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17 Ways to Kill a Music Career

killthyself

Just some of the things I learned by reading The Music Industry Self Help Guide, just released by Mike Repel (buy the book here).  If you’re doing any of these things, stop it right now.

(1) Having a shitty, entitled attitude.

If you’re showing up late for gigs, not rehearsing, not supporting your scene, being a dick to your bandmates, and not working slavishly to cultivate your audience online and off, you’re doing a great job of killing your potential career.  Now more than ever, the future doesn’t belong to bands that have crappy work ethics.

(2) Being addicted to any substance.

Everyone makes their own choices about drugs, including alcohol.  But when those choices downwardly spiral into full-blown addiction, it can quickly threaten the survival of a band.  Irritability, missed appointments, detachment, and unexplained absences are the better outcomes; problems with the law, missed shows, stealing from bandmates, violence and death are where things inevitably end if left unchecked.

(3) Relying on a label, manager or anyone besides yourself to build your career.

Even with a label deal, bands can find themselves de-prioritized, or flat-out ignored.  But these days labels rarely sign bands that aren’t successfully working and developing their audiences to begin with.  Which means that DIY isn’t some alternative approach, it’s essential for the survival, breakthrough, and growth of any artist.

(4) Choosing a name that another band is using.

The costs of picking a name that is already being used include fan confusion, extreme difficulty growing your brand, and lawsuits.  So before you pick a name, Google it, check ReverbNation, even check on MySpace.  After that, do a trademark search.

hand

 When Two Bands Have the Same Name: A Legal Guide

(5) Not having a serious web presence.

It’s impossible to be everywhere, but you need to try.  That not only means hitting all the usual (and massive) suspects like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but infiltrating sites that attract your target demographic.  It also means interacting with the non-stop flow of fans, as much as you possibly can.

Because if you’re not there, eventually they won’t be, either.

(6) Not selling merchandise.

If you’re not setting up a stand at all shows possible with a full range of merchandise, you’re missing out on income that could fill your gas tank and pay for meals (i.e., stuff you need to survive).  And if you’re not working the crowd (on-stage and off) and putting the stand in a prominent, well-lit place with credit card processing capabilities, you’re missing out on even more money.

(7) Not touring.

Some artists, like Zoe Keating, make a bulk of their earnings from recordings.  But that is getting harder and harder to do, especially as the recording continues to devaluate.  Which means if you can’t tour, you’re probably cutting off a huge revenue source.

(8) Making music that sucks.

Forget about sucking: if your music isn’t outrageously great in the eyes of a significant fan base, major changes need to be made.  That includes scrapping the band and starting another one.

(9) Choosing bandmates that don’t share your work ethic, goals, or long-term vision.

A band is like a family, except that you can choose the members.  If your bandmates aren’t working as hard as you are, aren’t as dedicated or simply aren’t team players, they will distract and drag down your chances of success in an extremely demanding and competitive environment.

(10) Not being completely available.

A good manager will feed you opportunities, online and off, because that’s what you paid him to do.  You need to show up to them, and feed the momentum.

The era of the distanced, untouchable rock star has ended.

(11) Being in it for the money.

You’re delusional and will probably make more money working at McDonald’s.  The reality of this business is that an extremely large percentage of artists are poor, and most of the successful ones were poor at one time.  Which means if you’re not motivated by the the music, the passion to create and play, and the cameraderie of it all, you should honestly be doing something else.

(12) Paying to inflate Twitter followers, Facebook likes, DatPiff downloads, and YouTube views.

Labels, venues, and potential managers are all-too-familiar with these scams.  But more importantly, paying for fake followers distracts precious resources away from developing organic fans, the lifeblood of any successful artist.

Without real fans, you don’t have a real band, period.

(13) Insisting on recording drunk or seriously high.

It takes twice as long and twice as much to record that way, and the results are half as good.  Remember: a recording (whether a single, EP, album, or video) is a permanent record of your artistic accomplishment that can convert millions of fans for decades to come.  A crappy recording rarely has the same power.

(14) Giving away way too much free music.

This is an error that rappers frequently make, especially when it comes to mixtapes.  Because not all of your music has to be free, at least the part that you control.  Ultimately, rappers that fail the strategically use mixtapes to promote paid, more structured releases fail to

(a) generate any meaningful income from their recordings;

(b) encourage their fan bases to pay (or at least give them the opportunity to pay); and

(c) create any meaningful sales record for prospective investors (like labels).

(15) Delivering crappy presskits.

Venues and festivals typically have tens of thousands of applicants to sift through, and just a few slots to award.  A powerful, well-crafted press kit dramatically increases the chances of getting the gig and catapulting a career; a mediocre kit almost guarantees a quick delete.

(16) Paying to play shows.

This seems to be mostly happening in hip-hop, where shady promoters actually charge a rapper to open for a larger act or participate in a showcase.  But this is absolutely the wrong direction to go, especially since it sacrifices real revenue for ‘exposure’ that they typically can’t afford, while the promoter reaps all the upside.

Avoid these deals at all cost, whatever that cost may be.

hand Should You Pay To Play? Here Are The Worst-to-Best Club Deals In The World…

(16a) Paying to be mentioned on a show flyer.

Stop the madness. Right now.

(17) Having a violent audience.

It’s hard enough to attract dedicated fans; it’s almost impossible to choose the fans you have.  But fans that routinely start fights, incite violence, or bring weapons to shows can seriously threaten the survival of an artist, simply because venue owners and promoters will avoid this artist at all costs.  Which means, effectively, you can’t show up for work.

You must develop a strategy to deal with this problem, or risk choking off a critical revenue source.

Written while listening to Wiz Khalifa, Eminem, Tech N9ne, and Kendrick Lamar.

Photo by Rob Marquart, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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Comments (146)
  1. Anonymous

    “choosing a name that another band is using”

    I’m pretty interested in the topic so I checked the link you provided — and found a peculiar story:

    It’s about a guy, Thomas Stuart, who trademarked the name THE RUBBERBAND and later successfully (he allegedly made $250,000 in the process) sued another guy, Bootsy Collins, because Collins “began to tour and release records under the name BOOTSY’S RUBBER BAND”.

    However, thousands of bands have names that are way more alike than “The Rubberband” and “Bootsy’s Rubber Band”, so I checked the two guys and their bands:

    And Thomas Stuart and his Rubberband don’t seem to exist — while Bootsy’s Rubber Band released albums from 1976 to 2001.

    Which is kind of odd. How do you sue a guy who has used his name in commerce for 25 years?

    So, I’d like to know if there’s any truth in that story at all…


    Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Thank you for the link. Guess it shows how much the world has changed since 1980…


        Reply
    1. Al

      I had a band with the name Rubberband for years before I even knew Bootsey’s band was The Rubberband.. I wish he would sued me .


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        There are at least ten Rubberbands atm. :)

        Trademark/name protection is more important than ever, but like I said: Much has changed since 1980 and it would be impossible to stop “Bootsy’s Rubber Band” today.

        So it’s a silly example to bring up in a book.


        Reply
    2. Dave

      Registering a trademark doesn’t necessarily stop other people from using it. Although the owner is officially protected, he/she has to determine for his/her self just what he/she is willing to undertake to make someone else cease and desist from using it. That usually means hiring an attorney and spending money. Is it really worth it? Also, if someone else was using it before the one who registered it, the original one can be protected in their home market even if it wasn’t registered.


      Reply
    3. Vanessa

      An official trademark from the USPTO is generally the end-all for trademarks. If someone has been using a name for 25 years, and wasn’t smart enough to get a trademark, they usually are S.O.L.

      If the government didn’t protect registered trademarks, the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) would lose any meaning. No one would bother registering their trademarks, if someone could later come along and claim it anyhow.

      -Intellectual property paralegal

      ***I am not an attorney, this is not legal advice***


      Reply
  2. djviciousballz

    Try telling #2 and #13 to the Kottonmouth Kings…


    Reply
    1. BDP

      That’s why the Cock-In-Mouth Kangz suck the big one. “Kottonmouth Kings just let the nuts hang.. everyday thang, how it hang, how it hang”. Fuck you.


      Reply
  3. Mr t

    Try to sell this list to black sabbath^^


    Reply
  4. seriously, twice this week

    18. redirecting your official .com domain to a Facebook page.


    Reply
    1. Phoenix MerQury

      I was waiting to see that one in the list! They missed it LOL


      Reply
  5. solo

    I would add refusing to write new music and evolve your live set. I just had to part ways with my band after two years that were modestly successful because the band refused to take writing new music seriously, or change up our live set a year after our CD was released. My bass player actually said, “We don’t need to write new songs”! They wanted to charge our fans/friends to come to the same venue where we held our cd release a year later and play the same 15 songs in exactly the same way…I just couldn’t do that! Also, most of us had fallen into at least 1/2 of the bad habits on your list. So, I moved on.


    Reply
    1. fella

      that happens a lot!
      i can’t understand how the other band guys can be like this, i guess they may be too bored with the band to want to bother learning new songs, but the reason it is boring is because there are no new songs haha!


      Reply
  6. Mysti Mayhem

    Beautifully written and honest with Catch 22’s. To be in it for the love and to completely disregard the money leaves an artist with a need to have supplemental income. If an artist is doing a 20-40 hour work week that makes #10 inevitable. Take away #10 and an artist needs to make something to continue doing their work. In order to obtain merchandise the artist has to have money to buy the cd’s and t-shirts etc. with coming back to #11. I believe some of these rules must be sacrificed and re-arranged from time to time. To nail this entire list faithfully seems next to impossible.


    Reply
    1. hippydog

      Quote ” I believe some of these rules must be sacrificed and re-arranged from time to time. To nail this entire list faithfully seems next to impossible.”

      There is no such thing as perfect set of rules or directions.. Each person does things there own way..
      but, its not impossible. Some luck is needed at times, and some creativity, but its all possible, a lot more people are doing this then you would think, like actors, comedians, etc etc


      Reply
      1. Dave

        Remember these are ways to kill your band. You don’t have to use all of them, just pick one or two.


        Reply
        1. Mike Repel

          That’s one hell of a profound statement. You have my full approval on that comment.


          Reply
    2. DanZann

      It’s a statistical article … advice based on stats. “Beautifully written” does not apply to stats. Besides, I know of many bands that have made a comfortable music career from doing at least 12 of the points listed, making this entire article non-applicable to many. There is no advice in this day & age that can help nor kill one’s music career. They just have to KNOW people OR be very, very lucky – all without having to be talented – and they have to promote themselves to near death with expendable resources.


      Reply
    3. DanZann

      It’s a statistical article … advice based on stats. “Beautifully written” does not apply to stats. Besides, I know of many bands that have made a comfortable music career from doing at least 12 of the points listed, making this entire article non-applicable to many. There is no advice in this day & age that can help nor kill one’s music career. They just have to KNOW people OR be very lucky – all without having to be talented – and they have to promote themselves to near death with expendable resources.


      Reply
  7. rikki

    Taking your band into another direction with your new music when your LIVE audience are still your OLD fans.


    Reply
    1. Asshole Jackson

      Actually that’s a perfectly respectable thing for an artist to do. Boring is boring.


      Reply
      1. Wendy

        I think taking your music in a new direction is great. HOWEVER, when you have a loyal fanbase, refusing to play anything from the era prior to your shift is a sure way to lose your die-hard supporters.


        Reply
        1. Bruce Burbank

          This is a tricky topic you bring up, Wendy.

          There have been plenty of bands in the past where I absolutely loved their music. I would be what you’d call a superfan. But then somewhere along the line they changed their sound so significantly that I don’t even bother checking out their new music any more.

          1. Autechre- they had released so much great stuff all the way from their first album through Tri Repetae and Chiastic Slide with all the lush, futuristic computer music. But then they lost all the melody when LP5 came out and fans like me began to get quizzical looks on our faces. And then they went totally off the deep end into unmusical, minimal, glitchy wankery with Confield that I and hordes of other fans suddenly became former fans.

          2. Meat Beat Manifesto- I loved all the artsy, psychedelic, but still danceable and somewhat aggressive industrial all the way through Actual Sounds + Voices, but then he went off the deep end into the most boring dub you can imagine with RUOK? at about the turn of the century and has done nothing but boring dub ever since. Before that album, he was gaining all sorts of momentum and headlining places like the Palace in Hollywood (capacity 2000). I saw him a few years ago because a friend’s band was opening, and the El Rey in LA (capacity 770) wasn’t even half full. He played one or two older songs which generated some cheers, but for most of the concert, everybody was just sorta standing there with arms folded, wondering ‘when is he gonna play some old stuff?’

          And it’s funny, because some of the so-called experts will call Confield and RUOK? career-defining albums for those artists. And I’m like, um, no, more like career ruining.

          Then again, as a composer myself, I know that every musician must stay true to themselves when making music. So I don’t begrudge these or any other artists when they make any stylistic change to their sound, be it in small steps or a complete u-turn. But if they are gonna make some radical change, as you say, they’re gonna have to expect that a good percentage of their fanbase will jump ship.


          Reply
    2. Chuck Hughes

      That’s what the Beatles and Beach Boys did.


      Reply
  8. mike stephen

    I don;t know, great list in theory but to me I see it as you can not fail as long as you’re out there playin music whether you pay to play or whatever the point to me is it all revolves around don’t be in it for the money but the money will come as long as you are out there even on a street corner or an artist highly established deciding to pull over at a house party he/she sees by chance and plays a show just be available and keep shoveling your music on anyone who will listen and love doing it.


    Reply
    1. David Cavan+Fraser

      Dude. Puncation. Is. Needed.


      Reply
    2. Chuck Hughes

      Playing your 3 local taverns over and over year after year will not build the band’s fan base or brand. Most bands do this and end up going nowhere, in terms of audience size and income generation.


      Reply
  9. C Daniels

    Yeah – Paul love it – this hits the nail on the head for what I teach in my music business classes – with the possible exception of the violent audience LOL — some metal and punk bands seem to flaunt that one. The only one I would add is for songwriters — “Being afraid to perform your music in public” — there are, as hard as it may be to believe, talented songwriters in my classes that have not performed their music at open mic nights or singer-songwriter ‘in the round’ nights etc. And they think they are pretty good. Really? Livingston Taylor said that you ‘have to see how your songs “land” with an audience — or even your friends. I don’t care if you are doing hip hop or EDM or just plunking on a guitar – you have to get it in front of an audience — do a rap battle — Dj for a friend’s party — get to an open mic but for gosh sakes don’t tell me how great your songs/tracks/beats are – without showing me that you can – and have – performed them in public.


    Reply
    1. ashenk

      CD you the man! This ties into what you said, and it also applies to avoiding number 8 “Making Music That Sucks”…

      In the past my band would never test how the song landed which was our biggest mistake!!!! That was until I had this professor in my Artist Management class say, “Make sure you get something tangible from every gig”. Since learning that I have unfortunately had a good share of shows with disappointing draws. Fortunately, thanks to your teachings, at these shows we were able to try out new songs and get a feel for how they land with the crowd. Learning to do this has helped us A LOT before finalizing songs. We are able to say, “Hey that went alright, but the energy in the room dropped, lets go back and work on X Y and Z!”

      “Get something tangible out of every gig!” – CD

      Don’t write music that sucks!!!!


      Reply
  10. Grant Paul Hehr

    What about Bob Marley, Tupac, John Lennon, Sublime, 311, Willy Nelson, and just about every other aspiring artist out there? You need to jump headfirst to make an impact, that’s what Rock & Roll is about.

    (18) Don’t Read Shit Like This
    ~It’s uninspiring and written by a generation of cowards to say the least. Go breathe some air you robot


    Reply
    1. Tyler

      What about them? And jumping head first to make an impact in rock n roll? What does that even mean? And half of the artists you referenced aren’t even rock n roll (ie Tupac, Sublime, Willy Nelson). And 311 is one of your references? If you’re championing artists who smoked weed while making records you could have at least brought up Donovan, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, etc. to support whatever half baked argument you’re trying to make. But 311? C’mon dude. Seriously?

      I feel like this articler has sage advice. I’m assuming your dissatisfaction arises from maybe seeing yourself a bit too much in the bullet points. My guess is #1, #2, #13.? Is there a place we can check out your music? It’d be interesting to see where your coming from as an artist and where your descrepancies lie within this article. Post a link!

      Best of luck in your music career.


      Reply
      1. Grant Paul Hehr

        First off, rock and roll is an attitude/statement as well as a genre. Art can personify Rock N’ Roll regardless of it’s tonal or melodic properties. I can’t drink because of my art bred tinnitus and I’m a firm advocate of NORML so I don’t view one hit of a joint or a bad trip as being the end of the world, sorry buddy. I don’t see myself in your article at all, in fact I hate how it’s writing firmly tries to validate the false relativity it personifies from the first sentence. Where is your music, I don’t see you on the level of Iggy Azalea, The Orwells, or many other main stream artists (keep in mind these are just my personal references, I might not be on your level of knowing artist’s substance habits via keyboard). Overall this seems like a horrible knock at what makes Rock N’ Roll, you can’t digitize success, the best art I saw coffee make was a nasty shit. I’m not trying to champion anyone into a losing field. The industry is so firmly controlled by idiots that we will be lucky to discover any younger bands worth listening to for years. I guess that’s the effect, it’s still a load of bullshit though


        Reply
        1. Richard Russell

          I didn’t write the article, but I think you’re missing the authors point. It has nothing to do with identifying or dismissing your “concept” of what “rock n roll” is. It has to do with ways that a musician can hurt their music career. If you’re a struggling musician, you’re probably not doing one of these things. Rather than getting angry at the author for pointing out obvious faults and flaws that you recognize, maybe you should give some of this a shot. At least try it. I see that you have no recent live performance videos? Do your ever play shows in front of people? What does your EPK look like for submissions? Do you submit? Or do you just expect someone to roll around one day and recognize your “artistry?” (Ie bullet point 1 in this article).


          Reply
          1. Grant Paul Hehr

            In basic, my gigging guitar hit the fritz when I left Callifornia. I’ve been in the studio doing a thing called “Self-production”, and it takes a hell of a lot of time. There is no stage that scares me, and if you want to see me live, name the time and place and I’ll be there. If you actually looked at my youtube, you’d realize there is many recent live performance videos, just not out of studio. This is also because I do video production as well and I was working on a movie for the local scene. Sorry I don’t cater to your comment, but I’m busy as hell. Also I have had a thing called Tinnitus, which means ringing in ears, so though I’ve worked on and loved music for the most part, I kind of despise aspects of it at this point, like your comment.


            Reply
            1. titlab

              … Are you trolling? Your music is awful. And covers. Awful covers. 0.o


              Reply
    2. New Earthlings

      :-) Very good


      Reply
  11. Grant Paul Hehr

    And by the way I’m not championing anyone. I have The Wall on vinyl, I grew up with Sunshine Superman, and I was covering “Paint it black”, long before nonsense like this existed. The best help you can give an aspiring artist, is to tell them to get out now, find a better paying job. Here is my unpaid sacrifices to the music industry/band of thieves:

    Scarabeus
    http://thesketchtistics.bandcamp.com

    The Sketchtistics
    http://scarabeus.bandcamp.com/album/the-victor

    Music Videos
    http://www.youtube.com/user/Lanimilbus17


    Reply
  12. Slim dUd

    1+1=3


    Reply
  13. Shermster Dabonks

    i just ika the whip whap plow plow, makea dem ices go down weal smooth


    Reply
  14. G.I. jane

    War is Good, right?


    Reply
  15. Aven Johnson

    Great Read! Really inspires me want to do things differently! Loved the bit about pay to play


    Reply
  16. Jazzzzdude

    However, none of this applies to jazz.


    Reply
  17. Jazzzzdude

    However, none of this applies to jazz!


    Reply
    1. Grant Paul Hehr

      I couldn’t agree more


      Reply
  18. fred99

    Seems like 8 should be the first on the list. If ya can’t fix that one, the rest don’t matter.


    Reply
  19. Mike Repel

    Ok, I wrote the book so just to clarify a few things I wanted to chime in. Paul’s list pulled some of the get-your-head-out-of-your-ass points that I make in the book. He was also kind enough not to give all of the details away that I mentioned on each of these points (Thanks Paul)

    At any rate before this is all taken out of the entire context of the book overall, let me give you guys an overview of this thing and some insight on why I wrote it. (before anyone calls me on it or accuses me of being disingenuous; the following explanation is taken this right from my site)

    I wrote this book in an effort to give artists and musicians a chapter by chapter, comprehensive foundation of the building blocks that they will need to gain a competitive edge and get ahead of the curve in the independent marketplace.

    I felt that a book needed to be written that would provide artists with a realistic avenue of success because it seems that from the early stages of an artist’s career, they are completely isolated from a larger network and they don’t know how to go about integrating themselves into a national, regional, or sometimes even a local music network.

    Being a strong advocate of independent and underground music; I have done mentoring sessions with artists and bands and I have sat on panels at music conferences. And genre to genre, and region to region; I am seeing the same disparities among these aspiring musicians that is keeping them from moving forward or getting ahead in their career.

    As an independent musician myself, I have had to undergo the same development as all of you in this industry. On top of that; I was the person in the band who had to coordinate all of our bookings, visibility, merchandising and everything else that fell under the scope of a band manager. These skills developed into the foundation that I later used to start my own independent label, where I continue to see artists submit music who are lacking the basic skills that are required to even claim that they are working musicians or even anywhere near ready to obtain a contract.

    In this book I will address every developmental aspect that you will need to get a running start with your career.
    I have had the opportunity to view these disparities from the perspective of an artist, as a band manager, and from the perspective of a record label.

    And I wrote this book to share this information with you in an effort to raise the bar for you independent musicians who are serious enough about your own career to take a step back and address the foundation that you are actually standing on. This is broken down in a step by step, chapter by chapter framework that addresses multiple topics that are critical to your ability to sustain and grow your career.

    I debunk a lot of myths and pull the wool off of your eyes while walking you through the personal development that you need before you can make your career advance from one level to the next.

    This book will cover the DIY concepts that will teach you how to be self-reliant which is the core foundation and spirit of the independent music scene.

    I will rip apart your foundation in music and provide you with some concepts in music theory and vocal techniques in an effort to make sure that the actual songs you are composing and writing are being done to the best of your ability.

    I will walk you through the frustrating task of assembling a band and provide you with a clear perspective of what you should be looking for if you want to be successful.

    This book goes into detail of creating a brand and creating the recognition that goes along with it, including the marketing and advertising you will need to undergo to create the sustainable visibility that you need to become a noticed by a youth culture that has a dwindling attention span.

    Chapters on your support structure and creating an online presence will help ensure that you have a foundation to launch your activities off of.

    Merchandising and other revenue creating streams are discussed within this book that are critical to your existence as an artist.

    The recording process is covered along with copyright and publishing information in an effort to see you get the most out of your music and your career.

    Presskits and interviews are addressed in detail so you can make the best first impression as possible.

    Having the foundation necessary before approaching a label or a management company are discussed so you have an realistic idea of what to expect and also what will be expected of you.

    There is a chapter dedicated to worthless and unscrupulous promoters who cant get the job done right, are only concerned about taking your money, and really only serve as an obstacle between you and the stage.

    A whole other is written in great detail on how you can work your way around these promoters and book the shows yourself therefore ensuring that you and the other artists you perform with actually get paid.

    Performance riders and guarantees are discussed along with a whole chapter on DIY touring for the benefit of artists and bands who have not yet established a regional or national network to tap into.

    Problems associated with live sound are dissected from multiple angles in an effort to make sure that you sound the best during your performance regardless of where you are performing.

    The impact that concert violence is having on the music industry, its venues, and local musicians is discussed to obtain a clear understanding on the bigger picture at stake here.

    Understanding the psychology of your haters is addressed along with why this will have absolutely no bearing on your success.

    Several scenarios are presented to show the negative impact that a band members full blown drug addiction will have on your group.

    The “mixtape” is discussed along with the impact that giving away free music is having on the industry as a whole.

    A full list of revenue generating sources available to musicians is discussed along with a look into what the future of this industry holds for all of us.

    This material is presented from my perspective and is delivered to you in a no B.S. manner and is concluded with a chapter containing my personal thoughts for all of you who want to do this for a living.

    You can read a free preview the first few chapters of the guide on Amazon here http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00JBNP656


    Reply
    1. Chuck Hughes

      I just bought the Kindle edition. I’m not gonna worry about nitpicking every last point.


      Reply
  20. Mike Rebel

    OK, everybody,
    I’ve been watching you guys pick apart Paul’s list and figure that I’d chime in since I wrote the book that he based the list on.

    Although your positive responses were probably meant for Paul at this point, I thank you for feedback about these topics.

    Obviously, this list could never be the end-all-be-all list of averting disaster for ones career, but Paul did an excellent job of extracting some of the more serious and pull-your-head-out-of-your-ass points out of my book and he was kind enough not to dig into too much detail and give the whole book away. (Thanks Paul)

    In an effort to shed some light on exactly what the context of this book includes, because it is much more than a list of how emerging artists are fucking up; I’m going to repost the same explanation that I placed on my own site about why I put The Music Industry Self Help Guide together in the first place.
    So now that everyone is clear that I’m not trying to be disingenuous, and in an effort to let people know that I’m not some holier-than-thou douchebag, but rather a person who has run the gauntlet and came out the other side with some valid tips and advice, here it goes.

    I wrote this book in an effort to give artists and musicians a chapter by chapter, comprehensive foundation of the building blocks that they will need to gain a competitive edge and get ahead of the curve in the independent marketplace.

    I felt that a book needed to be written that would provide artists with a realistic avenue of success because it seems that from the early stages of an artist’s career, they are completely isolated from a larger network and they don’t know how to go about integrating themselves into a national, regional, or sometimes even a local music network.

    Being a strong advocate of independent and underground music; I have done mentoring sessions with artists and bands and I have sat on panels at music conferences. And genre to genre, and region to region; I am seeing the same disparities among these aspiring musicians that is keeping them from moving forward or getting ahead in their career.

    As an independent musician myself, I have had to undergo the same development as all of you in this industry. On top of that; I was the person in the band who had to coordinate all of our bookings, visibility, merchandising and everything else that fell under the scope of a band manager. These skills developed into the foundation that I later used to start my own independent label, where I continue to see artists submit music who are lacking the basic skills that are required to even claim that they are working musicians or even anywhere near ready to obtain a contract.

    In this book I will address every developmental aspect that you will need to get a running start with your career.
    I have had the opportunity to view these disparities from the perspective of an artist, as a band manager, and from the perspective of a record label.

    And I wrote this book to share this information with you in an effort to raise the bar for you independent musicians who are serious enough about your own career to take a step back and address the foundation that you are actually standing on. This is broken down in a step by step, chapter by chapter framework that addresses multiple topics that are critical to your ability to sustain and grow your career.

    I debunk a lot of myths and pull the wool off of your eyes while walking you through the personal development that you need before you can make your career advance from one level to the next.

    This book will cover the DIY concepts that will teach you how to be self-reliant which is the core foundation and spirit of the independent music scene.

    I will rip apart your foundation in music and provide you with some concepts in music theory and vocal techniques in an effort to make sure that the actual songs you are composing and writing are being done to the best of your ability.

    I will walk you through the frustrating task of assembling a band and provide you with a clear perspective of what you should be looking for if you want to be successful.

    This book goes into detail of creating a brand and creating the recognition that goes along with it, including the marketing and advertising you will need to undergo to create the sustainable visibility that you need to become a noticed by a youth culture that has a dwindling attention span.

    Chapters on your support structure and creating an online presence will help ensure that you have a foundation to launch your activities off of.

    Merchandising and other revenue creating streams are discussed within this book that are critical to your existence as an artist.

    The recording process is covered along with copyright and publishing information in an effort to see you get the most out of your music and your career.

    Presskits and interviews are addressed in detail so you can make the best first impression as possible.

    Having the foundation necessary before approaching a label or a management company are discussed so you have an realistic idea of what to expect and also what will be expected of you.

    There is a chapter dedicated to worthless and unscrupulous promoters who cant get the job done right, are only concerned about taking your money, and really only serve as an obstacle between you and the stage.

    A whole other is written in great detail on how you can work your way around these promoters and book the shows yourself therefore ensuring that you and the other artists you perform with actually get paid.

    Performance riders and guarantees are discussed along with a whole chapter on DIY touring for the benefit of artists and bands who have not yet established a regional or national network to tap into.

    Problems associated with live sound are dissected from multiple angles in an effort to make sure that you sound the best during your performance regardless of where you are performing.

    The impact that concert violence is having on the music industry, its venues, and local musicians is discussed to obtain a clear understanding on the bigger picture at stake here.

    Understanding the psychology of your haters is addressed along with why this will have absolutely no bearing on your success.

    Several scenarios are presented to show the negative impact that a band members full blown drug addiction will have on your group.

    The “mixtape” is discussed along with the impact that giving away free music is having on the industry as a whole.

    A full list of revenue generating sources available to musicians is discussed along with a look into what the future of this industry holds for all of us.

    This material is presented from my perspective and is delivered to you in a no B.S. manner and is concluded with a chapter containing my personal thoughts for all of you who want to do this for a living.

    You can read a free preview the first few chapters of the guide on Amazon here;

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00JBNP656


    Reply
    1. blahblahblah

      Sorry, but I think that a band can make whatever meager living a band can make these days despite doing pretty much anything on this list. It’s always been largely a matter of who you know and dumb luck. I think it’s kind of silly to try to create a guide for what a band should or shouldn’t do. No, don’t use another band’s name or think you definitely can retire on a music career, dummies.


      Reply
  21. Music manager

    Playing music for a living is GREAT, if you are Taylor Swift and your dad is a hedge fund manager,worth $500,000,000 and willing to invest some of those millions on YOU!

    For everyone else……You have to balance your LOVE of music,
    with your LOVE of food.
    You need to eat, gas money etc….

    This is NOT the 80’s and 90’s.
    No matter how GREAT your song’s are, they need to be played on the radio, before anyone will take it seriously.

    Once you get a song in the top 20 on billboard,
    you can earn the kinda money that will afford you a house in the Hollywood Hills, with a Ferrai in the garage.

    What you have done is build your BRAND.
    Now…..your manager, attorney and the label, have enough leverage to sell you to corporate America.

    Music is free .

    But….you can’t download a concert seat, a Pepsi or a t-shirt.

    If you don’t wanna be in the t-shirt and Pepsi business, you are in the wrong business.


    Reply
    1. Mark "Wrong Note"

      Can’t play because you don’t have a band? I work a full time job and play at least 2-3 times a week most weeks. It’s just me and my guitar.


      Reply
    2. Chuck Hughes

      There are soloists in many genres who play live with no band.


      Reply
    3. justsaying

      Spam


      Reply
  22. hunkE

    Wait a second.. you were listening to Wiz Khalifa when you wrote #2???


    Reply
  23. Anonymous

    You forgot, Treating your career as a game and not a Business. Not having any business skills, no matter how good a musician you are will kill your career. It will either enable you to get ripped off by others easily, or lead you no where.

    Tom McLeod
    Australian Music and Entertainment Scene. (AMES)


    Reply
  24. Karen

    I book bands. These are GREAT bit sof advice. If you are a musician or performer of any kinds, MEMORIZE THIS SHIT! I would also add these:
    1. (either under #1 or as it’s own subcategory) BEING NICE / POLITE to EVERYONE. Seriously. It matters. As a person who DOES book bands for a local municipality and produces events/concerts open to the public, this matters more than I can say. In addition to the good work ethic (OMG PLEASE sign and return your contract on time!!!!), being nice to all involved makes everyone’s lives easier. If you give me, the coordinator, attitude, or I catch performers giving attitude to any of my staff/volunteers – right down to the guy who picks up the trash – or make too many demands (sorry, but no I will not pick out all the green M&Ms for you) guess what? You are now in “asshole” territory and who the hell wants to work with an asshole? I also am an artist myself so I understand both sides. I don’t think that means you should be a doormat, all I’m saying is don’t be a dick. Really. Cause, if you are, I’m NEVER HIRING YOU AGAIN EVER. Don’t be a pain in the ass.

    2. DO NOT try to “Sell me”, HARASS or STALK me on the phone. We sift thru thousands of applications. I don’t have time for thousands of phone chats. This is only a small part of my job and you are now just annoying me. Your press kit / application is your audtion. Your talent and presentation should speak for itself. If you feel the need to try to “Sell” to me over the phone, you must not be that good and/or desperate and/or not professional enough to understand that you cannot convince to me to hire a performer I do not need or that is not in my budget. You need to undrstand that many venues/organizations/etc. have budgets they are working with and/or other demands/bosses and they are gonig to select the band that’s right for them. You may be awesome but you just dont’ fit what they need. As an event planner, I am also creating a type of art – a living/moving thing that might have a theme and I’m sorry, but your metal band doesn’t fit with my family friendly Disney Themed event so stop trying to push it. Don’t try to convince me that your Appalachian Blue Grass band would play well at my music festival when I know damn well my demographic audience wants to hear Pop and Hip Hop music. I know what the fuck I’m doing so quit messing with my groove. It’s like someone trying to dictate to a painter what colors to use in his original painting. NO. Stop telling me I should use red, when my theme is blue. Now kindly fuck off and if I do an event that uses red, I might call you but only if you stop harrassing me. A yearly reminder email to update me on new things happenig with your band or work with a link to your website is all I need. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” is true. Seriously. It’s not because we are jerks, it’s because we don’t have time. AND I’m not going to call you to turn you down. I will only call you to hire you. If I called everyone who applied / sent us kits to tell them “No, sorry you were not selected for our summer concerts this year”, I would be on the phone for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for several weeks. It”s just not realistic. It’s just like with audtioning for a play or movie. You audtion and walk away, If they pick you, you get called. If they don’t, say la vie. Get over it and move on.

    3. Local artists trying to get booked with local municipalities: Every town has a Recreation and Parks department or town council or local government, schools, non-profits, community associations, etc. These are the people that book bands for 4th of July events, summer concerts in parks, neighborhood picnics, fundraisers, community family events, school assemblies, etc. Newsflash: They can’t afford to pay much. Be aware of this. It’s not because they don’t value you, they LITERALLY HAVE NO MONEY. As an artist myself, I understand you deserve to be paid. I fight for it. But the reality is we can’t afford to pay the same prices as private/professional entertainment venues, corporations, private wealthy people’s weddings, and nightclubs. You should have a “discounted” price ready to offer for us and you need to be able to tell me up front. I dont’ have time for games, negotations, etc. I’m working with a limited budget that I have ZERO control over and if you dont’ fall into my budget, you aren’t on my consideration list. I recommend to folks that they balance their gigs – take the low paying gigs with these groups during the week / or weekend daytime and supplement with the higher paying gigs (corp / weddings /etc) at night. Local municipalities that do summer concert series are great exposure because the concerts are usually free to the public (hence the low budget…we aren’t selling tickets, making money of the event) so be kind and generous with your fees. I’m not sayinhg you should play for free or screw yourself but be reasonable. I do one festival that sells tickets where we can pay $1500 or more for an average size band, but the free concerts for the public I can only pay $500-$900 on average.

    4. Family friendly – Understand this and what it means and take it seriously. If you are booked for an outdoor festival or summer concerts in parks – those are for all ages. Be aware and understand that means you may have to censor yourselves. Don’t sing curse words or songs about drugs when there are people with kids around. If you do, you will get black-balled. Save the f bombs and cocaine references for the nightclubs.


    Reply
    1. Karen

      I would also remind you that I have the power to recommend you to others and/or trash talk you to others. Remember this. Don’t underestimate my local yokel status – I have connections way up the ladder that you dont’ know about. Be good, be nice, be ethical.


      Reply
      1. Mark Wrong+Note

        Karen,

        I like your point on setting rates, but most venues I deal with don’t tell me upfront what they can pay. They ask, “What do you usually charge?” At that point, I kind of figure it’s a negotiation so I give them my “I’d like…” but always add, “but I am very flexible.”


        Reply
        1. Karen

          Mark – good point. Yes, some venues like bars and restaurants operate that way. You are correct and throwing out a fee but saying it’s negotiable is a good idea and very much appreciated. However, if you are trying to get booked with a local government agency / community association / PTA / library, etc, try asking them upfront what they can pay. Most of those groups are working with a set budget that is not really very negotiable (Their boss has basically laid it out – you have $x amount for decorations, $x amount for food, and $x amount for the music, and no more). Unfortunately that often means a low ridiculous figure because the boss is a government administrator that doesn’t know jack-sh*t about live music and what the current trends are but that’s the truth of the situtaion. However, the event planner might have some leeway and they might be able to save some $ on decorations and slide that $ towards the band instead. For me, when I plan a concert series, I might be able to pay group A more $ if I book a solo act for less the week before, ect., but mostly the budget it set so I’ve been very upfront and honest with bands and tell them I have a cap and if they can accept the fee, they have the gig, if not thanks for playing. Also, some of the folks worknig for those agencies aren’t really qualified to select bands, to be honest, so sometimes you are dealing with people who seriously don’t understand the arts and don’t truly appreciate all that goes into being a professional musician/actor/performer/artist and trying to argue for more $value is talking to a wall. Often those folks don’t know jack about quality and the bottom line is the money. Are you cheap? Local? Can you be there on time? Great, you are hired. Other times they hire someone like me who actually has a background in the arts and has respect for both the artists and the audience and gives a flying f*ck about quality – when that happens, it’s an interior battle because I know what’s good, what isn’t, and want to do right by everyone but the powers above me are clueless and I’m just the cog in the wheel. All the boss cares about is how much money did we save/make and were the customers happy. Everything else is just “mwah mwah mwah” in his/her ear. So it’s good for an artist/musician to understand the red tape behind it and know that sometimes, you are simply dealing with people who just don’t get it an never will. For example, I work near Wash DC – a metro area/megalopolis stretching from PA to MD to DE to VA that is full and packed with professional musicians. The competition is pretty fierce so we have the luxury of being choosey – hence greedy divas don’t get booked by me and I have been lucky to get some great talent. However, my superiors are cluesless about the current $Market for such talent and expect me to pay no more than $500 a pop for a quality band. I have to keep telling them that it’s not reasonable and how the going rate for top bands in this area is $1500 – $3500 depending on size, distance traveling, and day of the week (weekends being prime booking time, while many bands charge us less on a week day/evening). They hate hearing that and pressure me to negotiate down below $1,000.00. We used to get general funding for some of these community events (tax dollars) but that all changed after the 2008 economy crash. So now, if we don’t get sponsors or make money some other way, we can’t pay for live performers. It sucks but that’s the what it is. So that’s what is happening on the other side. Most of the time the person you are dealing with directly has zero authority or say in your fee. I have all kinds of experience and knowledge and can make some creative decisions on my events but I have zero authority in funding.


          Reply
          1. Grant Paul+Hehr

            I would never want you as a booking manager period. Talk is cheap and so are some people. I don’t care who your friends with, but this is just the internet, and a discussion. It sounds like you are trying to advertise yourself rather then an opinion or art.


            Reply
            1. Karen

              Advertise myself???? You are crazy. If I was advertising myself I would have put my real full name and who I work for. I didn’t and I won’t. I’m just a local government employee who books entertainers for community events for that municipality and I was being HONEST about what goes on behind the scenes so that performers understand the situation and help them in dealing with those entities. But I also have friends who are professional performers so I’m not some jerk looking to take advantage of artists. I’m not a concert promoter who makes a profit off sales or agent who makes money off bookings. Since I’m just a local government employee, I make a set salary as a full time employee so I don’t make more or less money based on entertainers so I don’t get where you are coming from with this “sell yourself” BS. One small part of my job is to plan some community events where some of them require that I book entertainers as part of the event.

              Talk is cheap? What are you even talking about? What is “Cheap” about what I said?
              There is a difference between the way private venues operate vs government/community groups do. I’m just sharing the truth from that perspective. Most of the people who book bands for the local government run events (Recreation and Parks, Libraries, Schools, etc.) are only doing that as a small part of their job. There are no full time “booking managers” in those departments/organizations. It’s not my job title…it’s a job duty/assignment within a much larger job. Booking bands is actually a much smaller part of my job. I also coordinate a bunch of other stuff that is unrelated. I’m just giving musicians that insight – so they know that dealing with a local municipality is very different and your contact person probably has a mountain of other duties and responsibilities on them and if you are being a jerk or not getting paper work in on time, etc., you are making their job harder. Would you hire someone that made your job harder? No you wouldn’t (unless you are stupid). Why is that so hard to understand?

              Yes this is just an internet discussion – what is your point? Internet discussions are awesome for sharing information and advice. Why is that a problem for you? I love it when folks share info online – I’ve learned a lot that way.

              I don’t get where your negativity is coming from.

              And for the record, I have given this advice to friends and acquaintances in the past and they were grateful. They also reported back how much it improved their situations – and how they got repeat business from folks who specifically complimented them on their professionalism, and because they were easy to work with.

              You comments are weirdly defensive. What is wrong with having high expectations and demanding quality and ethical behavior from people?
              Your comment is really out of left field.


              Reply
              1. Grant Paul+Hehr

                I’m just clarifying my beliefs. Censoring reality never made anybody’s life better, people seem to need more of it nowadays. I don’t believe in glorifying blatantly violent/strange art, but I do believe that everything has it’s place in one way or another. You probably wouldn’t want to book my music anyways, that’s the point I’m trying to make


                Reply
            2. Mike P

              Grant, Really? Actually I would hire her in a heartbeat. She sounds like she has experience, knows her stuff, and takes no shit. People like that get shit done and put on quality events.
              Dude, your post made no sense. Do you have any experience as an event or music festival planner? Have you ever run our own business? Ever worked for a local city government agency? Ever been on the other side or are you just wannabe musician with a big ego cuz that’s what you sound like. You have no respect for the work entailed in putting on festivals and booking entertainment for venues. I would hire her way before I’d ever hire you.

              On another topic – there’s an article on this site talking about being good to the sound guy. AMEN. That shit is on point and i would add that to the list of things all musicians should learn to do. Always show respect to the sound engineer. ALWAYS.

              Mike out


              Reply
              1. Grant Paul Hehr

                Actually yes I own my own production studio called On Fire Production & Promotion studio. Currently it’s being used to produce my solo project. I actually haven’t ever hired a booking agent, and I’m not planning on it, I’m just clarifying there is no proven formula to success, you could make a million posts advocating a fake viewpoint but that’s your own prerogative. I don’t see you or “Karen” playing/scheduling Bonnaroo, you are on a way high internet horse, and if you’re famous tomorrow I’m wrong. Gratification comes from work, not talk. Trash-talk means nothing, people should clarify themselves


                Reply
    2. Daniel

      Hey Karen,

      I would LOVE to have you drop some knowledge in an article (you basically just wrote one) I would host on this page: http://www.onlythebeat.com/dj-gig-resource-guide/

      If you’re interested, just hit me up through the contact form!


      Reply
      1. Karen

        Daniel – done. Responded on your website.


        Reply
      2. Karen

        Hey…I filled out your form but not sure it went thru. Please email me at kbrad1969@yahoo.com and put “Music-Band info article” in the subject heading. Thanks.


        Reply
    3. Robyn

      While I see your point on much of what you have written Karen, censoring of any kind of ‘art’ should never have to occur and no matter how else you may otherwise perceive it, clearly demonstrates a form of repression. Furthermore, in doing so inevitably implies musicians or whomever must adapt to only a small facet of family lifestyles, beliefs, moral codes, etc. This simply isn’t a just way of electing and negotiating a roster of artists.
      It is duly-noted that communities oftentimes link profanity and aggressive lyrics with violence, unreliability, and a lack of consideration for others, but the same applies on the contrary (i.e. families moving into inner city neighborhoods and complaining about the rowdiness or noise in a long-time local venue and residence for many non-biased artists, hence, leading to the potential closure or limiting of acts in accordance with what they as neighbors deem appropriate. Others could tell them move to the suburbs and live like the Brady Bunch, in the case being equally as repressive towards inviting diversity into inner-city areas)
      The freedom artists once had in abundance to create and express is definitely endangered today and a large cause of this is directly related to numerous misconceptions outlined in these 17 ‘rules’ or guidelines. I personally believe the author’s, as well as your posting have been written with the intention of attempting to provide a solid and practical foundation of some common protocol and etiquette for less-experienced musical artists to take into account when booking shows and building a name for themselves. However, there are multiple biases and what appear to be ‘subliminal ideologies’ floating amongst these points. For one, it would be a disaster if every artist focused on ‘branding’ themselves and or measuring their success based on financial figures or fan numbers. Based on the interest sparked from this posted discussion, I would assume that any and every artist on here would love to experience financially and fan-rewarding recognition for whatever they love doing in relation to music. However, mere confusion seems to be draining a large amount of energy from a lot of them after taking a look at a large number of the posts attacking one another on previous posts over whose argument is more or less validated based on website/music, views, units sold, or whoever demonstrates to possess the grandest fan base, etc.
      People should be able to uphold their rights to enjoy music for the feelings music gives them, regardless of whether or not they fall on a downward spiral via substances (or in some cases blow up in success) or choose to play to their appropriate comfort zone, may it be in front of their God in a church or religious institution, in a street, a club or arena. Entering into monetary negotiations implies learning to communicate effectively and be kind and respectful towards others at times, that;s it. If some musical artists fail to understand this segment of working among a structured society, that is a problem they’ll confront with or without one-sided suggestions and hopefully they learn that respect and empathy are paramount in developing and sustaining good relationships with others, not just businesses, but people in general. Booking agents and managers can be equally ego-driven and circumstances appear to exist that fit every scenario. The point is, peoples’ purposes are different and shame on anyone who would believe that every artist must be adaptable to traditional business models currently dominating the several areas of the music industry. It demonstrates a very narrow foresight into what is going on around us all everyday and furthermore, in every geographical place. Industries shouldn’t be controlled by only one ideology or methodology. Naturally, it happens, but perhaps a more important issue to tackle would be these limitations as opposed to a prolonging a decades old debate over artist self-help and rules of thumb.


      Reply
      1. Karen

        Robyn – I’m not gong to argue with your point of view – you have some valid concerns, however that is not the focus of the article, the book , or my posts. You seem to have gone off topic. I’m simply sharing the REALITY of the current situation for a particilar microcosm (local level musicians trying to get gigs in their local towns/cities/counties). I’m not saying it’s right – I’m stating what IS. I’m giving them behind the scenes insight to on the logistics of how and why these organizations do what they do in regards to live peformers. Knowing what you are dealing with can help you make decisions – you, as an artist, can decide whether you want to persue those venues or not. But if you do, you are obligated to follow their rules. Don’t like it? Don’t work for them. If I don’t like the rules of my job I can quit. Otherwise, I need to respect the rules in order to keep my job. Same goes for temporary jobs like music gigs. You are still peforming a job and the person who booked you is your boss. You need to respect that relationship.
        As far as censorship – I’m personally against it but I recognize the occasional need for it and it’s something that is way above my head that I have to honor and respect as a professional in a working environment.
        I work for a suburban municipality and it’s a policy I have to follow: In public parks, no peformance can include cursing or references to illegal substance or violence. Also, alcohol is prohibitied in all public parks per local laws.
        This goes back to knowing yourself as artist, knowing who your audience is, knowing the demographics, etc. I’m a fan of Amanda Palmer but guess what – I would never hire her for one of my events because she doesn’t fit the demographic and would get booed off the stage, then my bosses bosses bosses and the whole community would fire me and hang me out to dry. But also…Amanda Palmer would probably not WANT to perform at one of my events because she knows that’s not her demographic. My audience is very ethnically and religiously diverse but it’s still mostly middle class families – My audience is the a combo of the Brady Bunch and the Huxtables so that’s who I’m booking for.The community has every right to have standards and demand that artists respect them. If you are an artist who performs song with curse words, drugs, and violence, then you have that right but you also have to accept the consequences – that means your limited to where you can perform and who your audience is.
        Look – I love some naughty stuff, but I dont’ want my kids hearing it. It’s not age appropriate or appropriate for a public park on a Wednesday. You just need to accept that.
        Take me to a club and I’ll get down with some Darling Nikki by Prince but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let you play that for my 12 year old daughter – hell no.
        It’s about being reasonable and adaptable.
        I have friends who are performance artists as well as musicians and some of them do some seriously kinky stuff. I supporit it. But even they know that there is a time and place for things and they understand their demographic, etc. They would never think of doing their stuff in a suburban park. They do their stuff in nightclubs for adults only in the city or avant garde arts festivals or at Burning Man.
        I love doing art for art sake and I make my choices appropriately as well. I have done a lot of theater. Some of of it is not appropriate for young eyes/ears, so those shows are done for adult aduiences only in locations that are friendly to that type of art. That’s the reality of the world and I don’t have a problem with that.
        Robyn, you can’t force the brady bunch to fall in love with Marilyn Manson or vice versa. It doesn’t work. And both have the right to be who they are and like what they like. No judgement, but you can’t push a square peg into a round hole – it’s futile.


        Reply
        1. Bob

          Robyn, your response to Karen is quite inappropriate and off-topic. WTH are you even talking about?
          I agree with many of your sentiments but they aren’t really realistic or related to the original topic.
          The list provides advice to musicians who wish to make a living making music and refers to business practices that are common, tried, and true. They may not always apply or apply to all, but they are solid bits of knowledge and proven to hold water. Karen then elaborated by sharing info from her own personal experience working in a specific subcategory or demographic and geographic area. You don’t work where she works. She has to follow her employers’ policies or she gets fired. How do you not get that?

          As an event planner myself, and venue owner (and musician), I can attest to everything she said as well as the original list (and the book it was referring to is really good…I recommend it). I have every right to determine who plays at my venue/event and who doesn’t, and what content I will allow. I have a right to have standards, and if someone doesn’t meet them, I have the right to not hire them. It’s my money and my business. I’m going to make decisions that are right for me and my business in regards to everything it entails from the part time kid selling tickets to the bouncers to the musicians I hire. As a Musician and business owner I understand both sides of the business so that makes me better at both. Nobody worth their salt is going to hire a musician who doesn’t have their shit together and I sure as hell have zero patience for any of my employees (artists or not) being late or missing deadlines, or being jerks.

          We all have to pay our dues, earn our own way and earn respect. It doesn’t get handed to you on a silver platter.

          Repression? Ok… If I tell you that you can’t sing about raping people and dropping f bombs at my venue, that’s repressing you? Fine… then you don’t get my money and don’t play at my venue. Am I stopping you from doing it somewhere else? No…I don’t give a fuck what you do elsewhere. That’s not repression.

          Your delusional dreamland sounds nice but it ain’t the real world.


          Reply
        2. Amanda

          “Robyn, you can’t force the brady bunch to fall in love with Marilyn Manson or vice versa. It doesn’t work. And both have the right to be who they are and like what they like.” LMAO … so true.Amen to that.
          Nothing sucks more than going to a themed event where they book the wrong type of band or DJ that doesn’t fit with the event. Totally kills the vibe.
          Robyn would you actually support the idea of booking a pornographic and violent performer at an event for kindergarten kids? And speaking of the Brady Bunch, would you book them to play at a Goth or biker music festival? Sheesh I hope not. You would make a very bad event planner.


          Reply
      2. Karen

        As far as repression – that’s BS. It’s not repression for me to request that you not sing songs with cursing, sex, drugs, violence, in front of my kids or the families of my community at public park during the day. That is called respect. It would be repression if I tried to forbid you from creating the song in the first place or stop you from recording it or peforming it in an all adult or other venue.
        Your view is also unrealistic. I dare you to find a city mayor, county executive, school board, or community association that would be ok with booking a band for a community event that featured and/or glorified cursing/sex/violence/drugs. Never gonna happen but I wish you luck with that.


        Reply
    4. kCAne MarkCO

      Im copying what you have written i think it will help others. thankx for writing it. kcanemarkco.com


      Reply
    5. Kyle

      Someone has a God Complex


      Reply
    6. blahblahblah

      Sorry Karen, but you sound bitter and angry and like you need to find another line of work. How about trying your hand at making a living making music? Maybe that you haven’t been able to to is the reason you have such contempt for aspiring musicians. They remind you of yourself.


      Reply
  25. Karen

    Adding: Too many bands have shitty singers. Remember that the voice is also an instrument – make sure it works and you are all on key. Your lead singer must kick ass or I won’t hire you. I don’t care if your lead guitarist sounds like Hendrix. If the lead singer hurts my ears, you are done. Singers – just because you can play guitar doesn’t mean can sing. Be honest with yourself. You might be good back up but a lead singer needs to be able TO SING. Too many band shave crappy lead singers. Also, if you are all singing, be in tune and if you are harmonziing, you better sound like a choir on key or again, you are ruining it. I don’t care how good the musicianship is, if the singing sucks, you are done for. It’s a very common problem so I suggest all band really work on that.


    Reply
    1. Amanda

      True!!! What is up with that? I totally agree. Bad lead singers KILL bands. I’ve heard many bands that sound good up until they start singing…then I want to stick a fork in my ears. Folks need to take voices lessons or something. Not everybody can sing. Just because you can play an instrument and/or write some kick ass songs, doesn’t mean you can sing. Singing is a talent and a skill – you need both or don’t sing.
      That is a definite band killer ….or the bands that play so loud you can’t even hear the singer. Really? What’s the point of that? I don’t care if you are acoustic or electric or doing fancy digital effects, I want to hear all of it – including the singer(s) so watch the mic levels on the vocals.


      Reply
  26. brookeslist

    Not putting any contact phone number or email address on your MySpace, Soundcloud or artist website in case a licensing deal presents itself. What good is hearing your music, if music sups can’t get in touch with you?


    Reply
  27. Karen

    I thought of another one. Very annoying. Once you sign a contract for a gig (no matter how big or small) don’t send or present me with a rider after the fact. That’s BS. Your contract is done and signed. I will not honor a rider. Also, most local yokel municipalities, etc., can’t supply the demands of most riders anyway, so keep that separate and to yourself until you get booked with a large or national venue. Small local businesses and government entities can’t supply you with a bunch of fringe benefits. Especially government – they have rules and usually they cannot do anything other than provide you with the basics at the gig: Water, bathroom, etc. and then pay you via check a month later. It is rare for any gov or non-profit or school to pay cash on site. They just can’t do it, so don’t ask. You need accept that there is a chain of command, process, beurocracy in place that most likely goes way above the pay grade of the person booking you.

    Also, all that stuff I wrote above about not harassing us on the phone – keep in mind that I’m also helping you with this because if you do that, you are simply wasting your own time as well as mine. Just because I don’t book you, doesn’t necessarily mean you suck….. it just might mean you to don’t fit my paricular event/neeed and no amount of begging is going to do it. Speaking of begging – OMG DO NOT DO THAT. I have had way to many artists BEG ME over the phone. That’s an automatic NO.

    Booking agencies – same goes for you. Stop sending me info on bands I can’t afford. Know who your customers are – local Rec & Parks agencies and Community Associations can’t afford high price bands so you are wasting your time trying get us to book them.


    Reply
  28. Karen

    I keep thinking of more stuff…lol…

    PLEASE have an updated, professional, color photo of your band ready to hand over as a high resolution jpeg/gif.
    This means a group shot, with everyone dressed appropriately, hair/makeup, etc. NOT a cut and paste job or collage. Dressed appropriately means either dressed up if you are that kind of band (Black tie /wedding/etc,) OR if you are a down and dirty rock and roll band , yes, I get that you prefer to wear jeans and chains, etc, but you should still look your best – clean and awake and SOBER. Goth? Metal? Ok…. you like to dress like a combo of Kiss and Marilyn Manson? That’s fine…I still need a professional photo of you looking all badass in your black leather in full makeup. I do not want a snapshot of your band playing at your niece’s wedding that your mom took from the back of the room. I need a nice, tight, clear, professional group shot so I can put it on our website or sign or flier or whatever marketing materials I might be creating for my event. I need YOU to help ME promote YOU.
    HAVE YOUR BAND PHOTO READY IN DIGITAL FORMAT ON REQUEST!!!! When asked for, you should be able to email that to the person that booked you ASAP.


    Reply
  29. Karen

    And some more for fun….

    Once upon a time, I got a “press kit” (if you could call it that) in the mail from a performer that was all folded up like he had his 5th grade child do his mailing. I had to unfold it like it was some effing orgami puzzle. That pissed me off. But I opened it anyway out of curiosity. Once I opened it, it was several pages of what looked like something that had been typed on a typewriter from 1952 with a blurry/faded photo-copied photo of the band embedded into his/their bio information.

    After showing it to my boss and getting a good laugh – it ended up in the trash.

    Don’t make me have to solve a puzzle, run an obstacle course, or go on a scavenger hunt to get your information, sample your music, etc. I DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME AND YOU WILL ONLY MAKE ME MAD.


    Reply
    1. David Cavan Fraser

      Your posts are amazing! Love your perspective :)


      Reply
      1. Karen

        Thank You David. :-) Just hoping folks learn something.


        Reply
    2. David X

      hahahaha…..someone seriously sent you a press kit like that? That is hilarious. I can understand why you would find that frustrating.
      Note to self = no origami press kits.

      :-)


      Reply
    3. noel

      wow Karen, i would hate to book a gig with you, you seem like you have a bad temper. most people react negatively to someone with a bad temper… btw, what’s a rider?


      Reply
  30. Mark WrongNote

    How about, “Make sure your volume fits the venue.”

    If you are playing at a bar or restaurant that doesn’t have a stage, lights, and a bilboard out front with your name on it, the bar owner probably hired you as background music. Sure, your fans come out to see you, but a lot of the patrons come to the bar because they want to sit around and talk with thier friends. Blasting them away will drive them right out of the room and probably tick off the bar manager when he sees money walking out the door.


    Reply
    1. Karen

      Mark – you are correct. Tha’ts good one. Sometimes the music/band is the focus, sometimes it isn’t. You hit the nail on the head with that one. :-)


      Reply
    2. Karen

      Mark – Very good point and right on the money. Sometimes the music is the focus of the event and sometimes it isn’t. Yes, sometimes you are meant to be background. This matters. Yes, volume can be an issue for this but also in other ways, such as dancing – is your band their to get the crowd dancing? Or maybe you have the type of band that does more than just perforn – do you include movement / dancing/ costumes/ props/ pyro technics in your performance? You need to dicuss that with the person booking you and make sure the venue can handle whatever it is you are going to do in addition to playing music. Sometimes the person who booked you has not thought of any of this either (maybe he’s the owners reject nephew working there for the summer and is an idiot, you have no idea), so you need to do your homework about the environment you will be working in. Are you going to be shoved in a corner and packed in like sardines? Or do you have a full stage to move around on? What is the capacity of the venue and what are the fire codes? If the gig is outside what is the inclement weather policy? Are they providing their own sound tech/equipment or are you responsible for it? If the people booking you have not provided this info, ASK!!!!! (and if they have not offered it up yet, it means they may not have thought it through themselves and you are working for inexperienced event planners /agents/etc…so take care of yourself and do the homework for your own protection).


      Reply
  31. Peter

    Whether you pay to play, or not, is a cost/benefit analysis.

    If the gig genuinely does have promotional/reputation value, then that can be translated to an approximate marketing value. That value may be higher than the fee you would have charged, therefore you should do it.

    It depends on the opportunity. I wouldn’t write them all off.


    Reply
  32. BS

    This thread is hilarious and very truthful! I sang in a rock band (charted 4 times) for 13 years and I’ve seen all of these things happen over and over again. Heck, we were guilty of several of these at different points in our career. Its true, a bad lead singer equals game over. People/crowds/fans may not know exactly why they like a band, but a lead singer who lacks chops and authenticity has caused the downfall of many promising acts. I believe a good drummer is 2nd on the list of “must haves” for a live band. Before the singer and the drummer are the songs, which must be excellent or there really is no chance of “making it”. The small venue = less volume is also a good point… no point clearing out a small venue with a few people because you are too proud to turn down.


    Reply
  33. Peter

    A lot of bands fail to treat it like a business.

    Playing in your room is not a business. Playing with a bunch of mates isn’t a business. However, once you’re charging people money, you’re a business.

    The venue owner is running a business, too. The band is a cost. For the band to make sense from a business perspective for the venue owner, they must generate more income than they cost. It’s pretty much irrelevant what scales the guitar player can play, the question is “do they pull in more paying punters than would otherwise be the case”? If they don’t, their professional career will be short.

    At club level, the band that sells the most beer, and/or the most entry tickets, for the venue owner is the “good” band. So, in order to be a good band that can sustain it’s own existence, you need to be selling something people want.

    In short, it’s not about you – it’s about them :) Figure out if what you’re doing is really what people want, or you’re just indulging your own musical fantasies at everyone else’s expense.


    Reply
  34. Peter

    1. Start band. Stardom awaits!
    2. Stop band. Ditch members because they aren’t working out/turning up. Replace said members. Restart band.
    3. Make sure that what you’re offering is unique, remarkable and has a clearly identifiable target audience. If not, get a desk job. There’s too much competition, so no one gets away with being a carbon copy and unremarkable. Or playing jazzfusioncountrymetal on electric accordion.
    4. Get press kit, merchandise, and legal entity established. You could skip this, but you will regret it.
    5. Pick a local geographic area and stick to it. You’re not U2, so you’re not going on tour, you’re a no-name band with no fans. The first step is to develop a local following.
    6. Get any gig in this local area. Pay is irrelevant. Play for free. Your task, at this point, is to build a following. A following is what you’re selling to venue owners in future. Stay local, because local is cheap. Don’t burn your money touring UNLESS you’re offered some showcase or other lucrative opportunity.
    7. Repeat 6 until you’ve built a local following. Now you can think about charging based on the size of your audience.
    8. As word spreads, you can now venture outside your local area. Build incrementally. Again, stop planning your European tour. Think local domination. Draw a wider geographic circle. Aim to be the best band in Hackney, or wherever, not another average band in Germany.
    9. Only when your reputation precedes you, tour widely. Touring is expensive. You need to build up a reputation in those places, too, so pick your destinations carefully, and aim to return to continue the momentum.
    10. Live well and prosper :)


    Reply
  35. Jacob

    This is a fucking joke.


    Reply
  36. Doug Deutsch

    You missed a very important one: Hiring a reputable publicist. At least, I didn’t see it on the list.


    Reply
  37. Peter

    Sure, Doug. Part of step #4, really.


    Reply
  38. Filipe

    I think part of the guilt of why people download music for free lies on marketing/propaganda about who the artists are as people. In truth, artists, or most artists, couldn’t care less about who their fans are as people. They don’t wanna be friends with their fans or anything, and yet they portray themselves through marketing as if “they’re the ones who understand you”, or “care about you” in some way. That makes people believe they have a bond with their favorite artist, which leads them to thought patterns like “my favourite artist wouldn’t be mad at me if i downloaded it, since they are like me and understand how i feel”.


    Reply
    1. Mike Repel

      Felipe, you sound as if you never were a part of an independent music scene where there is more of a sense of community. If you are reffering to artists like Bieber who storms off of the stage after shitty fan interactions or Rhianna leaving artists waiting in a sweatbox for an hour then I can see why you’re jaded. There’s a whole side of this industry, a very large one actually that thrives off of fan interaction and relationships. Any person who has been touched by this realizes its importance and respects these friendships.

      Without dedicated fans, you ain’t getting anywhere. I wouldn’t use the phrase “Most Artists” in this case. Try “Most self entitled douchebags with a major label contract”


      Reply
      1. Wendy

        This is so true. I know several bands who were selling out 1500+ capacity venues within minutes without ever having had a song played on radio. It’s so much about social media and the relationships that bands cultivate with their fans these days. Spending time responding to people on Twitter equals bums on seats at your gigs.


        Reply
  39. AOG

    pathological Zoe Keating name drop (7) like a Zoe shorthand key every time an example is needed, hardworking and all as she is, but her frequency is like a place holder on digital music news.


    Reply
    1. hippydog

      Theres a reason for that..
      She has personally posted multiple times on this site, and is a working bonafide artist.. IE: street cred, that has helped DMN..
      If i was paul I would be dropping-her-name/promoting her all over the place too! :-)


      Reply
  40. corytaylorcox

    Lots of truth in this list.
    Work Hard, be smart, play nice.


    Reply
  41. Willie PSYCHO

    Most of what you said is true, However Pay to play show half the time the promoter isnt making any real money and a lot of times losing on bands that don’t draw. Label pay hundreds of thousands of dollars all the time to get their bands in stuff like Warped tour etc. Bands buy in all the time. Being in it for the money, have to disagree with you there, Depends what band you’re in, plenty of bands make plenty of money. I agree with you about the entitled attitude, that will get doors closed on you real quick. Kool article though.


    Reply
  42. Trev

    Who do you work for Karen? and where are you based


    Reply
    1. Karen

      Hi Trev
      I’m based not in, but near, Washington DC. Don’t want to publicize my employer due to my naughty language on here. ;-) I chose to respond like I was talking to my friends privately in a room or at a bar….giving honest advice and insight to fellow artists. :-) I would not use those words in my office / at an event/venue. I’m strictly professional when I’m on the job. However, if you are anyone on here are local to the MD/DE/DC/VA area, you can hit me up on my yahoo email. kbrad1969@yahoo.com and put something like “Music BAND info” in the subject/heading and I will direct you fill you in privately.
      Again, most local government/community groups can’t pay well – it’s just a hard fact. Currently we are dealing with budget cuts in the arts so honestly, I know I can’t even look at bands that charge more than $800 for next summer. It makes me want to cry. I’m sure there are some exceptions – because it depends on whether they have corporate sponsors or not and if those sponsors are paying cash or just donating ‘in-kind” services/stuff. So I’m sure there are exceptions.


      Reply
  43. Karen

    Pet Peeve sharing!
    This does not apply to your average bar/restuarant/business.
    This applies to festivals – local level music/arts/wine festivals, special events, and summer concert series put on by local municipalties/community groups:
    Those events are planned well in advance and the larger they are the further back the planning starts.
    I am consistently amazed at how many perfomers don’t realize this. Even before I did this work, common sense dicated to me that folks planning such events probably started their process several months, if not a year ahead of the date. So why do I get people calling me a month before, weeks before, or even DAYS before an event asking if their band can play? WTF? Are you kidding me? Um…no….we booked our bands 6 months ago, thanks for being an idiot. Even the small events with an audience of 200 are booked WAY in advance. The one that really kills me is we do only one large event per year – it’s a wine festival with two music stages – gets like 20,000 people in attendance….and I get jackases calling the week of the event trying to get in. WTF? Really…. you don’t think we booked that yet? How stupid are you? And…do you really think there was no competition for musicians to get hired/ a slot at a festival that large in a metro area like DC? Do you think we give away stage time like fucking candy to ameteurs? Sure, buddy, I’m going hire your Part time garage band that has only played at your family reunion as opposed to hiring from the enormous talent pool of full time professional musicians in DC and/or Baltimore? You are insane.

    Also – we have a standard latter and a submission form (not everyone does this but some do and I know there are some really big music festival that do this – you have to fill out an application for consideration, etc.). I would say that a good 25% – 50% don’t read the letter and/or follow the instructions. Do yourselves a favor – READ and COMPREHEND that kind of stuff. It clearly states in our letter that incomplete forms will not be considered and I can’t count how many people leave spots blank. It also clearly states that we review all applications November – January and book our entire season then. If we don’t contact you by the end of Feb, than you were not selected for that year. Don’t call and badger me about it. If for some reason, our process was delayed or someone cancels on us, I might call you later in the season but it’s not likely. We get hundreds/thousand of applications and only have anywhere from 8-12 spots at summer concerts, 1 spot for 4th of July and 6 for our big wine fest. Do the math. I can’t hire everyone. People who pester me too close to an event/season start like that go on my “do not hire” list becaue they clearly are NOT professionals.

    But also be aware that yes, we do keep your info on file and I have been known to recommend bands I did not hire to others outside my department/job, or hired them a year or two after they first applied (we do try to rotate and keep it fresh for the public). If a band is popular/does well, we might bring them back the following year but then have to bring in new folks and bring back the favorites after a couple years break and so on. Some people don’t understand this and get mad when we don’t re-hire them year after year. That starts to become a problem and will not keep you in my good graces. If you and your band are awesome to work with (nice, get your paper work done on time, arrive early, etc.) I will recommend you to others and I will bring you back – eventually – but my job is to keep rotating our offerings to the public so that it’s not the same stuff from year to year. We have to rotate the old with the new. Deal with it.


    Reply
  44. Karen

    Also for local gigging: government agencies do not pay for travel or hotels (it’s against policy and in some cases might be a legal /liability issue) so if you live too far away, either bite the bullet on those or don’t apply to a small time local municipality for consideration.

    Never bring alcohol to a municipal gig (most parks prohibit it anyway) – never drink before or during the gig – do the gig, leave, then go get drunk at a bar. Seriously! Even if the event itself sells alcohol – don’t touch it until after your performance is over. We had a group show up to the wine fest early – then went drinking wine for a while – showed up for the call time late and drunk. Guess what – We will NEVER HIRE THEM AGAIN. EVER. Done.


    Reply
  45. Kyle

    Dos anyone else hate Karen as much as I do?


    Reply
    1. Karen

      Kyle, why the hate?
      I’m sharing useful truthful information.


      Reply
      1. Kyle

        Truthful? Most of what you share is an opinion that sounds both arrogant and self serving to say the least.


        Reply
        1. Karen

          There is not one single self-serving thing in what I wrote. I’m sharing my knowledge for free because I love the arts and music ( I could have written a book and sold it but I didn’t). I’m not getting any extra $ for any of this. It’s the rules of the biz in which I work – I didn’t make the rules but I support and follow them because it makes the process smoother and BETTER. And much of it general stuff that crosses over into other industries. I don’t care where you work and what you do, there are expectations of professionalism/behavior/quality of work/ and various requirements that everyone has to meet. Everyone has a boss and/or customers they have to answer to, including me. I don’t care if you sell apples for living – you should still operate your business with good customer service, offer decent prices, and have some standards. If you owned your own biz, would you hire a bunch of lazy mean people and over charge? If you did, your biz would crash and burn. If you hire nice/happy, people and charge good prices, you would see your business grow. It’s pretty basic stuff but clearly you and some others don’t get that concept.

          What you might be perceiving as arrogance is actually some sacasm/humor (which you clearly didn’t get) and some harsh truths based on my EXPERIENCE (over 20 years) and education for some entertainers that need to eat some humble pie and /or re-evaluate how they approach people. Every entertainer has to audition – which is the the same as job interview in other fields. Employers have a right to be picky – they are looking for the best and if you aren’t giving your best, you ain’t getting the job. Everything I wrote also applies to the Theater where I got my start. Don’t have a head shot and resume? Don’t bother auditioning. Make sure you have your monologue memorized, etc. These are standard expectations and demands from EVERY DIRECTOR IN EVERY PROFESSIONAL THEATER EVERHWHERE. I didn’t invent it.
          Do yourself a favor and listen, soak it in, and learn something. I’m doing you a favor by sharing this stuff and your reaction is to accuse of me being self-serving?
          I would never hire you and neither would any of my colleagues or anyone I know for that matter.

          See what Martin wrote. I’m not making this shit up.


          Reply
          1. Kyle

            Someone needs a HUGE slice of humble pie herself. I got 20 years on you so maybe you can talk to the children like this but not us adults.


            Reply
            1. Amanda

              Um wow…
              I think I smell a misogynist who can’t handle a strong woman.
              There was nothing disrespectful about what she wrote. Just talking facts based on experience.
              I think kyle is the one who is the child since he can’t handle grown folks talking and sharing bluntly honest info.


              Reply
              1. Justin

                disagreeing with women is “misogynist” now?

                I thought this thread was about music careers. What ever happened to freedom of opinion?


                Reply
                1. Amanda

                  Justin – so maybe I should not have used that term, but it just triggered me because this forum has been predominantly male and Kyle and a few others attacked one of the few women responding by making ridiculous accusations. You say you and the others should have freedom of speech and freedom of opinion – yes, you should, I agree – but you and Kyle are now hypocrites because you are attacknig Karen for having an opinion – and it’s not even really correct because most of what she wrote is NOT an opinion. She shared FACTS about procedures and the requirements for applying for a job based on her experience (which in the case of this dicussion means musicians applying for gigs). Why are you all attacking her for sharing factual information? Sure, she did it with some informal flavor, but so what. I ussed to work in an HR office and felt some of the same frustration when people turned in crappy resumes and showed up for interveiws in cut offs an flip flops. It’s not not appropriate. The entertainment industry has its equivalences. I, for one, would never hire a band that didn’t follow instructions, rules, protocol, was late, rude, mean, or have a decent press kit. I don’t get why that is so hard for some folks to grasp.


                  Reply
            2. Jake

              Holy crap someone has an attitude problem.
              Don’t listen to him Karen, Kyle is a dick.

              I actually thought some of your posts were funny, but on point.
              I could tell some of my own stories. My buddies and I learned a lot of these lessons the hard way when I had my band in my younger days. But I got a dose reality on the flipside when we tried to plan and produce our own music festival. Talk about trial by fire. Ouch. We did not know what we were doing at all…hahaha…but boy did we learn a lot. Wow do I have a new respect for folks do any sort of event planning like that. Now I’m back in the studio trying to learn all the new digital tools for making music and hope to get back out there. This was a good reminder and I may to have buy that book – thanks Mike for writing it. Can I get it on Amazon?


              Reply
    2. phil collins

      yes, these kind of people suck and any decent band would tell her to fuck off


      Reply
  46. martin

    Only you it would seem Kyle. I am a musician and have also been involved in stage management and everything Karen says is true. If you have a problem with it – maybe it is because she is pointing out some home truths about you.


    Reply
  47. Bob

    Clearly Kyle is either an asshat or a troll. If he isn’t and is an actual musician – with that attitude? Enjoy your failure dude. What an ingrate. Karen gave up some golden advice and an inside look behind the scenes. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.
    Would you go to a job interview and accuse your potential future boss of being arrogant and self serving for expecting you to wear a suit & tie and have a nicely typed resume?
    #1 rule of life – don’t be a dick.


    Reply
    1. David X

      Karen – I can see where you are coming from. It’s a little bit overwhelming for some of us but I hear ya. Thanks for the tips. I’m gonna share it. My Dad was a Theater teacher so I know about some of that work ethic in the arts that you are talking about.
      Kyle – go back to your cave. If you don’t like the info don’t use it, but don’t discourage others from sharing just because you have a bug up your ass. You sound like a dick.


      Reply
  48. Mike Repel

    This isnt my thread to moderate, but as it was based on my book, I find it a little unsettling for you (Karen) to make comments such as ” I’m sharing my knowledge for free because I love the arts and music ( I could have written a book and sold it but I didn’t)” in this thread, as it seems to imply that all of our music, art, knowledge and everything else (including my book) should be given away for free.

    This is the exact mentality that is decimating revenue streams in the creative world and has and is and will continue to constrict revenue streams within the music industry. The “entitled” generation doesn’t want to pay for anything. They help themselves to torrent files of music and cracked copies of software to create music.

    The other thing that I mention in my book is that artists are fucking up by flooding volumes of music into the industry for free. This practice is conditioning listeners and potential consumers that emerging artists (who need the revenue the most) should be giving everything away for free. This is a huge problem, because once you eliminate an entire generations desire to purchase music it may become gone forever.

    If there is no value to the music, then there is no value in the artist. Therefore, why should I pay to go see this person live. As you see Karen, this eventually has an adverse effect on your section of the industry as well, where concert attendance is down substantially.

    The fact of the matter is, that I did write this book. I did this for the benefit of artists that need this information and knowledge, and yes this book is for sale, There were costs associated with the manufacturing of this book and it cost me a great deal of my time, so yes there is a price tag on it.

    Eventually some asshole will try to bootleg my book, its inevitable. These people are the bane of this industry and for all I’m concerned can go home and drink bleach. Piracy in any form can force a creative person with a potential future to a lifelong hell of unskilled factory labor or some type of fast food prison due to how piracy undermines an artists revenue sources.

    The 17 reasons listed above are just a snapshot of the information in this book that will save artists a lot of headaches and money as well.

    I too love the arts and music, and the information that you mention is valid. In my book I address much of the stupid shit that musicians do that you mentioned in this commentary, so notwithstanding what I mentioned above, it does seem that we are on the same page as far as artists work ethic is concerned; and not a lot of musicians understand this.

    The fact of the matter is that we are in the era of the lazy and under-educated artist and this book needed to be written to help some of these artists get in front of a large and growing crowd of bands and artist that have zero direction and zero work ethic.

    The industry is responding to this by creating fee based platforms to do the work for the artists that they cannot, or will not do themselves.

    Platforms like fanbrige or any platforms that charge you money in exchange for digital metrics (which cant be depended on anyway) are simply in place because artists arent doing the work for themselves and creating a fanbase of their own.

    This laziness is why so many business platforms are entering the industry to do the work for the artists; and as I say in my book “be careful of who you hire because no-one gives a fuck about your career more than you do.”

    Essentially artists are spending alot of money nowadays to get limited or nonexistent results.

    As I stated in my book, “The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your sleeve.”

    The book itself will show artists how to be self sufficient and how to keep their costs down.

    The other thing that artists need to keep in mind is that if they haven’t created any organic demand for themselves
    then any platform, promoter, manager or publicist may be a waste of their time and money. This is also mentioned in detail in my book.

    The fact of the matter is that without a solid foundation, you don’t have shit to launch your activities off of.


    Reply
    1. Karen

      Mike Repel – Let me just first apologize because I didn’t mean that the way it sounded and I do believe there is value and doing what you did and you have every right to make a living off writing your book. I do not believe we should all give away our talents for free so I’m sorry if I gave that impression.
      I also agree with your stance in general so yea, we are on the same page. I will certainly be recommending your book to others.
      My comment about offering advice in an online discussion for free was mostly about defending myself against the “self serving” accusation which I found to be unfounded, ridiculous, and downright insulting/offensive. What is self serving about sharing my experience? Ug.
      I saw this thread as more of an opportunity for sharing between folks that work on both sides of the fence and some friendly venting of frustrations…much like colleagues bitchin’ about their work day in a bar. Because that’s where I’m coming from…frustration. When artists don’t do their part, take responsibility, show respect, etc., it makes everyone else’s jobs all that much harder.
      I often get performers asking me what they can do to improve their chances of getting selected (and btw we often use a committee to review / jury/ select our performers for the season ), not just by my organization but by others, and I have often given much of the advice above and had several thank me for it later.
      It’s also a two way street – I often get performers telling me how much they prefer to work with us over some other organizations/venues because we are organized and professional and provide such a pleasant experience in general. We take care of our artists at our events.

      If I was independent and owned my own venue, I’d probably still operate in a similar way but would want to pay the artists better. :-)


      Reply
      1. Mike Repel

        Karen, No apology necessary as it appears that I stepped into the middle of a clarification that was meant for someone else.

        As far as your artists asking how to improve their chances of getting selected, this goes back to the same stuff you said about presskits, the same stuff I have written about, and ironically, the same conversation I had 20 minutes ago wit ha label owner here in Chicago.

        I was discussing this article with him and he told me that its amazing how many artists just don’t get it.
        This label has showcases often to comb through new talent and in some of these showcases artist will show up with flipflops on, dirty feet and cut off jeans.

        Labels are in a sense, venture capitalists into a bands career, so when you are performing in front of someone who may potentially invest $150,000.00 and up to get your career moving, I suggest you don’t show up dressed like John the Baptist.

        What all of us seem to be saying around this water cooler is it comes down to professionalism.

        If your an artist, exercise some.

        If you are lacking in this department, at least make an effort to do better than what you current efforts are, and continue to push your own limits and raise the bar for yourself.

        This is a career choice, treat it as such.


        Reply
    2. Justin

      Mike you forgot about #18 : Disagreeing with women online is ‘misogynist’.

      Seriously, I believed this article would have resulted in constructive comments about music careers,
      but the arguing over supposed accusation of misogyny by a critic of one of the female posters do raise concerns as to whether free speech exists in the States these days.

      I know in Canada, free speech is very limited, and accusations such as opinion “misogyny” are #18 to the demise of a musicians career, or any male’s career.

      Please moderate the posts to prevent trolling and derailing of the comments section.


      Reply
      1. Amanda

        Justin – calm down. Only one person made that comment and it was me and I will own it. See my response higher in the thread.
        If you want free speech it has to apply to all – Karen was attacked for exerising her free speech and I was disturbed by that – so I exercised my free speech in her defense beause I found the accusations unfounded.
        I’m not a troll….I was expressing my honest feelings. Perhaps I should not have used that term but I do find a lot of hypocrisy coming from you and a couple others.
        Making music and working in the music industry does not mean you suddenly get to foget all about professionalism, manners, etc. That’s what the book and discussion are about. The book author, Karen, and a few others have reiterated that multiple times and yet some here keep ignoring that very point.
        As a women working in the arts and a feminist activist, I am sensitive to certain issues and, right or wrong, I felt like a woman was being verbally attacked/overly criticized by a group of men. So that’s where my reacion came from. My intentions are good and I think all people should chill out and really hear/listen when someone like Karen or Mike Repel are articulating advice about how to behave and or conduct your pofessional career – they are giving out advice based on experience – you can choose to take the advice or not, or adapt it. Nobody should be attacking them for the information they provide. I know many event planners, booking agents, etc., who follow the very same or similar practices they they are talking about. It’s not personal – it’s business.


        Reply
  49. Mike Repel

    And Karen,
    Thank you for taking the initiative to recommend my book to others. It is much appreciated.


    Reply
  50. Dany Lynen

    As a veteran of the music scene since the late 70’s with an album in my belt and local popularity, I have some issues with this forum! Most are very true and correct, but the way to know if you’ve got it is to RECORD! If it sounds good, record at least 4 more. That’s when you know you’ve got it. Next the most important of all even more than talent! Who you know and who is your MANAGER!!! The Beatles would have never ever made it without Brian Epstein!!!!! I am most happy with my works! The point is though to make it in this business does not require talent only who you know. If you have talent and get a break you will remain, if you are mediocre then you will fade away. Last, one of your comments was geared to rappers! is this for rapping music? ugh!


    Reply
    1. Mike Repel

      Dany,
      The information in the book is pretty much required reading for musicians of all genres and also has sections that focus on certain genres (such as rap)
      To address some of the other things that you mentioned, I’d like to respond by saying that today’s market has a lot of challenges that you may not be privvy to as the landscape has changed massively since the 70’s and this is an extremely tumultuous time in this industry.

      Although each genre has its own unique model and nuances indigenous to itself, there are a few things that apply to all.

      Such as;

      Just about everyone has a digital studio at home which has created an environment where anyone can record anything. And EVERYONE thinks that their first few recordings are platinum hits. They are not.

      With the amount of artists entering the market with no navigation skills in this industry, the artists themselves become ripe for the plucking by substandard and/or unscrupulous managers who are involved only to make a buck and has no concern for the artists career advancement themselves.

      Many emerging artists in today’s economy don’t have the traction or available cash-on-hand to hire a “Brian Epstein,” and even if they did; managers today are more selective on who the have on their rosters.
      If the artist has a shitty product, no following, and wont do anything for himself then it would be very unlikely for a good manger to want this artist on his roster because it is reflective of him and his professionalism as well.

      In short, artists need to step their game up and this book provides avenues for them to create equity and leverage in themselves so they can either have enough traction to warrant the need for a manager (and be able to afford him) or show that they have enough earning potential to garnish the attention of a potential manager or potential investor who may foot the bill for the manager.

      This is an independent era where artists need to work and prove their value, and its also an era where managers and promoters are becoming more selective due to the massive amount of submissions that they are continually receiving.

      If you still choose to dispute this, I invite you to read the free preview of my book, it should dispel a few things and give you insight to my approach.

      http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JBNP656


      Reply
      1. dany Lynen

        Mike you have some solid points, but frankly I have been through it all. In the 80’s it was the songwriters market, etc. Now a days, I do not know. But I know one thing, I do know I got it. But I also am very happy with my work, I could care less what an executive thinks of my stuff. I have been married to music since 1963. Music as Derek Taylor said in an interview from 65 is that the Beatles music made and make people happy. I find my music does the same. I do not even think its me anymore. Some of my recordings are over 20 years old, yet no one has heard them until now. I am currently working on re-mastering all my stuff. The people that have played with me have moved on as musicians, such as Tommy Anthony 2nd guitar with Carlos Santana on Tour. Roberto Pinon who played bass with the late Warren Zevon. The guy that recorded our album back in 1980, has re-mastered it and its being sold on Amazon, CD Universe and I have never seen a dime. And it was a friend of mine who told me that I was all over the internet. Check it out for yourself Google Southern Trust Album. the key is to put album in the search. I am currently putting and making vids on reverbnation and I am having fun… I do not give a flying fuck anymore. This business is all who you know. That their are rules, Yes and your points are well taken. and I did follow them from long ago. What we have now is something we did not have in the 80’s. THE INTERNET. I was surprised to learn that our 1st single recently sold for 30.00 dollars on ebay. I thank you for taking the time to respond to me, I am thankful. One of the first things that happened to me back in 81 when I went to LA searching for me fame was, when I went to this agency, the 1st thing the guy said to me was “ah you from Miami, got any coke” here is my e-mail should you want to write me and have a further discussion on success in show biz. Danfab4@gmail.com I just saw your reply today july 26, 2014. Have a good one Mike, Dany Lynen check out Dany Lynen too in Google.


        Reply
        1. dany lynen

          One last thing Mike and I do not mean disrespectful in any way. Your book is valid. But Record companies and A&R people cannot hear talent not even if it bit them on the ass. I remember going to TK studios once and met the idiot Steve Alaimo, a worthless one hit wonder responsible for putting KC on the map. I should have never ever let that idiot fast forward my compositions. I should have said, “Hey! you don’t do that to my stuff.” Composers all they do is write, and score their music. A long time ago record companies decided not to deal with artists anymore. They knew they could make as much money as they wanted putting up a cute teenage boy or girl and anything else to make money. The result is what we have today, mediocrity at its full height. As long as they can make tons of money with 1 hit wonders that’s fine and move on! For me they are nothing but money mongers who could care less about talent! Frankly, screw them. and please refrain from the word bitter, cause I am not. The one that must be pleased with the work is yourself. Do you think The Beatles did not love their stuff? as soon as they would finish recording for the evening, copies for everyone in the band to go home and listen and improve the work with new ideas. My only problem is money!! Now with all the new technology I will be able get my 4 piece strings, my brass and so forth, and maybe hear it the way its in me head. Finally. lol take care.


          Reply
  51. Studio Rat

    I never want to play live, but this was all very entertaining and informative and will pass along! I love the “Business”side as much as the “Creative” but prefer the studio and recording that has unfortunately become not so profitable. That being said, I will be buying your book and saving Karen’s email too just in case I ever become crazy enough to want to try live music ;)


    Reply
    1. Mike Repel

      Thanks Rat Man


      Reply
  52. CJ Marsicano

    Reason #13 should be modified to include performing live while drunk/stoned/incapacitated. Too many assholes think being in a band is like being in a constant party that you get paid to be in. Music doesn’t work that way and it never did.


    Reply
  53. Justin

    Try making a music career in Toronto. Place is so boring and only the major label music corporations have access to provincial music grants and access to venues.

    Pub gigs are plentiful in Toronto, some good rock and country music, but other than that growing as a musician in Toronto only leads to limitations,

    which is why many of the popular Canadian musicians relocate to music hotspots like L.A., Nashville, ATL, NYC, Houston et al for their music career.

    There is a huge amount of jealously in Toronto too (jealously from the office drones who have no social life other than working 9-5), so musicians will have to find like-minded people in order to grow their music career.

    Cities with a thriving music industry are the way to go. It may be hard at first, but it’s a paradise to work with other likeminded people rather than being hated on for pursuing a dream.


    Reply
  54. Bradi

    Wow , some cant seperate doing buisness and playing in the buisness … Good luck to the k,,now it alls, .you probably need to sell all your music gear and get some landscaping gear this business is not for you. for the people are just doing it as a hobby and enjoying the music . this does not apply to you , again good luck to all the know it alls .
    LMAO


    Reply
  55. Roger

    Also, being an out of shape, fat slob who doesn’t wear any makeup.
    That is crucial too.


    Reply
  56. Jessie

    I will add one: excusing being off time, pitchy, generally just not that good, and making crappy recordings, as making you “more real”

    No, it actually just means you suck.

    If you want to be off time, pitchy, and write crappy music, don’t blame the “industry” because you think your music deserves more attention. Why should people give a damn, when it doesn’t even seem like you give a damn?


    Reply
  57. Rabbi Dove

    Another problem killing young artist is lack of capital.Producers and promoters should volunteer to promote musicians,especially those with financial problems.


    Reply
  58. Anonymous

    who the fuck has written this shit? this is writing for writings sake. theres no real industry tips here, no clever insights into how it all works. it sounds like its been written by a teenager.
    don’t wear smelly clothes.
    don’t write bad music.
    make sure you brush your teeth.
    fuck off.


    Reply
  59. Leo Skye

    This is the reason why it’s so hard to form a band. It’s one thing to have some very talented guys/gals playing on stage, but it’s a whole different ballpark to have that PLUS professionals. I’ve run into so many dudes with poor attitudes, a high ego and no incentive to get the job done RIGHT. Oh well, you live you learn!


    Reply
  60. Cruisin' Louie

    I’m a member of ASCAP and they put this in their newsletter. I saw the comments and scanned enough to get the gist of where folks are coming from, including the “author/s” who are commenting.

    The market is flooded – now more than ever.

    If you’re not an artist – a real artist – ya know like the kind of artist that once people see the performance, they are addicted to instantly, then you’re not an artist and should just stay home.

    I read this once a while back. Makes perfect sense to me.

    http://thecritical-post.com/blog/about/


    Reply
  61. C Nameless

    Mike congrats to your efforts in putting the book together and attempting to educate anyone who seeks some sound advise, as far as trying to make money off of it, is that not acceptable. sure it would be great if music was free, and movies, while were at it why not all forms of entertainment, wait what am I saying, why stop there why should we have to pay for anything! We all depend on each other in some cosmic way! why dose money even exists? But until we reach that utopia we must rely on rules or guidelines or knowledge even if we must pay for it.

    Knowledge is like fruit from a tree and you must make sure it is ok to eat. sometime you have to take a bite of a bad apple to know what it taste like. I think the list provided was pretty sound advise, sure there’s always room to add new insight and maybe you want to sidestep a few of them, but the list are guides I myself implement into my lifestyle and thinking. and I don’t recall the list implying that not following any or all the points would mean disaster.

    I can agree with one of the remarks made earlier by some oddball that there is no one formula, equation, or method to success, and yes it can even be bought or stolen, if you think you got an edge then use it. The list is clearly a guide, I could say it can apply to all aspect’s of life when seeking success from my view, but everyone’s view of success varies.

    Thanks to Karen as well and all who share their experience. Nice job standing your ground with the trolls and haters and I really take no pride in insulting or even appearing to degrade someone (ironically hip-hop is my genre) in any way, especially when they them selves seem to want to better themselves, but sometimes you have to smack people out of there sleep. Also Karen was defending herself regarding a comment about her in it for the money, she only implied she did not write a book on the subject and was not receiving any financial compensation for sharing her opinion’s.

    I don’t understand all the negative remarks regarding the topic of any of the opinion’s shared. I am currently a government employee (not music related) and I am currently invested in my self and my music and I am seeking ways to earn a dollar in an constant changing business. I love the internet for the ability to share, Ideas and knowledge, opinion’s and wisdom, not sharing music that doesn’t compensate the creator I should add but that’s another topic that maybe could fall into oppressive conditioning.

    This list shares some wisdom with some of the comments made. Wisdom, to be wise comes I believe from experience, and perspective, if you cant value wisdom, then you cant buy knowledge. I don’t want to sound like a fortune cookie but if you cant accept the wisdom of free opinions from soldiers in the field shared on the internet and you can only make negative comments and not share as to why you feel that way or how you might approach an issue, what are you really brining to the table? seems like hate to me.

    Like I said, this list could apply to any professional life just change the words a little, maybe your past this information, some people cant even fill out a resume let alone do all the necessary task to be a successful musician so books like this are necessary for those who need some direction. from my experience I will say I practice many of the points, but I will emphasize #9 and #11.

    #9, well we all need a team or want help and want to share the experience with others, but be on the same page and consistently. I don’t have a band, but if someone is not making it to practice or vice versa, there is a communication issue or there’s a problem. communication is important in any relationship. Work ethic as well, or you may find yourself having to carry extra weight on you plate when you though that other person was going to get the graphics done but didn’t, or your engineer did not spend the time to communicate with you and the session has to be done over, or you find yourself having to finish all the projects your partner starts as well as your own, or maybe your a rap group and you want to talk about subjects like self empowerment but your partner only wants to do gansta music, sure there a relation between self empowerment and being a gangster, but examine your vision closely as well as your partner’s, it is more easier to sell yourself to a label or the public as a solo artist, then to sell a group especially one with multiple character’s, messages, personalities etc…(although it can happen).

    #11 well if I did not have a passion for music and the ability to create something I can say I made, as well as a passion not necessarily to be heard, but to speak out I would have quit years ago. you have to want it and love it, the more you love it, the better your music will be, the more you want it the sooner you’ll get songs done, but don’t think patience is something you will not need, and like any professional with practice the better you get at it, the better your chance at making more money.

    So thanks for sharing the wisdom, learn to filter knowledge and if you know it all, please write a book or start a blog and then we can all learn together.

    If your interested in hip-hop music here’s the link to my recent EP ( cdbaby.com/cd/cnameless ) and there is a free download for a song which I released as an extended version single titled “I See You” uncut mix.
    ( cdbaby.com/cd/cnameless2 )


    Reply
  62. Kiko Jones

    There are plenty of successful folks who are guilty of more than a dozen of those 17 points. Not condoning it, just laying it out there.


    Reply

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