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How to Start a Band: Top Tips For Getting Up and Running
Few moments compare to the buzz of being on stage. Standing up there is an exhilarating feeling and is the culmination of weeks, months and often years of hard work. What are the factors that will get you there, achieving your band ambitions? We take a look at the top tips on how to start a band:
Picking Band Members
Selecting band members does not only rely on the potential members' ability to play effectively, their ethos should also match yours. Meet them in person for the best match, or even have a jam with them - this can help you avoid personality clashes that will not be obvious if you recruit online. There are also further issues to contend with, so ask questions. Here are some to think about:
- What days are you free to practice?
- How many days would you ideally practice?
- Would you like the band to write songs or play covers?
- Do you want to make money?
- Do you want a recording contract?
Finding your sound is about much more than who you love and who you don't, it is about shaping your collective sound or defining a new one.
Whether the gig that stands out to you as the most iconic is Bruce Springsteen at Wembley Arena, Nirvana at Reading, The Beatles' dramatic final rooftop performance in London, Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, The Sex Pistols on the River Thames or The Prodigy at Glastonbury - there are are a host of inspirational moments to whet your appetite. Inspiration is the catalyst for all great bands. Find your inspiration and own it!
Whether you are inspired by an attitude, a genre, a style or specific bands, rebelling can make your band unique. Mix that individualistic attitude with various styles from around the world, and you have a recipe for musical greatness.
Having a Vision
Sharing your vision, however big or small, with the band as a whole can reap major rewards down the line. Deciding early on whether you all wish to pursue music as a hobby or for financial means sets the tone early on. Having clear aspirations and sharing them allows you to be on the same page with each of the members of your band. Not setting this out can see members of the band trying to take the band in different directions than some members feel comfortable with.
Of course, your vision can change and a flexible approach can be well founded. You may decide to start a band for fun and success unexpectedly arises, likewise, you could start a band for financial benefit and find you are not getting the success you imagined. You should be prepared for either outcome as the music industry is a tough nut to crack and without establishing a vision you can get lost in an entertainment wheel that is constantly in motion.
Building a Band Contract
Not always considered when starting out as a band. Especially in the honeymoon stage when you’re just having some fun. Certainly, if you plan to write music and songs together, a legally binding contract is a logical step.
A band contract can ensure peace of mind for each and all of your band members. You may run into problems if you don't cover your backs. While friends now, once money starts changing hands, it could get ugly. You may think ‘it won’t happen to us’ - but did John Lennon and Paul McCartney or the Gallagher brothers ever see their feuds coming? Did Simon & Garfunkel believe they'd ever fall apart? So much for Bridge Over Troubled Water...
3 Top Tips For Band Harmony:
As with any group activity, a band relies on a compromise to keep ticking. At times a band may test your teamwork. A self-indulgent band member can destroy the harmony of your band by trying to build it in their own image. This can be toxic so try and spot that they're not quite right for the band's ethos before it becomes a problem.
Take an Interest in Each Other
You should understand the offerings of each of your band members and take time to get to know them on a personal level. Sometimes your shared passion for music is enough, sometimes it is important to have more than this to go on. Enjoying each other's company is important, as you will be spending quite a lot of time together.
Share a Style
This doesn't have to be down to the absolute intricacies, but you should revel in some of the same sounds and styles. Whether this a shared love of a certain band or a genre, you must have something musically in common with your band members for it to work.
Buying Quality Equipment
Buying the best you can reasonably afford is our advice when buying equipment, whether used or new. Often you can get a decent piece of kit second-hand that has a few miles on it but is clearly in good condition - this should be considered. If you have the money to buy everything new, perfect, if not you should keep an eye on any head-turning deals.
An independent trader normally means the cheapest prices, but with it comes an element of risk as you don't necessarily know who you're dealing with. A second-hand shop or music shop dealing with refurbished products can be a good alternative because those products will have been tested and you will be able to return it if it is not up to standard. Some of these stores even offer a guarantee which means you get peace of mind.
Where to Practice?
Finding a space where your band can get together and try out new sounds without distraction is pivotal to your band's success. Uninterrupted practice is essential to improvement and can hone a band unity. Try to ensure this is a place where alcohol and other potentially disruptive devices are not available - this will allow you to concentrate solely on the job at hand.
Practice Really Does Make Perfect
Cliche yes, but the best gigs in history were not only due to one night, they were as a result of serious hard work in the practice room. Regular meetings can see you move from talented yet disjointed to top of the bill in no time. Don't waste your practice time, be serious when you need to be and know when to drop the fun and games to push your band closer to achieving your sound.
With the band, and without, make sure you are working on your musical technique and perfecting your skills each and every day. Also consider performing intimate, closed/trial shows and ask for honest feedback from close friends or new audiences.
Rehearsing requires further discipline as it often means you have a gig in the calendar. In addition to being well practised ahead of a concert, each member must know the setlist and be ready for whatever a gig might throw up. This could mean last minute changes to your set time or a different crowd than you expected. Your rehearsal time should see you prepared for all eventualities.
Writing Songs & Copyrighting Them
Writing songs is an exciting part of your band's journey and is unique to you. The beauty of your own song is that it is a story not yet told or a moment not yet shared.
Being unique, no one should be writing the same song as you. It would be a bizarre coincidence if they were and they were not copying you. Avoiding someone copying your work, whether it is the melody or the lyrics is surprisingly simple.
Once you have penned or recorded your song it is yours, and the copyright automatically exists. Though this may be true, it is best practice to be able to provide evidence of your work. A signed and sealed envelope sent to yourself by registered post with your written or recorded song inside can exempt you from any copyright infringement issues.
Versatility is important if you wish to get paid for your talents early on. Being able to play cover songs that do justice to the originals can earn you a positive reputation within certain circles. Quality cover bands often dominate the wedding entertainment and corporate entertainment circuits. A reputation for playing covers well can stand you in good stead and before long these same venues or gig planners could be the ones to give you a chance to showcase your own songs.
Famous band The Feeling topped the charts with songs such as Sewn and Fill My Little World. Comprised of session musicians who came together at first, forming a band called Superflys who became the resident band at a ski resort, The Feeling played covers before they had grown a substantial following and got their chance to deliver their own material on stage. It worked for them!
Building Your Band Brand
Take any opportunity to get photos taken and videos made of your act. This will ensure you are well-placed to gain a following quickly. Take time to make sure these are good quality as a quality camera can make a world of difference to the image surrounding your band.
Take every chance to play live early on as this can help no end in getting your band noticed. Regular appearances can give you an edge while you refine your act, and having friends across the board, from other bands to gig promoters, can help you out in getting further coverage.
Getting repeat bookings is important, as is experience when starting out in any career. Take time to develop your stage presence, style and musical identity. Charity events and festivals open you up to a larger crowd, making them a perfect platform to getting noticed on a broader scale.
Creating a mailing list and having a Facebook page can help keep your loyal fans interested. Posting regular content to promote your band and interact with your fans can be really important in growing your band's identity. Having a presence on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and exploring more band related platforms such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud can all help you get noticed.
Tips to succeed
Don't Take Yourselves Too Seriously
Be lighthearted and fun on stage and your audience will love what you do.
Believe In Yourselves
People may not always be complimentary at times but the niceties will make it worth it. Have total belief in your qualities, this will reflect in your performances.
Make It About Your Audience, Not You
An ego within your band can negatively affect your band's likeability. Make a connection with them rather than act like rock stars on stage and off. You earn an ego in music!
Be honest, approachable and have respect for everyone you work with, whether fans, other musicians or promoters and this will keep you in their minds for longer.
You may be wanting to record as soon as you have formed, but biding your time can mean a more professional soundtrack. Making sure you record with high-quality equipment can make a world of difference. This could mean brushing up on your software know-how with the likes of Adobe Audition and Audacity, both of which are popular with burgeoning musicians. It could mean booking studio time or readying your act for a potential recording contract. This can be a tough market to tap into, but finding a business who care about and understand your sound and style can make for a hugely beneficial collaboration.
Don't be pushy, just be cool. It's easy to say these things but when looking for representation these factors can be key. Don't be shy in sending emails or letters with your bio and demo around but don't chase too hard. A follow-up email is good practice. 2-4 weeks after your original contact is customary, but otherwise, send it and leave it to brew. If they like you they'll come and get you. At Champions Music & Entertainment, you can submit your act for representation and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Choosing a Name
It could be step one, it could be step five - choosing a band name is essential but not necessarily your top priority. Many bands go through various lineups and name changes before they settle on one. You don't have to get it right immediately, but it is what your fans will know you as, so make sure you like the sound of it and are comfortable with what it represents.
What Do Event Planners Look For?
Some bands operate with a fluidity; playing as a duo, a three-piece or a four-piece and can add members for certain concerts as required. Some are also able to play acoustically and electrically which can be hugely popular with a number of venues. At first, an opportunity to play at all should be your consideration, and if you decide you want to branch out into displaying your own songwriting ability, you will get far more opportunities if you've already built a following. This means, that an ability to play covers to a top level is sought-after with most venues and planners.
Getting Your Band Noticed
Consider the market and what others are doing to get an idea of your worth, your offering, price and USP so you can price your act accordingly. Don't price yourselves out early on, as every gig represents a chance to gain a following. Offer CDs, send files over or go in and play for agencies and venues to get noticed.
Your style should fit with the venues you wish to play at and if your style fits, your following is likely to grow faster. Connecting with your audience at every event can set you apart from the rest. Show you are enjoying yourself on stage and crowds will love you for it.
Submit Your Band for Events
If you would like to be found on our roster of professional bands for hire for private parties, functions, wedding receptions, corporate events and other event entertainment, you can submit your band today with the Champions Music & Entertainment agency. For more information, to get inspired or to get in touch, email us at email@example.com or call us on 0207 078 78 76.