No More Excuses!
When I go out and watch live music, I try to be as anonymous as possible. I don’t go in telling people what I do or trying to impress anyone. I stay very quiet. I watch everything, listen to everything and notice everything. I observe very intently the musicians and how they perform, how they interact with the crowd, how they market themselves and their merchandise booths.
I am going to break this blog down a bit and address each of the above as it is all very important. This blog will be very to the point as I don’t believe in holding back and pampering people. Most of the people I run into say they have been doing this for so many years. Well if that is the case then why don’t learn from those years? Why don’t they do some research and figure things out to change the state of their current situation as an artist or a band?
One of the things that really prevail among most musicians is an attitude that the city/scene or people hold them back; that they or their band are better than everyone else’s and if someone would just give them a chance they’d make it. Granted, some cities have more dominant scenes for certain genres than others and that can provide an obstacle but that is never an excuse, it is just an obstacle to be overcome.
No one is out to stop you from making it and there aren’t any evil overlords who try to hold you back. People and politics really don’t come into play until you have made a real “buzz’ in the scene. Until then, the only thing holding you back is you and your effort, whether you are a solo artist or a band.
As I watch musicians promote their shows on social media or in person, I have to say most of the time — and I mean 95% — it is pretty pathetic. It’s always pretty much one person doing all the promoting. Most band members barely or don’t even promote on their own Facebook profiles. If they do, it’s just a couple of hours before a show, so no one even knows about it, or it’s too late to make or change plans. This is so absolutely ridiculous and there is no excuse whatsoever for it to happen. They don’t even click the “like” option on most of the posts made about them or by other band members, limiting the amount of impressions that can be had. How do people expect to make it if they won’t even promote themselves? Really?
Being in a band and telling everyone how you want to make it and make a career at it means EVERYONE has to promote ALL THE TIME. Not everyone will agree with me here but in my honest opinion, if you don’t, you have no business being in the band. You are doing nothing but holding them back. A band is a team effort; it is everyone’s responsibility to promote the music, shows, websites etc. If you aren’t willing to step outside your comfort zone and help, then step aside and let someone join the band who wants it enough to work for it. Quit posing and pretending you’re something you’re not, which is hungry and wanting to make it.
I never, ever see local bands handing out fliers for their shows. They complain about how the scene doesn’t change, yet no one is enticing new people to the shows. They sit around at the venue before the show getting stoned or hanging with the same people they always talk to. Here they are, downtown, on a strip that is completely packed with tourists all night long and they are hiding out in the venue. How does a band or solo act expect new fans when they do very little or nowhere near enough to promote? How do they expect a scene to change when they do nothing to change it?
When new people, or even old fans, don’t show up for concerts, the only ones to blame are the band. The venues advertise, the promoters advertise and do better for multiple acts even if they have no budget but the bands do almost nothing. You know what you get when you do nothing? Nothing! Get off your lazy butts and make it happen. Stop making excuses. Don’t tell me or anyone else “It’s not my thing,” or “I don’t understand how to do it.” Learn! All the resources are there and mostly free. You have no excuse whatsoever. You yourself are to blame not anyone else.
When watching the artists or bands in the crowd, they usually don’t work it at all. They talk to their friends but never approach those new people they don’t know or try to get them to stay and check out their music. They don’t engage them and develop any rapport to bring in a new fan. It is so absolutely crazy. Never have I scene such a poor job of this as of late. It’s like social media has made people forget how to be social. You are in the entertainment business. You better learn how to entertain and talk to people. It is a pre-requisite.
When I watch them on stage, their engagement with the crowd is also pretty bad. I admit, Nashville is a harder crowd, but that doesn’t matter. You should be working on your stage show at all times and getting ready for other gigs in other cities. Quit worrying about your buddies and their bands that are there. It’s your show while you are on stage, OWN it! You are supposed to be separating yourself from them, proving you have the “it” factor. Quit being like everyone else. Quit spending half your time with your back to the crowd. Quit acting like you are bored. Every gig is the most important gig of your life. You have no idea who is watching you or what opportunity could come out of this performance.
Bands need to invest in themselves. Purchase banners, poster boards, decent merchandise, and whatever else you need to grow your brand and show your professionalism, to make an impression and prove how much you want it every single time. You have to be the one the crowd remembers the most. Have people walk the crowd with your merchandise and sell it. Always have your merchandise booth manned at all times. Make sure people are wearing your shirts, especially your merchandise booth personnel. Make sure your people load and unload as quickly as possible to keep the flow going and limit the number of people who leave because you take too long to get set up. It amazes me how this isn’t completely obvious to people.
In this day and age of the artist/band being on the same playing field as everyone else, everyone has the opportunity to have the same technology, same distribution and the same marketing abilities. Truly the only thing holding you back is you and the level of effort you are willing to put into this dream of yours. So please stop making excuses and start making it happen!