I decided to comprise a list of some important topics for local bands that are seeking a record deal, who are looking to go on a national tour, or take on other opportunities. This list would apply only to an artist or band with a solidified lineup. It’s broken up into ten topics that are in order from the beginning stages of setting up shows, through to negotiating a record contract. This is a general guide to bands that possibly want more than a basement or garage gig.
1 – Do As Much As Possible By Yourself
There are various suggestions in this list but the most important part of being in a band is figuring what the members individually and collectively can do together without outside help. The more the band can do on its own, the more in control it is of its own destiny. Every band has leaders or a point man – it’s important that there is one member at least trusted to handle business and public affairs on behalf of the group.
2 – Make A Consistent Schedule
One of the most important things to think about as a new band, is how that band is going to conduct weekly activities. It’s very important that you put a strict schedule for rehearsals and other band activities into play. A position in a band must be treated like a job or anything else you HAVE to do. The early days of a band are a grind – there is no way around it. A lot of sacrifices will be made for many years. Make sure that the band has the right schedule to be the best it can be.
3 – Write Your Own Songs
Unless you are a pop or country act who often don’t write their own songs, if you don’t write your own songs you are missing out on a major source of revenue. Pop acts often have a machine behind them, whereas most bands are a self-contained mechanism. Why get someone else to write your songs when you can do it and save yourself from having to give away a chunk of the royalties?
4 – Buy Recording Equipment
The advent of new technology has allowed professional level recordings to be taken in people’s homes and basements. Bands don’t need to go to expensive and time-consuming studios as they would have needed to in the past. The laptop and simple digital to analog converters can open a world of options. Compare the cost of per hour studio time vs. buying the band its own set of equipment. Over time, having your own gear makes a lot more sense.
5 – Network Local Clubs/Work In Entertainment
Every band was a local band once, having to hustle to get their name out there. A great way to get started is to connect with a local establishment that also features national acts, or to get a regular spot at a place just to get you started. Pretty soon your band could be playing on the opening slots for big shows, but you have to get your foot in the door. If you have a hard time booking a gig, see if the establishment can offer you some kind of employment. The contacts you make will be invaluable, as well as the position. Your boss will eventually cave about your band opening a show – if you ask him a few thousand times!
6 – Build Social Media
Get online and sign up for all the social platforms, and then utilize all these resources to promote and connect your band to fans and the general public. Everyone is in this already and if you launch a business without these tools (which are all free by the way) a serious component of the marketing and networking aspect will be lost.7 – Have Adequate Live Gear
Once the band is ready to play live, it’s important to get gear that sounds good, is reliable, and does not take up too much space. Most of the local shows won’t leave a lot of room on the stage or backstage to store any equipment pre-show. Leave the Iron Maiden production and 24-piece drum set at home and instead bring gear that is easy to setup and that you know how to use. The local sound guy will be looking to do the minimum of work and if the gear does not work or you don’t know how to use it, the show won’t go well. Put the time and money into purchasing and learning about all of your equipment.
8 – Get A Vehicle For The Gear
Without transportation, you won’t be getting to the next show. Every band has someone in charge of finding transport to the next gig. You need that guy or girl, too. No car, no show.
9 – Get a Manager
In the beginning, you or one of the band members will be in charge of managing the band. It’s important for this to be the case, in order to take your career as far as possible. You’ll know when you can start to entertain the thought of having a manager once potential managers start approaching you. Until then, do exactly what you would want your manager to do. Take on the role and be respectful and professional at all times.10 – Get a Lawyer
Before you sign any pieces of paper, make sure that you have the counsel of a competent attorney with entertainment experience. Lawyers are very expensive, but signing the wrong deal can end up being WAY more expensive and can have all kinds of traps associated with it. Don’t go out and pay the retaining legal fees for an attorney unless you really need the advice. Instead, research around about various attorneys and the fees associated with their services. There are also resources online that provide free legal work but nothing will take the place of an attorney and their expertise. You just need to wait for the right time.
I hope this list has helped you out. Happy Shredding!