If I have a band together, all musicians are dedicated, and have some songs written, where do we start?

What are some details about what you can expect? Do you play shows without having CDs to sell? Do you phone random places and ask if they are willing to let you play? Do you expect to get paid or should you feel lucky if you can do it for free?
It sounds like you have started!

It's normal to play shows without having CDs to sell. In fact, LATER ON, you might want to consider buying a pack of CD-Rs for cheap and recording a crappy 3 song demo, and give them away at shows.

I wouldn't phone RANDOM places. Call any local 'venues' that you would want to play at. Where do bands play in your area? Perhaps try to set up a show with at least one other band.

You get paid depending on where you play. Unless this is how you make your living right now (I assume it isn't) you should play for free just to get exposure.

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Consider your goals, and make sure what you do is in alignment with those goals.

Having fun? Just do what makes you happy, whatever that happens to be. Play basement parties, screw around making demos in your friends basement, whatever.

Actually taking it seriously? Treat it as a business. At the same time, don't sell out, which to me, means doing stuff that you can't justify for any other reason than making money. You will have to do stuff that's not fun, but that's part of any business. If it will lead to bigger and better things and allow you to continue doing what you enjoy, then do it. It can be a fine line between the two.

The latter goal requires more effort, and will at times, be more work than it is fun, but if it is in line with your goals then you do it.

Ultimately, you will want to sell CD's for all sorts of reasons. That is a significant part of your product. The other part of your product is your live show, which should be a companion piece to your recorded product. The two will support each other, but if you only have one, you can sell it until you finish developing the other. (actually, there should be three parts to your product.... add merch to that list....)

Where will your product be sold? Who is your market? You need to answer those questions, and you need to be as honest and realistic as possible. As soon as you answer those questions, you will avoid the mistake of calling random places. Research where your market frequents, and what other businesses are willing and available to help you sell your product. Be sensible. You wouldn't try to do a metal show in a dance club any more than you'd try to sell shoes in a book store. That sort of thing.

Recognize that the people you deal with fall into four main categories:
1. customers/clients - your fans.
2. service providers - CD duplicators, t-shirt/sticker manufacturers, web designers, recording studios, etc.
3. retailers - record stores, clubs, other venues.
4. competition - other bands (but can also be a good source of support, the music community has become a lot more communal over the last 20 years, but don't be fooled into thinking they're not your competition at the same time....)

Consider the needs and expectations of each. What will THEY get out of it? Why would they bother with you anyways in the first place?

1. customers/clients - Do they know about you? Have they heard your music? Why, really, will they spend money or time on your product when they could stay home and watch CSI or American Idol for free?
2. service providers - don't forget that they are running a business too. Make sure you remember that when dealing with them.
3. retailers - Why would this club book you? Will their customers have a desire for your product? They are out to make money too. Will you help them with that?
4. competition - as much as people are willing to help you these days, remember that they will be looking out for their best interests first before yours. At the same time, if you develop relationships, you never know who can help you later. Be friendly, polite, and willing to help out, and people will be more inclined to help you before the next guy.

Once you have the right perspective on things, a lot of the answers to a lot of questions really become self-evident.

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.
Last edited by axemanchris at Apr 24, 2008,
Thanks for the advice guys, and that long post from axemanchris. I'm prepared to treat this thing as a business, but have fun at the same time.