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 the music biz advice blog Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake
Photo from Flickr by Grenade used with the Creative Commons License.