Most bands start off as hobbies, out of passion. Usually, bands consist of younger people, either teenagers or young adults. In the beginning, it tends to go really well. Band members are relaxed and there are no big issues. Additionally, they don’t really have any expectations and, in this atmosphere, they are able to improve themselves individually and as a band.
However, after some time has passed and you’ve had a couple of shows and maybe even released an album of your own, you start to realize that you are standing in one place and that there is no real progress with the whole band.
This is where a lot of them get stuck and can’t move forward; in some cases, they even fall apart because of the frustration caused by the lack of progress. On the other hand, if you overcome these issues, you will be able to grow both as individual musicians and as a band even further, and maybe even achieve some real success.
Music is an amazing thing and succeeding as a band is worth trying. So, let’s see what the reasons for your stagnation might be and what you should look to improve.
1. Lack of motivation
As I mentioned before, most bands are formed out of young members that have a great passion for music. This passion fuels them to work hard and they are motivated to take on whatever comes their way. Additionally, when you get into it, everything is new and you have a constant feeling like something amazing is happening. Even when bad things happen, you see them as useful experiences that can help you in the future, and they can.
However, now, you might have opened some new chapters in life and you have other responsibilities as well. You cannot focus all of your efforts on your band and, suddenly, people stop being motivated and they start forgetting about your music. If you want to create new music which will be fun for people to listen, you need to think about it constantly.
Additionally, you have to practice as well. If you are currently stuck in a rut, ideas might start rolling in while you play your instrument. You cannot simply come to rehearsals and think about your band and music only then. To be a great band, you need to invest yourselves in it as much as possible.
2. You don’t deliver your music as well as you should
In the early stages, you probably had a lot of people come up to you and say “hey you played well!” but this doesn’t mean that you’ve done your job. Chances are that those people though you sounded decent, but considering that you are a new, young band, they didn’t expect any better.
However, as you grow older, people will start to expect that your performance keeps getting better and better. You will get bigger crowds on your shows and there will be more of “those people” that like to stand at back and listen to everything you are playing and say “Aha! He made a mistake there.”
If you are going to spread a good word about your band, you need to simply destroy each show, no matter how big or small it might be. When you sound perfect on stage, people will recognize it and they will tell others how great you sounded and this might spark their curiosity to look you up online or come to your show next time.
Since we are talking about your online presence, let’s get to the next step.
3. Your band doesn’t have an online presence
Besides the fact that the most important things about being successful as a band are to deliver great live performances and create amazing music people will enjoy listening to, it is also important that you harness more potential fans through other efforts like promoting your band online. We live in a digital age where people want to find everything online, and this includes music as well.
A band needs to be active all the time, even when it’s not. In between your shows and during them, you can post various updated online and promote your band. It’s essential to have a website and social media pages. It may seem like something you are not supposed to do, but trust me, if you want to become a famous musician, you too will have to think about the little things like investing in good hosting, hiring someone to design a decent website and working on your branding.
Only collectors buy CDs today and you cannot rely on them. Instead, you need to make yourselves available online, provide information about your band, show where they can download your songs, post pictures from your recent gigs or rehearsals, etc. In music, marketing is as important as being a good band.
Your social media and your website are basically free marketing channels and, if you invest some time in managing them, you might open up many opportunities ahead of you.
4. Not doing any real band management
In the beginning, you all loved playing shows so much that you played all of them. Although this is cool, it might not lead you to become more successful. It’s true what I said that a well-played show might lead to more fans or even some managers approaching you, but you need to play at a show where there are valuable crowds that might find value in what you do. Playing random gigs wherever you get the chance has never brought anything to anyone and you need to stop doing them.
Trying to play as many shows as possible is not the answer. The better way to is to actually put in effort into getting some better gigs at festivals or try to get a spot as an opening band for some more popular groups.
In music, it’s all about networking and creating valuable connections with important people who can get you somewhere. Don’t swim against the tide and play the game if you want to achieve something.
5. Bad stage performance
A lot of bands feel like they only have to play well live and do nothing else to leave an impression on the crowd. Well, they are wrong, and if you think like this, you are also wrong. Music is entertainment after all, and you need to, well, entertain people!
Give them a night to remember, play with passion and find your own style. Nobody wants to watch a couple of senior citizens going on the stage and looking at their instruments during the whole show.
Move on the stage, jump around, engage the crowd, talk to them directly, and create a connection on each of your shows. Music is supposed to be fun and people come out to shows to have a great time and not analyze how you play (at least most of them). There are a lot of bands who aren’t so good at making music, but they deliver amazing performance and the crowds respond to that.
In the end, they don’t even care if they didn’t play so well, as long as they had fun.
6. No image of your own
The image is actually very important for a band. It’s a huge part of your brand. Like it or not, most people will usually check out a band because they look interesting to them. You should look to create an image of your own and adjust it to the type of music you are playing and the audience that listens to this kind of music.
This can easily be the first step towards attracting someone, and if your music is good, you will gain loyal fans that will support you anywhere. Your image should be consistent with your music and express the things you are trying to say with your music. This will make it easier for people to know what you are all about.
When a band has no image, it won’t be memorable and fans will quickly forget about you. Additionally, record labels want memorability and they want bands that have a potential to stay known for a while. They pay a lot of attention on how a certain band is perceived with the crowd and, if they see potential, they will go for it.
7. Bad communication between band members
For a band to function properly, there must be good communication between members. A band that communicates well both verbally and musically can create better music, have better relationships, look more appealing, and become a better band overall. Everybody needs to be on the same page and this is how you will achieve your goals over time.
A band is like a relationship, only here you have more than one partner. Everything that has been left unsaid can cause serious problems in the long run. If someone is not doing their job, others need to let that person know what he or she is doing wrong. There is no room for hard feelings here, as you all must put the well-being of the band first.
When you listen to each other and create an atmosphere of mutual understandings, you will truly work together on creating unique music which is a product of all band members. This is the key for memorable and ground-breaking music not a lot of bands out there have.
8. Expecting a lot without investing anything
We all dream big and hope that someday, we will get a record deal where everything will be taken care of and the only thing you need to focus on is playing. Every band would love to get there, but you must work hard and put in a lot of effort, time, energy, and money, if you are ever to reach that goal. I cannot count how many times my band mates and I had gigs on our own expense and traveled so many miles to end up losing money.
If a show is worth it, pay your own expenses to get there, as it will pay off in the long run. Make your own band material such as CDs, t-shirts, flyers, posters, etc. Don’t be scared to invest in your band on your own and spend some of your own money. Nobody likes bands that act like stars and want everything served to them on a silver platter. Even those bands that are famous get a bad reputation for acting cocky.
If you are too busy with other things in life, consider hiring a manager who will establish important connections and set up gigs for you. This might seem easy, but it’s really not and only people who tried doing this on their own know what I’m talking about.
9. Lack of professionalism
You might think “well that band plays thrash metal, they don’t care about anything, they just drink and go crazy on stage.” This is not true. Although some bands may appear that way on stage, the reality could be quite different. Stage performances are one thing but the behavior off stage could be quite different.
Bands which are not respectful of managers, promoters, crowds, and other bands cannot expect to make it. For example, you should always look to prepare yourself before the show and get on the stage as quickly as you can and when you are done playing, get off the stage as fast as you can without breaking your time on stage.
Never trash other bands online or in real life, no matter how bad they might be. You are not accomplishing anything by doing this; you’re only hurting your reputation. The audience is there to decide who they like, not you, and although sometimes it might feel bad to see that some band has a lot more attention than you, it should only serve as a motivating factor.
Have a professional attitude and look to work on yourselves instead of focusing on other musicians or other relevant people in the music world.
In the end, it’s important that you all set your expectations low, but dream big. Always look on the bright side and focus on the good things that happened. It’s tough for bands out there, no matter what genre we are talking about and, sometimes, even if you play your cards right, you won’t get what you deserve.
Still, even if you don’t achieve the glory you dreamed of having, a band can be a great hobby that can get you a decent amount of money and amazing experiences and friendships for life. Rock on!
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