DIY is heard a lot these days within the music industry in fact the new term for the unsigned artist is now the Independent artist. This has grown from being a label to actually just being an artist or a band. Many bands and artists actually can make a living out of it by having their team behind them (if they are lucky), making their own contacts and just working damn hard to make a wage. But going it alone is not as easy as it sounds and many bands make too many of the same mistakes when ‘going independent’.
1. Living the dream
“Keith Moon, God rest his soul, once drove his car through the glass doors of a hotel, driving all the way up to the reception desk, got out and asked for the key to his room.”
Pete Townshend of The Who- 2005
We have all heard the stories after gigs parties and seen the rock n roll films of sex, drugs and hotel TV incidences but you have to have different mentality when you go independent. No-one is saying don’t enjoy yourself but remember you have to wear whole host of hats, so if you have that ‘big’ meeting in the morning stay of the Jack Daniels the night before as they will be looking for business deals not just a throw away headline.
2. Being respectful and friendly will take you much further than being superior and entitled.
“The only thing I use the Rolling Stone for is toilet paper when I run out.”
Neal Schon of Journey – 1982
Be nice. It sounds obvious and anti-rock n roll but just be nice! You have to talk and make contact with a lot of people who do all kinds of things like press, management, radio, PR, TV….producers, agents, booking agents, and they all talk…..you piss one booking agent off in a city no matter how large and you will find incredibly difficult to get gigs anywhere decent in that city. You play a great show and are nice top people you see how often your phone will ring in comparison.
3. Have a strategy for your gigs…
“The hardest thing in the world to do in this business is start a band nobody’s heard of.”
Tom Whalley, Interscope Records.
Playing around town all the time weakens your draw. Spread out your gigs so you can promote one big show every 6-8 weeks. HOWEVER, when you’re starting off, you need to play out everywhere and anywhere all the time to get practice. Record every show. Once YOU love listening to your live set (and non-friends and non-family tell you they love your band) then you can book real shows and charge a cover. You need to conquer your hometown before you can hit the road. If no one cares about you locally, what makes you think people will care about you anywhere else?
4. Don’t be known for saying things you don’t mean and clearly cant back up..
“A missive to all you metal bands, the world is totally over the rock thing. Rock is deader than it’s ever been.”
Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins – 1996
Billy Corgan is probably one of the few legends out there who can genuinely get away with making big statements like this. However, the average local band that gives big lectures on stage about how important it is to support “the scene” but at the end of their gigs want to get paid ASAP and don’t want to wait until the other bands get done needs to take heed. Unless you are Billy Corgan then you should probably be supporting the local scene as much as you can; there is probably nothing more mutually beneficial to a local band than this.
5. There is more to networking than just Facebook….
We are at a crossroads in the music business: with the rise of the internet, the world we live in has changed, and the past is not coming back. But I see the glass as half-full: the internet and social networking are new avenues for the next Bob Dylan to be born on.
Jon Bon Jovi
The music industry is all about networking and meeting people. However if you really want to know how to get gigs and lots of them? Make sure you are always carrying a ton of your CD’s in your backpack wherever you go and make sure that your band is at the front of nearly every single conversation you have with anyone remotely involved in the music world.
This is a very grass roots approach to getting gigs however it does work
The other benefit of networking like crazy is that when you do get gigs, you’ve slowly built up a list of people to bring along to the show and hopefully some of them will know your tunes because you gave them a CD to listen to but you also have to tie this in to your digital strategy so you can keep all those people you do meet up to date on what’s happening as well as all the ones you haven’t met yet!
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