So You Want to Be in a Rock & Roll Band? - Phase 3 (page 2)

This month the column is about intensifying your popularity! NOW is the time to gain momentum and get things rolling so that more and more people in a wider range of area hear great feedback about your band and come check out your band with anticipation.

Loud Fast Rules magazine issue 3
Continued from previous page.

Phase 3 - Intensifying your Popularity (continued)

Now that you have a bunch of great songs that are getting great reviews and people are excited about them, you can move on to the rest of the steps:

2. Investigate which indie labels are with which distribution company. The best strategy is to release a new single/ cd ep about every 3 or 4 months with different labels so that you have a record that is being channeled with every distributor around. Do this with both US and Foreign labels for your genre.  In today's times, the label is only half the equation, without great distribution by a company that really understands the label and is willing to push for re-stocks, your record is as good as dead, no matter what cool label releases it. Mordam was one of the worst distributors in that they never re-solicited the stores to restock previous records that were over a month old. They were passive and waited for stores to ask them for more. They were too cool to look eager to sell more records. Do you know what they told Man's Ruin Records when they pushed for them to get more re-stocks? They said "why are you trying to get big?" Can you believe that? What kind of moronic people would think that, let alone say that that worked for a distributor! Cargo is another of the worst distributors out there, in my opinion. Some of the least heard of distributors sell a lot more records than the well known ones cause they have a strong personal relationship with their customers (the record stores). Do your homework and find out who distributes the records for the labels that are interested in releasing your records. Meet with these distributors, take of tour of the place, and feel them out. If they are not interested in answering your questions, then they will not be interested in making sure you sell a good number of copies of your records.

3. USE the Internet to be at as many sites as you can and link them all to your official website.  Use as much of the resources these sites provide you as you can.  There are many sites on the internet where you can post 3 of your songs, use them all so that new people can hear your music everyday.

One of the very best sites for you to get a large number of new fans is: . Here you can make another website for your band, contact all your fans, add new ones to your list, email them bulletins, sell stuff to them, list your upcoming shows, post photos and artwork, send out invitations to your shows, and much more. It is one of the fastest ways to get lots of people, especially kids to learn about your band and get into your music.  Myspace has a network of over 43 million users and growing! They are all there waiting for you to contact them. Look up bands that you like and join their networks, then you will be able to contact thousands of people there.

4. If your band is getting rave reviews and people seem really responsive, contact the best poster artists (via email) and establish a relationship. If they like your music, have them make posters for your shows that you can sell at the shows and which will start to have collector's value.  The main site for you to contact artists and hire them to make posters is .

Some artists will make the posters, send you some copies, and they will make their money back by selling the posters on their sites. Some artists will ask you to pay for the printing and you get to keep them all and sell them all. Some artists contact the clubs that you play at directly and they will make a deal with the club. Each artist does it a different way. There are over a thousand different poster artists at this site that you can talk to and work with, from the most famous to the newest guy that is hot to do something and will do it for free to get his name out there to get started. You  can look up any artist or any band in their database and you can see all the posters that have been made, and you can decide from seeing them who you would like to work with.

Having posters with cool art is one of the best ways to look very professional and get people excited about your shows. I don't recommend having shit photocopied flyers with no cool images on it. No one notices flyers like those anymore. People always notice a great poster. This is one of the best things you can do for your band. If one of you in the band is a great artist, which is often the case in many bands, have this person make your posters. Then you can go to your local print shop and get them mass produced and you can put them up at the club and near the club. Don't wait too long to ask someone, or there won't be enough time for the artist to make the poster. As soon as you know you have a show confirmed, get the poster made.

5. Contact t-shirt and sticker companies that will make you great shirts and will pay you a royalty and will give you an advance as free t-shirts, which you can sell at your shows. Use them same great artist that makes your posters to make your shirt designs, especially if you have a really cool logo. Give out tons of stickers at every show. Stick them around as many places as you can so that people will recognize your name when they see it listed in the club listings.

6. At this point, you will HAVE to start to play in the middle slot in the clubs. Networking with touring bands and so on is the main ways you will have to get this slot.  Also, if you have been promoting yourself right at the local clubs with free cds and so on for growing your audience, then the clubs will be gladly giving you this slot anyway, once you have paid your dues and opened enough times. Don't be used by the clubs as a permanent opening band, ask for the middle and if you don't get it, don't play.  You have to be firm but not rude. If your songs are great, and they are attracting more and more people, you will have every right to ask to go on before the headliner at shows, because you will be bringing on a nice portion of the audience for that night.  If you songs suck, there is no helping you, no club will put you on right before the headliner. But they might always ask you to play for free for a chance to play last or first when a national act is coming through, so that the club can save some money. Fuck that, stay home, you are better off.

7. Try to get on as many local college radio shows as you can, either to play live or for interviews.  Tape the shows that you appear on!  You can release these tapes later! The best place you can go to get play live on the radio and then they give you a great CD copy of your show is WFMU in NJ:

8. Use your press clippings to branch out to do shows past your 50 miles headquarters radius to a 100 mile radius.  It will be slow going at first, but again network with the better bands from that area.  Don't forget the radio stations there too!

9. Once you have a string of singles, etc, join a performance royalty organization such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc., they have a lot of benefits for members, such as getting you showcase shows, insurance, health care, and so on. I think that only ASCAP is really good, they sure have given me a lot of big checks, so I have no complaints!

10. After about 8 months of this, you should start networking for an album deal with a good indie label.  Look at all the indie labels that your favorite bands are on. Go to them.  What you want is not a multi-record deal and all that. You want a one-off deal with a middle sized indie label that will spend money to advertise and promote the band.  Also, if they are interested in releasing an album, say that you want a licensing deal.  This means that you will pay for the recording of the record yourself (with the money that your act has earned from the singles, shirts, shows, etc, that have been done for the past year or two). By paying for the recording, YOU own the master tapes, not the label and you are letting the label have the right to use the recordings in commerce to both your benefits.

11. Get an experienced music lawyer or a music consultant like Moses Avalon: to look over contracts and agreements that you will get from labels.  Tell the lawyer that you want the contract worded so that you own the rights to the masters, the label is licensing the right to use the songs.  You retain the rights to re-record the songs and so on.

In order not to get ripped off in any way, I TOTALLY recommend you buy all three books that were written by Moses Avalon, which are all available from . He is the number one expert on how bands can get ripped off and his books teach you in easy to understand language exactly what to watch out for and exactly what to do instead. His books are: "Secrets of Negotiating a Record Contract: The Musician's Guide to Understanding and Avoiding Sneaky Lawyer Tricks" ; "Confessions of a Record Producer: How to Survive the Scams and Shams of the Music Business" ; and his new one:  "Million Dollar Mistakes : Steering Your Music Career Clear of Lies, Cons, Catastrophes, and Landmines". You will kiss these books after you read them, I swear to you! AND, you can call him to get direct advice (for a nominal fee), I did for my band to get out of a contract, and he helped enormously!

12.   Get volunteers from your fans to work for the band, have them hand out stickers, promo cds/tapes, etc. to the right people (not to people that don't want them and will throw them away), people that are already at places and clubs that have the same kind of music as your genre.

13. Get in local music festivals, such as WARPED, etc.  Stay in touch with your bigger bands contacts and try to see if they can do anything to help you out to get such shows, etc.  Or, get together with all the best local bands in your genre and book your own festival (and advertise the hell out of it) in a local clubs, hall, etc.

Congratulations! You are now at the middle of the bottom, along with tens of thousands of  bands, next step the top of the bottom! It's a long way to them top, but if you work hard, it doesn't take long to get it all moving along fast. If your songs are really fantastic, it will move along extremely fast!

I'll pick up from here next issue! Click here for Phase 4!

Sal Canzonieri - /

(c) 2005 BGT ENT / Sal Canzonieri