Sunday, 27 July 2014

Things Your Band Can Do Better!

Sorry for the slightly confrontational title. The purpose of this post is to offer some advice to bands who may be looking to gain press coverage, book shows/tours and get noticed by labels. I'm not musically or artistically talented and I'm by no means a professional writer, but since I started This Noise Is Ours about four years ago, I've seen bands do silly things and thought I could share some advice that might help you out. You don't have to take any notice of this, but I've seen many of the below at first hand and it frustrates me that in a increasingly tough industry, especially a niche one like this, bands are not necessarily doing themselves any favours. Have a read and hopefully something might be of some use to you.

1. By in large, reviewers and press types are lazy. They want all the facts to be in front of them. If you're submitting a press-release or music to them for consideration, provide them with a press-release that tells them all they need to know. Granted, a lot of new bands can't afford PR teams or publicists to write these for them, but you are best placed to talk about your band, so go for it. The same thing goes for physical promo packs that you might want to send to record labels, print magazines.

2. When submitting music try to either submit a zip file containing the music for review or send a Bandcamp/Soundcloud link. Different sites or magazines have different submission policies, so make sure you read and follow them or else your submission will simply be ignored. Also, please make sure the songs you are submitting are numbered and named correctly. There is nothing more annoying for a writer than having to name all of the tracks once they've dropped them into iTunes or whatever.

3. This is more geared to record labels than it is to press coverage, but a label likes to see that you work hard and care about your band before making an investment in you. You need to be able to exhibit initiative and drive to be successful. This means printing your own merchandise, booking your own tours/gigs and recording/releasing your own music, whether it be digitally or physically. Physically is better, but labels want to see a DIY ethic that proves you are willing to work hard. Before you argue with this point, I know that a lot of bands don't have or make much money, but if you're going to make it as a band, especially in the metal/hardcore/punk genres, you need to exhibit these qualities.

4. Don't ask a magazine/site/label to consider you before you've released any music at all. This is stupid and is bound to rub people up the wrong way. The best thing you can do is quietly record, release music and tour, build a fanbase and then people will naturally pay more attention and then you'll start getting attention too.

5. Think about your band's social media presence. Being on different platforms is a good idea when trying to reach a wider audience but think about the way you act, the things you say and how you want to be perceived. If you start running your mouth about another band or person, you're not going to look very professional. Likewise, if you're primary way of getting shows is by posting a status to Facebook like "We want to play gigs, promoters get in touch", chances are you're going to struggle. It's fine to do that once you've built up contacts, so try and contact and network with gig promoters and even other bands first. There are loads of opportunities for gig swaps but you need to talk to people first.

6. Review wise, don't submit something for review but expect the reviewer to purchase it in order to listen to it. That is stupid and you'll just get ignored.

7. If you get an e-mail from somebody, purporting to write a zine and advising that they only accept physical review materials, be very cautious. Often, these people are from South America (though not exclusively) and they may be just looking to get free stuff. I've seen this happen to plenty of bands and labels in the past.

8. If you're playing a gig, don't expect the promoter to do all of the promotion. Make sure that you do your fair share, as it will be in your best interests to make sure plenty of people know about it. Also, if a promoter asks you to sell a certain amount of tickets in order to get on a line-up, be cautious. This may mean that a promoter does not intend to promote a gig themselves, or they're lazy or that they may not pay if you don't hit a required number of sales. Only a small minority of promoters may do this sort of thing, but this is where the networking with venues, promoters and other band's come in handy.

I appreciate that a lot of this is common sense and general, but it could help you. By all means, write to me and tell me you disagree or let me know your experiences. As long as you're playing music for the write reasons, you'll probably already be doing all these things. That's all folks.

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