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You’ve Waived Your Right to Complain

October 29, 2013

Instead of my normal music solutions blog where I am a little vague on specifics, I have decided I’m going to get a little more personal on this one because frankly it needs to be said and you and/or your band needs to hear it.

This past weekend was the Halifax Pop Explosion Pop!Talks Music & Culture conference. Over two days there was 20 or so presentations including ones from Managers, Booking Agents, Publicists, Lawyers, Photographers, Journalists and a swell of others who can help your band (or independent music business) grow your career. Yet despite this wealth of information you chose not to attend? Is it because you’re lazy? (Probable) Is it because you don’t care about growing your career? (Unlikely) Is it because you are satisfied with where your career has plateaued? (Doubtful) Or some other arbitrary excuse you’ll make up to justify missing out. (Also probable)

Now it’s not to say the conferences were poorly attended because most had rooms that were at least half filled. But the truth is the rooms should have been overflowing and had a line up down the hallways. Especially because if you had a wristband or festival pass they were FREE to attend! Where else can you hear from so many industry professionals, not to mention ask them questions and shake their hands afterwards and introduce yourself for free? Hell even if the panels cost a nominal fee you should have paid it and invested in your career! Many of the panelists and presenters who attended travelled great distances for the fest and you passed up on gaining their knowledge and experience by not attending.

Bottom line, if you missed out, you fucked up! And you waive all future rights to complain about your mediocre career in the music business.

P.S. The original title for this blog was “SHUT THE FUCK UP” so consider yourself getting off easy.


I’ve added this after the fact as this blog seems to be generating a little controversy amongst people on social media. So perhaps I should have been a bit more clear in my original post but since I don’t believe in editing previously posted stuff I will make these notes/clarifications in an effort to help be a little more clear on what I was trying to say.

  • This was not meant as a specific attack at any band or person.
  • I’m also not saying that ALL band members need to attend but if you’re a local 3-5 piece band and not one single person could take off a Friday or Saturday…
  • I’m not complaining at all bands that didn’t attend, merely stating that bands who complain about the success (or lack of) and miss out on these opportunities should waive the right to complain.
  • If your band is already making waves, touring, releasing quality music, than much of this can be redundant (although I’d still argue most bands can always learn something new and helpful).
  • A few folks have pointed out that often conference topics are wasteful (i.e. how to make a Facebook fan page) or can be too corporate (here’s how you sign up for our service), etc… however in the case of this years Pop!Talks I honestly believe the speakers and topics were incredibly well curated and programmed and avoid these issues.
  • Lastly I realize a lot of our readers don’t live in Halifax so it isn’t feasible for all people to travel to attend but often (in Canada at least) many provinces have regional conferences and workshops which can help and should be better attended.

Thanks again for everyone who’s read this, shared it or commented on it on Facebook or Twitter.



Supporting Your Scene

October 15, 2013

A lot of new bands will often want to be added to as many shows as possible without having any idea of how to do this. The easiest and most important thing to do to make this happen is to attend shows your band is not playing and build up a rapport with other bands and promoters. While your band may play great music if you do not show a support for other bands and the music scene it is unlikely anyone will want to play with you.

This is also a great way to help build up a fanbase as some of the most frequent attendees of concerts are musicians. Another advantage is that it can be a great way to meet people within the industry in particular promoters. If you want to meet people who might help your band along then attending shows is one of the best ways to do this and show to these people that you are committed to music.

Chances are no promoter will want to put you on a show without having seen your band before so attending other shows is a great way to invite them to see your band. Attending other shows can also help you meet bands you might not otherwise play with or know of.

It might seem unfair that bands would choose to play with friends over perhaps more qualified bands but the reality is that if you support other bands they will likely support yours. As we are prone to say “No One Owes You Shit” and this holds true even to playing shows.


Building New Bridges

October 8, 2013

Finding new ways to align your music with companies, brands and non-traditional events is paramount to your growth as an independent artist. This could mean anything from licensing your music to a company for advertising, placement in a movie or tv show, performing live at a corporate gig, trade show or fair, or many other types of musical cross promotion.

It is vital to ensure that the potential partners you choose to align yourself with are fitting to your musical values. While many artists may simply allow any company to use their music based on monetary or promotional gain, other bands might have a more deep rooted moral compass which could be counterproductive or alienate their core fanbase if they were to work with certain types of brands or events.

In addition to being a great way to reach potential new audiences and fans, establishing new connections with fitting companies can help you get out of your comfort zone and the routine of traditional gigs. This will help diversify you as an artist and has the potential to result in broader future opportunities to grow your career.

By knowing your fan base and your target demographic you will better ensure that the bridges you build will not only be well fitted but will hopefully stay in place for a longer period of time.


Down Time

October 1, 2013

A lot of music scenes have an ebb and flow of how strong they are; a variety things can cause them to boom and recede(weather, economy, tourism etc.) but the important thing is how you handle the low points. Having your local music scene lull is never a good thing but there are things you can do during these low points that might be difficult at other times.

One of the best things you can do during a low point is begin writing or recording music; if you find your band not doing much then take the chance and start recording or writing. You can also use it to practice and refine your live show on older songs.

Something few bands like to do but is necessary is general chores that otherwise may get missed, use downtime to enter all your shows into SOCAN, have your vehicle inspected or maintained, review your future plans, clean out your band space etc. They all might be small and easily ignored most of the time but during a downtime you should take the opportunity to catch up on these things.

A slow period can also be a great time to start working on a tour or a future release. Both of these things can be planned months in advance so having a large amount of time to focus on them can help them work out all the better.

While having an ever steady music scene is an ideal situation for most bands this is unlikely to be a realistic state which means you should do everything you can to capitalize on slower times.


Follow Your Passion

September 24, 2013

Do what you do because it’s what you love.  

Make the music you want to make because you’re passionate about it.  

Wear as little or as much of your influence on your sleeve as you desire.

But don’t get pissed, defensive or angry if it doesn’t resonate well with the audience!

There’s a fine line to walk to between making music for others and for yourself and I firmly believe you should do whatever floats your boat because if the band isn’t happy with the art they’re putting out into the world it shows. The audience wants to see the band having the time of their life and loving what they do and unfortunately if you’re playing music you don’t enjoy it can be difficult to fake (unless of course you are making buckets of dirty pop music money).

The truth is that regardless of how many people embrace or understand what you’re doing it is paramount that YOU love what you are doing. And if you don’t it is probably time to switch it up. Passion is a driving, motivating force and you should always be passionate about your art whether as a hobby or a small business. However if it is a small business than perhaps you need to accept the reality of taking others opinions into consideration.

At the end of the day you need to accept that your odds of “making it” are slim, so it’s better you embrace your passion than ignore it.


Understanding Promoters

September 17, 2013

As a promoter it is necessary to sometimes be subtle and not as blunt as may be necessary occasionally at shows. This can sometimes be a problem for newer bands who are unfamiliar with these subtleties so here are a few things a promoter may say and their actual meaning.

When the promoter gives you a warning as to how much time until you are meant to be on stage, this means they expect to see your band heading towards the stage and getting your gear ready. Rarely will a promoter outright tell you to get on stage unless you are already late to do so.

Asking a promoter what they expect the turn out to be like will always result in them saying something along the lines of “expecting a decent turn out”. A promoter will never say that they expect no one to come out as it will cause a bad atmosphere and make you less inclined to play a good show.

If you ask a promoter what they thought of your set they will always say something positive unless you are already friends or on good terms. A promoter always wants the bands to be happy and saying that you had a bad set is not going to do that and may result in a bad relationship initially; if a promoter was genuinely impressed or enjoyed your set they will let you know.

Never ask the promoter about borrowing another bands gear. They are not in charge of another bands gear and cannot force them to lend it to you, they can introduce you to the other band but you will have to ask them yourself.


How To Make Mistakes

September 10, 2013

Much like life we will often make mistakes in the music industry. Some of us will make few mistakes; others more. Some will make big ones; others small. But it’s not the size or amount of mistakes that you make it’s how you will react to those mistakes and the lessons you learn from them. Here are 4 helpful tips to (hopefully) teach you to grow and learn from your mistakes.

1. Never make the same mistake twice.

  • It’s okay to make mistakes, especially early on. In fact it’s how many young bands learn. But be cautious to never repeat those mistakes.

2. Take away a lesson from each and every mistake you make.

  • There’s always a lesson to be learned. Was it something you could have prevented, something you could have done differently, etc…

3. Never blame your mistakes on others. Own your errors.

  • Even if someone else contributed in some way, placing blame on them after the fact will only further separate you from your resolution and going forward.

4. Use the mistake as an opportunity to better yourself.

  • A good person can take a mistake and turn it into an opportunity showing true character.