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17 Things Local Bands Just Don’t Get

17thingslocalbands_main

 

1. Trashing other bands in your scene isn’t hurting their rep. It’s hurting yours.

2. Acting disinterested with folded arms at the back of the room at other bands’ shows does not make you cool. Singing along at the front of the stage does.

3. Looking like a rock star isn’t as important as sounding like one.

4. Image is actually important. Cargo shorts are for dads at a barbecue. Not for musicians on stage.

5. Being respectful and friendly will take you much further than being superior and entitled.

6. Going to other bands’ shows is THE most important thing you can do to support your scene.

7. Your scene’s gatekeepers are friends with each other. Get in with one and you’ll get in with them all. If you piss one off, prepare to be blacklisted.

8. You don’t need press to pack a show. You need a strong work ethic

9. Physical promotional materials are still incredibly important. Get out into the world and put up some posters and hand out some flyers. Don’t spend all of your time on Facebook.

10. Facebook is dying. If your entire promotional plan relies on it, you’re doomed.

11. 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?

12. Touring means nothing unless people actually show up to your shows. Do not tour unless you know how you’re going to get a crowd at every show.

13. Playing around town all the time weakens your draw. Spread out your shows so you can promote one big show every 6-8 weeks.

14. 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.

15. If you suck, you do not deserve to be paid. Get good first. Then you can start charging.

16. No one in the industry cares about how good your music is. They care about how successful you have become on your own.

17. Go out of your way to help others in your scene. It will eventually come back around.

 

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of Ari’s Take. Listen to his new album, Brave Enough, on Spotify or download it on BandCamp. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

 

Photo from Flickr by Grenade used with the Creative Commons License.

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Comments (251)
  1. mdti

    >>>>
    11. 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?
    >>>>

    Thank God, whole music movements and trends did NOT follow this ill-advice….
    French touch for example…

    You know that proverb “no one is prophet in his own country” ? it has been true for many many bands for decades.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      I disagree with the proverb. I’ve seen it. Many local bands are stars of their hometown. I understand the saying “the further you are away from home the more famous you are,” BUT it’s not about being famous, it’s about cutting your chops locally and making sure you have your act honed and your business down. Once you do, then you can take it on the road.

      I’ve also seen bands who aren’t very good hit the road and play empty shows at every stop, return home and break up.


      Reply
      1. Jeremy Arndt

        I can vouch for both sides. I feel like touring relentlessly has helped me at home. I also feel like playing relentlessly at home has helped me touring. I think they go hand in hand. Bottom line is… you gotta work, work work! Note I currently tour and perform as a solo artist. I can’t vouch for the band experience as I have not toured as a band.


        Reply
        1. Garrett

          I play with a lot of touring acts, generally most of them are more happy on the road then they are playing locally.
          a lot of really neat/ talented acts go unnoticed in there home towns mostly because music, like any art-form is a personal release. There is no right or wrong answer to playing music. Mainstream likable may get big in a home midwest town, only to fail elsewhere. Inversely a creative strange/weird/bad musician can gain international notoriety just from being themselves, yet still go unrecognized in their home town.


          Reply
          1. NonquintessentiallyRomantic

            Ahem. Comments for the win. You don’t play to find people steadily and strategically get famous. You play for who is there. You play your best, because you love it. Once the audience, whoever is there, sees that, and then truly feels you doing it, you are already famous. In their heart. In one heart or more for what it’s worth. Is that not already beauty? But the thrill of knowing that, and joy from bringing it to more– that my friend is why you tour.


            Reply
      2. mdti

        ok, point taken… you need to rehearse a lot and test the band with the audience, and it is not easy to do it miles away from home.


        Reply
      3. GGG

        I think it depends a lot on where they are based and genre. Here in NYC, you don’t conquer your hometown until you’re playing MSG haha. You can get to the Bowery Ballroom level and still nobody in NYC cares about you besides those couple hundred people.

        Also, I think there is some merit in touring if you have a generally likable/non-abrasive sound. For example, I’ve been on/booked some tours with alt country/jam-ish bands I work/worked with and you can book gigs in the south/midwest where people are just there regardless. One tour, we booked about 14-15 gigs on the way to SXSW and 10 of them were cities where we know literally nobody. Or at least nobody that came to the show. But we still averaged about 20-25 heads a show because a mix of PR/booking venues with built-in crowds/booking venues that actually promote/being a band that can appeal to older, non-jaded middle america folks.

        I could not do with this with one of my electro pop acts though, most likely. I could jump on a bill with a bigger act, sure, but most likely wouldn’t pull off the shot in the dark tour idea.


        Reply
      4. FL

        So that’s explains why Metallica couldn’t break in their hometown L.A. and moved up to S.F?


        Reply
        1. Jesse Jaymes

          Los Angeles is a particularly unique situation. I lived there most my life. Had bands. Left to go on the road to make any money. L.A. has “pay to play” in the so called “famous clubs”. Whiskey, Roxy, Rainbow and so on. Metallic left L.A. because there are so many bands willing to pay to get their name on a famous marquee. But people started realizing that almost no one makes it out of L.A. since the 80’s hair bands anymore. So they leave. L.A. is not normal to the music industry at large and shouldn’t be held up as an example.


          Reply
          1. Ty

            SO TRUE. Pay to play is garbage. I can go on and on about it, so I am glad you mentioned it.


            Reply
      5. CD

        “A Prophet is never accepted in his own country” are the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If you disagree with Jesus Christ, you are wrong. Rarely are real prophets in bands.


        Reply
        1. Bob

          Not sure Jesus had bands in mind when he uttered those words but I know for sure that he loves BONFIRE! WWJD? His ass would catch a BONFIRE show! That’s what he would do.


          Reply
      6. Nick

        It’s one of those things you have to feel your way through on a case by case basis, I think. I can find examples that support both approaches. For instance Genesis, back in the early seventies, were playing small time shows in the UK, but started to find real financial success in Italy, where they played to packed houses and sold a tonne of records. Their second album I think barely cracked the UK Top 40, but got to number 4 in Italy, with their next album reaching number 1 there. Part of that was simply that progressive music was taking off in Italy at that time, with a lot of global and local bands finding success there, whereas that stuff wasn’t as big in the UK at that time (I think it was a relatively small market, and was dominated by more established bands like King Crimson and The Who).

        I think perhaps the principle is this – where are the people who like your type of music living? If you are into progressive electronic music, for instance, you might have a harder time of it touring your local or regional areas than by just going for a big push in the city. In general, it is probably easier to tour locally if you live in a big city than if you live in suburban or regional areas.


        Reply
        1. Eedy

          The music industry, and community we’re 1000 times different back then. You cannot even compare.


          Reply
      7. MW

        Half Moon Run and Arcade Fire.
        Common local knowledge that their breaks came from touring elsewhere.
        Especially since here in Montreal english speaking bands are not priority.


        Reply
      8. Gunner Basinger

        Hey dude, I read your comment here about touring as a local artist. How exactly do you put stuff like this together?


        Reply
      9. Xen

        If you’re not doing it to succeed far & wide, you might as well make it your hobby now. Good luck!


        Reply
    2. Wendita

      Amen


      Reply
    3. Taylor

      Jimmy Hendrix wasn’t received very well , …so he moved to england , ended up being one of the biggest names in music.


      Reply
      1. Abbey

        And then London became his home town. I don’t think home town necessarily means where you were born but where you reside.


        Reply
    4. Scotty MC

      Depends on where you are, too. I live in Austin and love living here but there isn’t a big market for hard rock bands. The “local heroes” mainly play blues-based, soul-influenced hippy rock. Not that that’s a bas thing, it’s just not my thing. If you don’t play that style, you’re probably not going to do that well. When we toured, we did much better in smaller towns and places like Dallas and Houston.


      Reply
    5. CriminalM95

      Yeah, no love from our home town. The towns around us are our biggest support!


      Reply
      1. Jon Orc

        Totally disagree with that. Just play good.


        Reply
    6. jfry

      I agree with you. If you live in Redneckville and you’re a metal band, you might have to find someplace else.


      Reply
      1. Nick_Tann

        I cant get arrested in my home town, fortunately I get paid to play other towns..


        Reply
    7. Mike

      Beatles in Hamburg?


      Reply
  2. Vail, CO

    Ari you are obsessed with being a good citizen, but nice bands finish last. Remember that.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Maybe on Wall Street. In the music community (and in life), opportunities will go to friends first. Be friendly. Make friends and opportunities will start to come your way. If you’re a dick to all the other bands in your scene none of them will want to bring you on tour with them when they break out.

      We see all the times local break out acts propping up the scene they came from. They keep the community strong.


      Reply
    2. RadioTonya

      As a radio program director, I can tell you that if your band is rude, I will never play your music. Period. I don’t care if you are as big as the Rolling Stones. Jerks are off the playlist. However,the more respect you show me, the more I will not only play your music, but talk about you in a nice manner on the air, and support your live shows. Just saying.


      Reply
      1. Tony Poirier

        So, I guess that means no hip-hop or rap on your station…. Thank you :)


        Reply
        1. person

          I think the point here is that no matter how good you think you are, without support within the community that you work in, you will go nowhere. Labels want numbers on paper, the audience wants a show, and if ego is keeping you from doing one or the other.


          Reply
      2. Versus

        And this is as it should be. Respect and courtesy should be rewarded and encouraged, in music as in any other industry.


        Reply
      3. flaxom

        Because everyone is dying to get on the radio these days.


        Reply
        1. Jimmy Jamm

          Now see, that’s exactly what we’re talking about…


          Reply
      4. Robert Ruddick

        Hi Tonya, are you accepting unsolicited material? We are an unrude, stuck in the sticks alternative metal band with moderate local success, ie: most people like us. Just trying to get on the radio for a sec to see what happens. Yours, Minor Nine , Lancing Tn.


        Reply
      5. dables

        So basically kiss your ass or no radio play huh? These are the kind of attitudes that make me want to give this shit up.


        Reply
        1. Brett

          There’s plenty of room in the middle between what she wrote and what you read. If “kiss ass” or “be rude” are your only two choices you should seek help.


          Reply
          1. Jimmy Jamm

            Say amen somebody!


            Reply
            1. Chris

              Amen


              Reply
  3. C

    Ari you make some good points. The one I disagree with is the one about posters and handbills. Viral promotion, Facebook and otherwise is the ONLY effective grassroots marketing left. People don’t read handbills they fold them up and put them in the trash. And posters get pulled down all the time. You do have to be able to reinvent yourself from a social media standpoint but there is a reason newspapers are going out of business. People don’t get their information through print media anymore.

    I do love your point about going to other local shows. If you want people to come see you, you need to go see them.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Handing out flyers on the street corner will get them tossed immediately. Don’t be like a strip club promoter. Hand the flyer to someone you’re having a conversation with. Having a professional flyer legitimizes the show. It doesn’t feel like just a random 4 band bill Wednesday night.

      Concerning posters, because most people have your mentality, most aren’t putting up posters anymore. You should. The more people are reminded of your event the more likely they will come. Why do you think billboards still exist? Because they are effective! Same reason why the biggest promoters in town have people handing out flyers outside the venues after big shows. It’s effective. I’m not saying to ignore Facebook. Definitely use it as well, but you should be diversifying your promotional techniques.

      Follow these tactics with your handbills and promo


      Reply
      1. nathan

        I’ll also add that, for example, Fueled by ramen record has a street team every year at warped tour – they get people in for free and have them PASSING OUT FLYERS to the people in attendance of the concert. It is most definitely a useful tool, just be smart about where you’re passing them out.


        Reply
      2. Jesse Jaymes

        A Facebook band page for people to like is not “promotion”. I go to those pages looking for promo video? Seldom if ever find any. Go looking for videos. They never have a production video of their best original song so they don’t have any video to send to the labels. Oh wait, they have that half frame phone cam video with the shitty sound of them playing live at decibel levels that just distort the sound to a wall of NOISE. I look for Promo Pictures. They have none. Again, phone photos with friends. I look for a .com web page so I can find all those things I mention. None. I want to listen to their music I can click on a link for Reverbnation, take the time to sing up for RN and then listen to their badly recorded songs one after the other. No promo medleys, nothing but time consuming chase after chase to run down a band that wants me to pay them to play? If I’m a person books bands, I’m long gone. One the other hand had you of sent them a 5 minute promo DVD of all the things I mention, they might lean back in their office and actually give you 5 minutes of their time that turns into a regular gig. Facebook is not promotion. It’s one spoke in a multi spoked wheel. You guys need to stop buying buckets of beer and shots and put some money into yourselves. It’s not tht much and it’s only once in a while. Of course that’s only if you ever expect to get any new jobs or fans.


        Reply
        1. Jeff Blanks

          Most people don’t have that kind of money to spare, even if they never bought the buckets of beer at all. It’d take at least two years, and most people figure they don’t have that kind of time. But suppose they were saving up as you’d want them to–what should they do in the meantime? Nothing?


          Reply
          1. trevor

            Money is a non-issue if you think about how businesses work. You get investors. If you don’t have the money to do the things you need to in a band, then you convince others why they should provide you with the investment monies. My band saved up enough to do a lower budget recording of 4 songs, and booked alot of crap shows for live performance practice. After we got our show right and or sound honed in, we created a business. We payed a small business license fee to create an LLC (there are multiple useful business models, so do some research), and we began approaching people that we knew had money. We give them our business plan on what we are using the money for, and how they could generate a return on their investment. That allowed us enough to record a 5 song industry-level EP with a grammy nominated producer. We also landed a merchandise/promotions endorsement that way. Once we had the high-quality recordings it made alot of things easier. We were able to land gigs with 11 signed bands in a year; including All That Remains, Nonpoint, Sevendust, and Trapt. It boils down to this: 1) There is no excuse for why a band can’t get radio quality recordings, merchandise, and big shows. Even bad bands pull that off if they are motivated. 2) You have to set goals, and actually achieve them. 3) If you want this to be a career, then you have to treat it as such. You can’t excel or get promoted at a job with excuses as to why you’re not doing as well as your co-workers, being late, or not going above and beyond the competition. No matter what music you play, or where you are located, anyone with some talent can make a living at this without any record labels. Thousands of Independant artists make a decent to great living simply because they think of their art with a business mind. And if you ever aspire to be on a major label (which doesn’t mean alot these days), you have to pretty much make it on your own before they notice or want you anyway.


            Reply
            1. Evan

              What is your band’s name?


              Reply
          2. Jesse Jaymes

            Half the bands have no promo material at all beyond shitty half frame phone cams. That’s not promotion. It actually makes you sound worse than you do. And you don’t see bands hitting the door ordering up buckets of beer and shots? You must be blind. At least half the bands I see do exactly that. You completely ignore my suggestion that a band save up a few hundred bucks, get a quality promo video (5 minutes or less of 5-7 song clips) tagged with contact/band information. You are obviously in that group that thinks a band is god’s gift to humanity and everyone should just suck up. Well they won’t. Pop, rap and country account for 75% of music sales. Throw in the “geezer tours”, DJ’s and Karaoke and you pretty much accounted for 90% of the available money for bands. You can deny all you want. De Nile is not just a river in Egypt.


            Reply
            1. m i k e

              People are getting beers b/c they’re free if you are playing…

              Shots? I don’t know… I’ve only played the major clubs in Seoul – but, point is, if you drink for free, you’re gonna have a beer or two before your set. Not get hammered drunk or anything, but most people I know do that…

              I’ve never saw anyone pay for a beer that was playing or had played.

              Our first show we drank at least 20 beers (before/after) and made $100 (or equivalent in Korean Won)

              We invested this into a band account and then bought a banner.

              Our singer was/is an artist and did all the artwork

              Friends of friends are professional photographers – they help you out for free since nobody buys film anymore

              You’re in a indie scene, so we all support one another…

              Playing ‘western’ music outside the West is great… I’d never enjoyed playing in bands as much in the states…
              F*** all that noise —- just my opinion…. I got really jaded watching a really, really great band/artist put out a great EP in a college town and only have a tiny, smidge of success w/ it…

              I don’t understand that scene….

              Great local music, but it’s all Phish and Jam bands and that nonsense….


              Reply
    2. Mike

      I use Facebook, Twitter, etc. to keep my name out there. It doesn’t bring a lot of people to shows directly, but it lets venues and especially people planning private events know who I am. I used to put up posters/flyers but I always felt it was mostly a waste of time. At least I can use the Internet from the comfort of my own home instead of riding around with staples, thumb tacks and scotch tape. In truth I make most of my income as a DJ because band gigs typically don’t pay as well as they did in 1985.


      Reply
  4. Chris H

    15. If you suck, you do not deserve to be paid. Get good first. Then you can start charging.

    This is the “eye of the beholder” thing. Get good at putting asses in seats before you expect to get paid is a better way of saying it. You might think you kick ass, but the paying audience’s opinion matters only.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      That’s true! But I’ve been in the room with bands listening back to their board recorded set from the night before and they actually hear how shitty they sounded. If you don’t like listening to your own live set, why do you think the audience will? You must LOVE how you sound live first – not just love playing.


      Reply
      1. Jeff Blanks

        If everyone waited that long, there’d hardly be any music made. Maybe that’d be for the better, I dunno.


        Reply
      2. Eddo

        Greatness is in the ear of the beholder I should say. Pink Floyd were quite aware they sucked on stage.
        What about Punk? Real Punk isn’t following tempo, meter or note rules.
        It’s all relative


        Reply
        1. Eddo

          I meant Pink Floyd with Syd Barret


          Reply
    2. Xen

      Re: “If you suck”. Have you seen American Idol, etc. ? Ya, some ppl suck & don’t know they suck. Art is def subjective but garbage is garbage lol sorry


      Reply
  5. Ty

    Why is Facebook dying?


    Reply
    1. Robert

      That’s the only one I found strange. I agree with not putting all eggs in the FB basket, but I don’t see it dying.


      Reply
    2. Guitar Lizard

      Facebook is at the top of the social media rankings as of this date.


      Reply
      1. RockMom

        My daughter and her friends (age15 give or take) are deleting their facebook accounts because it’s “not cool anymore.” Too many “old people” are taking over. So maybe that’s what they meant by facebook dying.


        Reply
    3. Jesse Jaymes

      The problem with Facebook “dying” is as follows. You are restricted to 5,000 friends now. Let’s say you actually have 5,000 (and few do). Now go look at how many are other musicians, models, people working in the industry and people not in your local area and/or already fans that will show up regularly. You’re not reaching that many new potential fans. Facebook will shut you down for asking for new friends “you don’t know”. Well how are you going to get new people? It’s the same thing as what happened with Ebay. In the early days you could sell almost anything for good money on Ebay. Today whatever you list there are 200 just like it. Same with Bands on Facebook. You’re now lost in the shuffle. Too many people. Plus Facebook now heavily favors those who pay to advertise with them. This is not the Facebook of two years ago. Neither is reverbnation. You’re just a needle in haystack.


      Reply
      1. TheReanimator

        A note on this: once your profile reaches that 5,000 limit, you can convert that page to a fan page and start a new personal account. This process is very simple and is actually something FB encourages people to do.

        btw, if you substitute “Local Bands” in the title of this piece with “Local DJ’s,” it’s still 100% spot-on.


        Reply
  6. BTTB

    Wow. Quite a lot of contradictions for only 17 points. Your massive 5 whole years in the business taught you all that?


    Reply
    1. Roshambo72

      Please stop being so defensive. You might have some experience, but you’re by no means the end-all-tell-all master of what to do, and your responses to these comments sound amateurish. Some of what you said makes sense, some of it doesn’t – first you say don’t play often, then in your next point you say play all the time. You say looking like a rock star isn’t as important as sounding like one – but don’t wear cargo shorts. Left and right, this article contradicts itself, and when you’re only linking to other articles you yourself have written, it comes off as a little smug. And, when people complain about it, you get even smarmier. I haven’t ever sold out the Varsity (I’ve played sold out shows at the Dakota and the Cedar), but nothing about your responses makes me want to hear how you did what you did. Sorry, but it’s true.


      Reply
      1. Carlos

        Well hes saying, if you’re STARTING out, then play wherever show you can get, with different bands in the scene as much as possible. This allows you to get a feel for as many venues’ sound/stage. And also get to plan bigger shows with the bands you have met at those starting shows. Get a feel for who you fit best with. Its all trial and error at first. Sorta like band practice ;)


        Reply
      2. Jeff Blanks

        Those two points make total sense when you consider how the rock scene has been since grunge (or even Metallica) broke. Ever since then, there’s been an Officially Approved way to look like a rock star, and it has everything to do with giving the impression that you’re NOT one of those Arrogant, Beautiful Rawk Star Dudes with the fuckin’ spandex and big hair. But apparently cargo pants are just Going. Too. Far. or something (and I don’t even like cargo pants myself. Just say you don’t like cargo pants).


        Reply
        1. Tony Poirier

          Well, I would never go up on stage wearing cargo pants…. But Gawd, I love them. SO many pockets, so many knick-knacks. The crotch is loose, and I’ll never rip them while bending… Hmm, maybe I SHOULD start gigging with them?


          Reply
          1. RRR

            Umm.. i’ve been playing in successful touring band for two years and played in some really great group’s before that and I where cargo shorts a lot!! Lol especially when it’s 90 degrees and we’re at an outdoor venue! Just sayin! As far as all the other shit people are going back and forth about, just go play you will find out if your going somewhere or not.. it’s simple either people like you or they don’t… and yes the dickheads in bands that don’t like to work but they think they are so great and they are famous already. . Those guy’s should always be fired no matter how good they are! No one wants to work with a asshole! Being kind humble and responsible will carry you a lot further than being a dick…


            Reply
          2. Vollka Racho

            I think Ari was referring to cargo shorts, not cargo pants. Nobody wants to see shins in the color of dried toothpaste.


            Reply
  7. Jack

    If you play in a scene that is non existent in your state then you pretty much have to tour.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Well, picking a local scene to start your career is very important. I’d say moving to a city that supports live music and has a great scene is the first step (before touring).


      Reply
      1. Crusty the Guitarist

        Mmmmm… maybe if you are 21, with no family, and the same is true for the rest of the band, then moving to a different city makes sense. That is not going to work for me. My wife has a great job here, our kids have great friends in a great school here, our aging parents – here – have only us to depend on, and over the last decade our local scene has died. Zero support for original music of even the most mainstream styles, let alone for anything even slightly niche.

        And before you spout some idea about it being up to us to bring it back, let me tell you that dozens & dozens have tried & failed. Many very skilled business people with experience in building very successful venues in other cities have come & gone. Maybe someone can find the secret, but in the meantime, I have to travel to gig, because the city where I started my music career is no longer a viable market.


        Reply
        1. Roojam

          It depends so much on the greater economic scene like is the city off the beaten path or on it, is the city trendy or rusted and decaying, are the city managers forward-thinking or are they old codgers who like the title.


          Reply
  8. John

    I love this:
    Step 3) it doesn’t matter what you look like.
    Step 4) looks are everything.


    Reply
    1. averyellis

      haha! I thought the same thing.


      Reply
    2. Jeff Blanks

      But he didn’t say that. He just said that sounding good is more important than looking good, but that looking good is important, too. I LOVE looking good, but I’m not gonna get up there in My Ineffable Splendor if I don’t sound good or my music’s not ready. That just gives Ineffable Splendor a bad name (which we’ve all long since found out).


      Reply
    3. Versus

      That’s not what Ari said.
      His point was that appearance is indeed important, but the music is even more important.
      Don’t neglect either aspect.


      Reply
  9. Ferd Berful

    This guy is an idiot.
    Flyers and posters are the most expensive, least effective way to advertise.
    You are spending time, money and dead trees handing a flyer to someone that probably doesn’t care.
    You can get 10x more people to your event with one Facebook invite than you can spending 10 hours and $200 on flyers.


    Reply
    1. Jesse Jaymes

      That’s bullshit. I have studied how many facebook people actually show up to show vs how many say they will. Facebook people are facebook addicts. They live on Facebook. You can bullshit some people including yourself but I’ve spent 30 years in the industry and I know better.


      Reply
      1. alarmclocktothestars

        Yup, because there’s nothing like asking a 40+ year old for information on how kids find out about shows these days. Wow.


        Reply
        1. Rewind Bloomington

          Yea, cause you wouldn’t want to trust someone with experience who has studied something. That would be so lame.


          Reply
  10. FarePlay

    Good points Ari. Interesting that your piece and the musicians map are up at the same time. In the past when getting a record deal was the holy grail, moving to LA or Nashville was almost a necessity. Now, many bands would be better off staying closer to home and building a following in a less crowded market.

    What goes round, comes round has always been true and supporting other bands and your local music scene makes a whole lot of sense. I also agree that non-Internet marketing has a lot of value.

    The only thing I would add is giving EPs away makes a lot of sense. Not everyone is hooking their smart phones up to their car stereo, which means you may get a serious listen on the car cd player. For me, I go into heavy repeat play if I hear something really good. And listening to music in the car is a great way to hear music.


    Reply
  11. nathan

    I’m just going to throw my 2 cents in. Take it or leave it :)

    1. Completely agree. Always be encouraging. If a band asks for advice, give it to them – be constructive but do it in a way that is respectful and not hurtful.

    2. Agreed – however if you have yet to play, don’t overdo it and blow out your voice/get overly winded.

    3 & 4 – kinda go hand in hand. You absolutely must perfect your performance on every aspect – musically you want to be as tight as you can be – best way in my opinion? Play to a click track. Always. Practices. Performing. Recording…etc. Look? Yes, it IS important. You don’t want to look like you just woke up and threw on random unmatching clothes, etc. You want to have SOME kind of performance as well – I know I don’t want to go to a show and see the band just standing around in one place. Choreograph your performances. And remember – the industry goes by how well they can sell you. The music AND the look ( example on the look, Justin beiber. He got big because he was young and they knew young girls would fangirl over his ‘cute’ look. Musically I won’t even comment on that haha….)

    5. Agreed.

    6. Agreed. And if you can’t go, help promote.

    7.for the most part agreed. I know in my town there are a lot of promoters that are fueding so you’d still have a shot haha.

    8. Agreed. But press helps dramatically. Most towns have at least one station that had an hourly segment dedicated to local or unsigned acts. Make calls or emails and try to get an interview/radio play etc.

    9. Eh…I think facebook is still a great tool that everyone should be utilizing, but agree that it shouldn’t be your only source. Be smart about handouts. You wouldn’t past out flyers for your deathcore band at a country concert.

    10. Wouldn’t say its dying….I’d just day to have a backup.

    11. Agree and disagree. You definitely need to make a name for yourself, but need to know when to start traveling. Do show swaps with bands in surrounding cities, then repeat with bands further out… Don’t even try to contact a promoter from a different city until you have professional recordings, and promotional pictures, etc. You want to look/sound professional at all times. And remember, just because its free doesn’t mean its necessarily a good thing….sometimes you gotta know that in order to make money you have to be willing to spend a lot more.

    12. Agree, but at the same time – even if the show is empty, it can be good practice, good character building, and you never know who will be at the show. Maybe the promoter will love you and offer you a bigger show in the future… I think its a personal preference on that one.

    13. Couldn’t agree more.

    14. Agree, but still wouldn’t overplay.

    15. Agree….BUT make sure to know that most venues won’t see it that way. If you can’t MAKE THEM money, you could be dream theater and not make a dime.

    16. Agree… But add in same comment from above.

    17. Agreed.

    My band has been around about 5 years as well. Can pack local places out pretty well, have decent crowds in other markets, open for much larger acts on a constant basis, get paid a decent amount on most occasions, and usually hired for some pretty big and fun festivals all over the country. Have some decent radio play and press ( always trying for more ) – just in case anyone wants to know my credentials :)


    Reply
    1. Chowder

      Never, never, NEVER play to a click track! Unless you’re a band with no desire to sound exciting or spontaneous. Might as well say “always have the singer go through auto-tune”. I’ve seen these robotic click track bands, they’re a joke. A slight change in tempo during an exciting song with the band feeding off each other’s energy is a million times better than a band that’s rigidly tapping along to a metronome doing choreographed movements.


      Reply
      1. Billy

        Musicians have been practicing and playing to metronomes for centuries, what makes you think that you’re that much better/more original? Your tempo changes are a sign of unprofessionalism unless they’re intentional, in which case you can still play to a click.


        Reply
        1. CPMSK

          Practice and record to the metronome…. yes.
          Perform live with the metronome….. no.
          The drummer (for rock, etc) is the heartbeat of the band. For better or worse, you need to be able to follow them.
          If the drummer is all over the place, practice more or replace the drummer.
          There is something to be said about live chemistry.


          Reply
      2. Fox

        Dave Grohl plays to a click track.


        Reply
  12. Jared Pilieri

    I own cargo shorts so what’s wrong with that? Does that make me not a musician? Personally if you have to worry about your appearance you shouldn’t be in music so #4 is completely dumb and contradicts #3. I’m pretty positive people in the metal/metalcore/post-hardcore scene have a lot more common sense to where they won’t walk out on stage looking like idiots or slobs but then again I haven’t seen everything. People who think appearance is big part of a band success are clearly what is wrong with music. Music sells not the way you look unless you’re a shallow piece of shit. Other than that I agree with everything else that is said on this article


    Reply
    1. nathan

      Completely agree, and that’s how it SHOULD be – focused on the music…sadly that is not how it is. Look absolutely is important. – until thongs change, we gotta play to industry standards, which sadly includes look. And to your comment on you hoping a lot of bands know not to look like slobs….haha, sadly I see it more times than not.


      Reply
      1. nathan

        Its the same thing as if you an executive and show up to an important business meeting in a robe and slippers. Its a matter of trying to take it serious and professional, as this is a job. Know what I mean?


        Reply
      2. Jared Pilieri

        Well that’s not me. I’m just an old fashioned guy and I’ve seen people look really strange but play amazing music. Just goes to show how shallow America is and why every country laughs at us. If you’re vain you’re dumb and going nowhere in life


        Reply
        1. nathan

          The look thing isn’t just our country. Its the entire world in the music industry, or any profession for that matter. There are certain standards everyone must meet in every profession and that is one. Take for instance visual kei – one of my favorite bands in the genre is The Gazette. Phenomenal musicians, but their edgy look is a HUGE help in their success. That’s Japan. Or rammstein out of Germany. They don’t wake up, put on an every day short and rock out….they have outfits. And sell out arenas all over the world.


          Reply
          1. Jesse Jaymes

            Exactly Nathan.


            Reply
          2. HDS

            Ding! Never look like you’r audience, it’s a job. Wear your uniform.


            Reply
          3. JFA

            It depends — are you in music to become a rock star or make a living. If a rock star is what you want then yeah look is almost everything to your audience but tons of bands make a living playing music with little to no “image” on stage. Also depends on the scene you are in and how important that shit is to you.


            Reply
          4. jughead

            My least favorite music era was the nineties. The whole grunge/alternative thing started bands going onstage looking like they should be bagging groceries at Trader Joes. I remember being hopeful when the Strokes happened that they would be influential enough to get bands looking like bands again, and to some degree, I think they did.


            Reply
        2. Jeremy

          Saying somebody is dumb and going nowhere in life is one of the most vain things i’ve heard in a while.


          Reply
          1. Jeremy

            To each his own, and people who degrade in such ways as that are the “problem with america” in my eyes. All of these points about music and being a respective artist are excellent and great to reflect on whether you agree or not. Thank you for the food for thought Ari. I can relate to many of these points, and a few even opened my mind to things i havent thought of! Keep sharing


            Reply
        3. Versus

          Actually, the world laughs at America exactly for behaviors like wearing cargo pants, which make the wearer look like a bottom-heavy clown. The image of Americans for much of world is that of a rude, loud, vulgar, slob, the proverbial “ugly American”. I would say Americans are actually not vain enough.

          – An American


          Reply
    2. GGG

      There are some niches where, you’re right, people don’t care what you look like. But if you want to make it in a remotely popular music realm, a look is important. It doesn’t have to be a costume or something, just not looking like a slob. And having brought up cargo shorts, I’m sure there’s somewhere where that works, but at a certain level, people expect musicians to look even slightly better than the average cover band guy.


      Reply
    3. Jesse Jaymes

      I have more than 30 years in the music scene from L.A. to New York City. You metal guys of today are as full of shit as it comes. You are your own worst enemy. The glory days of Metal was half music and half imagery. Ozzy, Kiss, Dio, Priest, Maiden, AC/DC even Crue was all about imagery. You claim music is the thing yet you don’t understand layering of music. Nobody can understand your lyrics, you all play the same riffs. And you look like shit on stage. Cargo pants and the obligatory worn out black shirt with your belly hanging out. That’s not metal, that’s noise making. AC/DC and Kiss were the loudest two metal bands of their time and you could understand the lyrics of both bands. Metal is not coming back to a level of making a living at it unless you understand what the European Metal bands understand. Metal is “Halloween every show”. It’s the world of demons and dragons. The Underworld of music. It’s not for everyone but it is for more if you do something more for the fans. Right now you have the losers of society following you and that’s it. And they have no money. Promoters know this. You should wise up. .


      Reply
      1. James

        Europe for the most part is churning out quasi-classical renaissance fair music. If metal isn’t rooted in rock ‘n roll then it ain’t metal to me. Metal is grimey, blue collar, street level music. Even the bands that dressed up, like Crue, TS, Wasp, dressed more ‘scary’ than pretty boy. Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin to some extent invented this music and they didn’t take the stage in cargo shorts and black shirts but they weren’t emphasizing image either, at least not in the early days. And yes you can understand the lyrics to Kiss and AC/DC compared to contemporary metal ‘music’, but years ago people said the same things about them: they play the same riffs, can’t understand lyrics, look like idiots onstage. Maybe in the 70s it mattered if a band works hard because labels would sign artists and give them a few years and a few albums to develop. That does not happen anymore. Honestly I have no idea what causes one to be successful in music except pure luck. Every show i go to, every song i hear on the radio, every story i read convinces me more and more that it has nothing to do with actual talent or hard work.


        Reply
        1. KG

          Amen! It is so disheartening and discouraging, as a musician, to listen to what is being doled out and pushed as “talent.” It’s ridiculous. “Music” that doesn’t need a person or an actual physical instrument to be produced is not music in my book. Entire “songs” that repeat the same five words over and over again connected by ooh babys…aren’t songs.


          Reply
    4. Mattyo

      What you’re failing to consider is that LIVE music is a different medium than recorded music or music videos or any other such process. Live music is the whole package of attitude, looks, sound , sex appeal, and 20 other factors.


      Reply
    5. Holland

      Tell that to the Beatles knothead.


      Reply
    6. Carl

      Appearance is a VERY important part of the music industry!!!! People hear with their eyes if you look like you just rolled out of bed and don’t care about your appearance people in the venues I’ve been working for the last 25+ years won’t give you a second chance and won’t hang around to hear you music. Dressing nice to work should be a personal point of pride just like the music that you play. Maybe I’m wrong but I’ve made hundred’s of thousands of dollars performing and selling cd’s dressing nice to perform. I don’t know how much are you making in those cargo shorts if it’s more than I’m making now I’ll give it a try. If not maybe you should try dressing for your gig. Just saying


      Reply
    7. Versus

      Appearance doesn’t matter for a basement/bedroom producer, but it matters for a performer. One goes to “see a concert”, not just “hear a concert” with eyes closed. It’s a visual performance, not just a musical performance. It’s disrespectful to the audience to not consider the visual presentation. I, for one, won’t go see bands (even bands whose music I love) if I discern from their online concert videos that their visual presentation is weak, boring, or slovenly. I’ll happily continue listening to the recorded music, but avoid the shows.


      Reply
    8. RP

      Whether you like it or not, image matters. Get over it. I’m so sick of you lazy fockers that won’t to roll up on stage in flip flops and cargo pants. Fortunately, my band mates get it, if they didn’t, i’d replace them. If you are too lazy to dress the part, you are too lazy to put the work in, so you’re not going anywhere anyway. No worries. :)


      Reply
  13. Todd

    If I see your band playing and kinda dig it, I will buy your CD after the set is over. I will also ask you to please autograph it for me. Pack a dang Sharpie in your merch box! It’s irritating as hell when you leave me hanging and have to go borrow a pen from the bar staff.

    Next, instead of ignoring someone who just dropped X dollars to support your music career to instead go chase after some random piece of tail, take a few minutes to chat me up and ask why I wanted to drop some of my hard earned cash on your product. What song did I like best? Better yet, ask me what I think you could do better.

    Whether you listen to your fans/ audience feedback, both positive and negative, is up to you, but understanding how your music affects and hopefully moves the audience will be the difference between becoming a rock star versus just another local band that went nowhere.


    Reply
    1. nathan

      ^^^ couldnt have said it better


      Reply
    2. No

      You’re what’s called a “punisher”. You’re not entitled to a conversation because you’re buying a CD. No one cares what the fuck you thought or what you think could have been better. If you want someone to sign some shit, bring your own sharpie. Congrats, you spent TEN dollars of your hard earned money, but that doesn’t mean they want to hear your opinion on how their songs are or how their performance was. Obviously you liked it, because you bought the stupid CD.


      Reply
      1. BigSteve

        You sound like a fun person to be around.


        Reply
      2. Jesse Jaymes

        You’re an idiot “no”. You will be playing in bar bands and blowing all your money on booze and drugs and chasing barfly ho’s your entire music career with your attitude. A total idiot.


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          You failed to mention that you have 30 years of experience in the music scene from L.A. to New York. How can I view this reply as credible?


          Reply
          1. Hahaha!

            Oh man, I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that…


            Reply
      3. Brett

        If you don’t want the opinions of someone who is willing to give you money, whose opinions DO you want?


        Reply
  14. CBQ

    18th thing local bands just don’t get – you will not be successful – do not think you will be – any band who “makes it” and has a story about how they “did it all themselves on the internet/gigging/etc etc” didn’t. They were successfully marketed by a company who specialises in marketing music. It’s likely they are quite good but even more likely they had very good connections.

    If you want to be a rock star – give up.

    As Fripp said – “if you love music, become a plumber”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/rockandjazzmusic/3648577/Robert-Fripp-If-you-love-music-become-a-plumber.html

    “I recommend my students not to be professional unless they really have to be. I tell them, ‘If you love music, sell Hoovers or be a plumber. Do something useful with your life.’ “


    Reply
    1. Jeff Blanks

      Well, that goes back to #7, then. The real question is how to hook up with the gatekeepers.


      Reply
    2. Versus

      Great article, and very very sad. Fripp exemplifies the case of being despised in one’s hometown, or home country in this case, and adored in foreign lands. If he had only tried to win over his countrymen, he would have failed and given up early on. The sort of hostility he experienced is inexcusably cruel.

      I have witnessed concerts of Crimson and the League here in the States; in both cases the audiences were not just respectful, but nearly rapt and entranced. You could hear a pin drop in the quiet sections.

      If you don’t like this man’s work, then ignore it or avoid it; but at least give him the respect due a serious and dedicated musician. I can’t fathom the viciousness he claims to experience.


      Reply
  15. Anonymous

    This is the biggest crock of shit ever. If you play music to “make it” then you’re wasting your time. I’ve put out records for over 20 years and THATS how you get people to show up and be supportive. BUT… You HAVE to be in it for the music. Don’t listen to this crap. This is pointless journalism, killing time and killing your local music scene. I’ve been all over the world playing music, meeting fans. And I didn’t have to do one of these things listed here.


    Reply
    1. Rob

      I’ll wear cargo shorts if I fucking want to! If my guitar is talking what the fuck do you care if what i’m wearing is “cool”? This whole article is lame! Play promote and support other local artists. End of story.


      Reply
      1. Versus

        Great attitude.


        Reply
  16. Anonymous

    this guy is clueless


    Reply
  17. booker

    I have to agree with much of what the article said. I have booked many bands over the years and have worked with bands and have seen were a lot of the local bands make these mistakes and it is annoying. I hated bands that came in and hit the stage and got cocky about how they were so great. and even if they did a decent job I never had them back because they were a bunch of dickheads to deal with. I hate when the artists or bands trash other bands. You don’t know how the hell I feel about another band so keep your f’n mouth shut. You are all trying to work in the same areas and stepping on others to get higher in the “ranks” does not work. You just sound like you are jealous! And don’t believe everyone when they are “praising” you on how good you are. For every one person that loves you there are 5 others that don’t think you are that great!.


    Reply
    1. booker

      And the most of the ones “praising” you are looking for something from you.


      Reply
  18. Anonymous

    A lot of this is true, a lot of it is perceptions. However, that “Facebook is dying” remark is completely unfounded. Out of your entire list, this is the only statement that actually has numbers that can back it up. Pull the numbers, Facebook is consistently rising – believe it or not.


    Reply
  19. Dave

    “4. Image is actually important. Cargo shorts are for dads at a barbecue. Not for musicians on stage.”
    I think if you expanded the word “image” to mean “the show” I would be more inclined to agree. If you are on stage, it’s a performance. PERFORM! Don’t just stand there radiating boredom and staring at your pedalboard. Make going to see your band live more fun or exciting or at least more interesting than staying at home watching TV. Part of that can be what you choose to wear on stage, but I think it has more to do with making a conscious effort to appeal to your audience. Your music is probably not good enough to be the only thing you bring to a performance. The “show” is what will seal the deal.


    Reply
  20. Willis

    Music is art. The music business is a business.


    Reply
  21. APM0S

    1. Everyone talks shit and there’s no way around it because everyone judges and has opinions. Get the fuck over it and stop being so sensitive.

    2. You don’t have to be up front and center to support a band. Just the fact that people are watching should be enough.

    3. Sure

    4. See number 3

    5. Why not both?

    6. Okay

    7. You can still get big just because you piss off one loser promoter. Gatekeepers think they run shit when in reality they are nothing without the bands. Once a band is relevant enough people will demand the promoter to book them regardless of their dirty laundry and if they don’t they are fucking up.

    8. Press can’t hurt.

    9. All flyers and posters are thrown away and disregarded. Stop wasting trees it’s 2014 use the internet.

    10. If Facebook is dying why does everyone still use it?

    11. Not all towns have a music scene and most of them are broken and corrupted by shit promoters.

    12. Thanks Captain Obvious

    13. Playing all the time doesn’t hurt.

    14. See number 13

    15. Too bad shit bands get paid and talented ones don’t.

    16. See number 15

    17. I call bullshit


    Reply
  22. z

    18. Buy other bands’ albums on iTunes and leave a good review. Support = money. Otherwise shut the fuck up and admit that you don’t really care.


    Reply
    1. Versus

      Agreed. Very important to rate and write reviews of the musicians you admire. It’s a morale support for the musicians, and it leads others to discover the work and be more likely to give it a listen.

      On the contrary side, should one leave negative ratings and reviews on music which one judges negatively? In the interest of honesty, one should; in the interest of kindness, one should not. So what to do?


      Reply
  23. RBM Production

    Pretty diverse conversation about what to do and don’t do for sure. To me, playing music is like fishing, you have to have bait in the water in order to have a chance of catching a fish. Like music to have to be doing it in order to have a “shot” at making something out of your music. If music is what you desire to do, then do it, own it, and make it happen. Where you end up is not as important as the journey there. Everything I did in my music career I don’t regret anymore. All the good, the bad, the don’t knows, the thought I knew, and the I knows made my music career what it is.

    So if your new or fairly new to the scene, just do it if your heart desires. Take the good and the bad advice. Take it all in and use it to your advantage. No one one is promised glory in this industry and even if you achieved it, it can go away in a heart beat. If your foundation is concrete, no matter where your career goes it will all matter in the end. Good luck to you all….
    Bill Mousser
    http://rbmproduction.com


    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Wow. Amazingly said. Whether you get “fame” or not, if you have some sort of solid foundation and are doing for yourself, solely for the reason that you love to do it, something will come out of it. Seeing people enjoy it is just the reward.


      Reply
  24. bfrankemusic

    I have to agree the “Facebook is dying” is not true for all artists. My fans still follow me, converse with me, “like” me–all on Facebook over all other social media. You gotta go to where your fans are online.

    As for playing too much, I’m on the fence about this type of thinking. I play a lot because I make my living playing music. If I only played once every 6-8 weeks I’d be back at a desk job unfulfilled and depressed which would cause my art to suffer honestly. That’s just my personal take on my choice.

    Do I see playing a lot effect my local draw? Sometimes. But I heavily promote the shows needing a draw and for those that’s not required (believe it or not that exists) very little promotion. It depends what you do. I do original shows and cover shows. It depends on your cities scene. I’m in DC where there are loads of opportunites to play. It depends who in the public you meet. I gain many fans each year and get opportunies to play lucrative private events (weddings, corporate, etc) from being seen and heard a lot.

    But I get the draw aspect. Scarcity raises value. However the drawback of not playing out much is that I see fellow musician’s as performers not put on good solid shows. It’s a catch 22 honestly.


    Reply
  25. Anonymous

    Those who choose to step on someone on their way up, shall certainly be remembered on their way back down. This is why I choose to help someone along in support, beats bein’ black listed & shunned anyday.
    Besides I’m still just as much of a fan as I am a musician/entertainer, and love to let it loose a little when I’m checkin’ out new acts/bands.

    Country Mark,


    Reply
  26. Jesse Jaymes

    Some of you people are idiots. You think Facebook, reverbnation and Craigslist is all there is to it. A booking agent or promoter is not going to go to three different places to chase you down when they already know 50 bands personally who want back in their venue. I make music videos, promo videos, still photography. You know how many bands have any of these? Most don’t. You have some little half frame phone video that the sound sucks, you have no production videos and you have no hard or electronic promo package AT ALL to give to a venue to check you out. A 3 minute promo video professionally done will cost you a hundred dollars or so and 20 cents to copy each DVD. Send them out by the hundreds. The promoter will watch 3 minutes when they won’t chase you all over the internet. I deal with bands every day, have for over 30 years. Far too many of you are playing at being rock star instead of being a rock star. Facebook is nothing more than a waste of time. I use it, everyone does but look at how many actually show up to your show vs how many say they will. Facebook people are Facebook addicts. They spend their lives on Facebook. Not at your shows. That’s just reality.


    Reply
    1. alarmclocktothestars

      Physical DVDs? You think promoters actually watch those? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

      Tell me more, Grandpa Jesse.


      Reply
  27. jimmy

    I agree with much of what the writer says except for the part about being “blacklisted.” Obviously if you’re an asshole people aren’t going to want to work with you, especially if they can make the same money and have more fun with someone who isn’t an asshole.

    However, this article assumes that other bands and local promoters are all good people who treat people fairly and just want to be respected. My experience in the music industry (especially playing local shows) is generally the opposite. Promoters tend to be corrupt and self-obsessed, eager to play “kingmaker” in their little scene. Most bands are decent but there are more than a few who play the political game and go out of their way to make others look bad.

    The point I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t take a lot to get “blacklisted” in some local scenes, especially if you’re really talented. My advice to young bands is to say as little as possible and try to get professional representation on your side as early as possible. The less you deal with promoters on a business level, the less chance you have of getting on some coke-addled asshole’s bad side.


    Reply
    1. Carl Privé

      Don’t underestimate the power of personality, popularity and “cool”. People have this unspoken seniority in music scenes that makes little sense. Obviously a band rolling through is largely clueless. Onto the next gig for them. I wonder, too, if the scene “gatekeepers” have as much power as we perceive them to. People that are just always at shows, in 2-3 local bands, always acknowledged and almost expect to be. If you’re not just hanging out then what are you doing? You may be a “veteran” of the local scene but you’re not going to be playing a show in Austin by the end of the week. As someone that goes to shows (and used to play) I am often more excited about the band on the road than people I know at the back of the bar chatting or outside smoking when their people aren’t playing.


      Reply
  28. Bass-ically Bill

    10. Facebook is dying. If your entire promotional plan relies on it, you’re doomed.

    Good point! You need to be visible to everyone, not just those who have registered with an online group.

    16. No one in the industry cares about how good your music is. They care about how successful you have become on your own.

    Ain’t that the truth. It’s never about quality. If it were, many of the so-called name acts would be as obscure as an old person in a nursing home.


    Reply
  29. Jen

    One more thing: Listen to feedback from your audience.

    When you have a hearing impaired person telling you that you are too loud, and your sound meter is reading way over 110 decibles….yes, it might be time to turn it down a bit…hearing aids are quite expensive…


    Reply
  30. Jesse Jaymes

    I played in rock bands for 20 years. I also had recording studios in L.A. for 30 years overlapping those 20 years. I have played to 20,000 people. After all that my hearing is not good. If you’re too loud for me, you’re too frigging loud. Period.


    Reply
  31. Jesse Jaymes

    I don’t agree with everything the writer of the 17 things said but I’m not getting my shorts in a wad about it either. He makes some good points and he make some redundant points. He’s not a “star” so obviously he doesn’t have all the answers. Neither do you or I or we’d all be stars. But what I notice here is few people taking some of things he says to heart while most of you just babble about how wrong he is. Anyone can say another person is wrong. What are YOUR solutions/ You defend Facebook. And I know why. You’re too fucking lazy and too Facebook addicted to get off your ass and do the Other things along with facebook to help your draw. You think club/bar owners should pay you because you’re “good”? Who said you were good beside you and your friends? Clubs are a business. They have to make a profit to stay in business. It doesn’t matter how fucking good you are if you play to an empty house. They pay you to entertain people. Most bar people are not musical purists. They are out for a good time. If they don’t dance they don’t sweat and if they don’t sweat they don’t buy drinks. If they don’t buy drinks you’ve stolen the bars money. You’re up against DJ’s, Karaoke and Rap all of which can be hired for a lot less than a band. You should stop your self back patting about how talented you are, pay attention to which songs they dance to and get a fucking show instead of standing up there looking at each other and acting “above it all”. If you’re playing in bars and clubs you are not above it all. You’re paying your dues and be damn glad you have the chance to pay your dues. Get you ass off the stage and hand your pick to a girl dancer and let her hammer the strings while you chord. Jump off of speakers. Do SOMETHING more than just stand there acting like people should recognize your great talent. You know what people tell me when I ask why they like rapcrap? “i don’t care about the lyrics, I like to dance to the beat”. Every rap club in America has a full dance floor. Every DJ club in America has a full dance floor. You have an obligation to what you’re being paid to fill the dance floor. Not grab an attitude about your talent.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I’m sorry, but without 30 years of experience in the music industry from L.A. to New York it’s hard to take you seriously.


      Reply
    2. Bruce Burbank

      “…but I’m not getting my shorts in a wad about it either”

      LOL. Irony alert.


      Reply
  32. Rusty Nickels

    I’m starting a band called Dads At A Barbecue.


    Reply
  33. Geoff

    The one thing I didn’t see was that You have to write and record originals-don’t matter if Your a killer tribute or cover band, if You have no originals or They suck You’ll never do anything real-and People that write these articles are the ones watching Someone else play the big gigs and They go home and write an article about it-M usic scene sucks everywhere-It’s way too contrived


    Reply
    1. JJ

      Original music can be great but let’s face it, if you are playing at local bars on weekend nights, people want to dance and sing along with songs they know.I play in cover bands and have for 30 years.We play songs that people can dance to.I dress up and bring it at every show. I have no delusions of fortune and fame.Shows are harder to come by each year.I play each show like it is my last – because it might be.It is my hobby-my creative outlet. I love to rock.I write songs all the time and forget most of them-nobody wants to hear them. That doesn’t make my experience any less fun or real.


      Reply
  34. JFlad

    can’t agree with you more on supporting local musicians in your community, even when yer old n crusty. Hey…check out the JFlad PadCasts spreaking of discovering new local Minnesota songwriters. ….also it’s about your songs. If they are great and they reflect who you are, and what you can’t say otherwise…then you will be successful. Also perhaps in your mind…if you raged a show for a few people in a local bar…people clapped…you did good……in your mind, you have already succeeded. Everything else will come for you. Ya know I’m a dreamer Ari?


    Reply
  35. Nökk

    Meshuggah (Swedish Proggresive metal band) played in 20 years before people managed to like their music, but they are now one of the most sucsessfull metal bands out there.


    Reply
  36. Joe

    Who is Ari Herstand any way? Never heard of you. I hate lists like this because there is always an exception to all of them. Stop making useless blogs and stick to making music…


    Reply
  37. Eden

    Ari, I couldn’t agree more with ALL your points as I’ve seen it all firsthand, but what I’d like to comment on are points #6 and #17:
    Having had enough of a “party band” I’d been in, I decided to venture out on my own and take the music career thing seriously. I did so with a pretty biased opinion about local musicians in my community. I didn’t bad mouth, but I didn’t want to work together with any of them either because I didn’t think anyone took the music thing as seriously as I did. So I booked myself silly in my hometown, which had only been home to me for a little over 5 years, with the goal of getting my name out there. I also started going to local bands’ live shows, not necessarily because I wanted to support them, but because live music is my favorite thing in the world and, being a performer myself, figured I could always learn a thing or two (do’s AND don’ts!).
    Anyways, when I launched a crowd-funding campaign to record my debut album, because I was broke and could not afford posters and the like, I got creative…and SOCIAL. My friends, street team, and perfect strangers who wanted in on the fun even marched/picketed in a local parade and the local press took notice.
    YET, in the end after ALL that creative marketing, social networking, free press, etc, what literally BLEW ME AWAY was the amount of local musicians that I’d only casually met at (their) gigs or at open mics, jams, backyard bonfires, etc, who contributed to my Kickstarter. Many of them did so saying, “Hopefully I’ll get to say ‘I know her!!!’ when you ‘make it’.” Wow, was I ever wrong to judge all musicians because of my bad experience with a handful.
    So yes, Ari, we musicians are all in this together. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true: Together we stand, united we fall. The support you want from the music industry starts with you (and me).
    Peace :)


    Reply
  38. Jeff Blanks

    #16 may be true, but if so no wonder music has sucked so hard for so long. Why does the industry keep wanting musicians to do their jobs for them? (Helping out and doing their part–sure. But something just sticks in my craw about this.)


    Reply
  39. Anonymous

    4. “cargo shorts are…not for the stage”
    unless you’re the red hot chili peppers, flea, specifically. work your look, no matter what it is. consistency is the more important there.


    Reply
  40. Anonymous

    As a musician, I totally agree with most of the above numbered items. The only only one I totally disagree with is #11. There is even an old song that is entitled (or close)…..’You’re never a hero in your own hometown’. Otherwise you are right one (IMO).


    Reply
  41. david

    tell just about every thrash metal band that cargo shorts are not for the stage…….


    Reply
  42. Awesomess Prime

    I disagree with most of what Mr. Pyle has stated. Unfortunately, every single person that has commented on this thread including me are guilty of providing him an audience. Mr. Pyle, you should take heed to the very last thing you said. The dragon must look inward upon itself first, before breathing the fire. When is the last time you toured or handed out flyers? Exactly.

    Stop being apart of the problem and lead this scene to a solution. You have a verify powerful instrument you are familiar with. It’s called a microphone. and an FYI, music has been played well before your 110 year old radio broadcast abilities and usually take a lifetime to master. I see you’ve mastered your craft.

    Love,
    AP


    Reply
  43. Twin Cities

    Looks are not everything. Bands can have fire breathing robot dragons stomp out on stage, but if your drummer is twirling his sticks so much that he is missing his hits and throwing the timing off of the entire band, I will never come see your band again. If your band spends every other song tuning their local Music Store’s $149.99 guitars that they bought because they have Van Halen stripes on them, I will never come see your band again. If your posters state that you are “the Midwest’s #1 Tribute To Metallica” and you have 3 likes on Facebook, I know you are a fraud and I will go elsewhere during your show.

    My points are:

    A: Give yourself the best opportunity to sound as good as possible by having good stage gear.
    B: Be best friends with the crew running sound and lights, get them a bucket of beers instead of yourself, one turn of a knob by them and people are filing out like the place is on fire.
    C: Demo discs instead of flyers. Posters talk the talk, but demos get the people wondering if you can pull it off live, pony up some cash and hand them out like candy.
    D: Its not about your Facebook page, promote, send the venue a digital poster to push on their Facebook page. their friends are their friends because that’s where they go to have a good time, if the venue has to pay you give them a reason to push you so everyone makes money.
    E: When you hit the stage the first time at a new club, be a great band, strive for perfection performance wise on every single note, get your lazy ass down to rehearsals!!! You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
    F: I don’t care if you all walk out on stage wearing Taco Bell uniforms, if you get up there and are all just completely blowing minds at every position, people will start having you sign burrito wrappers.

    And finally G: Unfortunately in today’s world, you gotta spend money if you wanna make money. Buy good gear, get quality demo discs made, pay someone to do a great website for your band, get nice posters done, tip your the people working with you and for you at the club, thank the club and their staff for the opportunities they give you and most importantly, treat every person in the audience like they matter and give it your 110 percent effort even if there is ten people at the show. Make those ten people and the entire club staff tell everyone they know what they missed and you will grow into a gigging machine. When that happens, it becomes trendy to come see your band, and if you achieve the coveted status of “the band to see”, then the audience looks for you instead of you looking for an audience.


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  44. Bob

    A hell of a lot of sweeping generalisations that do not apply in so many cases. Advice largely to be ignored.


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  45. Dave B

    Hey get in with the in crowd is not the answer if assholes permeate your world. I play with a national and international act. I have more enemies than fans. I am constantly cutting my chops. I am loathed at times. This is not professional as it is about entertaining and having fun. Often egos are the rule. If I say anything it is thought As a stupid comment! I then punctuate it during the song and the reaction is oh u were right. Starting a solo guitar, harmonica and vocal outing but I really don’t want to play locally. No fun.


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  46. Beth Sager

    One great piece of advice (As a producer, I have seen this done and have promoted it) would be to develop one (or several) relationship with an out-of-town band. If you’re both good and are of the same genre, have the band come to your town and open for you at a venue in which you have an established and faithful fan base. Show the crowd that you back this group 100%. Step II is to travel to the other band’s hometown and open for them at a similar setting. If this is done right, it will prompt your fans to travel with your schedule and forge new fans in the new city.


    Reply
    1. Bobby Siekkinen

      Yep that also works for tours….Linking up bands with two separate strong “Regions”


      Reply
  47. Bobby Siekkinen

    Thank you so damn much for posting this! A lot of these would seem to be common sense knowledge…But would be surprised how many not just bands but people who “work” for them don’t see to understand a lot of these points you touched on.


    Reply
  48. NL

    The first half of Number 16 is crap. The music industry is dying. Labels are dying. The 2nd half is true. You have to make yourself successful now because the labels aren’t going to do it for you unless you want to become what they tell you to be, and they will change everything about the music you loved creating. Work hard, treat people right and be successful without the music industry. There are people doing it every day and people who have been in the industry and now do it own their own without labels and they are being successful all over the world.


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  49. Alex

    I have worked in the music industry in the Uk for 10 years, as band manager, tour manager, music business lecturer, but predominantly (and full-time) as a concert promoter and venue manager.
    I am based in London and this is already different to virtually every other UK city. Perhaps you will draw parallels with some US cities? On any given Monday night there are probably 70 shows taking place in London. The paying punter is spoilt for choice, to the extent where the notion of just going to their local bar and paying a cover charge to watch any live music rarely exists. They can afford to be far more choosy than that. Instead people go to see a specific band, it doesnt really matter which venue. (In other Uk cities there may only be a couple of venues, and if one does a weekly rock night it is likely to attract a regular crowd as it is much about the social scene as it is about the music).

    SO who goes to these shows? Well, until a band really starts to get successful (by which I mean airplay, media coverage, record deal, touring with major headliner etc) then in all honesty few people will be fans. They will be friends, family, work colleagues who will be happy to pay a few quid to support you. Don’t necessarily expect them to be quiet and watch all the other bands playing (and vice-versa if you bring nobody and another band brings 50 people, don’t assume you will have a guaranteed audience), and don’t expect them to come every single week. They won’t. So yes, playing once a month or so can be far more effective. If a band plays good music and regularly brings a big crowd, they are top of my list and I will turn to them when I need a support for a major band, it’s a reward for their loyalty. A trendy local band who play very sceney music 4 times a week across town, and bring more bad attitude than people, feature very low down on my list. Unless they are amazing!


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  50. Alex

    (cont.) I think what Ari meant is, don’t act the rockstar, wearing your shades and leather jacket at the back of the room, sneering with contempt at the security, the door cashier and the supports. When you have sold your millionth record you can do that, for now it is all about the music. BUT the artist does need an image, an identity. Mumford and Sons don’t look like rock stars but they have an image people can identify with. If 2 people in the band are in t-shirts and jeans and the other 2 are in cream suits, it in all honest looks pretty crappy. There IS a difference between points 3 and 4.

    Regarding payment, headliners get paid a guaranteed fee. Bands with good agents or managers generally squeaze a fee out of me. Other bands get paid according to how many people they bring, usually £2 out of a £5 door fee. If they bring lots of people they might get offered a headline set on a guaranteed fee. Then watch them bring 5 people to the headline show and take their 100 bucks. Seen that enough times!

    Promo – Facebook only works now if you pay for advertising, in which case it is a very effective tool. And perhaps for updating a current fanbase. But trying to grow your fanbase through facebook, those days are done. There is still a substantial place in market for posters and flyers, if you target the right places and people.

    The most annoying thing a local band can say to me is “you’re the promoter, you should be promoting and getting the crowd for us to play to”. Once you have something about you, a local buzz or radio play, we have something to promote and can conduct a great campaign. For you new bands, we can do the basics but bringing the crowd is mainly going to be down to you (see paragraph 2)


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  51. James Carey

    18. When a shop opens, it doesn’t do so without any stock. This applies to your band too – as it’s a business (if you’re serious at any rate). Start the band, get songs together, fix an image, rehearse like hell, get a high quality recording and professional photos, maybe even a video, ideally.

    Once this is done, make your FB/Bandcamp/whatever and build towards a release using shows to help push this effort. A FB page full of clipped iPhone recordings and photos of you drinking beer only reinforce an amateur perception of you.

    19. Don’t play your instruments between songs, for fuck’s sake. That’s like actors at the theatre having an audible chat between scene changes.


    Reply
  52. Interesting

    So… I shouldn’t go on tour until I can pack shows on the road, I shouldn’t spend a lot of time promoting on social media, I don’t need press, and I should only play locally every 6-8 weeks. So two years later on my 12th show or so I should have a decent draw in one city. Did you even notice how hopeless this list is if you apply all of your advice. Lol. If you don’t create some sort of online viral buzz, or just tour relentlessly (even before you pack places) then you’re never going to make it in todays industry. Unless #16 is wrong and the industry doesn’t just pay attention to the business accomplishments you’ve made on your own, but I agree with that one.


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  53. Christen

    You nailed it. #1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11 and 13 are huge, huge, huge for any developing band.


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  54. Anonymous

    Ari


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  55. Allison Shaw

    Ari,

    Very nice, I have taught you well grasshopper. One very important thing, music is the most important thing. I have seen bands work very hard, have a huge following and the music is not good and never got any deals. They are good at social media and building a fanbase nut not good music. If your music isn’t any good there is nothing we can do for you if you come knocking Also:

    Going to conferences, yes be a big fish in your region but also go play at Festival/Conferences where a handshake could prove very valuable.

    Also be respectful. You may have had technical difficulties on stage, and come off and upset and treat people badly. You never know who is in the audience, as hence during our very first Rachael Ray party at SXSW at dinner, a pretty big band/Actress had a bad show and treated Both I and Rachael rudely and she had no idea who RR was and didn’t care. She never got on show or party and was told reason why. Being rude can come back and haunt you.

    Every band member should play a role in the beginning. If you want to be a big deal in your town, then act like it. Someone should handle booking, another social media/email lists, another PR person, accountant and so on.

    Get into the scene, and if you make it big, come back for the one’s that helped you in this like Mackelmore is doing with Mary Lambert, don’t forget people who had a hand in your success.

    Always thank your sound guy and the staff at the bar and treat them with respect. Venues especially in towns are close knit and also on the road, once you treat one bad word gets around even touring.

    Work your merchandise table. Don’t act like a rockstar after getting off stage and hanging out with peeps after the show, in the beginning work the table and have merchandise, don’t let anyone leave without something in their hand, thats free branding for you and maybe your gas for next stop on tour and. I may have seen your band cause I was there for someone else, don’t know name, but your t-shirt rocks, I’m gonna buy it and wear it around, hence in turn promoting your brand. And don’t buy product that saves you a few bucks, no one wants to wear a big heavy scratchy tshirt cause you got a good deal, no one will buy it. What would you wear? Probably the same things your fans do.

    Yes a band or artist is a brand. Brands want to monetize and build awareness and have a great product people want to buy, remember this, your band is your brand.


    Reply
  56. Ari seems like a real shyster...

    I also had recording studios in L.A. for 30 years… Joking…

    This article reeks of lazy promoter bullshit. These fucking cunts who are nothing wanting bands to promote everything themselves and they still get a percentage? Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit… You’re the promoter. Promote something. Sell those tickets yourself. If you can’t do that, you’re useless. Go be accountants and lawyers, you talentless shitbags piggybacking on those of us that actually took the time to learn how to make music…


    Reply
  57. Terry palace

    WHATS WRONG WITH CARGO SHORTS !!!! It’s not what you wear that counts if ya got the IT factor you can perform in anything


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  58. Ozzy

    “3. Looking like a rock star isn’t as important as sounding like one.” But the next “rule” states:
    “4. Image is actually important. Cargo shorts are for dads at a barbecue. Not for musicians on stage.” Sooo, which is it? There are bands in central Texas who can’t even be picked out in the bar when they take a break, and they’ve been doin’ pretty damn well for a hwiiiiile. (One of ‘em’s been around for over thirty years, and there’s a reason) Pantera, for a more recognizable example, stopped “dressing like rock stars” and started just dressing like themselves…
    “11. 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?” Please see “Chris Duarte”: Duarte was arguably the baddest-ass guitarist in Austin for years. His portrait hung (and may still hang) in local rock station KLBJ’s lobby – next to Stevie Ray’s and Jimmie’s. But he got no love from local audiences because he wasn’t “popular” – particularly, he wasn’t playing in bands with Stevie’s former rhythm section, like David Grissom, David Holt, Charlie Sexton, or Doyle Bramhall II. But the guy WAS booking STEADY across the country, sometimes thirteen shows in five states in three weeks. To a diehard fanbase committed to expanding itself by dragging virgin ears to be converted at his gigs.
    Jus’ sayin’…


    Reply
    1. Versus

      “3. Looking like a rock star isn’t as important as sounding like one.” But the next “rule” states:
      “4. Image is actually important. Cargo shorts are for dads at a barbecue. Not for musicians on stage.” Sooo, which is it?

      There is no contradiction there. Elementary logic. The music is most important, but visual presentation is also important (but secondary to the music).


      Reply
  59. Dj Introspekt

    One word that will debunk the statement about getting big in your hometown first: Rodriguez


    Reply
  60. Jonas

    So much nonsense in this article. So much. Spending your valuable time going out and supporting other local bands? Utter bullshit. Unless you want an audience made up almost entirely of other band members. Plus honestly, there’s every little tit for tat anyway.

    Having to conquer your own town before you can get anywhere? Another heap of rubbish. The worst thing you can do is be concerned with some lame ass local scene. Local bar star will be your destiny. This approach might work if you’re in a city with actual music industry action going on but not in the majority of towns.


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  61. James

    People still play live music?


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  62. Marc alan

    is this is digital music news or rock school?


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  63. trevor

    Most of this list is kinda ridiculous. From personal experience, unless there is a strong music scene going on already, then a majority of the time you will be playing for and listening to the other bands and their friends/family locally. Image is important, it doesn’t have to be a specific image at all, but you have to have a visual representation as well as music. Look at any famous band, they have their look.Live performance is just that. People listen to recordings, they watch shows. . .if you hit a bad note, and keep playing like it’s nothing, most people don’t notice. And those who do won’t care if you are putting on a great SHOW. Now you can’t screw up your whole set or anything major, but a little human error is expected live. Most of the other points are arguable as well, but one thing that keeps coming up, Money. . .Money is a non-issue if you think about how businesses work. You get investors. If you don’t have the money to do the things you need to in a band, then you convince others why they should provide you with the investment monies. My band saved up enough to do a lower budget recording of 4 songs, and booked alot of crap shows for live performance practice. After we got our show right and or sound honed in, we created a business. We payed a small business license fee to create an LLC (there are multiple useful business models, so do some research), and we began approaching people that we knew had money. We give them our business plan on what we are using the money for, and how they could generate a return on their investment. That allowed us enough to record a 5 song industry-level EP with a grammy nominated producer. We also landed a merchandise/promotions endorsement that way. Once we had the high-quality recordings it made alot of things easier. We were able to land gigs with 11 signed bands in a year; including All That Remains, Nonpoint, Sevendust, and Trapt. It boils down to this: 1) There is no excuse for why a band can’t get radio quality recordings, merchandise, and big shows. Even bad bands pull that off if they are motivated. 2) You have to set goals, and actually achieve them. 3) If you want this to be a career, then you have to treat it as such. You can’t excel or get promoted at a job with excuses as to why you’re not doing as well as your co-workers, being late, or not going above and beyond the competition. No matter what music you play, or where you are located, anyone with some talent can make a living at this without any record labels. Thousands of Independant artists make a decent to great living simply because they think of their art with a business mind. And if you ever aspire to be on a major label (which doesn’t mean alot these days), you have to pretty much make it on your own before they notice or want you anyway


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  64. Veteran - US MUSIC INDUSTRY 1970-today

    there are no magic bullets for success… there are only suggestions and targets. Not everyone will succeed in building a fanbase, no matter how good you are, how often or not you perform; no matter how much you spend on promotion. I’ve done sound for THOUSANDS of bands. The road to financial success is as varied as the bands and musicians themselves. Do the best you can. Celebrate the success of others and work hard to get to where you can – regardless of where that’s at.


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  65. BikeTyson

    “11. 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?”

    I live in NYC. Enough said. If anyone can name any music that has broke out of NYC in the last 10 years PLEASE lets me know…I’ll wait. NYC has to be the worst place to start ANYTHING! I still love this place tho because the competition is REAL!


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  66. Nolan Daniels

    I love your point about Facebook. It helps, but it is seriously dying in those under 20, which is most of your target audience cause who else is gonna show up at a local show? Twitter has replaced it cause their parents are on facebook. Twitter is becoming better, but it’s still not good enough.

    You NEED a base. You NEED to actually get your name out there because Facebook isn’t gonna do all the work for you.


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  67. Lee

    Well, I agree with some and not others. I do believe in shameless self-promotion whenever possible so here it goes: Check some female fronted harder rock at http://www.LostElysium.com. In the studio now and working on our follow up to our 3-Song EP. You can find Lost Elysium on facebook or reverbnation too. Our songs “On Your Own” and “Mutilate Myself (Acoustic)” have been played all over western NY terrestrial radio stations and our fan base is growing slowly. Make a comment on a site and let us know if you like what you hear.


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  68. Baker Boy

    It’s not by where you at, it’s bout where you going. Nobody knows your destiny but you once you start to believe in yourself about the path that’s already made for you. That’s how I feel, especially if money not pathing your way in. If you got to conquer that means you got to start a war to come out on top. http://www.soundcloud.com/BakerBoy-Trae/Hood-Shit


    Reply
  69. Yup i went there

    Leave a Reply
    connect with: f… g… t….

    “f” stands for Facebook credibility just lost in leave a comment section lol


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  70. joel kerley

    if you can make a dime on your own music, anywhere! then you are worth something to someone somewhere!


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  71. joel kerley

    and i did hold the #1 spot on the country charts on soundclick for over two weeks with my song (on my left hand)


    Reply
  72. contraire

    Is that why Bob Dylan left his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota where he was discriminated against for being Jewish and went off to New York City to make it big? No one cared about Hendrix until he went to London either. Neil Young knew he had to get out of Canada, and Stephen Stills knew he had to get out of Louisiana (good thing those two guys met in California!) The Beatles had to get out of England and go to Germany. The list goes on and on from the greats and filters down through the ranks. The idea that if you can’t make it in your hometown, you can’t make it anywhere is nonsense. The old saying that a prophet will be despised in his hometown is definitely true.


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  73. Grizzled Old Guitarman

    Good points well made, however I would take a slight issue with #11

    Speaking from first hand experience, in our home town (Bristol, UK) we are virtually unknown, if 30 people show up to a gig we are doing well, however when we travel 50 miles or so west to South Wales or other places in the Wild (South) West, we pack places out. A fair few other bands on our local scene (which is dominated by Hardcore and extreme metal) are in the same boat.

    So howzabout changing to #11 to ‘if your not getting a crowd in your home town travel around a bit to find one’


    Reply
  74. Radio DJ/Programmer

    actually, Bob Dylan went to Denver before going to NYC ;) j/s

    we really should not compare the past to the present. things have changed.


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  75. Aaron Butcher

    My home town is Wilton ND. What do I care if the 3 drunk, old farmers at the bar here like my band? We have to travel a couple hundred miles just to get to a town that HAS a local music scene and Fargo isn’t exactly L.A. or Memphis. A band from anywhere will NEVER know if they rock until they play in front of strangers. I love Nana and Pappy, but they ain’t exactly objective when it comes to their favorite grandkids music. We do, however, play a mean polka version of For Whom the Bell Tolls for Nana…it’s her FAVORITE!


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  76. GREAT BIG SOUND

    #15 WRONG! Always charge for EVERY show. Playing for free undermines the entire local music scene. Always set a price. The venue needs to take the chance on new talent, not freeload on band’s desire to play. Let them audition you if they must, or give them a demo vid. If you are good and draw, raise your price. If you suck, it doesn’t matter what you charge, no one is going to pay you. Get good and get paid. Everytime.


    Reply
    1. Rob

      If I don’t know your band, why would I pay a cover to see you?


      Reply
      1. Versus

        Do you expect to dine for free the first time at a new restaurant also?


        Reply
  77. Mullet man

    In the comments “Don’t promote like a strip club owner”.

    One of the most successful gigs I ever played had pole dancing girls as part of the set.

    Lesson learned: Sex sells. Another lesson learned: Don’t look in the middle of a solo!


    Reply
  78. M2i8

    Napakaipokrito naman ng number 4.


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  79. Jon Effemey

    I use to play in a semi pro big band in the UK with Barry Forgie and Bill Geldard, two old pros. Barry Forgie runs the BBC Jazz band……What you say applies equally to their experience….
    I would add…being on time for a gig or better still early enough to get started.
    Develop a good MC routine with your audience but show respect.
    You are there for the audience not for your selves.
    From what I read the old jazz big bands and James Brown were very tight outfits.
    With James Brown….late by a minute OUT. drunk/drugs…OUT. Women/Men…OUT…bad attitude OUT.
    In Jazz you had to play read and improvise perfectly…in the 30’s and 40’s there were 100’s of excellent musicians out there ready o take over…the standards were very high then.
    Fundamentals from Mozart to now never change.


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  80. Flash

    On number three I’d have to say it is as important to look the part as it is to play it, especially if you’re auditioning for a spot in a major act. I’ve seeing some really good players never get a call back simply because they didn’t ‘look’ the part. This is (usually) easily corrected. A simple fashion update and hair re-style is often enough to make a difference.


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  81. Scott A. Shuford at FrontGate Media

    Outstanding. I teach many of these principles in my sessions at events like NAMM and the Christian Musician Summits.


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  82. Some people like bands so stfu


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  83. Sabine

    OMG Thank you for saying all of that!!! especially no 6! IF WE don’t support music we can’t expect other people to go to shows either!! We must create the scene we’d like to have! We’d all sell out local shows if all the local musicians supported each other too! You get what you give!


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  84. Versus

    These generalizations are over-simplified.

    The main reason for focusing on local gigs is practical: The cost of travel and lodging is a significant financial factor in playing outside one’s own home town.

    However, this is irrelevant if there is no audience in your hometown for the music you do. Moving to a more hospitable locale is not always an option, for various reasons. In such cases, one has to “remotely” run one’s music career, with an audience in difference cities (or countries, as in my experience) than one’s own home.


    Reply
  85. Carl Privé

    The music scene is oversaturated.to an extent. It’s a pretty generalizing statement, but it seems that way when you look at how many bands there are with all of the things on the checklist that a modern band is supposed to have. There are a tons of bands doing the right thing and I think that’s what makes it all so unlikable. I’m tired of your band shots with your SoundCloud and Bandcamp. It’s not that I am opposed to those things. It’s just that after a while I don’t care about any of that at all. I just want to be moved at a show, which is rare and it’s partly to blame on too much scene/social vibe and not music. When the environment is not about the celebration of music but the music is just reflective of the scene (as in people playing in bands/making up new bands for a gig just because they know the person booking, not necessarily because they have any real thing to express – it’s hard to explain, but once you’ve seen it more than a few times it makes total sense) One of my favorite local bands is one that doesn’t do many tours but brings a lot of people in locally and it’s always a good atmosphere. They (at least the singer who I know) always acknowledges and says hi to people that come to their shows. This speaks volumes to me. They also kind of occupy a newer musical territory, which borders on some kind of indie/hippie/earthy vibe rather than the more structured, posturing indie rock/punk rock/arty scenes. The latter scene is hard to make any kind of movement in. It contains some great bands, but it’s still full of a generation of people that haven’t gotten past the whole elitist/on a higher cultural level thing. Owning stack upon stack of obscure vinyl and spending 10 years at hipster bars/shows means they have evolved to a higher level of understanding of how to truly be a dick.


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  86. Daniel

    Singing along with the songs may be a little too overboard, but being friendly and friends with the bands is important.


    Reply
  87. sam

    Article sucks. lol at this guy giving advice like he is a warner brothers exec or something.


    Reply
    1. jughead

      I agree that this article is lame, as are all of these lists on what musicians should or shouldn’t do. Sadly, the average major label executive has even less of an idea of how to succeed in music. I did like the cargo shorts point, however. wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that shit. : )


      Reply
  88. Kipalancronin

    How can you be successful on your own when your broke in a small town no jobs around no way out no one can hear you scream ..that advice is bullshiv


    Reply
  89. Working Musician

    Most important of all: Don’t get high before making a list that contradicts itself. Lay off the weed, Ari.


    Reply
  90. AL

    Completely disagree with this. Sure there are some useful pointers but a lot of it is so opinion based, I’m reading each one, and I’m finding myself asking the question, “says who?” after every suggestion. And i mean cargo shorts? really? gonna hate on the cargo shorts? I mean, c’mon…Sure I’m sick of fashion trends, but there are worse things out there to be wearing… And the phrase, “what makes you think you’ll be better received anywhere else if you aren’t well received in your home town.?” or something like that…
    Truth is: certain demographics have different markets. Fact: if you play Country music you will be better received somewhere where Country is being groomed. Same with eclectic bands, if you live in a small town where the metal shows are the only shows that happen, you have a limited span of drawing power being something outside of metal. So what do you do? Force them to like you? You travel, you go where that market is booming. This article would have you believing otherwise.

    Best thing to do is, hit the road, and tour. Set yourself up with a budget. If you jam for free, feel lucky. But also understand that the rest of the bands in this world pay monthly rent for their jam spaces, so if you are a band that jams for free in a member’s basement, and say “we have no money” what you should be doing is consider that jam space has a rental fee, set a value, and all you guys put in towards jamming even though it’s free… The money accumulates and at the end of the year, you can invest more money into a quality recording. Or a van, or a trailer, or hotels and gas, when you are touring.
    In order to tour properly, you’re going to want to use “google” and great tools that the internet has brought along, so that you can email other bands from different cities, tell them how awesome they are, (even if you haven’t heard them) and tell them that you can hook them up with a show in your city, if they trade you show for show in there own city. THAT is how you guarantee yourself a draw in another city. Do this with many more bands in many more cities, and you have yourself a tour.
    The worst thing a band can do are, be a band for several years without having done a single full length tour. Why? Because a tour will quickly allow your band to realize whether you can do this or not. You make no money, you sleep on floors, your merch gets confiscated at the border, (even when you have a visa a lot of the time), you get fucked at every corner. And almost always one of the members’ cracks on the road, and breaks down, and quits when they get home. These experiences NEED to be had, it’s all apart of being in a band. Another thing you need to know is, DON’T START A BAND JUST BECAUSE YOU LEARNED TO PLAY GUITAR. Too many people dream of being in a band, before they even learn their craft. Practice on stage? Play for free? What? Practice in the jam room, and build your material up as tight as it can be, and THEN play your first show. Don’t forget to keep writing, keep jamming, and once you’re good enough, get out there and unveil your mastery to the people. Not before. We live in a instant gratification world these days, but your band’s success will be all that much sweeter if you are badass, and tight as hell from the start. if it takes two years, so be it. But don’t waste those two years on stage playing shitty shows, and performing awful, and waiting for enough people to lose faith in what you’re doing so that by the time you are good, you have a harder time pulling people out to your gigs, cause people these days have short attention spans. If i see you band at a gig, and I think you suck, in two years someone tells me “they’ve improved” guess what…? I won’t care.


    Reply
  91. Dean

    Great list here Ari, thank you.

    I just thought I would respond with my 2 cents on a couple of things. Mainly just to be part of the conversation as this stuff is on my mind quite a bit.

    11. 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?

    Home town or home state is a good first plan of attack I think. Realizing the different “markets” there may be in your own town, cities states I think is a good start to building a fan base.

    I have noticed that people around where I live in FL do not seem to travel very far to see music that often so it is possible to play a number of different venues in different places on a regular basis and space out your gigs to a month to 6 weeks before a return show. This can also be a benefit in the beginning phase where you do want to play as much as you can to get really good at what you do and not burn out your crowd..

    I am just about at a point where I am making my living with performances on a full time basis. I have to play a lot for this to happen but I do try to space out gigs in certain areas to keep the interest up and not burn out the market. My home town gigs during the week are one exception to that rule so I can actually make a living at this and work in new material or try out live things that I am practicing.

    I love what you said about the recording part too. Nothing sets you more straight than a board recording where you can clearly hear how things are sounding. Sometimes gigs feel worse than they sounded and sometimes much better than they really were. Recording and listening back outside of the gig and away from an instrument is a great way to really see what is happening.

    I understand your point here about touring –

    12. Touring means nothing unless people actually show up to your shows. Do not tour unless you know how you’re going to get a crowd at every show.

    But I also feel like it takes a while to build a following in any one area and how do you do that in a new place if you have not been there. How do you promote a show or your music to a different state outside of FB as you mentioned in grass roots manner without going to a new area and sharing your music with folks?

    I am trying new ideas with Youtube marketing which is the first things that comes to mind in this regard. Video promotions to targeted areas where I am performing is the first phase of this idea for myself. With a small promotional budget I am trying to see if this idea will help generate turn out from new people that maybe saw a video and wanted to come out to the show in their area because of it.

    Monotizing these videos before the paid promotion is part of that to hopefully help generate income form the video plays to add back into the promotional funds to continue the process. I just started this so not sure how this will pan out but it was a cheaper fix for me now than hiring a PR company that will charge anywhere from $1,000-$3,000 a month to help. I am willing to pay, but I have to have the money to do so and I just do not right at the moment.

    In terms of touring, I am trying something new for me and have put it into effect over this past year. Regional touring every other month for a week to 10 days and slowly expanding the distance of the tours through the SE region to find venues to play, share the music in new places, share bills with other artists to add to the network, build on a fan base that will hopefully help with the success of having a good turn out for shows as time allows.

    I am a solo artists so it is a bit easier for me in terms of cost to do that. I know that the road can be hard but it can be an inspiration too.

    I think you have a really good point though, to just put together some dates and go play shows can be a detriment to a band if everyone is broke, annoyed with each other, turn out is low and most first runs can have venues on the roster that may not be the best places to play in an area you know nothing about. Hard on whoever had to book it. From my experience often times someone in the band takes heat on that issue.

    Having fun and being professional can be two different things but I think the things you are mentioning here can help make you a professional that can enjoy the fun of music and be doing smart business as well as supporting the scene.

    Anyway, thanks again for these pointers. I think this is a good list and good advice to take it.


    Reply
  92. Josh

    18. If you are lucky enough to have a sound guy where you are playing, don’t piss him off. If you are nice, he may actually care enough to help you sound good; if you are rude, you will sound like crap every time no matter what.


    Reply
  93. Joe

    Not a bad list. The one that I think is least relevant/true/predictable is “you must conquer your hometown…” There are endless examples from endless towns to the contrary. I won’t cite them again. Some relatively big music towns have many bands who are bigger on the road than at home.


    Reply
  94. Bernie Flesch

    some solid duhs and some mushy bullshit! grade B internet garbage


    Reply
  95. Jim

    11. Is bullshit in my experience the home town doesn’t love you till you’ve been some where real. We always did better in other states than at home. 15. Is also shit. Getting your name out is good. But if you play for free once they will expect you to be free the next hundred times. That said get good before you put your self out there.


    Reply
  96. bullshit

    4. Image is actually important. Cargo shorts are for dads at a barbecue. Not for musicians on stage.

    And this turned into bullshit. Fashion before passion? get the fuck out


    Reply
  97. Rex Kramer

    Whoever made this article will never make it big in music.


    Reply
  98. Anonymous

    . Image is actually important. Cargo shorts are for dads at a barbecue. Not for musicians on stage

    thanks, i’ll go buy some skinny jeans so i can fit your mold.


    Reply
  99. flaxom

    “Image is actually important. Cargo shorts are for dads at a barbecue. Not for musicians on stage.”

    I disagree entirely. Music is for musicians, not fashion. “Image is important” is the mantra of everything that disgusts and disappoints me about the music industry. Focusing on your image as some kind of defining factor of your band leaves you one step away from lip-syncing dancing monkeys. Go ahead and worry about your fashion and I’ll continue writing actual music, rockstar.


    Reply
  100. Yoshi

    This is a lot of crappy advice.


    Reply
  101. dead fujoshi

    Um yeah image thing is way off lol. Maybe for “rock” music image is important but for metal and extreme metal subgenres not really. In my personal opinion from what ive seen nothing is better than jeans/cargo shorts and a band shirt of one of the bands you are playing with that night. Its an awesome way to support your friends and an awesome way to say thanx and encourage other people who might be there only for you to stick around for the other bands set. Also the play every and anywhere is bad advice too. The best way is to make a demo pass it out promote for months and then play. Its harder to find people to go out and see you every week then it is every couple months also not everybody has money to see a show every weekend and people wont be to excited to see a band they can see all the time. Also promoting at other shows by passing out your demo and flyer to your next show is good too. And help people when ya can but if your bending over backwards for everyone all the no will take you seriously. And even if your kinda sucky and you sold 30+ tickets for a show you deserve a cut regardless….have a lot more to say about how horrible the article is but i will stop here. (This is just what i have noticed from being around the scene working merch tables and being with someone who is constantly in a band and playing shows.)


    Reply
  102. Anonymous

    Write the best songs you can and if you can’t, get somebody in your band who can. Try to be as original as you can. Nobody wants a copycat band or a band playing a genre of music that there is just too much of. Try to stand out, be different. Be prepared to fail 99 times before you get a break. And be prepared to do it all again if that is what you have to do. Finally, do it for the love of music, not money. Ironically, you might just end up rich!


    Reply
  103. person

    You bring up a good point – the theatricality of a show can make or break you.

    Protip: If you’re playing locally and share a stage, give a helping hand to whoever is playing before or after you. No matter how talented you might be, it’s the connections you make in the interim that advance your career.


    Reply
  104. Whiskeydick

    We have been playing none stop for almost 10 years we do everything DIY . we are just dudes that are music fans . until we hit the stage and turn the switch and release the demons.. Follow your dreams you are your worst enemy .. We still play shows locally or on tour in front of anywhere between 1 to 1500 people . It doesn’t matter how many people are there we play the same show like it’s our last was we love it and this is what we do. Your hometown will not care about you unless your a brown noser kissing ass you don’t do that, your fans will always stand by your side for being real the fake and ego’s might climb up faster but there truer colors will eventually show and fall hard and quick.. We just released our 7 th album and touring 33 states and 9 countries . If you want a easy job go work for the man and do your 9-5 if you want to make good money playing music and a easy schedule be a rip off and start a tribute band.. if you want to work 19 to 20 hour days sleep on concrete , vans and strangers floors eating what ya can for free be a dollar short and a month behind on bills and be away from your family 8 to 9 months of the year to make ends meet then become a original band ! If the music is good people will share it and talk a bout we make a living playing our music running our own merch store face book likes don’t mean a damn thing we don’t promote our digital albums much but we get a nice check every month form people spreading the word and buying our music .. We are nothing with out our peers we are usually the 1st band that shows up to the show and will not leave till the last band is done.. No matter how bad it is if you can’t stay for the whole show then don’t pay the show.
    Reverend johnson


    Reply
  105. Fwuffy da Destwoyah

    Interesting mix of good and stupid. Worth looking over, but then tailoring to your own needs (for example, cargo shorts are perfectly fine in the type of music I now and have always played).


    Reply
  106. dan

    Who wants to buy a bunch of pair s of cargo shorts .I ca t believe that is what was holding us back


    Reply
  107. JD

    Who are you again?


    Reply
  108. Hemply

    Ari Herstand, you have absolutely NO IDEA what you are talking about! Your list is complete shite!


    Reply
  109. Anonymous

    I have a “not for prophet” band. Meaning, we make no profit in the local scene. Hahahaha


    Reply
  110. Jon

    I stand at the back of any show with my arms folded. I’m introverted and somewhat shy. Please don’t judge me for it.


    Reply
  111. Matt

    I don’t know that only going to places where you’ll have a “crowd” is great advice. Yes, you want there to be people but you can’t sit at home waiting for your audience to build. You may have to play to15 people and then 30 the next time to build it up to a point where you’ll have a decent audience to play for. Nobody will hear you sitting at home.

    Swallow your pride and play for who is there, not who wish was. Word of mouth is still the best way to spread “the word” about your music. You have to play for that to happen..


    Reply
  112. jughead

    “Acting disinterested with folded arms at the back of the room at other bands’ shows does not make you cool. Singing along at the front of the stage does.” – Yes, just like your idol, Taylor Swift. Yag.


    Reply
  113. John

    You need to go to business school concerning some of this DMN


    Reply
  114. PsychicServices-FrankMichel

    #18: Blaring music is not better sound. Keep the decibel level appropriate for the venue so that people can enjoy the music and communicate with one another simultaneously.

    No one wants to become deaf going to a concert or dinner club. The effect is cumulative on one’s hearing. What was that?


    Reply
  115. Derek

    Very oversimplified and misconceived idea of what a band should focus on. Good advice maybe if you want to be a well received band in your hometown. But in terms of actually making a career from a band all that really matters are two things, both of which you neglected to address:

    a) The songs!… without great songs you will not get noticed and never gain any real success. Therefore I totally disagree with no. 16. The songs are at least 85% of what the industry will care about. They do not care about how successful you have become on your own, in fact its often the case that the more undiscovered and secretive you are, the more intrigued an A&R guy will be, especially if your songs are great. They will be the ones through which you’ll gain success, therefore will not worry about your pre-success.

    b) establishing some sort of team behind you (management, producer etc.) that can guide you to success. No band can tackle the industry alone. Any successful band will tell you that proper care and guidance is crucial to starting a band.


    Reply
    1. joe blow

      I think Derek has done this for a while.


      Reply
  116. Adam Thomas Walton

    I spent a year writing a free book covering many of the challenges of being an original music-maker in the digital age.

    It was written from a UK perspective, but the advice detailed above is echoed (for the most part) in the book.

    It’s available for free here: http://onmakingmusic.co.uk

    If you find it helpful or inspirational, feel free to share it. If you think it’s clueless and ill-conceived, e-mail me… hearing other people’s opinions is all part of the learning process.

    Thank you.


    Reply
  117. David

    This applies in what locality? Where do local bands should follow this advice?
    Every scene is different.


    Reply
  118. Traina

    Don’t steal other bands gigs when asked to fill in.


    Reply
  119. Kahunaburger

    No one’s gotten a hand job in cargo shorts since Nam!


    Reply
  120. likeitmatters

    This might be the most retarded advice I’ve ever heard.


    Reply
  121. aron

    im not saying eveything here is crap but a lot is


    Reply
  122. rrhhthhasha

    Barf! lies


    Reply
  123. Find out

    Hi I am a drummer from London uk trying to get a hard rock metal punk off the ground , my taste in music is from Talking heads to Ramones to Black Sabbath,Irion Maiden, Metallica,MotoHead, I dont play with a double pedal -if you want to look at some of my videos -look on youtube at my page (limzog9 , also on googel -cheers .


    Reply
  124. Rik

    What you say goes mostly for original acts, even though in some cases the same can apply to cover and tribute bands too. I loved what you wrote about bad mouthing other bands. My band gets a lot of that but (hear, hear) in the end we’re the ones getting better gigs and they’re left to bite the dust. Karma is a bitch and believe me, it really works!

    Also the business is extremely cruel and we should all cooperate. The musicians community is HUGE and helping each other should be nothing but common sense.
    The local scene gets harder and harder because we fight against each other while venues are buddies with each other. We would be able to turn things in our favor if we’d just play it a little smarter.


    Reply
  125. Kim

    I disagree that you have to be known in your hometown to make it. I have a 6 piece band that is very popular regionally and this year played one of the largest festival in the world yet my hometown never books me and most of the people I work with have no idea I even run a band. The jealously in my area toward musicians who have achieved success has turned me away from feeling I need to be popular in my hometown. I cannot even get my local newspaper to do an article about my bands success so I say “screw them.”


    Reply
  126. NickN

    I wish this one local band could follow these rules. Every time, maybe its a coincidence some band that I like comes to this area, they jump on the bill as a direct opener. Its ridiculous. What is it now? They have some national cred but really small cult following.

    Even some of the bigger media outlets on the internet, don’t even know who the hell they are. But the guy’s girlfriend is tight with them. Far from successful and have played the local bar/dump every other week. The bar is good enough to host internationally recognized acts however mostly because they are the only rock bar in the ‘burbs. The house band basically. Only posers from the local high school go to get drunk at this place since its easy get fake IDs, its pay to play and drunkards always walk early out on the headliners.


    Reply
  127. WooWoo

    Number 2 and Number 3 COMPLETELY contradict each other. First you said it doesn’t matter what you look like and then you say it DOES matter what you look like. You said its not that important to look like a rock star but don’t wear cargo shorts??? Whats the point of putting that in if its more important to sound like a rock star?


    Reply
  128. Neo

    As an musician who’s barely starting the game I find this very helpful. The article was very helpful but as equally helpful was the comments providing a plethora of knowledge and information as well i thanks you guys. Cheers!!!


    Reply

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