I havent been on this site in years here's what i've learned playing music in the real world (and stuff)

#1
I used to come here all the time. Used to look for advice and new homies. Never made many homies, but I heard alot of stuff. I'd like to share my stories since leaving. No one probably cares much, so I'll try to keep it as short as possible. I'll try to keep opinions out of it and the business side is also a bit weird, so I won't go suuuper deep. This is experience in a band and as a freelance player. I did go to music school, but that's a different story.

Formed my band in 2012 (weird metal band). Been going strong since. About to take the full time touring risks and all that. At some point, if the band sounds tight enough and can really deliver live and all that, it can reaaaalllly open doors. We've always held pride in being excellent live and that alone got us on some pretty sick opportunities even without having music out at the time. Word of mouth, especially in this age is a very real thing.

Alot of people try to tow the line of being unique vs being marketable enough to have wide appeal. While there is some creedence to that, it makes things move alllllot "better", in the sense of being proud of progressing following your own path, if you pursue that unique sound. Everyone wont "get it", but some will. The more you immerse yourself in that and refine it, the better the overall response you can get. It's fun seeing an audience awestruck haha Since I do side gigs and teaching gigs, it helps having a unique sound even more. Students want to learn from the guy that can do stuff others can't.

I used to see alot of how the band practice dynamic 'should' go and things like practice vs rehearsal....to be honest.....if the band has guys that are solid and/or the chemistry is good...things like that can get very blurry. We'd learn songs mid rehearsal. Teach each other stuff...forget what song was what. Rehearsal in a band of guys playing songs they've written also flows differently than hired guns working together. Much less business like in the former alot of times. NOT EVERYTIME. Every band is different. It doesn't work the same for every band. You can't have too many expectations about things like this. However, all of our members don't live in our city and we're very spread out in general, do don't waste time.

Songwriting duties are weird too. Sometimes it's a group effort. Other times not. No suprises. Egos do exist. And they can get in the way of both fun and progress. Just keep that in mind. Having a grandiose artistic vision caaaan be offputting to some guys. Especially if a band is new. No one cares about someone who's unproven, ya know?

Band practice will be skipped sometimes. Priorities come up. Don't flip shit. You may have to play without having practiced for a while too. It happens. It'll be okay.
Money can get wonky as well. Trying to split everything equally can be hard. THIS is where dedication to the cause comes in. Our singer straight up bought the merch and while...some of us...still owe him...haha...he believes in the whole thing enough for that. Try to play this part by ear.

If you're serious enough and work hard enough....you will miss things. Birthdays/first words/steps/work/the new movie/dragonball super episode. It will happen. Family and friends will be butthurt. This is where the belief in the cause comes back into play.

Speaking from the freelance pov....repetoire can get weird. I play jazz stuff, RnB, rock covers, improv sets...alot of times, a plan isn't always laid out. It just isn't. Learning to read charts can be the difference between that being a big deal or not. Same with developing a strong ear for learning stuff between sets.

Gear is literally only as important as you make it.

And lastly, some odds and ends:
Shows will run late.
Guys will cancel last minute.
No one wants to "headline" locally/regionally.
Be the homie and give the touring band your cut of the door if you can.
Siblings in the band aren't always 'off limits'.DON'T LET IT BECOME A WEIRD PROBLEM.
Don't bang the bassist though.
Forgetting small gear at a gig isn't a big deal if you play shows with other bands. Don't do it on purpose haha.
Carry a tool kit. Keep a drum key. Bring xlr cables.
Batteries will fall out of a line 6 wireless unit. Tape that shit up.
You will lose things at venues.
KEEP TRACK OF MERCH AND MONEY MADE.
Play shows as often as you can locally. If you want to tour, that's the main use of mapping draw. Drawing 60 people locally isnt the same as drawing 60 people a state over. Put your eggs where they are most useful.

I hope you enjoyed my rant haha. Have fun. Listen to shia. Don't let your dreams be dreams.


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Last edited by sonny bb at Jun 7, 2017,
#2
Thanks for posting! I like what you said about having a unique style. Someone once told me to find your niche and milk the 1% of the population that will dig it, instead of trying too hard to please a large audience.
#4
Really good stuff. The reality of a band ready to take that next step. 

Speaking from the freelance pov....repetoire can get weird. I play jazz stuff, RnB, rock covers, improv sets...alot of times, a plan isn't always laid out. It just isn't. Learning to read charts can be the difference between that being a big deal or not. Same with developing a strong ear for learning stuff between sets.

Gear is literally only as important as you make it.

Thanks for posting. The above were my two favorites. If you ever plan on doing music full time learn to play as many styles as you can. While your main focus is always on your own band/project, once you have decided to become a full time musician you have to take every opportunity to work a paying gig. That's means playing any style of music so you can pay the bills. You'll also be able to network with working musicians who will be an excellent source for future work. Your family will only support you for a short period of time while you pursue your main goal. If you love to play, play everything, not just some form of rock, metal, whatever. Get some real experience playing in as many styles of music as possible. The more versatile you are, the faster you will become a better player, have more confidence in playing ability and get you more gigs. Win win situation.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jul 19, 2017,
#5
Gear is literally only as important as you make it.

Jesus christ, this! It's so easy to get caught up in what gear you have on sites like this, and then when you get to a real show, all that means almost nothing (as long as your gear isn't completely awful).

I've watched bands absolutely kill it with cheap Crate or Line 6 Spider half stacks, and then I've seen bands fail tremendously with a wall if Mesa Tri-Recs behind them. Stop worrying so much about your pickups or the freaking wood in your guitar and start thinking about whether or not you can write and perform a decent song that people actually want to stand there and listen to.
#6
Awesome post! Thanks for sharing your experiences! I just had my first ever live gig with my band a few months ago, and it was certainly a great learning experience about a lot of this. A lot of what you posted here echoed with just my first experience. Yeah, a lot of shit happened, but we got through it. People would cancel last minute on practices and someone would show up horribly late every now and then, but I also come from the world of theatre, and much of the idea of just dealing with what comes to you also applies to live theatre. 

Definitely coming back to this thread if I ever feel stuck for future shows. 
#9
How do you tour whithout ruining yourself financially?
Here in France people won't pay to see three small bands but will spend easily 150€ to see a huge one... With my band we made a short 6 gig tour and in the end we had lost 300€. 
#10
Khorne666

Okay, losing 300 means that you spent at least that much. What did you spend money on? Chances are that there were probably places you could have saved money.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#11
theogonia777

Gas: 150€ (We need two cars for our stuff)
Spending 7 nights in motels: 250€
Lunch: 60€ total for the 6 days, we ate supermarket sandwiches lol. dinner offered by venue.

That makes up a total of 460€ in expenses and that doesn't include the money lost by two of the members who took 3 days off their jobs without pay.

We made about 150€ in total with a share of the door, and merch sales.
Last edited by Khorne666 at Nov 25, 2017,
#12
Khorne666

Motels are something that you will often have to skip unfortunately. If you have any sort of fan base it's worth hitting up the socials to ask to crash for the night. Otherwise sleep in your car a few nights. Even cutting that bill in half would have helped.

Also your income comes go 25 a show. That means you're either playing at some real stingy venues or you're playing to crowds of like ten every show. Otherwise you're doing something wrong. If you're decent you should be able to sell a few CDs at 5-10 so you should be making more than 25.

So yeah. But on the other hand, you're probably some no name local band, right? So you shouldn't expect to get paid a ton from a Tour. Touring is not a profitable thing to begin with if you don't have a solid reputation and fan base throughout the area you're playing. You say that nobody wants to see three small bands plays. Well, can you blame them? If they don't know any of the bands, they're taking a crapshoot whereas that same money at their favorite club or bar is a sure thing.

Even if they check out your band online before the show, maybe you're just not that good. No band wants to hear that, but it could be true.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#13
Quote by sonny bb


Gear is literally only as important as you make it.



Words of wisdom.  
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.