Success in the music industry is not something that happens overnight. And, like with any career, some carefully constructed guidance can sometimes go a long way.
I'm not here to give you a full-proof way to become the next Metallica or Iron Maiden or Avenged Sevenfold.
What I'm here to do is put you on the right road. To give you the right tools to take your music and get the most out of it at little-to-no cost to you.
Every Friday, I'll be posting some new tidbit of advice for how to maybe make things go a little bit more smoothly for you and your fellow bandmates.
This week's topic: Playing shows!
This is nothing more than Music 101. If you want to succeed, you've got to play shows. Recording good music is only 50% of what musicians do. You've also got to put on a killer show. Actually, let me phrase that - You've got to put on as many shows as possible, no matter how killer or not they are.
No band in the history of music has ever been signed to a label and/or made it big without playing shows. It's great that you recorded an album of amazing progressive heavy metal, designed your own amazing artwork, and got it printed on vinyl. But nobody is going to give a damn if you can't hold a candle to your own album. Ask any pro - they had to play hundred of shows before they even had a label exec THINK about them. They had to play basements, garages, bars, and school dances week after week to get the meager following they had. And you know? They were damn proud. Those fans had been earned - fans don't follow the album or the venue, they follow the band. Having a great album means nothing if you suck live. Nobody wants a repeat of The Monkeys.
As a producer, I see dozens of bands and solo artists who live the "neglected artist" lifestyle a little too well. We all know the type - they sit in the living room or garage or bedroom day after day, writing endlessly on their guitars and keyboards, spending hundred of dollars on recording equipment for their computers to put together the musical equivalent of the next great American novel. They put the album up online for free or for $5 or whatever. They spam all of their friends on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr with download links. They never play any shows, except the 3-5 open mics a year, and then throw a fit of self-pity to anyone who will listen for more than 10 seconds about how "nobody understand real music" and "nobody cares about the music I play" and so on and so forth.
The truth is, they're probably right. Nobody cares. But it's nothing personal - this musician has done nothing to MAKE anyone care. It's one thing when the vocalist from Godsmack puts out a studio project outside of his band as a personal experiment to help broaden himself musically and everyone goes out of their way to get their hands on it - he's the vocalist from Godsmack! He has face value, he has a name that people recognize and respect. He's already proven himself as a musician. But the lowly musician we described above has done no such thing.
Now, as a musician, I understand that, especially in the Palmetto State, music gigs are hard to come by. But, we also live in an age of technology - creating your own gig outlet is fairly simple with the use of things like TinyChat and LiveStream and YouTube. (We'll discuss how to effectively utilize social media on the Internet in a later article)
Playing as many gigs as possible (and learning to swallow your pride when it comes to less-than-desirable performances) is such a backbone for success in the music industry - it's what keeps you memorable, relevant, and accessible. It's what keeps you fresh and practiced. It's what makes being a musician so worth it - being able to share your music with your fans, be they long-time listeners or first-time listeners.
Bottom line - play any and every gig that you can, even if it means making your own. Otherwise, nobody is going to want to listen to you.
In the words of my generation: put up, or shut up.