1) You suck
Maybe you’re just not that good.
Sorry. Most bands aren’t. Most bands are starry eyed
and spend more time bitching about the breaks they’re
not getting than in the rehearsal space tightening their show.
Get good first. Record your rehearsals AND your shows. Do
you LOVE listening to your live set? If not, then why do you
think other people will?
I’ve been in the room with bands
who listen back to their shows recorded from the board and
they actually hear how shitty they sounded. How off key they
sang. How the bassist missed the bridge. How the harmonies
were off. But they pass it off as a bad board mix. This is
sad. Get your shit together. Double your rehearsal schedule
and double your at home practice time. You do not deserve
to be paid if you suck. That’s what all these musicians
who bitch about how little they are making at live shows miss.
Maybe they’re making nothing because they deserve to
be paid nothing.
Stop making me pay to see your shitty band!
If you charge me $10 to come see you suck I’m going
to be pissed and never pay again.
People tell me they hate live music. It hurts my soul to hear
this. Live music can be spiritual. But too often it’s
a chore. A burden. A favor. Because bands don’t take
performing seriously enough to rehearse.
2) You Play Out Too Damn Often
Even if your favorite band played your
city every week, you wouldn’t go see them. You wouldn’t
make it a priority because you could always just “catch
the next one.”
If you’re great, you can charge a ticket
price and people will happily pay. Spread Out Your Shows
I recommend scheduling one big local show every 6-8 weeks.
This gives you proper time to promote the show and get some
good buzz going.
3) It’s Not An Event
You are not going to get a music reviewer
to care about a 4 band bill show on a Wednesday night. You
should turn every show into an EVENT. By spreading your shows
out, you actually can come up with a theme and title for each
show and make it a fun, talked about event.
Title Your Shows
I once organized and played a show in
Minneapolis (when I was living there) called “The Unknown
Order.” I got together 3 other buzzing bands in the
city (none of whom had sold out the acclaimed 800 cap Varsity
Theater for any show prior). The idea behind the show was
that 10 minutes before the first band started, the emcee would
pick a name out of a hat and that would be the first band
to play. No one (not even the bands) knew the order of the
acts for the evening. After each band finished, the emcee
picked another name.
The idea was to get everyone to the
club at the start of the show and to put all bands on an equal
level – no headliners or openers. The show sold out
10 minutes after doors opened and about 200 people got turned
4) You Aren’t Selling Advance Tickets
You always want to try to have advance
tickets setup so you can encourage people to buy them and
COMMIT to your show. Make them cheaper than the actual door
price (if the venue allows this). If you can get hard tickets
printed out, try to sell them or ask the local music stores
to sell them. It gives people a fun activity to go pick up
tickets to your show. But don’t pay to play! Don’t
work with shady promoters who give you 50 tickets to sell
and if you don’t, you have to pay the difference. This
is different. This is working with the venue/promoter to have
a packed show.
5) You Think The Venue Will Promote
So many bands believe it’s the
venue’s responsibility to do 100% of the promotion for
their show. Just getting a show listed on a popular venue’s
calendar will not bring people out. You can’t expect
venues to promote every show – they just have too many!
If 4 bands play their club every night, 6 nights a week, that’s
24 bands (or 6 shows) a week. Similar to how if you played
every week people (even your hard core fans) would stop caring,
the venue’s loyalists aren’t going to come out
every night of the week, or even most nights.
Venues put effort into the shows they
know they can sell. If you’re unestablished and unknown
why should they put their efforts into promoting you. Once
you pack their club, the NEXT time you play, I bet they’ll
put a bit more effort into promoting your show – like
maybe announcing it on Facebook. I’m sure you’ll
at least get a Tweet!
6) You Rely Solely On Facebook
People are tired of Facebook events.
They get too damn many from too many friends they’ve
lost touch with. Of course, Facebook can be a great tool to
add to your promo efforts, but it can’t be the ONLY
tool you use. Hit the promo from all angles: social media,
print posters and flyers, press, radio, sponsorships (like
local wine or beer companies are perfect). Inviting all your
friends to a Facebook event is only step one.
Print up physical promo materials such as
posters and flyers. We live in such a digitized world that
receiving an invitation in the physical world is awfully refreshing,
especially if it’s given to you by a friend.
7) You Aren’t Going Out Into The
Weeks leading up to any big show make
sure to go out more often. Hit up local shows, big shows,
bars, birthday parties that you normally wouldn’t end
up attending. Anything. J ust get out and talk to more humans
in the physical world. It will inevitably come up that you’re
a musician (or if they know you they will ask you when your
next show is) and you can whip out a flyer and personally
Don’t be sleazy about it. You can do
it in a conversational manner. A personal invitation in person
is incredibly effective. Having a professional looking flyer
legitimizes the show. You could even follow up with them with
a personal Facebook message, email or text message a couple
days before the show to remind them (and it won’t seem
completely out of the blue).
Step one is to be great, but if you are great then you deserve
to play in front of packed houses!
Hopefully these 7 steps help bring
you closer to a full-time music career.