Discussion in 'Musician Resources' started by davelms, Nov 25, 2009.
Great idea. Anyone want to chip in with some help writing a series of articles?
Here's just a little idea, open to suggestion if anybody see's any errors issues etc that need editing, if it is to be used i can email this to someone as a word document. If anybody would like to re-write the whole article using the same concept feel free. I've never wrote any kind of article or review or anything for any publication, website or anything like that.
Music Is Not a Competition â€“ So Have Fun!
When I was younger I was guilty of thinking that you always had to be the best band on the bill, The best band in town etc. I grew to learn this is not the case. I used to turn up at gigs with my hardcore punk band between the ages of 16 and 18 sit in sound check listening to the other bands and pick faults and convince myself that we were better before they had even played their full set in front of an audience. I realize now a lot of this was to do with the attitude of my other band members rubbing off on me. But if their attitude rubbed off on me, surly it must have rubbed off on other people in the room. If Iâ€™d meet someone new that told me they was in a band I would jump in telling them all about my band and how good we was. Looking back now Iâ€™m sure all of this had a negative impact on my band and we achieved nothing more then a Kerrang article for having a daft band name that didnâ€™t even speak of our music in any great detail.
Over the years Iâ€™ve learnt a lot more how to enjoy myself from playing music. I play for my own love of what I do and not to be better then anybody else. I find more people want to stay in touch with me and see me again and am making more and more contacts and friends from music by just been nicer and showing them I enjoy myself. At the end of the day the main thing to achieve from any gig is to make people like your band your music and you. And if you are nice and say hello and talk to the other bands chances are they will enjoy your set or at least appreciate what you are doing and not think that youâ€™ve got some kind of superiority complex going on. I see some bands doing what I used to do in sound check to my band, these days I know not to put in even nearly 100% into your sound check and save it for the show. At least by not giving it all in the sound check you havenâ€™t wasted any energy and can turn on the show and rock out when the time is right. Also if you think anybody is taking a disliking towards you, just smile and be nice.
Another important thing is if you do meet a fellow musician that wants to tell you all about their band let them have the floor and say what they would like to say, never assume you are better then any other band. And never make up an opinion of another band before you have heard them recorded or live. Although it is very disheartening when you like a band then find out you donâ€™t like the attitude of a person in that band it also works the other way round, you may like a person but you may not like their music. And this also works for you. So be careful what first impressions you give people.
The most important thing is to have fun, anything else is just a bonus. Iâ€™m not trying to say that any of this advice will lead to success, fame, riches, groupies (well maybe a few) or anything else. But it will give the impression that you are a nice person and it will help you enjoy what you do a lot more. So at least if you donâ€™t get anywhere with your current band, at least you had a good time trying and all was not a waste.
Hereâ€™s my Â£2.50s worth.
Be vary wary of anyone promising you a one off doorway to fame and fortune, and asking you to pay upfront for the privilege.
No-one can guarantee you success, and the chances are what looks like a tasty offer is actually nothing more than a money making scheme for the organisers. If you think about it for a second: if these people really could guarantee you success, theyâ€™d probably be asking to sign you to a deal and put your tunes out; theyâ€™d be talking in percentages and contracts, not in cash upfront. The fact that they are asking for cash upfront suggests that they know this is where the moneyâ€™s coming from, and that nothing further will follow on from it.
If something does seem to be legit, always do your research first. Why are they asking you to give them cash? What are their outgoings? Does this in any way reflect the amount theyâ€™re likely to pull in? Have they run successful events before? What acts have they dealt with in the past?
If they really are the real deal and able to give you what they promise, chances are theyâ€™ll have to be well known, and as such they should be all over the web. You should be able to look for examples of good feedback from the people theyâ€™ve â€œhelpedâ€ in the past. Always ask around â€“ if they say theyâ€™ve dealt with bands in the past, get in touch with the band and ask them how they found it. You donâ€™t need to go into too much detail, and youâ€™ll generally find that if the band had a bad experience, theyâ€™ll sure as hell let you know.
Even if they are legit, you should then think if this is really for you.
A magazine asks you to pay Â£300 to put a song on their cover CD. You check them out, and the mag puts out 40,000 copies worldwide, theyâ€™ve been going for years, they have a huge readership. You check the website, and it turns out they give you a blurb in the mag, they put a cover slip with your info and contacts in with the CD and they run a competition so the readers can vote for their favourite track. They have a forum, where bands whoâ€™ve done it in the past say it was well worth it. You look at how much theyâ€™ve asked you to pay: 20 bands at Â£300 is Â£6000 â€“ for 40,000 pressed CDs with art and a bit of advertising in the mag, you figure that sounds about right. Happy days.
But wait!! You only have a demo you recorded in your bedroom. Your mum and dad say it sounds great, but itâ€™s never actually been reviewed at a professional level. Do you really want pay Â£300 for 40,000 people to hear that track?? You look on the website again and realise that all the bands who said it was worthwhile came near the top of the reader vote. You check their websites: they all have professional recordings. You check the thread on the forum about the CD and see that four or five bands on the disc got completely panned.
So, do you still go for it?
This is only my take on things, and Iâ€™m sure people will disagree with me on loads of stuff, so my other piece of advice is: take advice from more than one person. Nobody knows everything, and a lot of the time people are biased toward or away from things from their own personal experiences, which may not apply in your situation at all.
At the end of the day, a lot of offers youâ€™ll see are scams. A lot of the ones that arenâ€™t scams still do not have your interests at heart and are solely after the cash. Those that do have your interest at heart still have to pay the bills, so bear in mind theyâ€™re gonna want something from you. And even if you find something which seems both legitimate and useful, remember to think about whether or not itâ€™s good for you. Ohâ€¦ and always do your research before signing anything or handing over any cash.
[/quote]Music Is Not a Competition â€“ So Have Fun![/quote]
This Sir is the best advice any one can give!!!! Too many bands take them selves too seriously. And are happy dishing out abuse in various forms to make them feel better and massage their own ego's and make them selves feel big.
Chill out, enjoy your music and hope other people enjoy what your doing.
Only kidding ;-)
Always be nice to sound engineers, waiters and bar staff. They control the world, between them.
Do exactly what you want to do. Pay no attention to what anyone else is doing or what they say about what you're doing.
Don't read reviews of your own band. Or if you do, don't take them seriously. The only opinion that matters about your stuff is yours.
Never let people hear things that aren't as good as you can make them.
and the final and most important piece of advice I can give anyone:
Don't listen to any advice.
Someone could actually write a whole article about your first point there, the others i'm not so sure would make a whole piece
The article is written. Look at it. It's all there.
I hear this a lot, and I tend to think it's just about the most deadly advice it's possible to give. If you're serious about this, to the point where you're actively hawking PR stuff to get material reviewed, you absolutely should be paying attention to what other people think. Advice like that breeds ignorance and egotism.
I used to take any press about stuff I'd done as gospel. So good reviews were a thing that made me feel elated and bad reviews were devastating for me.
I eventually decided that I would do what I wanted and the people I was working wanted to do and let everything else be incidental. It works for me. I don't think I'm a particularly egotistical person but I think I can be very single minded. I think there's a difference.
Maybe a toned down version of your advise would make a good article
title: don't take all reviews as gospel.
And some advise about the fact you will get good and bad reviews would be more suitable after all we are looking for positive results here! And the advice is aimed at young or new bands with little experience.
Yeah I suppose. Fair comment.
Advice cannot be static. The world changes, people grow up and move on - everyday a new set of people are faced by similar situations faced by others before them - but with different names and different shapes.
Wisdom is hard-earned, and nearly impossible to give away. The forum is a good and dynamic medium. The same things are said every week, but always in a new way and about new things.
I think, generally, it's worth working out whose opinions matter to you, and really taking note of them. Work out who your favourite music critics working at your level are, and try get them to review it for their rag. Don't send your CD to a website that notoriously hates your genre. And so on.
Anyway. Perhaps more constructively:
How Not To Make A Decent Promoter Think You're An Idiot
So you're after a local gig. You'll have probably heard a lot of stuff about promoters being the most evil people imaginable, out to make a quick buck off your hard work. I've met one or two promoters like this. I've met tens who just adore live music, adore working within the industry (however peripherally), and adore giving local bands the chance to strut their stuff on stage. I've even met a few that pay their artists handsomely. Who'da thunk it, eh?
I worked on and off in live music for a few years. These days, I'd not touch it with an extra-long stick while wearing a hazmat suit. Even if a majority of the artists you work with are lovely, any inclination to stick by them and work hard is pretty much destroyed by the minority who make your life such an impossible chore. In other words: if I'd have carried on in music promotion, I'd now be one of the horrible hacks we're all trained to hate. The love would have gone. Money would be all that was left.
Here are some things I used to deal with as a promoter. Some things I used to say, and things bands used to say to me. And here's why I thought lots of bands were idiots.
"How many people do you expect would attend the gig to see you?"
This is a standard question, and one that puts most people off. I tend to think it's because people read it as "you can't play unless you bring X people," which is a different concept entirely. I used to ask this question to certain acts to get an idea of how to deal with them. Sometimes, it's true, I had to turn people down because the only slots available were ones that needed to draw a crowd. But often, I'd take a risk on a nice-sounding band I'd never heard of. And in that situation, I needed to get a rough idea of what figures we were talking about, in order to make the night commercially and artistically viable for everyone involved. If three bands play to an empty hall, and I lose Â£100 on room hire and sound engineer costs, nobody goes home happy.
This is why it's important to be honest when asked this question. I found that people tended to answer with either the number 10 or the number 30. Very rare for it to be anything else. Equally rare for those artists to actually hit anywhere near the figures they told me. The result, always, is an empty room and a loss of cash. I have no idea why so many people continued to propogate that.
"We require Â£40 for petrol."
If you say this and you don't live a hundred miles away, you're straight-up lying. If you tell me this and I know you're from the other side of Leeds, I'll probably swear a bit. Serious, honest requests only. But most of the time, if you genuinely need not to lose any money on a gig, don't ask for an out of town gig when you've not enough fans there for it to be viable for a promoter to pay you for it.
"I'm really sorry, but we're going to have to cancel tomorrow's gig, because..."
Stop! Think very carefully before you finish that sentence. If it's not something like "the singer's got laryngitis," "the drummer's broken his arm" or - heaven forbid - "my gran's died," I'll be very angry indeed. And my goodness, you'd better have a good excuse if you cancel on the day or, even worse, the night itself. I once had a band phone me telling me they were stuck in the snow and couldn't make the gig, even though I knew what they looked like and had seen them walk into the venue, check it out, then leave again. Another band told me on the day that they didn't have enough money to get to the gig. One time, I had to cancel a whole night because the headline band pulled out last minute, and I had the shocking audacity to phone one of the other bands to see if they could bring a drum kit, who were somehow offended by that question and promptly pulled out themselves.
In all these cases, I told other promoters, and the bands lost out on decent gigs as a result of being idiots. Don't be one.
"Please arrive at 5:30pm and bring everything you need in order to play your set, unless a backline has been otherwise arranged."
Means you should arrive at 5:30pm and bring everything you need in order to play your set, unless a backline has been otherwise arranged. If you can't do this, tell me when we confirm the gig. If you're running late on the day, my phone number was at the bottom of every email I ever sent you. Ring it.
(This becomes triply awful if you turn up late then ask what time you're going on, how come you can only play for 25 minutes, how come you only get to line-check, and so forth.)
Actually, this is the single most important thing in getting a promoter to like you, I'd say. Moreso than bringing heaps of customers - for me, at least. If you're a good band who's puntual and has manners, I'm more likely to put the work in to tell people about you and encourage them to come to see you play. You also make my nights run like a dream.
Bouncing off that...
"Oh, I'm trying out a full band thing tonight, hope that's okay."
Someone once said this to me when turning up to play an acoustic night. It was not okay. It completely fucked everything up. The style of music was totally incongruous, and we wasted an hour soundchecking equipment we didn't know we were going to have.
"Oh, there's no money in the till? Ah... 'cause we usually ask for Â£40."
Really? Then you should probably have mentioned that when you asked for a gig, told us you could bring 30 people then brought your mum and her friend and somehow managed to convince me to put them on the guestlist.
Oh, that's another one, actually...
"Some mates of ours are coming down. Can they go on the guestlist?"
I should bloody hope some of your mates are coming down. Because they are your fanbase. As such, no, of course they cannot. Otherwise literally nobody would pay to see these gigs. Everyone is a mate of the band.
John Keenan got the response to this spot-on. I paraphrase: "Well, I assume the 20 people you said were coming will be here soon enough, so you can pay your friends in with the money you make from that."
General point on door-stuff:
ALWAYS know what the promoter or venue's door deal is, how much money you'll make off that, and what you're being asked to do in return. Some promoters have deals that you might dislike or not think are worth it. That's fine; the correct course of action is not to play these gigs. I accept that the door deals I worked with weren't suitable for some bands, particularly those with a middling fanbase, oddly. But whether you think the door deal's fair or not, it is absolutely unacceptable to agree to it then not keep your side of the deal, or complain about it after the fact.
Also, a quick question it's worth asking yourself: why should I absolutely pay you, if it means I've had to work for free?
"We've got two more songs left."
According to who? You were asked to play for half an hour. You've been on for 35 minutes already, and nobody's listening to you.
"Right, we've got to head off now. (With all our fans.)"
This used to irk me like mad, even though I absolutely agree there's nothing wrong with it. I've done it myself when playing gigs. But just a good-books tip, even though you're absolutely not obliged to do this, promoters really like it when you and your mates stay after you've played and fill the crowd out. The other bands like you because they've more people watching, and it generally makes the night's atmosphere a whole load better.
"I blshuddy *hic* love youuuuuuuuuuu!"
ie. Don't get drunk and play the most abominable set known to man. My names on this night, y'know? And so is yours. For one night only, we are associated. If people turn up and find an artist who is supposed to be providing a service sloshed on-stage and looking like the biggest idiot in the world, are they likely to think my night is an outstanding pantheon of local music, or a dive bar with drunkards doing karaoke? And are they likely to think of you as an aspiring professional musician, or a dick?
You're doing a job. You're not supposed to get drunk at work.
"Can we leave our equipment here?"
No. Or at least check beforehand.
"Sorry we didn't bring more people. We had a gig the other night at Carpe Diem, which is free, so..."
Oh, right! So basically, you fucked me over! Spectacular.
This is just tremendously bad etiquette. I never asked that someone didn't play a gig near mine, because it's absolutely the artist's perogative when and where they play. But this, again, does no one any favours. If I asked you to play a gig because I like you, you've a good following, your gigs are always awesome and so forth, I'm expecting you to deliver on those counts. If I saw you had a gig booked two days before, I wouldn't have booked you. So don't mess me around by booking another one after we've confirmed ours.
This does still apply to "warm-up" or "secret" gigs. Get over yourselves.
I realise this has all been a big load of moaning, but all you have to do is reverse all these to discover how to be the most brilliant local band in the world for promoters to work with. It's all about the three Ps: be polite, punctual and professional, and I'll probably have a great time working with you. More than anything, you'll probably stand out from the crowd, make my night that little bit better, and encourage me to recommend you to other promoters. Word spreads fast around this scene, and although people do talk about the nonsense they have to put up with when working with some bands, they're just as eager to talk about the really brilliant ones.
Unfortunately there are people out there willing to extort money from bands wanting to make a name for themselves and it isn't always easy for new bands to know who is credible and who isn't. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. While there are some brilliant promoters out there who genuinely have a love for music and putting on great nights, there are also ones who expect bands to do all their work for them and are sparing with the truth. Be wary of shelling out a load of cash when you are not certain you will get anything back in return, equally don't expect to get any cash for gigs when you are starting out. Donâ€™t bother entering a competition you have to pay to enter, there are plenty for free, they normally rely on how many votes you get or a panel of industry insiders, each can carry there own pitfalls. There is no fast track to becoming successful and competitions can be more about vanity than anything else.
There is a difference between being excited about the music you play and being egotistical. If you go around hyping yourself up to anyone that will listen, claiming you have record label interest and stardom is just around the corner, you will end up looking like a tit when several years down the line you are still in the same position you were in when you started out. Donâ€™t think that you are better than everyone else and know everything when you are starting out. Listen to advice with a balanced approach, donâ€™t blindly follow advice but respect other peoples opinions, they could well be coming from experience. Respect everyone who you come into contact with and be professional.
Donâ€™t be distraught by criticism, use it constructively and try to balance it with positives. Practically every band has had criticism, its only one personâ€™s opinion and a bad review is not the end of your career, not everyone is going to love you straight away.
Go to see as many other local bands as you can and support them. If there is a band of a similar type to you donâ€™t get defensive and slag them off because you think they are competition. It's more productive to make friends than enemies.
Further advice: listen to every piece of advice that rach541 gives. That is all gold.
This all very good.
I especially like BlueSkyDenby's "how not to piss off promoters and/or have really bad gigs you could've avoided" essay.
The more people you keep happy, the easier it is to make a name for yourself as a decent band!
laughed at someof that lewis , if i needed to make money or bands to bring gear i would've packed in long time ago because of many of those
particularly frustrating the booked a free entry gig nearby , promise loads and nobody comes when you book other bands with less audience on the strength of people coming, only half of every band being there @ soundcheck
You are clearly incredibly stoic, Mr D. A bad review is heartbreaking, if taken seriously. Great music gets bad reviews. And most bad reviews are not simply because the person didn't like the music: any interesting music works like a joke: some people get it, some people don't.
As you well know, hype breeds good reviews. Because a lot of reviewers love hype. They surf it like a big wave. Maybe that's partly because publications love hype, they sell it. Egotism is far more likely bred from that. And ignorance, now I come to think of it.
You can "pay attention to what other people think" in many many ways.
I would say if you are of delicate temperament, brace yourself with a calm word before ever reading a review. And never take it too seriously, good or bad, unless it really is a big positive one and could affect your sales and renown, in which case react, and fast.
Well music's highly subjective, so any music product is going to get a range of reviews. That's just how it works. Music has its special effects on some people, and not others. But to say you should flat-out ignore what people think of your work is barmy. Whatever their viewpoint, there will be a reason why that critic has given your EP a 6/10 instead of an 8/10, y'know? And it might not apply to everyone. And you might decide that their viewpoint doesn't align with what you're trying to do, so it doesn't matter. But of course you should read it, and understand why the reviewer thought this about your music, and establish whether it's something that's worth addressing or not.
Separate names with a comma.