- Bass Tabs
The internet's a pale comparison to a real, live, local fan-base. If you're really set on getting your stuff out there and heard, do it the old fashioned way – make a demo CD, make a bunch of copies of it and start spreading it around to friends and at bars or clubs and non-franchise music and instrument shops (most mom-and-pop shops are happy to help out a budding musician/band). If people dig your stuff they'll spread its praise via word of mouth and before long, you'll have yourself a fan-base. And play every chance you get, be it an aforementioned pool party, bar or wedding gig, or open mic night – whatever opportunity presents itself. In my first band, we would actually open the doors and windows during our practice sessions so neighbors could hear us (none of them complained, surprisingly) and folks who liked what we were doing could just walk in, cop a squat and watch us jam. Once you get a bit of a following, start charging for those demo CDs and sell them at every gig you play.That's how you build a dedicated fan-base and, by extension, a demand for your stuff.
What would the music and instrument stores do to help?
Privately owned shops – as in mom-and-pop stores, places that aren't part of a national/corporate chain – are all about spreadin' the music love and are happy to help up-and-coming local talent – sometimes for free, usually for a small price. So you go in, offer them a free copy of your CD and if they like it, ask if they'd be interested in selling copies for a percentage (say, 60/40 in your favor, for instance – but there may be some haggling involved).
You're not going to get rich, obviously, but that's not the point. The point is getting your music out there, getting it heard, building a fan-base – which it will, if it's good.
Use the Internet as another distributor of your music. You won't build an immediate following sharing your songs for free, but depending on the site you use, you'll be able to see certain details and demographics that are useful to know who is downloading your songs.
The local following is essential to fill venues. If you can't bring a crowd in an owner or club manager isn't going to have you take up their stage/floor. You need to work your way up. Build the following, and then promote, promote, promote your shows as much as you can. Even to your loyal followers.
Taking last-minute gigs is dangerous territory because you're walking your band into a venue that you may not have had time to promote and get your loyals enough time to make arrangements to attend your show. This could be disastrous if a club manager is using your band as a contingency to cover a band that cancelled to see if you can hold the anticipated crowd or to see if you can bring a crowd in at the last minute. This can go great or really, really bad for your band. But it's hard to turn down opportunities when you need to play as much as you can for the experience and to gather a larger following. So add that to your risks list.
Be serious and dedicated about your band, just don't expect superstardom, enjoy the ride and if it happens, it happens, setting yourself up for disappointment is the worst thing you can do
Seems like the biggest risk would be letting it not be fun any more. If you don't enjoy what you do, in anything, you're going to be miserable.
A coworker of mine's band has really taken off, touring regionally now on the weekends. For their first gig they were the 1st of 4 bands on the bill. He got a bunch of people from the office to come to the show, we all bought a few drinks, tipped the bartender well, and chatted with him about why we were there. As the bartender was also the booking agent for the bar, he knew they were making money by having this band on the bill. They were 2nd on the bill the next weekend, which got them even more exposure, and within a month were headlining there and on bills at other (bigger) places around town. The two things they did right:
1. They were ready for the gig. It's not my style of music, but they were tight and the fans of that genre who were there said their originals were good.
2. They researched the place. Knowing the booking agent was also the bartender paid off in spades. A lot of us from the office stuck out in the place (not the normal clientele by any means), but we were all asked to let the bartender know why we were there.
Compared to all of the bands that start out, they are very successful, but not in a position to quit their day jobs. Yet, at least.
Aye, they're one of the best Village People tribute bands you're likely to see…
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