By Sheena Metal
Building a music career is hard work. Every day, month and year you repeat the same grind: build the band, write the songs, record the songs, rehearse the songs, perform the songs, promote the band, advertise the band, solicit industry, publicize to the press, build the website, create the message boards, forums, and chat rooms, assemble the street team…it goes on and on until you think your head will surely explode from the mountains of menial tasks that face you, the unsigned artist, each day.
Still, after putting in all of that work a band will hit dry spells, slow times and glass ceilings. Some days, your already slow move forward, seems to retard even further. Sometimes it feels as though you’ve peaked and will never advance. There are even days you want to blow off all of this tedious monotony, get a job in the electronics department at Target, and call it a day!
But even as your face is smushed up against the glass ceiling of a never-changing cycle of music business grunt work, hope is just over the horizon. See, there is something that you never stopped to think about all the while you were chasing the elusive brass ring of music stardom…all of this time, you were in control. If opportunities have stopped coming your way, then make your own. If you want to be a rockstar, develop a situation you can star in and rock. You have the power and the ability to be anything and everything you have ever wanted to be if you learn to simply create your own buzz.
The following are a few tips that may help you to get started creating your own buzz in order to push past the obstacles and keeping moving down the Yellow Brick Road of musical superstardom:
1.) Create Your Own Gigs---Tired of whining that you never get the gigs you want? You know: good clubs, weekend shows, prime slots, longer sets, decent pay, good bands on the bill, press attending, industry confirming and most importantly, your band headlining. It’s ridiculous to waste time complaining, when you could be booking, planning, promoting and playing your dreams gigs right now. Sure it will be a lot of time invested and it may mean putting smaller gigs on hold for awhile in order to promote one giant show, but the payoffs will inevitably outweigh the work…and the best part is, it’s all about you. You are the promoter. You are the stars of the night. You pick the date, the times, the bands. You invite the press and the industry. Within a month or two, you could be playing the types of gigs you have always wanted, and all the while getting press, making money, collecting names for your mailing list and building hype for your band that even the stodgiest industry can take notice of.
2.) Join The Ranks Of The Press And/Or The Industry---You know what they say…if you can’t beat them, join them. If you want to get industry or press to notice you and your band, what better way than to become a member of the industry or press. Pick up a gig writing for a local magazine and review your friends’ bands and the shows you promote. Intern at a record label and meet friends in the industry to invite to your gigs. Start a management/promotion company and book your band and your friends’ bands to become better acquainted with clubs and their booking agents. You’ll find it will be much easier to deal with industry people when they consider you more of a peer and not just another band asking for help.
3.) Numbers, Numbers, Numbers---It may sound ridiculous but in the entertainment industry (as in any business), your perceived worth is tracked by your numbers. Web posters, gig patrons and listeners of your music all translate to numbers and the big ones impress fans and industry alike. If you want club bookers, managers, magazine editors and A&R to notice you then make sure your numbers are up. Web hits, fan group members, online community friends and people on your personal mailing list all add up to your bankability as a band so keep driving those numbers up and watch the doors swing open wide for you.
4.) Teach, Volunteer, Take Classes, Join Groups---If you want to meet new people, gain different opportunities, and find fresh ways to obtain your goals, then get out where people are doing what you seek and mingle. If you play and instrument, start teaching and get to know the bands of your students. If you see big events happening in your town, volunteer to work them and get to know the management, talent and audience alike. Take classes and join music organizations not only to learn but to network. There is a whole world of entertainment people out there. Get to know some of them and make those folks a part of your band’s promotional circle.
By following these tips and others soon you will find that your band is enjoying the opportunities and buzz you were only dreaming of before. Best of all, you’re now in charge of your own career and musical destiny; creating profitable situations for yourself. You are playing good shows and coming home with money in your pocket. You are selling your own product to pay for band expenses. You are filling your press kit with reviews, interviews and mentions of your band. You are meeting people and building your mailing list. You are establishing your reputation as an important member of the artistic community. No longer waiting to be thrown a chance by some industry member, you have taken command of your musical destiny and cast yourself as the star of your own show. Now, don’t you feel better?
Sheena Metal is a radio host, producer, promoter, music supervisor, consultant, columnist, journalist and musician. Her syndicated radio program, Music Highway Radio, airs on over 1,000 affiliates to more than 126 million listeners. Her musicians’ assistance program, Music Highway, boasts over 10,000 members. She currently promotes numerous live shows weekly in the Los Angeles Area, where she resides. For more info: