I recently posted an article on the ARTISTOCATS forum asking “Whats wrong with the south florida live music scene and what can we do to fix it?” Too much can be said. Sure we can sit here pointing fingers saying it’s so-and-so’s fault, or we can make this a positive learning experience. I am writing this now to give some free pointers to you bands out there. Yes, some of this is obviously common sense, but believe it or not, some of you bands need this. So pay attention!
#1. Practice. If you have to play with sheet music on stage, you have no business booking a gig.
#2. Bring Someone. If you can't bring at least, MINIMUM, one person per band member to come see your band play live, don’t bother booking a gig.
#3. Promote Yourself. If you think it's the promoter’s job to promote your band, don't bother booking a gig. Yes, it is the promoter’s job to promote the event, but would you really rely on someone else to do it all? Wouldn't you want the best show possible and to play in front of as many people as possible, including your own friends, family and fan base? Be your own promoter. Music is equally art and business.
#4. Style. Seriously. Put some effort into how you look. You might not be Brad Pitt, but you should respect your fan base enough to run a brush through your hair, at least. You can have style without looking like a poser. You don't have to be a model. but whatever you do, make it unique. Make it YOU. (Personal Tip- Guys with eyeliner=HOT. Guys with Glitter=HOTTER).
#5. Develop a stage show. Your front man should have charisma and the whole band should have a chemistry that shows. Anyone can stay home and listen to a CD or the radio. When they go out to see a live band, they want to see a SHOW. Give 100% for your performance, every time!
#6. Play and STAY. Shows are your best networking opportunity. Far too often bands show up right before they play and leave right after, giving no opportunity for people to come up and say "great job, when can I see you again, do you have a CD, etc". You might have lost a big opportunity with local media or a label scout. Plus, if you support the other acts on the bill, they'd be more inclined to stay and support you as well.
#7. Get involved in your local music scene. The more you know about what’s going on, the more opportunities you will learn about. Make friends with other bands so they'll support you. It's very common at shows that the majority of the audience is made up of other local musicians. Make contacts and find out who the good people to know are and who you should probably stay away from.
#8. Know Your Fans. Pass around a mailing list at your shows. Keep in touch with people by sending emails announcing future shows. Include news about the band, picture's, maybe even a free download once in a while. Most importantly, make sure there IS news to announce. Make your band sound interesting by announcing newspaper or magazine articles, videos, awards, anything. If you have nothing to announce, no one will remember you or care about you after awhile.
#9. MERCH! Demos, CD's, T-Shirts, Stickers, and Buttons - Anything with your bands name on it. You are nothing until you have something tangible for people. You should really develop a recognizable logo. Free is always good for the crowd, but you should always give value to your product, so giving things away for free should be limited. How often have you been given something for free and just tossed it, figuring its crap? How often have you given away your CD's just to find that people leave them lying around? That’s because they assume there's no value to it. Save the freebies for specials friends and fans who you know will appreciate it and to media who could help further your career. If you really want to give things away free, just to get them in some hands, do a CD release party or some type of special event for that reason. Got New Shirts? Make a deal such as "buy our CD and you get a free t-shirt!".
#10. Physical and Electronic Press Kits. You should have them ready to mailed out or emailed at any given moment’s notice.
Stay tuned for next issue where I will discuss exactly what should be included in your press kits!
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