up the idea of defining your own success, ie what is success to you as a band? It could be that you’re a covers band making money at the weekends doing something you love to do? That in my opinion is success, theres no shame in playing other peoples songs if you play them well and bring enjoyment to others and your happy to do it as a hobby or as an extra income.
On the other hand you may want to be the next ‘Arctic Monkeys’ or want that worldwide acclaim and the money that comes with it? Again, thats your definition of success and if thats what you’re after then go for it but the same rules apply, be ready and be the best you can be.
One thing I don’t fully agree with is that social media / record labels etc don’t matter. Whilst it is true you can indeed do it all the old fashioned way with an independent label and just gigging to f*ck this isn’t necessarily the best option for everybody. Social media if done properly can really help your band out but done blindly won’t really make a difference at all so as with everything else do it well.
[I will be writing a future blog on using social media if you need help?]
This article by the DIY Musician website is a good article on some of the steps you should take if you want to be a successful musician. Whilst its helpful theres a lot to take in and you may want to dip in and out to find bits that are relevant to you and the first bit is tongue in cheek so do read on a bit further!
When I was in a band back in the early 2000s (see? shameless self promotion!)the internet was in its infancy and social media hadn’t really taken off. We had a Myspace page (oldschool!) and we did have a website but the traffic to either was very minimal. I do believe however it made us better at the fundamentals of promoting a band than perhaps is true of some bands starting out today. Its very easy to rely on social media to become part of your local gigging community but you have to get out there and make physical connections with promoters / venues etc. If you don’t already go out and support local music then do so. Make some contacts, arrange some nights with other bands and become an integral part of the local music community.
Always be professional, if money is part of your definitions of success then you must be a professional in all aspects of your music. If you’re gigging always be on time, be polite and be a pleasure to work with. The sound guys will remember it and are more likely to recommend you to play at that venue again.
Same with other bands on the bill, be nice! Don’t be an arrogant a*sehole because regardless of how good you are this will be whats remembered which would be a real shame wouldn’t it? And make sure you watch the other bands! Don’t arrive late, do your set and then f*ck off home, thats just rude innit?
As a band member and as an engineer I’ve seen how the way a band presents itself both musically and in person are both equally as important. You could be the best band out there but if no one wants to gig with you or wants you to use their venue then what have you got? I guess arrogance can be forgiven over time to a certain degree if you have earnt the respect of your peers but when you are starting out its not an option you have to be easy to work with.
Follow these steps and you’ll start to get noticed by your local music communities which in turn will open up new doors further afield. There are no guarantees but there are certainly things that will give you the edge over a band or artist that are perhaps less motivated or prepared to put in the groundwork.
So get out there and do your thing, do it well and be nice!
Music is a gift after all, its what we all love to do so do it with a smile and support your fellow musicians.
I’d be interested to know what you guys think so hit me up with a comment and lets get a discussion going? I’m going to be doing these blogs twice monthly to begin with so your feedback is most welcome.
Thanks for taking the time to read