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Author Topic: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?  (Read 3797 times)

hargerst

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It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« on: April 22, 2004, 02:20:21 pm »

I hear this a lot from new bands that wanna be "discovered" and signed to a big record contract. Well, it ain't that simple. Look at the sound of your band. Is it really different or is it a rehash?  There's already a korn, and a matchbox 20, and a Pantera - the world doesn't need another one. But korn doesn't sound like matchbox 20 doesn't sound like Pantera doesn't sound like (insert your favorite band here).  So having a unique sound is very important, but what else do you need?

In previous columns, you've heard me talk about getting a big following as quickly as possible, but why is that so important?  For many different, but equally important, reasons:

1.  It proves to a record company that your music has popular appeal, even if it's just in one market.
2.  It shows a company that you have good local sales of your album, even if it's just to your local following.
3.  It shows them you are building stage experience for the time you might go national.
4.  It shows a record company that they might have less financial risk if you have a large following.
5.  It shows the group is stable and has been around long enough to build a big following.

Here's a dirty little secret:  Most records don't sell enough copies to even pay for the cost of making them!!  Lemme say that again, slightly differently:  Most label releases bomb - they actually lose money.  It's the one or two successes that pay for all the losers.  Think I'm kidding?  Go to any label's site on the Internet and look up your favorite band on that label.  Now look at all the other groups they have, that you've never heard of.  Also see how many of those artists actually have a second album out.

Yes, sometimes brand new groups get a record contract because an A & R guy spots them, or a producer recomends them, or their demo is accepted, but the major way to get a contract hasn't changed much since Bill Haley and The Comets - get a buzz going, and your chances skyrocket.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

MorningStar

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Re: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2004, 10:04:17 pm »

But the question remains... How to get the buzz going.
All of the advice you have been handing out is great, but the question still remains. If you're not supposed to give out Cd's, how do you get people to buy them. If you're not supposed to play to often in one area, how are you supposed to get the word out. If you shouldn't play to rooms you cant fill, how can you expand the fan base.
You are going to start playing to friends and family, but that will only take you so far. How to take the next step?

natpub

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Re: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2004, 07:01:31 am »

stonedgrace wrote on Fri, 23 April 2004 03:04

But the question remains... How to get the buzz going.
All of the advice you have been handing out is great, but the question still remains. If you're not supposed to give out Cd's, how do you get people to buy them. If you're not supposed to play to often in one area, how are you supposed to get the word out. If you shouldn't play to rooms you cant fill, how can you expand the fan base.
You are going to start playing to friends and family, but that will only take you so far. How to take the next step?


I believe the answer to all of the above is that to solve those problems one has to be good. If the stuff rocks, the first 10 people will bring 10 more the next time, and so forth. I don't believe one should every "try" to get people to buy CD's, they either do or they don't, again, depends on if it is good. That does not mean don't advertize or market or promo the disc--but other people should be doing that, not the band. As far as playing rooms you can't fill, I believe Bob may have been referring to how some bands would try to play larger houses than they could fill "after" they already had a little thing goin. How to "get a buzz going"...well, there are tons of PR stunts folks have done over the years. Look at Bowie's career, and how his first manager spent all their money on crap like limo's and such. BUT, Bowie also happened to be good. PR can make a buzz, and make people show up, but if you then proceed to suck, that's the end of the ballgame Smile I speak from firsthand experience on that score, hehe.


Kurt T.
Austin
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Kurt Thompson
Vibrational Arts, Inc.
Blue Skyway Music
Sonic Sorcery Studios
Austin,TX/Columbus,OH

Fletcher

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Re: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2004, 08:26:10 am »

Players play.  Play anywhere and everywhere as often as possible.  Book shows at the local VFW hall with half a dozen other bands that have "a draw"... put your band on the bill.  As mentioned, if you don't suck, someone will like it... and they'll tell 2 friends who will tell 2 friends who will tell 2 friends... and the next thing you know, you're a popular local group getting booked by some other up and coming local pop combo to their show at the local VFW...

I've never met an "overnight sucess" that didn't take years to build and craft.  Find someone in your area that has some talent at arranging and have them look at your material [I'm working on a song at the moment that needs to be cut down from 5:21 as it's boring as fuck... I have it down to 3:47 and it's interesting... wish I had been there for pre-production then I wouldn't have to be cutting the fucking thing up after the fact]... find a local "producer" that is willing to work with your band... however, you should look at their body of work to make sure you're of "like mind".

There are a whole lot of rather popular idiots out there making a living that shouldn't be... don't necessarily go for the flavor of the month, create the flavor of the month.  Keep things within the bounds of reality.  With the possible exception of Boston in 1976, ain't nobody going from the basement to arenas in 6 months... hint, it's no longer 1976 [and Tom spent several years working on that "demo"].

You win friends and a following one person at a time... you win friends and a following by working your balls off... all the time.  Do as much "press" stuff as you can... make friends with all the local writers, publishers, editors of all the local trade rags... make friends with the local bookers, club owners, bar managers, event planners, etc.

Look at playing "all ages" shows at community centers, high schools, Jr. high schools... learn some covers and play frat and sorority houses... in other words... players play.  

I know one band that used to book themselves under 3 different names... same band, same material... released the same album under all 3 names... each of the band's different names built it's own following.  After about 2 years of this, they merged the 3 names into one and still played all the venues where they used to play under the different names.  When they finally merged the name, they had their own publishing company, their own "in house" booking agency [they also booked other acts!!], publicity machine, had a very modest recording studio and were incorporated.  That's called "working your balls off".

Now get your ass off the computer get a worthwhile band together, create something new and different that brings the personailities of the individuals in the band out in the band's music... and play it everywhere.  

They call it "playing" but it's really just enjoying your work.  Funny part is, the harder you work, the luckier you get.  Remember that a band is a small company.  Your bandmates are your partners.  You're in the manufacturing business... you manufacture entertainment product.  The better the product [the more your music entertains people], the more people will want the product... they also have to know the product exists.

It's not a whole lot different than building a ____ and bringing it to market... the difference being that you're going to have to find the capital to start your own business from within, and the backbone to build the business over time.

Best of luck
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

Dave Martin

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Re: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2004, 03:05:44 pm »

I have to go with Fletcher on this - players play. Bob and Harvey's advice may well be better from a career viewpoint, but for professional musicians, if you don't play, you don't eat.
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MorningStar

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Re: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2004, 04:43:27 pm »

I agree. Players play. So does that mean its playing on a Tuesday at 11:30 for the bartender and your girlfriend? Or prebuying 30 tickets when you know you can only draw 20 to play midweek with a 7:30 start? How can you get over the hurdle of playing for friends and family and branching out to really building a following?
I know I keep coming back to the same question, and if there really was an answer everyone would be doing it. That is the problem with the question and the discusion about it. The only real answer is to play, play, play and love what you do. And play some more.

hargerst

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Re: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2004, 05:45:28 pm »

I think that how you go about "getting the buzz going" is a good topic for another thread, and it's already here, called "Some Good Advice".
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

Bob Olhsson

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Re: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2004, 10:02:36 pm »

Fletcher wrote: You win friends and a following one person at a time...




This needs to be underlined!

carne_de_res

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Re: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2004, 04:18:42 pm »

hello,here are a few random thoughts:

-many musicians that lament they can't find shows
are simply being lazy.
a lot of musicians (and artists in general) are dreamers.
somehow certain people believe that once they
have written a dozen songs promoters will
automatically knock at their door asking if they want to
play a gig.the fact that your songs are any good means nothing if you keep them within the four walls of your rehearsal room:get as many gigs as you can.no matter if they aren't payed,if the PA sucks,or if it's a gig for friends only.
there's a gig somewhere? you want to play there.

-you should think of being in a band as having a second job.
you have to be very organized and willing to hand a lot of
business by yourself and dedicate a lot of your free time to it.
it can be hard work promoting your band,especially if you already have a day job.

-establish friendships with other musicians and be helpful to
them whenever you can and you'll soon discover that there are endless ways to get the word spread about your band.

-when doing things like artwork for your records and flyers,put
yourself in the hands of people that know what they're doing.
i mean something more than knowing how to use Photoshop.

-when recording your own music,put yourself in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing.
i mean something more than knowing how to use Protools (this means:don't put yourself in the hands of this post's author...).

-treat people with respect.recording engineers,foh mixers,patrons,promoters and fans.god knows the world is full of arrogant assholes who treat people like shit just because they can play guitar (or think they can play it).they usually don't go very far,unless their music trascends their limitations as human beings,which brings us to the last point.

-write good,original music.write a lot and be self-critical in a constructive way.rehearse as much as you can whenever you can.
if you have good music and the will to diffuse it,you'll soon get a buzz.more important:you'll have fun doing it.

my pontifications are finally over!hope this helps...






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Toby M

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Re: It Ain't About Being Good - It's Who You Know, Right?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2004, 04:02:05 am »

Well here's my 50 cent.
I come from the other side of the fence, i help some local bar/nightclubs to book bands.

I often get questions if i can hook them up with so and so nightspot. I ask what type of crowd there likely to attract/Style of music. If they have any presskits, demos etc? If they have a demo it's usually some 3 tracks, produced in a studio.

My advice is usually that they video a live show and edit together 7-10 tiny parts of different songs insted. Just because you can put together a decent demo in the garage doesn't mean you can own a stage and entertain the crowds.

Think from a barmanagers perspective. Would you pay big money for a group with no pr-strategies, that are likely to attract very few? The same manager can pay you loads more when you attract more, but naturally they don't like losing money for supporting lazy acts.

...and talk to everybody about everything you want everybody to know. The old lady at the other side of the table at your aunt's anniversery dinner could have a neighbour that is looking for up and coming bands.

Another thing i found out is that the bigger the artist the nicer they are to people.(At least the ones i've worked with.)

I know one touring band that keep a blackbook in the tourbuss where they put the names of everybody that worked at last nights joint. Next time they show up they say howdy to the runner charlie, how's your dog to barmaid Lucy and so on.

Guess which band they advice the manager to book next summer;)



(I probably write like a child but i'm not, i'm swedish but i try!)

Yours / Toby

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