Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Are You Really In A Band?

It seems that everyone and their grandmother is in a band nowadays.  But are all these people who claim to be in a band, really in a band?  I'd say no for the most part.  Sure, these people get together with other musicians a couple times a week and write some original songs and maybe even get out of the rehearsal room once in a while a perform in front of a live audience, but that's not really what being in a band is all about.

What Is A Real Band?

I think we need to redefine what it is to be in a band.  It should be a little bit more complicated than that and thus more of an exclusive club.  We can't just let everyone in because they've managed to accomplish the relatively simple tasks mentioned above.  To be in a band for real, you have to have a lot more than that under the hood.

You need to get together with everyone involved and nail down a solid vision so that you're all on the same page.  This is the only way you're going to bring something special and unique to the party.  If you just do the bare minimum, you're likely to fall into the abyss of mediocre bands that just clutter up the scene and make it harder for music fans to find the good stuff.

The Songs:

You have to know what kind of music you're going to write and play.  Obviously this can take a lot of time to determine, so don't feel you have to figure this out tomorrow, just make sure that you're conscioulsy moving toward your own unique 'sound.' 

Be aware of what messages are in your song lyrics.  Lyrics are such a powerful element in the songwriting process and you should definitely make the effort to ensure that you're using this power to its fullest potential.  And strive to be consistent in this area so you strengthen the connection between you and your fans.

When you're writing and recording original material, take note of what feels good and which songs are getting positive feedback in the online arenas and live on stage.  If the feedback you're receiving is somewhat mediocre then take a step back and try to determine what needs to be improved.  If you can't figure it out on your own, don't be afraid to bring in some outside help.  Look around for some pro writers who may be interested in working with you on new material.

The Image:

If you're going to be a real band, you have to have an image.  There must be something about your appearance that stands out and is recognizable so your fans can differentiate between you and the millions of other artists that fall into the same musical category.  Get creative here and tap into something within you that's honest.  Don't dress or act in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.  Be sure to compliment and accentuate all the unique and amazing qualities you possess. 

If you're short on ideas, just look around at your favourite artists and borrow a few from them.  Successful artists make a considerable investment in their image by hiring image consultants to assist them in bringing their persona to the masses.  If it's in the budget, maybe this is something to consider.  And please don't look at your favourtie artists and conclude they don't really have an image.  Trust me, they do.  Look closer!

The Story:

What's your story?  Where did you come from and who are you?  What kind of struggles or victories have you had?  What is it about where you've been and where you're going that's going to make your fans want to come along for the ride?  Brainstorm with your band mates and try to be as objective as possible here.  If you were a potential fan of your band, what interesting little tidbit of information would entice you into learning more and connecting on a deeper level -- connecting beyond the music?

Again, don't come to the conclusion that you don't have a story.  You do!  The fact that you exist means you have a story.  Tap into that and deliver it to your audience with an enticing and entertaining twist.

A Comparison

I believe that these three things are the most important to have sorted out in order to consider yourselves a band.  If you don't do the work to create a strong and definite vision, then you'll more than likely just flounder around the scene and never really get anywhere or keep your fans interested long term.

Just look at some of the typical acts in your local scene.  If you were to compare one of these bands with Metallica, Bryan Adams, Avenged Sevenfold, or John Mayer, can you honestly say it's anywhere close to the same thing?  Of course not.  What's the difference between these local indie acts and the major players?  They're not super human, they've just done the work.  So get busy, because we need you!

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