|So You Want to Be in a Rock & Roll Band? - Phase 3 by Sal Canzonieri
|Welcome to my third column in Loud Fast Rules magazine. This column will be all about being successful in the music business based on my experiences from playing music since 1975. I'm going to be real and no holds barred about every facet of the music biz from the top to the bottom. It's pretty much advice and discussion, what sucks and what is great. I'm going to tell you what other people won't. Feel free to contact me and let me know what worked for you, if you have some good advice for people.
There are many aspects to the music world, and every one of them has things that happen in them that can either totally fuck you up
or can be great if things work out right for you. These are: the people in the bands themselves; the booking agents; the promoters of the shows; the clubs, halls, etc.;
the lawyers; the recording studios; the record producers; the A&R people; the radio stations and the DJs; the internet and music websites;
the music shops that carry supplies and instruments; the record labels; the distributors; the record stores; the merch manufacturers; the music press
and the fanzines and newstand magazines; and the audience. So, in each column I am going to talk about one of these aspects and it ain't going to be pretty!
Phase 3 - Intensifying your Popularity
Last issue's column #2, I said that in the beginning (the first 3 years), it is more important to get popular than anything else, that is the sure road to success. This requires creative thinking and lots of sacrifice and some money to invest. AND, that the BIG SECRET in the music world on how to get huge is WRITE GREAT SONGS! Don't kid yourself, most bands totally suck and write shit songs that no one will ever remember hearing. OTHER PEOPLE are the judge of how great your songs are, not you only. If more and more people are not coming to each of your shows, then your songs do not impress them. Either write better songs or play in another part of the country where people do like what you are doing (assuming that your songs are any good). I concentrated on advice about making the band popular, which was Phase 2. You are now ready to enter Phase 3! Ready? Go!
By now your band has made somewhat of a name for itself, so it is very critical now to intensify the band's popularity. Timing is EVERYTHING! He who hesitates- loses!
1. Make sure that any recordings that were made get reviewed in the relevant fanzines and magazines for your genre. Make large photocopies of the favorable reviews and send them to more labels and to other magazines to get more reviews and more small deals for singles.
It would be smart for you to get to know the writers and establish a relationship with them. The BIGGEST mistake in the world and a sure way to shoot your band in the foot and lose much momentum and reputation is to have an asshole write a shitty review early in your career. The best way to prevent this is to LEARN who the writers are that review the bands that you like and get to know them. ONLY send review copies out to these writers, NEVER send them out to the general address for a magazine or fanzine. If you don't listen and do that, it will go into a pile of tons of records that no one is interested in listening to. The biggest asshole at the magazine will then somehow get a hold of your record, hate it, and will write the worst devasting idiotic review you have ever seen that even your best fans will laugh at you about. I'm not kidding!
Many crap zines like Razorcake and Maximum Rock & Roll have the most ignorant jackasses doing the reviews who really just want a pile of cds that they can later sell at their local record store. They will give you three lines of death in their reviews because most of them have no idea how to really critique a record, they have no experience being a journalist, and they will have no sense of aesthetics for your kind of music. Often they will have an axe to grind against your type of band because it competes with the politically correct pure non-rocking crap that they love and know will never get popular (if it did get popular they will then hate their favorite band even more than they already hate yours). So, please follow this advice, "a man advised is a man half saved": ONLY send review copies to writers that you have gotten to know and that they like what you are doing. Fuck everyone else.
Also, think about this: every magazine and record label (and well known band) gets BOXES of unsolicited packages from bands every DAY. They have no time to open them all, and will use every excuse imaginable to not listen to your demo, from not liking the shirt you are wearing in the photo to not liking the color of something! First, get a band from that label to let the owner know that you are sending something. Second, write on the envelope "Recommended by (that person's name)". Third, don't mail anything out in a plain yellow mailer envelope of any kind. Common sense says that if you didn't give a shit enough about your stuff that you didn't send it priority mail, then why should they give a shit enough to listen to it? Mailer envelopes are hardly ever opened and remain piled high in these boxes (I have been to enough labels to have seen them at each place). Over nite and priority mailing envelopes are always opened first. Next, have a cover letter, a disc with your press kit on it and your band photo, and a disc with your music, with great artwork as part of it. Also a "one-sheet" for your disc, if you know how ot make one. All in a folder! Don't be cheap looking or don't bother mailing anything out to people to consider. You have to have your stuff look special and exciting or it won't be considered worth paying attention to.
|(c) 2005 BGT ENT / Sal Canzonieri