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Common Mistakes

June 19, 2012

As a new band on your scene or even as an unknown band playing for a new market / audience it can always be a nerving experience. Over my years in the industry as a musician in a band, the owner of Diminished Fifth Records and co-owner at Red Tentacle I have worked with many artists in various stages of their career from nearly every angle conceivable. Some mistakes I have realized you have to learn from experience, things you simply can’t prepare for, like improvising on stage when gear malfunctions or a van breaking down while on the road. These are often much like a rite of passage into the world of music industry. That said there are quite a few other mistakes I see all too often which could be easily avoided:

Don’t assume anything, ever. Don’t assume another band will loan you their gear (especially a touring act), don’t assume the venue provides a drum kit, don’t assume the show is promoted (ask the promoter/venue about posters, offer to help even and show some initiative). Most shows are confirmed weeks in advance, take this time to advance everything. If the promoter doesn’t advance you, than you need you take the initiative to reach out to them or the venue.

Promoting a show isn’t posting a link on your wall saying “come to our show” and it’s not sending a facebook message to all your friends with just a link to the event either.  Promoting is about creating interest in your “EVENT”, not spamming the basic details!  When using social media, create discussion around your event, highlight audio or video links of performing bands (that means the other bands you are playing with NOT JUST YOUR OWN!).  When it comes to physical promotion you can poster, create handbills/flyers, as well as get your ass out to other shows and talk to people or handout flyers!  For a show to be a success promoting should be treated as everyone’s job from the promoter/venue to each band performing.

If you are opening a show, know that is role for the evening. Get on stage, get the crowd warmed up, excited, elated, buying booze (if a bar show) and so on. I have seen many opening acts start late, play over their given set time, do an encore because one of their drunken friends yelled it etc, none of this is acceptable especially if on a bigger bill. If you start late it creates a world of shit for other bands, promoters, venue, crew and staff so just don’t do it, in the wise words of a friend “show up on time and don’t be a dick”.  Also regardless of your role in the pecking order that night there is nothing wrong with trying to steal the show or set the bar high for the other bands just do it in the alloted set time you are given.

Deal with it. Yes you have spent the last countless hours/days/weeks/months/years of your life pouring your blood sweat and tears into this project but that doesn’t mean people have to, or will, care. To the average person your “little” band is about as exciting as a conversation about what level your friend got to in Black Ops (or whatever video game is popular this week). Instead of focusing energy into why the average dude (or dudette) haven’t embraced your “next big thing” why not focus that energy on fine tuning your craft and building on the fans that you already have and making new fans that already exist in your local and regional music scenes? Go out to other shows and meet people who regularly attend live concerts, talk to bar staff, booking agents, etc (you can also use this as an opportunity to hand out flyers for upcoming shows or stickers or pins for your band).

Like most great achievements, time has a way of building things up or taking them down which at the end of the day ultimately comes down to your perceptions and the choices you make for your career.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. metalmatty permalink
    June 20, 2012 12:49 PM

    With regards to the promotion bit, bingo! A local kid tried to put on a Cattle Decapitation/Psyopus show. He only created a Facebook event through the regular local promoters page. No postering, no flyers, nothing. He guaranteed the band $1000 I believe. Guess what? Maybe 20 of us showed up. At $12 each. That doesn’t add up. You HAVE to put in the leg work. Bands and promoters alike. Oh, and obviously the kid punked out on paying the bands. Guess I’ll never see Cattle Decap around here again!

    • June 20, 2012 12:54 PM

      Sadly I have heard too many stories like this and it’s always disheartening. Sometimes one bad/inexperienced promoter can do a lot of damage to a scene if they aren’t careful.

      thanks again for sharing!

      • metalmatty permalink
        June 20, 2012 1:08 PM

        The usual promoter does a stellar job. We get great acts here all the time. Maybe not as much as I’d like but he knows the market and what will bring out a good crowd. The fans and the local bands are pretty lucky.


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