April 9, 2014
So you’re in a band, you’re managing a band, or you want to bring bands to your venue. The problem is, you don’t have any shows lined up, you don’t know who to talk to, and even if you did, you wouldn’t know how to go about doing it. How do you break into the oft gated community that is the local scene?
1 – Be Nice
The most consistent feature of the bigger bands that I’ve played with is that each and every band member is just a really friendly, nice person. They congratulate all other bands on their sound, talk before and after the show, thank fans, humbly accept praise, and in general, don’t act like the typical rock star stereotype. The most amazing performance gets wiped out of people’s memories by one rude comment or discouraging remark. Not every band you play with with sound great, not every venue will be accommodating, and not every fan will be polite, but smile, be nice, and they’ll love you.
2 – Don’t Burn Bridges, but Don’t Use Crumbling Ones
Remember that you have to be nice, but sometimes there are people you don’t want to be nice to. Some venues simply don’t help bands out at all, some bands don’t take the show seriously and drive the audience away before your set, and some booking agents are as organized as your desk after your asshole of a cat sprints across it. Give these people honest chances, but after three strikes, it’s time to end the relationship. Handle this as gracefully as possible, which means you need to keep being nice!
3 – Support Your Scene
This is the rule I’m guiltiest of (though I’m also not very nice and tend to give people too many chances before severing the relationship), but it’s an important one. By attending other shows as an audience member, you will meet more bands, venues, and fans, and have more time to talk to them, than you do as a performer. Buy bands drinks, talk to them after their set, ask to be introduced to their booking agent, and you will probably hear from them soon. The biggest influx of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and booking requests I’ve received came after a month of not playing at all and seeing a show every weekend. Get out there, know your scene, and you’ll find yourself known.
Oh, also, you still need to practice. Sorry, a smile can’t get you out of that one.