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Music with Jameson and Lone Star: Starting a band? Here are 10 things not to do!

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My band was playing this past weekend which means there are no live reviews today. So, in response to some messages I got on my MySpace, let me instead supply you younger bands with some cranky hungover advice that you can take or leave at your discretion.

1) Don’t play one of those Gorilla productions’ battle of the bands.
No! Music isn’t a sport and if you think that the next big band is going to be found through this ridiculous little Pokémon battle you are sadly mistaken. This preys on young bands who seek fame and not honing their craft.

2) Don’t play a “pay for play” show.
Any club or promoter that’ll tell you that you have to sell X number of tickets to play should be met with the question that posits how far up their ass they would like their ticket shoved.

3) Don’t think that your venue options are limited.
Don’t be an fool and think you can open for Radiohead when they come through town; look for small clubs, shows, house parties, and promoters. If you still can’t score a show that’s already booked try to book your own.

4) Don’t believe that a MySpace e-mail beats your own feet.
Get down to the club and talk with the booker and go out to shows and talk to the bands but…

5) Don’t be a douche schmoozer.
Nikki Corvette made the point that to make music you have to be a fan. So, go to shows and befriend bands you like. But here is the deal – don’t do this for political reasons, do it because you like the bands and admire what they do.

6) Don’t be an arrogant ass.
Don’t act like a prima donna when you are at the club. Help the other bands out. Stick around for their set. If there is some reason you have to leave, be good enough to apologize to the band. Also, if you are opening don’t make a pompous flyer where your band is listed in big letters above everyone else- if you’re not headlining don’t make it look like you are. Also, don’t jack with the person who does the sound unless you like really crappy sound. If that person is terrible, getting into a tiff won’t make it any better.

7) Don’t be lazy about promoting your own show.
Bulletin on MySpace, Facebook, local boards, and the like but don’t rely on that exclusively – make your own flyers and put them out. And with enough time for people to see them – perhaps a month before. If you are playing a show you owe the booker, club, and bartenders the effort to try to get people out there.

8) Don’t wait for that big record contract.
Sorry, but it isn’t gonna fall in your lap. Most labels have whatever money they have already allocated to their roster of artists so your odds are slim. Sure, try the local labels (Mia Kat, Cut Throat, Team Science etc) but the odds are your first release (if not all) is one you’re gonna have to record on your dime. That means recording at home on whatever equipment you have available to educate yourself. Once you are pretty happy and have experimented enough, take your hard earned pennies and go to one of the local indie studios (Dead City, Digital warehouse, Pigeon Eater, just to name a few) and talk to the engineer about what you want. Don’t play around with your studio time, you’re not the Beatles! Once you’ve got a final product then try shopping it to the labels. If they balk, then make a CDR or get a small run manufactured. Sell them at shows and, if you want, put them out digitally via a service like Tunecore.

9) Don’t get a manager.
Who the helk do you think you are that you need a manager? Do it all yourself – book your shows, make your own albums, and promote yourself. Don’t have someone be your mouthpiece. If you should ever get to such a stage where things get so big that you need someone to handle this stuff, at least you’ll have a good idea of what they should be doing for you. So the be pithy…

10) Don’t think someone else should wipe your henie.
DIY – write, play tour, record, make your own mistakes. If you want to make music, that’s what it comes down to.