There have been plenty of bands that have failed because of a multitude of problems. One of the biggest problems a band faces is their sound. If a band does not have a polished and professional sound it will be difficult to get fans and keep them. Many bands will spend so much time on promotion that they fail to improve their material and sound. You can promote a band to death and get nowhere if you overlook the most important factor that a band should consider.
A band’s sound is the defining factor when it comes to getting signed by a big label and booking shows to keep a steady flow of income. Without some form of income, it will be very difficult to buy new equipment and maintain a rehearsal room for practice sessions. There are certain built-in costs to maintaining a band, and we will cover the most important ones in this article.
Members of a band need to have a place to live and some sort of income to take care of themselves. If one or more members can’t support themselves, they become a burden on the other members of the band. This may not be a problem if some of the other members are wealthy, but in today’s economy it is unlikely that you will find artists that are not starving or have several financial issues. If you are lucky enough to have someone available to finance your project, then you can skip this section. If you are not, then read on.
The costs associated with a band can range from food, equipment costs and housing at the basic end of the spectrum. If your band is not happy or they are fighting to pay bills, it will be hard for them to be in a creative state of mind. Your band’s creativity will be directly affected by their state of mind. If someone in the band is having financial, personal or mental issues, then their creativity will reflect these issues and can hinder the overall performance of the band. Make sure that everyone involved in your project has a stable form of income and they are relatively comfortable with their present living and working conditions. If everyone in your project has a relatively good state of mind, then it will be much easier to create music and perform in the group. No one has a perfect life, but as long as things are going well for everyone, your project will be in a state that permits creativity and growth.
Equipment is important. Things break down and will need repair. You might need a new speaker or a transformer for your amp. If you don’t have the money to replace even the most basic items that your band needs, this can stop rehearsal or even cancel shows. The last thing you need is to be in a situation where your equipment doesn’t work before a rehearsal or a live show. Always make sure you have an extra set of strings for guitars, drum heads for the drummer and cables for hooking up your equipment. Most venues will have a sound system for the band to use during a show, but you will still need a few guitar amps and basic equipment to send a signal to the sound man at the venue.
The best part of free promotion is the word of mouth promotion that your fans will give you. When you rehearse, you should include the “unknown event” that might occur during your live show. If the guitarist breaks a string, have a short announcement prepared for your audience. While the guitarist repairs his equipment the singer can talk about your website, upcoming events or an album release. It is better to have some sort of content being presented to the crowd than to have everyone standing around in silence. Equipment will fail. It is the nature of the beast. There are usually signs that equipment is about to fail. If you know that one of your amps is about to fail, make sure you bring a backup system to the show. The point of this is to make it appear to the crowd that the situation is normal. The more professional your act is in the event of a failure, the more the fans will talk about it after the show to their friends. This is invaluable and free advertisement for your group. A good example of this would be a guitarist finishing a song with a broken string. This may not seem like much, but it is impressive to fans when they see this.
Make sure your rehearsals are private and don’t invite fans. This may seem harsh, but if your fans have heard the material several hundred times, they may not spring for the cover charge to come see the live show. Inviting your girlfriend or best friend is one thing, they will come to the show if they can but the average fan might not. The point of playing live is to have fun and to hopefully recover some of the costs associated with performing in a band. Your equipment is considered to be your tools. Tools wear out over time and if you don’t recover some of the costs associated with your equipment, you might not be able to replace certain items when they finally break down. They will break down and speakers will become distorted and fail over time. Make sure you budget each show accordingly. Plan on buying large equipment once or twice a year, upgrading software and firmware at least once a year and keeping a full stock of strings, picks and drum heads available for every show. Cables are probably the biggest expense since they will be the item that wears out the quickest during use.
Have a plan or plan to fail. This is important because if you look like you do not know what you are doing on stage, fans will lose respect for your group quickly. This is true especially if they do not know you or your members personally. If you make sure your material is polished and ready and your equipment can handle the task at hand, then your fans will want to come to your shows. It takes more than just the music to impress your fans. They want you to be leaders and to show a certain amount of grace under pressure. Fans will be impressed by your skill playing music and your ability to handle most situations that arise during a show.
When you feel comfortable, it will show and your fans will feel comfortable as well. If there is a problem between members, make sure that they are professional enough to finish the show before having an argument or walking off stage halfway through a set. Nothing is worse than a band that fights on stage, and nothing can ruin a show faster and lose fans than a 10-minute set that ends in chaos and embarrassment. Fans remember this and will not want to fork over a cover charge to see a show like this, so make sure everyone is in agreement in rehearsal and not later during a show. The show is the first priority, and if problems arise, make sure the band acts as a team to cover the problem as fast as possible and continue the show.
This is what rehearsal is for. No one is good enough to just wing it, and if they think they are, the problems will arise at the worst possible moment – during a show in front of a crowd. If your group can be prepared and as professional as possible during a show, your promotion aspect will be the easiest task that the band performs because your fans will talk about more than just the music. They will talk about how flawless your presentation is and how skilled at the creative aspects of the music your group is. This translates into free advertising for your band, and no amount of money can improve on word of mouth promotion because fans will listen to their friends a lot faster than an ad on a social networking site. Use this as part of your promotional strategy and there won’t be much standing in your way on your journey to the top. Record companies also look at these aspects when considering your group for a contract. They want to make sure that your group will be a good investment and that your group will keep its promises when performing for the label. The better the buzz is about your group, the more likely a record company will consider signing your band.