In no particular order…
1. Be on time
Treat your band like a job. You wouldn’t show up to work late would you? Make sure you’re always on time for practices, set-up/sound checks, meetings, etc. Nothing pisses a venue or sound guy off more than bands that show up late. If you are going to be late…(van broke down, can’t find your pants…etc.) be courteous and call the venue and let them know.
2. Make business cards
Networking is HUGELY important, and business cards are an easy and professional way to share your contact info with a band, venue, prospective manager etc. Be sure to include important information such as your phone number, email address, and a website where they can check out your music or videos. You can get free business cards made at www.vistaprint.com<http://www.
3. Set up a band email account
A lot of communication in the music industry is done through email. Make sure your band has an email address that is professional and includes your band name. Nothing screams unprofessional more than your 7th grade email address…punkdude182@yahoo.
4. Get merch!
Not only does merch show that you’re invested in your band, but it’s one of the best ways for your band to make money! T-shirts, posters, stickers, bracelets, hard copies of CDs, anything you can think of, if you sell it, they will buy! The best profit margins in the music industry come from merchandise. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who is a graphic designer to help you out with shirt and poster designs. You’re good at music. Stick to that. Let the designers do their jobs.
5. Be consistent with your image
It’s time to start treating your band like a brand. You don’t see a dozen different logos for coca-cola, apple, or google so you shouldn’t use different logos for your band. Work with a designer to establish a logo or a special font design for your band name and use it EVERYWHERE! Twitter, facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud. Be consistent. It’s also a good idea to use the same band picture throughout all of your various sites and accounts.
6. Use the Pros
There’s a reason college’s offer degree programs in photography, film, and sound engineering, it’s a lot harder than it looks, trust me. Don’t be afraid to fork out a little extra cash to get professional pictures, videos, and sound recordings. I’ve said it before, stick to what you’re good at and let the professionals do their jobs. Photographers, videographers, and sound engineers often bring a new creative angle to the process and many times end up feeling like a new member of the band. That’s not to say you shouldn’t record your own rough demos or cover videos, but if you’re going to call a YouTube video an “Official Music Video” it better look pretty damn good, and your full-length albums on iTunes should sound pretty damn professional. Know your limits.
7. Grow from the bottom up
It’s not easy getting to the top, but there is only one place to start, the bottom. You want to be a huge national touring band? That’s great, but first you need to be a huge local band. Hand out flyers at malls and big shows that come through town. Establish a strong local fan base. Play a lot of local shows at a variety of venues. If you’re from the Midwest, stick to the Midwest, if you’re from the east coast, stick to the east coast. Don’t just hop in a van with all of your gear and book it to L.A. If you can’t make it as a local band, you’re never going to make it as a national band. Be patient. You’ll get there eventually if you work your tail off.
8. Give your music away for free!
At least some of it…The sad reality of today’s music industry is that the perceived monetary value of a song or album is $0. That’s not to say that people don’t value your music, but it’s too easy for them to get it for free with a simple google search. So why not just give the fans what they want? You might be thinking to yourself, “what kind of a business model is that?” It costs a lot of money to record a quality album, but the truth is, your fan base will grow exponentially if you give your music away for free, and you can make a whole lot more money from a large fan base by selling merch and selling out shows, then you will ever be able to make from album sales. Another route to go is to give your music away for free, but ask for donations.
9. Stay connected to your fans
This one might seem like a no brainer…but it’s IMPORTANT! Stay engaged with your fans. Whether it’s through twitter, facebook, YouTube, instagram, or whatever, stay consistent with talking and reaching out to your fans. Reply to as many comments and messages as you can, and most importantly LISTEN. Your fans will tell you what’s working and what’s not.
10. Network, Network, Network
The music industry is 20% what you know, and 80% who you know. One of the best things you can do as a band is network. Don’t be shy. Reach out and establish relationships with local promoters, venues, other bands, studios, designers, managers, labels…etc. Every relationship presents opportunities, some bigger than others.
All of these tips have come from personal experience. If you think I left any off, let me know in the comments below!