#1
(don't judge me by my old old username from high school )

my band in Austin, TX has worked very hard on our 6 track EP for the last 2 years and finally released it this past November. We got some blog acclaim, (one big Austin blog gave us 4th Best EP in Austin of 2011), we amassed 2000+ "likes" through Facebook advertising (170 people locally in Austin), currently have 671 people on our mailing list (people who downloaded the EP), we have 8 forwarded songs through TAXI (though nothing has come of it yet), strangely enough one of our songs is getting tons of play on a big radio station in the Phillipines (we're not in a PRO yet), and the coolest of all I think, we were rated "4th Best Emerging Austin Band of 2011" by the writers of a national magazine (their "branch" in Austin).

However, we've only played 2 gigs as this band. Very small ones. but we are able to recreate our EP's sound live and I know we sound just as good live as we do on the record.

...so what the hell is the next step?!

back in December I tried to get a small gig at a little joint that I thought wouldn't care if you brought a small crowd, and I've heard very poor sounding bands play there. I sent a nice honest email and said we could probably get 12 heads on any given night -- Never heard back.

I know we could get at least 20 or 30 people if we wanted to do a "big" gig at a "good" venue and, maybe could get more people if we really wanted to get together all of our friends and fans locally, maybe 50-60, our drummer thinks. But I get scared and think we can only get 5-7 people to show up, as it's happened before with previous bands I've been in.

Also, we're not a party/dancey band. We have some catchy songs, we have some rock songs, we have some electronic songs, kinda on the dark/moody side of things...we're kind of all over the spectrum, some slow, some fast. We move between a mainstream and indie-rock sound.


so knowing all that... do we:

A. try to book one big gig a month and get 50+ people to come (if we're lucky)

B. play a bunch of small gigs, where they'd be ok with only 15 or so people showing up (3-5 at the worst) and that way we play it safe and get more "stage" practice?

C. Try to get on some bills with other bands that are more established?

D. Get a manager? Since we have no damn idea what we're doing gig-wise? (i hear you don't need a manager until much further down the road though)


Those are our big questions right now...

also, there is a PR company in los angeles that seems very legit and has employees who've worked with bigger record labels and knows the business, that has wanted to work with us, and knows we plan on releasing a new 3 track EP in the next 3 months...knowing where we are currently, is this a good idea? it's going to be quite expensive.

and also If we were to get contacted by a music licensing company, it would be a good idea to already be signed with ASCAP or BMI or one of those guys right? (any idea what would be the best one for us?) I get worried that, college radio or podcasts or something wouldn't want to play us if we were, cause then they'd have to pay royalties each time one of our songs is played right?


Thank you so much for any help. I've read a bunch of "guides" and stuff all over the internet looking for tips, but I really would like some people who can see everything we've done thus far, who know the business, and maybe gauge what's the next best step to take.
My username is old, don't judge me (but old 311 is good)
Last edited by Three11Rules at Mar 20, 2012,
#2
I'd gig with other bands because you have no idea whether yourband is any good live, or if anyone wil show up to a gig.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#3
Quote by AlanHB
I'd gig with other bands because you have no idea whether yourband is any good live, or if anyone wil show up to a gig.

I agree with this. Play a few gigs where you know people will at least be there for the other bands because they will still hear you. Get practicing and make sure you guys can play really tight live. Then you can move on to bigger gigs centralized around you once you know you are able performers.
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#4
Quote by Three11Rules
(don't judge me by my old old username from high school )


F**k that. They kick ass.

Quote by Three11Rules

my band in Austin, TX has worked very hard on our 6 track EP for the last 2 years and finally released it this past November. We got some blog acclaim, (one big Austin blog gave us 4th Best EP in Austin of 2011), we amassed 2000+ "likes" through Facebook advertising (170 people locally in Austin), currently have 671 people on our mailing list (people who downloaded the EP), we have 8 forwarded songs through TAXI (though nothing has come of it yet), strangely enough one of our songs is getting tons of play on a big radio station in the Phillipines (we're not in a PRO yet), and the coolest of all I think, we were rated "4th Best Emerging Austin Band of 2011" by the writers of a national magazine (their "branch" in Austin).


Okay, so you're miles ahead of most bands. Keep up the good work. Most of us could learn a thing or two from you.

You mentioned TAXI. I was with them for a year and I found that one of the most valuable things they do is their A+R insider articles. They are printed on their website (members only?), but they also published them in Recording Magazine. I learned SOOO much from those articles. Holy crap. What a resource!

Quote by Three11Rules

However, we've only played 2 gigs as this band. Very small ones. but we are able to recreate our EP's sound live and I know we sound just as good live as we do on the record.

...so what the hell is the next step?!


Fix the "we've only played 2 gigs" part.

A+R people, in those articles - time, and time, and time and time again - have stressed and stressed and stressed some more the importance of developing your own following. The basic premise is quite simply, "if you can't get people interested in your own band, how the hell do you expect us to do it for you?" On the other hand, if you can demonstrate that you have a product that is ready to sell and IS selling, then the labels just might want to help themselves to a piece of that. They'll offer you a small piece of the pie, but it could wind up being a pretty big f**king pie - or not.

Quote by Three11Rules

back in December I tried to get a small gig at a little joint that I thought wouldn't care if you brought a small crowd, and I've heard very poor sounding bands play there. I sent a nice honest email and said we could probably get 12 heads on any given night -- Never heard back.


Okay, so you're a bar owner. Some band says they can bring twelve people to a show there. If each of them buys two drinks, the bar makes $120.

Alternately, you could close three hours early because there is nobody there, send five staff members (making, say, $10/hr) x 3 hours = saving $150.

Having a band in means you get to stay at work all night and come out $30 behind what you would of if you just closed early. Which would you do?

Sure, my numbers might be a little suggestive, but the premise is clear - booking a band is a business venture. Hell, I'd stay open the three hours and have a karaoke machine and make more money. You have to promise to bring people, and then follow through on that promise.

Quote by Three11Rules

I know we could get at least 20 or 30 people if we wanted to do a "big" gig at a "good" venue and, maybe could get more people if we really wanted to get together all of our friends and fans locally, maybe 50-60, our drummer thinks. But I get scared and think we can only get 5-7 people to show up, as it's happened before with previous bands I've been in.


That's quite a disparity. How can you go from 50-60 people down to 5-7? I can see 20-30, but 5-7? What are you doing to promote your shows?

Keep in mind that 30 people at a large venue (say 300+) is still a dismal failure and a guarantee that you won't be asked back.

Quote by Three11Rules

Also, we're not a party/dancey band. We have some catchy songs, we have some rock songs, we have some electronic songs, kinda on the dark/moody side of things...we're kind of all over the spectrum, some slow, some fast. We move between a mainstream and indie-rock sound.


Basically nobody cares what you do, so long as you can prove that you can sell it.

Quote by Three11Rules

so knowing all that... do we:

A. try to book one big gig a month and get 50+ people to come (if we're lucky)


YES!!

Quote by Three11Rules

B. play a bunch of small gigs, where they'd be ok with only 15 or so people showing up (3-5 at the worst) and that way we play it safe and get more "stage" practice?


Well, stage practice until you run out of stages that are going to be willing to take you on because you're costing them money. And then your band has a reputation of "they always play to empty rooms. Clearly nobody likes them."

Quote by Three11Rules

C. Try to get on some bills with other bands that are more established?


Yes, but there will still be an expectation that you'll bring people.

Quote by Three11Rules

D. Get a manager? Since we have no damn idea what we're doing gig-wise? (i hear you don't need a manager until much further down the road though)


You get a manager when you can no longer manage yourself. Two gigs doesn't sound difficult to manage, unless they're on the same day.

Quote by Three11Rules

Those are our big questions right now...

also, there is a PR company in los angeles that seems very legit and has employees who've worked with bigger record labels and knows the business, that has wanted to work with us, and knows we plan on releasing a new 3 track EP in the next 3 months...knowing where we are currently, is this a good idea? it's going to be quite expensive.


Well, if they have a good reputation and you can verify that reputation from testimonials from people they have worked with that you know, then it merely comes down to "what will they do for you, and at what cost?" And of course, will that be worth it?

Quote by Three11Rules

and also If we were to get contacted by a music licensing company, it would be a good idea to already be signed with ASCAP or BMI or one of those guys right? (any idea what would be the best one for us?) I get worried that, college radio or podcasts or something wouldn't want to play us if we were, cause then they'd have to pay royalties each time one of our songs is played right?


It's a good idea anyways. Canada just has the one (SOCAN). You'd have to research the two American ones to see which one to go with. As soon as you start getting commercial radio or television play, you're losing money by NOT joining a PRO. That airplay you're getting in the Phillipines? You should be getting paid for that. PRO's generally have reciprocal agreements with other PRO's, which means that, as a Canadian artist through SOCAN, if I get played in Kentucky, their data will be recorded to ASCAP/BMI, who will share that information with SOCAN, which will ensure that I get paid.

Quote by Three11Rules
I get worried that, college radio or podcasts or something wouldn't want to play us if we were, cause then they'd have to pay royalties each time one of our songs is played right?


College radio doesn't pay by the artist and song. They pay a blanket licence fee which allows them to play copyrighted material all year long for a set price. Consequently, they don't have to track each and every song they play, and consequently, you won't get paid for that. The way THAT works is that they take their blanket licence fees and divide them up among their top x# of artists (don't know how many that is). That means that I'll get played on Canadian Campus radio, and Brian Adams and Celine Dion will get paid for it. Hardly fair, but in the absence of a better system, the only way it can be done.

Quite honestly, I have no idea how podcasts work. I would guess that the person distributing the podcast would have to record the title and artist of all music they play, and then submit fees to the PRO based on the number of plays/downloads per podcast. This explains why many podcasts do not include music. (I think you can use something like 30 seconds or something before you have to pay...)

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#5
thank you all for the advice, I contacted 4 bands that were also on the "best of austin 2011" list and I know 3 bands checked us out, one of the members of one band added us on Facebook, but nobody has gotten back to me yet. Except for one band who was really high ranked but also hasn't listened to the music yet but he's at least going to give me some advice and maybe help open some doors he said.

anyways...chris thank you for all your info, very very informative and helpful. now to address some of it...

Quote by axemanchris

Fix the "we've only played 2 gigs" part.

A+R people, in those articles - time, and time, and time and time again - have stressed and stressed and stressed some more the importance of developing your own following. The basic premise is quite simply, "if you can't get people interested in your own band, how the hell do you expect us to do it for you?" On the other hand, if you can demonstrate that you have a product that is ready to sell and IS selling, then the labels just might want to help themselves to a piece of that. They'll offer you a small piece of the pie, but it could wind up being a pretty big f**king pie - or not.


haha I hear you. I guess it just seems if you have label support you automatically seem more legit and therefore can easily bring more people as you'd probably have a better producer/studio/mixing engineer, playing places with better sound, more legit website/online presence/music videos etc...that's how a label would really help say if you weren't selling that well. i think at least...people/the general public would see you as established and not struggling or something, which would be more appealing I believe.


Quote by axemanchris

Okay, so you're a bar owner. Some band says they can bring twelve people to a show there. If each of them buys two drinks, the bar makes $120.

Alternately, you could close three hours early because there is nobody there, send five staff members (making, say, $10/hr) x 3 hours = saving $150.

Having a band in means you get to stay at work all night and come out $30 behind what you would of if you just closed early. Which would you do?

Sure, my numbers might be a little suggestive, but the premise is clear - booking a band is a business venture. Hell, I'd stay open the three hours and have a karaoke machine and make more money. You have to promise to bring people, and then follow through on that promise.

I see, I really never thought of it that way. I guess I figured since they're always open anyways that having a band play there with the opportunity of making money and since I know we could bring more than I've seen some bands there bring, I thought it'd work out.

Quote by axemanchris


That's quite a disparity. How can you go from 50-60 people down to 5-7? I can see 20-30, but 5-7? What are you doing to promote your shows?

Keep in mind that 30 people at a large venue (say 300+) is still a dismal failure and a guarantee that you won't be asked back.



I don't know what we should do to promote! please help! If we had a show we would promote it through our Facebook page (we have 171 fans in Austin) by writing about it 2-3 times, and tell all of our friends through Facebook. and we might pay and advertise on Facebook a bit...that would be normal, if were to go out of the norm we might make flyers and hand them out after other shows or stick them up somewhere like posters or something, but we've never done anything like that yet.

What would be best to do?

Quote by axemanchris


YES!!

Well, stage practice until you run out of stages that are going to be willing to take you on because you're costing them money. And then your band has a reputation of "they always play to empty rooms. Clearly nobody likes them."

Yes, but there will still be an expectation that you'll bring people.

You get a manager when you can no longer manage yourself. Two gigs doesn't sound difficult to manage, unless they're on the same day.



The reason I say a manager is just so someone knows what the next step for us to take should be. Since we're having trouble getting into the scene or don't know what should be our first step to take...someone who knows the scene might be able to help us out and sort of guide us properly even though there's nothing like "overwhelming" or anything happening, such as too busy that we can't do things ourselves but maybe it'd be worth it just for some advice and direction?

so when you say we should try to book gigs and get 50+ people to come. What size a venue should we book that at? The one I emailed last night said it's available for private parties size 10-250...and I told them 10-30 people was our draw....couldn't they just put us on, on an off night and then it'd be alright?

Or should I try booking a really small venue first, then building a relationship with them? I just get worried people would come and hear the shitty setup and sound and never want to come see a show there again and then we'd be screwed, so i try to book places that at least have a stage or some sound setup of some kind...

What if we were to include in the e-mail that we'll play for free for the exposure?


so tired of being in limbo, i just want to get out there and start playing. we're a good band, and we've got fans, locally as well so where the hell do we begin...
My username is old, don't judge me (but old 311 is good)
Last edited by Three11Rules at Mar 21, 2012,
#6
Quote by Three11Rules
so tired of being in limbo, i just want to get out there and start playing. we're a good band, and we've got fans, locally as well so where the hell do we begin...


You keep on saying this, that you have fans, but you also don't have fans, that you're established but nobody knows who you are.....

It's ok to feel this way because, you really don't know how many "fans" you have until you get out playing. It's one thing to click "like", but it's another thing entirely to leave the house and hand over $10 to someone. And for that reason, I wouldn't place any value on facebook likes or youtube views at all.

And whilst we're on the whole "social network isn't everything" thing, how are you contacting these bands? Because I'll tell you something. It's a lot easier to ignore an email of facebook message than a phone call or someone coming up to you after a gig. This applies whether you're contacting other bands, talking to venues, applying for a job or asking a girl out.

I'd assume that someone who actually had the balls to talk to me actually wanted the job more, more than some guy spamming the same message on a whole heap of bands. Maybe something to keep in mind for the future.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#7
Quote by AlanHB
You keep on saying this, that you have fans, but you also don't have fans, that you're established but nobody knows who you are.....

It's ok to feel this way because, you really don't know how many "fans" you have until you get out playing. It's one thing to click "like", but it's another thing entirely to leave the house and hand over $10 to someone. And for that reason, I wouldn't place any value on facebook likes or youtube views at all.

And whilst we're on the whole "social network isn't everything" thing, how are you contacting these bands? Because I'll tell you something. It's a lot easier to ignore an email of facebook message than a phone call or someone coming up to you after a gig. This applies whether you're contacting other bands, talking to venues, applying for a job or asking a girl out.

I'd assume that someone who actually had the balls to talk to me actually wanted the job more, more than some guy spamming the same message on a whole heap of bands. Maybe something to keep in mind for the future.


I totally get that about not *really* knowing your fan base...and you're very right about the effort made at the computer compared to actually going out and doing something. but I guess a good amount of people have said "when are you playing live, i want to come see you!" so you would think it'd work out...

anyways, as for the bands, I use e-mail...definitely not Facebook messages. But I haven't seen any "upcoming" gigs by these guys on their site so I just sent them an email. and I didn't just spam bands...i only picked bands i truly enjoyed and would enjoy playing with. only 4, compared to the 20 or so to pick from.

And some venues actually say they don't want any physical copies of anything and they only accept e-mail booking requests...but I do completely understand what you're saying. and making in-person personal connections is very important...
My username is old, don't judge me (but old 311 is good)
#8
^^^ I've told this story countless times, but I'll do a quick one for you. I was hired as a session muso to launch a girl's EP. She had never played a gig before, but had a couple of thousand likes on her FB page. The FB page was full of excitement when she booked her gigs, and in the end roughly 7 people came. A whole heap apologised not for coming though on her FB page. That wasn't a one off, we did a multi-city tour and the result was the same across the board.

As for connecting with bands, just go to one of those "upcoming gigs" and introduce yourself. Make an attempt to become part of the scene you want to be part of.

Whilst some venues say they don't want physical copies and stuff, and only take e-bookings, they're still going to give the slot to people they like. So give them a call, or rock up and introduce yourself. Ask them how to give copies over, you play dumb, they tell you to submit electronically. That way when they receive your email they think "hey that's that guy I liked" rather than "oh this is just another random email".
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#9
now that is some real stuff right there...big thank you, makes complete sense...very noted.

well damn, I gotta know what happened with the girl? was she ever allowed to play those venues again? did you ever find a way to start bringing people to gigs?? that sounds so horrible! and close to what our situation could/might be!
My username is old, don't judge me (but old 311 is good)
Last edited by Three11Rules at Mar 22, 2012,
#10
Quote by Three11Rules
now that is some real stuff right there...big thank you, makes complete sense...very noted.

well damn, I gotta know what happened with the girl? was she ever allowed to play those venues again? did you ever find a way to start bringing people to gigs?? that sounds so horrible! and close to what our situation could/might be!


The girl? Well err, she refused to acknowledge the obvious, and continued on in her own little facebook world believing she's pretty famous and successful. Hopefully the difference with you guys is that you can separate facebook from the real world.

As for the venues allowing her to play again, she forked out cash to hire them in the first place, so it was all on her (or her mother to be a bit more precise). Once my session duties were done I was asked to be part of the "band", but this quickly fell apart once I started pointing out the above and recommended ways to improve. These comments were not taken lightly, I was fired, along with the "bandmembers" who agreed with me (all of them).

It didn't really affect my reputation as a gigging musician, see the girl only communicated over facebook, and everyone knew everything she said because it was all in material form. I was praised to some extent on how I handled the situation, and she became a punchline to some muso jokes.

So yeah, I guess the moral of this story is to always have an objective standpoint to where exactly you are. If people don't show up to your gigs, it's cool, just don't blame it on the "scene" or "the night was wrong" or something like that. This is especially relevant when you can point to another local band who constantly pull people every night they're on. It's better just to look at the other band and go "how are they doing that? can we do that?" etc.

I'm not saying that facebook isn't a handy tool. It sure is! But if a person "likes" your band, just remember, there's a group "im not perfect. i'll annoy you, piss you off, say stupid things then take it back. but put that all aside you'll never find a girl that cares and loves you more than me" which has 148,511 likes at the time this is written. That's more than Harrison Ford whom has 113,926 likes at the time this is written.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#11
Right on well I really appreciate that. Yeah, she sounds pretty spoiled...but I guess she'll learn the hard way.


so...since we don't know our draw, do you think we should just find some small place and try to just get it packed? and that way if not too many people show up it isn't a total loss and we have an idea of what our draw might be?

and does the day matter? does the time matter? what are good non Facebook ways to promote your show?

so many questions!!
My username is old, don't judge me (but old 311 is good)
#12
Sure, gotta start somewhere. Joining up with other bands would still be the best deal though, and also learn about your local scene a bit. There's usually nights where they pick a couple of random bands who play together.

As for days/times/places, you don't have much of a choice when starting, especially so when playing original music. I'd encourage you to get out there and learn what happens in your local scene. If you don't get out there, why do you think your fans will?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#13
Weekend nights are popular music nights for a reason!

Tell all your friends (in person!), especially the friends with big social circles. Plaster flyers everywhere.

edit- also, depending on where you live there might be an organization that specializes in booking local bands and throw similar bands together on a ticket. you'll get ripped off and don't expect a lot of pay, if any- (with the group I'm dealing with, a band gets $2 per person after that band brings in 25 people, and each of those people have to come specifically for that band) but it would be a good way to get out on the scene and meet new musicians.
Last edited by You Ruined It at Mar 22, 2012,
#14
Quote by Three11Rules
thank you all for the advice,


No prob. I love this stuff.

Quote by Three11Rules

I guess it just seems if you have label support you automatically seem more legit and therefore can easily bring more people as you'd probably have a better producer/studio/mixing engineer, playing places with better sound, more legit website/online presence/music videos etc...that's how a label would really help say if you weren't selling that well. i think at least...people/the general public would see you as established and not struggling or something, which would be more appealing I believe.


And there, sir, is the catch-22. Basically, consider that selling music is not really much different from selling shoes, or breakfast cereal, or whatever else.

Case study: Liquid Paper was invented in 1951 by a woman in her home. (Davey Jones' mother, btw... yeah, the guy from the Monkees....). She sold it for years out of her home with good local success. She tried to sell it to IBM. They declined. A few years later, she sold it to Gillette for almost $50M plus royalties. Would Gillette have bought it in 1951? No, not likely. Hell, IBM turned it down! But once she proved that it could be very profitable, she was able to convince a larger company to shell out big bucks for it.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.