So You Want to Be in a Rock & Roll Band? - Phase 4 (page 2)

This month the column is about growing your following! NOW is the time to use your popularity to get even more popular by playing the RIGHT shows, at the right time, in the right places.

Loud Fast Rules magazine issue 4
Continued from previous page.

Phase 4 - Now or Never: Grow your Following (continued)

Now that you have intensified your popularity by playing the right shows at the right time, you can move on to the rest of the steps:

2. Well known headlining bands will love to hear from you saying that you can pull in a lot of people each time you play and that you can get them a headlining slot at the clubs that you play in your state. Give them all the contact info of clubs that will verify your ability to pull a strong crowd. Bigger bands will start contacting you about doing a statewide tour with them in your home territories. You can then build easily a strong tour for the headliner with your clubs that you have made the deal with. These headliners will bring in even more people than your band, which will grow your audience even more. Most potential audience people today want more bang for their buck and will go out to see the show if BOTH your locally popular band and a great headliner will be playing together, whereas they most likely would not have gone out to see either band if they were playing seperately for all kinds of their own personl reasons. But, together, there is the atmosphere of an exciting festival like feeling to your both playing together, which attracts a lot of fence sitters to come.

3. If you are smart, you will work things out with other bands from your state or nearby regions that are as popular as you and you will work out things so that you do not compete with each others shows. Since you are only going to play once every 3 months in any given area, you and the other popular state bands can work out ways to not compete but to cooperate.  When you are not playing in your home town, they will play instead, which means that you can play in their home town while they are away. At the end of the year, you ALL should play together in one big bang of a mini-festival show. There is nothing more distructive to a state wide scene if popular bands compete against each other and play the same night in neighboring areas. Be smart and work out deals, trade shows, do what you need to do to not compete and instead cooperate to bring in bigger headliners that you all can play with to keep growing your audience.

4. Small short tours are good, 1 to 2 weeks long, but not a long national tour (useless when you are not popular nationally yet). Weekend tours for 2-3 days are even better because you don't waste time playing the slow weeknights when hardly anyone comes out much unless they totally have to. Since you have been getting great headliners in and making them have great full shows at your chosen places, you will sooner or later have some very popular band want to take you with them for the slot just before they go on on their national tour. Never EVER play last as part of a tour, after the headliner! At this point, it is smart to take the national tour going on right before your headliner friends. What you want at these shows is to sell cds and shirts to as many people as possible, they will want them gladly if your songs have bowled them over. The headliners will be happy too because you are helping to make the audince charged up before they go on stage. Make SURE to thank the headliner band for giving your band the opportunity to do the tour throughout the show, be grateful and not become big headed or it will be your last time out with them or any other bigger national band.

5. Make sure to have at least one of you are wearing YOUR band's t-shirt on stage and that NO ONE is wearing another band's shirt while on stage. Forget all the pussy Maximum Rock & Roll "hippies" or "punks" (same thing isn't it?) that cry about how conceited it is to wear your own band's shirts on stage. Fuck them! Think! You just put on an amazing show that made everyone rush to your table to get shirts and cds and when they go home their great memory (or photo) of you on stage is the OTHER BAND's name on the shirt's that you were wearing! THINK! That's dumb! Dumb! DUMB! It is well proven in marketing that people need to see a name 7 times on 9 occassions to begin to strongly remember that name! That's a lot of times! That takes a lot of work to get people to immediately recognize your name when they see it. Why do you think that there are so many Coca-Cola merch around with their logo? To sell more soda? No! To keep people remembering their name so that they think of Coca-Cola first when asked what soda they want to drink. Thing of all the work you have put in to getting somewhere, why give it all away to another band cause you are too shy to wear your own shirt or you listen to what idiots who have no clue how hard it is to get a band to be popular have to say. Do it! You won't regret it!

6. At this point, you should have a record album coming out on an indie label (as stated in the previous columns). The smart thing to do as well is to have more songs (live songs? demos? extra songs? whatever you want) and have them available on the Internet as mp3s, etc., that you are selling yourself.  You need to do both in order to really profit.  You need the indie label to legitimize your band to a national/international audience and you need the self released extra songs in order to make your fans happy that they have something extra and you can make some extra money selling a cd of mp3s so that the band can function. One of the very best places you can have your mp3 albums is . They are one of the best internet only record labels. They do a non-exclusive deal with you so that they don't own your songs and they don't stop you from releasing the songs on a regular record label. Also, in return for you to let them post your songs on their website and bring in your loyal fans to their site, they will make cds of your fan music and sell it to your fans that order it and they will give you a nice cut of the sales AND they will promote your songs to people that use songs for soundtracks. You get a cut of those sales too. John the owner of is one of the most honest people left in the music business! It is well worth it for you to sign up with to have extra stuff for your fans.
You can even have them sell your Indie release record also as downloadable songs as well, many many people worldwide do not buy cds in stores anymore but only play songs that they have downloaded from the internet on their computers, cell phones, Ipods, etc., and Magnatune is the best place for you to direct such people from your own website.

7. The most important thing to do now is publicity.  If you can afford it, get a publicist. Its costs around $300 for a campaign. Please ask around for good ones, most of them are barely effectual, they will take your money (every month for 3 months), send your cds out to their friends and acquaintances and you will get nothing! A great PR person is only as good as the relationships that they have with their relevant friends who are writers for magazines. Such writers only write about stuff that their PR friends have asked them to. So, be careful, look for reliable ones with a good track record. I recommend honest and hardworking people like Jason Kottwitz of Kill City PR, which you can contact via

Also, the label that is releasing your album might have one working for them.  Get very friendly with this person.  What you want is to do as many interviews for your album release as possible.  So, if you have been smart, you will use all your contacts to get interviews in as many places as possible not matter how small or large the fanzine or mag.  There are 1,000s of fanzines on the Internet too you can contact.  This is the single MOST IMPORTANT thing that will determine if your band will survive past the point of no return.  The more interviews you do (and don't act like an asshole, add some depth to your answers, have an angle, something interesting to say, some strong point to make, etc.), the more people will read about the band and will seek out your records. Make sure that you promote your website address.

8. Keep spreading out slowly, playing in clubs a little smaller than your audience, past your 100 mile radius. You want there to be a line out in front of the club. If you  know you can bring in 300 people don't play at a place that holds 500! Don't have empty spaces! Pack them in, and it will excite people to tell their friends, who won't want to be left out next time. That was the Rolling Stones strategy and it worked great then and it works great now!

9. Continue your contacts and networking with bands, poster artists, fans, companies, magazines, radio stations, etc.

10. Make sure your stickers and t-shirts, etc. are great looking and improve them always.

11. Since you have been hard working, you should have been able to get some local and regional headlining slots.  By now your following should be past 500 to 800-1000 people locally for a show.  If not, it is time to think about the way things are going: do people like the music and the band? If not, why not?  Do the songs need rearranging? Did you spend enough time and money to promote the band in the critical early stages?  Did you overplay in your area? Did you outgrow your area?  If less people are going to see your band, then you are in trouble and need to boost things the right way.

12. Think about your audience, you should clearly be able to picture your typical audience member. Feel what they feel, what they are most concerned with. Talk to them each show between songs and make them feel that they are you best personal fans, your best friends, and involve the audience in the show. Tell them what your songs, especially your most popular songs are about, have them connect to you as a person. Throw out gift items between songs (shirts, cds) to the people in the front who were the most into your songs. Give people tickets when they come in and give out some prizes near the middle of your set. Give out cool stuff and funny stuff that the audience will remember and wish that they had won it.

13. Play a great cover song in the direct middle of your set. It is well  known that most people who are not fans will normally leave in the middle point of a band's set. BUT, if they hear a great song that they are already familiar with and love but you have added your own touches to the cover song and made it really exciting and fun, they will stay to hear the song and then they often stay til the end of the set in case you play another cover song. People normally leave every half an hour, so time this well. Works every time, it's been something smart bands have been doing since the 1950s!

14. Consider getting a booking agent for better slots and bigger shows at the very big place in your state. Sooner or later, you will have to get a booking agent in order to get the best shows around.  You have to have an album or two out in order for them to be interested and you have to have a strong following that will want to see you play at bigger and better places. Most booking agents give a shit only about themselves and care only about how much money they will make each time you make more money. They will want you to get bigger shows so that you make more money so that they will make more money. The more you make the more they make.

15. It's not necessary for a manager yet for the band, unless you're very successful and there is a huge buzz about the band. A manager is only useful if there are a lot of labels after the band and the shows are all packed and the records are selling very well (at least 10,000-40,000 copies of a record) and it is time to move on to a way bigger label.  Managers are only good if they have power to get you a stronger deal. Great bands with great songs will have people coming to them to ask to be their manager, publicist, and so on. But don't sit and wait either, use common sense! If you feel things are moving fast, then get more people on your team!

16. You are pretty much in the cycle of this step for at least another album.  By now, the results from your first album (almost a year later) are available and if the sales were good and the reviews favorable and you got lots of press clippings from all your interviews, then you have to decide if you want to continue with the same label, release the next album only yourself (be prepared to make tons of calls and spend $ promoting the record to make money), or move on to a bigger label.  If your album did really well, then bigger labels would have contacted you.

17. Work on your foreign deals. Make sure that you have small releases or licenses in the UK and the rest of Europe, Japan, etc. Put out lots of vinyl releases in Europe and make sure you have cds out in Europe that have different songs on them that are not on your American label. Reverse this if you are from Europe, of course, heh heh.

Congratulations! You are now at the top of the bottom, along with thousands of bands, next step is direct in the middle! You're not at the top yet, 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 5!

Sal Canzonieri - /

(c) 2006 BGT ENT / Sal Canzonieri