By T. Perry Bowers
When I write these blogs I sometimes realize I need to take the advice I’m giving. I know how to do all this stuff, but sometimes I just don’t do it.
My band used to be very disciplined. All our members were on the same page and we prepared for our gigs as if our lives depended on it. We were so intense about our music because it meant the world to us – and we wanted it to mean the world to everyone else.
As I’ve grown this intensity has ebbed and flowed. There have been a few times where I thought about hanging it all up. Sometimes my guitars didn’t entice me to play and my drums were merely pieces of wood and metal. I didn’t have any words to sing. After a while the passion always returns and I can’t wait to wrap my fingers around a guitar, a mic stand or a set of drums sticks. That’s how I feel now.
My band Silverseed has just released a new EP. We did a release show this summer and we have another gig coming up in early October. This month, September 2019, we are preparing for the gig. We play original rock and roll with dark guitar chords and odd time signatures. We do our best to be prepared for the show. This is our simple, local, spend little money plan.
- Rehearse and Record
Once a week my band gets together – Wednesday evening – it’s a sacred time for us. We arrive at the rehearsal space at 5pm and we play. Because we don’t spend a lot of time together we get right to it. This month until the gig, I have a set list prepared. We go through the set at least once. If we have any rough spots, we hit those two or three times. We adjust the set so it flows, putting alternatively tuned songs together so we spend as little time as possible tuning our guitars.
We always time the set. If it’s too long, which it usually is, we drop our weakest songs. Sometimes picking the weakest song is hard, but if you take an honest listen to your rehearsal recordings, those songs will usually stand out. Yes, we record our rehearsals and listen to them. This dictates what we need to practice more the next time we get together.
We have hundreds of songs we can choose to perform, so there is no sense playing something that is not ready to be played or a song that is just not working. As an original band, we always want to try our newest stuff, but just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s the best. Always do your best to play to your fans even if your audience is just your girlfriends and the bartender.
- Have a Marketing Strategy
Anyone can create a Facebook event and most bands do. It’s a good idea. It gives people a place to go to see all the relevant information.
I recommend developing an email list too if you can. My band has an email list but we are terrible at using it. I tend to forget we even have it. When I do remember to create an invite for our shows and send it via email it definitely increases our fan attendance. There is something slightly more personal about getting an email from the band. Your fans will feel a little more connected to you. Plus, an email makes the show seem more real and more important. People get so many Facebook invites they just click and delete most of the time.
Another good idea is to make a video and get it out on social media (even if it’s just your band in your rehearsal space a few days before the show). Talk to you fans, give them some details about the show. It doesn’t have to be a professionally produced promo, just something that endears your audience to your band. Make them remember they care about you and love your music.
On the day of the show send texts to your friends. A text is a powerful tool. It puts your personal friends on notice. If they don’t have something going on that night, they might decide to swing down. If they are going out, they might try to work your show into their plans. Keep the text short and sweet, but provide all the relevant info on the gig so they don’t have to text you back. You need to prepare for the gig not answer a bunch of texts.
- Prepare Yourself for the Show
I know a lot of jobber musicians who play two or three gigs per night. They live music and never stop. Preparing for a gig isn’t necessary for them because they are always gigging. However if you’re like me and are lucky to play once per month, you need to create some time to get in the right space, mentally, emotionally and physically.
We usually walk around with a lot on our shoulders: jobs, relationships, health issues, etc. Expressing ourselves though music relieves all that stress. It’s a way to open the pressure valve. Honor that purpose on the day of the show. Give yourself some extra time to relax and prepare.
- Work with the Venue
To make the show a success from the venue’s point of view you need to gather all the pertinent information. What time is load in? Where and how do you load in? How long are set times? What time does music have to stop? Are there any drink specials? What’s the pay? Does the band get a meal and drinks?
Once you have all the information, inform all the band members so there are no surprises. Lay out the plan for the band in an email so they can refer to it at any time on their phones.
- Let it all Go and Rock!
Running the business side of the band whilst being in the band is not easy. At some point during the evening, before your set, you need to put the business down and get yourself ready to be an artist.
You’ve put in all the work, now it’s time to create magic. Find a quiet space in the venue and visualize burying all the things that might hinder you from immersing yourself in the music and connecting with your audience; job, relationship, money, family problems – all six feet under until after the gig.
You deserve to have a great show. When you’re on stage, your gear is the way you want it and your audience is eager to hear music, it all shifts. You get to be a rock star for about forty five minutes. If you’re like me, somehow that forty five minutes makes months and months of preparation all worth it.