GETTING STARTED: So you've got together with your best friends and decided to give being in a band a go. Great! Focus on your music, it doesn't matter what your going to be called yet, it doesn't matter if you haven't got a photograph yet for your Facebook page, first things first, you need some music.
It doesn't matter how good your instrument is, some guitarist's made their first records with the cheapest guitars and drum kits. You can always invest in something pricier once your band is more established. People will want to hear what you can play on a bad instrument over watching someone play badly on a good instrument.
Choices.Choices. Are you going to play covers? In which case are you going to do straight covers or cover songs in your own way, such as a folky cover with double bass and banjo? A metal cover where everything is played to metaaaaaaal? Perhaps you want to write your own songs. This is certainly trickier than learning someone else's tunes but if you get signed and picked up in the industry the rewards can be much bigger.
If you're going to write your own songs, get together with your friends and have a jam. See what works, this will be a good indicator as to how you will get on as a band too. Let people have their say, take other ideas on board too. Head to live shows as a band to see what the local music scene is like, support other local bands. You'll need their support when you start gigging.
GETTING GOING: Okay so you've been working on your songs and you think your just about ready to play them live, you've only been practicing your mates garage so you don't really know what it will feel like when you set up on stage at a venue. BOOK a practice with a local studio or rehearsal space. There will be plenty of them around if you simply Google it.
Once you've had a practice in a professional space, you'll have much more of an idea how your songs sound, how loud to play and by using a local professional space you'll start building relationships with the people running the music scene as well as creating awareness of your band!
Create social media profiles for your bands. It's likely in todays society that you'll all use social media of some variety. So create a profile for the giants like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Soundcloud is particularly good for sharing your music. Create a band email and decide who will run that. If it's easier give one profile to each band member to look after so it's not all falling on one person.
With regard to the social media, don't post photographs of you drunk on a Tuesday morning. No one wants to see that and it only screams unprofessional. Post short updates regularly, post pictures of your band in rehearsing, post about upcoming gigs your heading too but also gigs your going to as a band to support other artists too. (You never know they may just do the same for you!)
Get a demo recorded. NOT IN YOUR NAN'S SPARE BEDROOM. Go to a studio, get an experienced engineer to record and produce the track for you. They'll be able to offer you support through the process, it's an exciting time and gives you something interesting to talk about on your social media sites. At the end of it, you'll have a professional recording to send out to promoters, labels and share on your profiles.
Get promotional photographs and a press kit put together. DON'T ASK YOUR MATE BARRY TO TAKE A PIC ON HIS PHONE. Hire a professional photographer, they'll not only get you great images that can be used on social media sites, press kits and press for the band but they'll be a good standard, clear and give people an idea of what the band is about. Not only that but as a professional photographer, they'll use social media and their sharing of your links will increase your audience.
If you can't take create a press kit yourself, hire a professional to do it for you. You can post on sites like Fiverr and get someone to create it. Alternatively if you have a label, manager or PR rep see if they will or can recommend someone who can do it for you.
ON THE ROAD: So you've got your demo, attached and shared it across your social media with your photographs. You've spent days emailing promoters and hey presto! You've been offered a gig.. Plan your journey, make sure your car has tax, petrol and enough space to fit the band and equipment in safely. If you ring a promoter on the day of the gig and say you can't get petrol or tax they'll never book you again.
If you don't reply with your tech specs any requirements or don't make any effort to promote the event, don't expect to be re-booked and don't even think about making any demands on the day.
If you're a guitarist bring SPARE strings, if you're the keys player, have a backup power cable! If you're the drummer for the love of God bring spare drumsticks. Don't forget ear plugs and above all else be on time!
Even if the sound guy seems more like he should be carrying Brandon Stark around be polite, say thank you and if you need more or less of something on stage ask, don't tell him he's shit. He won't appreciate you and the lighting guy will probably leave you in darkness.
When it comes to heading on stage, be clear when you speak, there's nothing worse than going to see a band and not being able to understand a damn word they're saying because they're grumbling into the microphone and making private jokes with the band. MAKE THE CROWD FEEL LIKE PART OF THE BAND. Take merch with you, even if you think you won't sell any, you can never predict what a crowd might enjoy and they might just want to buy your EP!
Introduce yourselves and let people know the name of a track, I can't count the number of times I've been to a gig, not known the name of a track or been able to ask the band after and then spent hours searching for it.
LASTLY - EVEN IF YOUR ON FIRST AND HAVE A NINE HOUR DRIVE HOME, STAY AND SUPPORT THE OTHER BANDS. When I work at gigs if a band pack straight up and go home, I think they must not care much about the music (this isn't always the case, one band left soon after as a girlfriend of the band had gone into labor, the vocalist and guitarist still stayed on - and no it wasn't one of their girlfriends!) Generally if you pack up and head home, I think okay so you don't have much support of other bands so why should I support you.
Don't let your ego get the better of you. We've all done it, we've all had that 'don't you know who I am' moment but it's not pretty and it's the quickest way to lose friends in the industry.
OTHER HELPFUL ADVICE - Always get some form of a contract or agreement for anything you are doing. That way should you need something to refer to, you have it. If you hire a manager, don't just use Sophie from English because she can create a sentence and you might get lucky after a drunken gig. Use that guy who looks a bit like he belongs in Lord of the Rings but has 25 years experience managing touring bands.
ALWAYS ALWAYS tell people you're a musician. (Unless you're not a musician then probably don't it might get a bit weird) They won't remember Dave from school or his day job, they will remember Dave that guy who ended up in Nirvana and Foo Fighters. Be the person you dream of being.
LASTLY - HAVE FUN, IT'S ONLY MUSIC. It's not as though any of us make a tiny different bit of difference to the universe so if you're going to make your craft music, just enjoy it, there's nothing worse than meeting a grumpy musician who doesn't have any passion for his art.
Check out these bands who are really doing things right at the moment...
THE FAMILY RAIN // TRUST ME I'M A GENIUS
DOLOMITE MINOR // LET ME GO
THE BUTTERFLY CULTURE // HILO
PIXEL FIX // FALL
CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN // KATHLEEN
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LITTLEBEARWOLF © Krystal Gemma.