Sabotaging the Stage- How We Are Silently Killing Ourselves in the Industry

Posted: January 30, 2018 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Enough is enough! The music scene is already tricky enough to survive in this ‘jungle’, but sometimes the biggest poachers bringing us to our knees – the silent killers- are ourselves! That being said, sometimes we don’t realize how much and what things we do that are putting the nails in our coffin before we even have the chance to make it big. Below I will highlight things that are our silent cyanide, then go a bit in depth! Sometimes the truth is a bitter pill to swallow..but the moment we realize and accept it…the moment we can make the progress and make a change!

So here we ago… try to see what applies to you….it may startle you…

 

  1. There is more than the door. (Are you being duped at the door? Ditch the door!)
  2. Can you walk this way, or are you just talk?
  3. Ready, set…no? How prepared are you for the stage?
  4. Rock N Roll All night….party when the time is right? How is it affecting your stage performance?
  5. Copyright….. should I , and if so, what?
  6. There is a Science to music! How is your chemistry?
  7. Be open to change!! Sometimes love is blind and we fail to see the truth. Covers and stage banter.
  8. Time is on your side…or is it?
  9. Stage Apparel. ‘Nuff said.

 

Keep in mind , a lot of these things go hand-in-hand, but there’s the devil in the details that need to be called out! Now that you’ve realized some components that you might be affected by, I want you to keep in mind to keep reading about the others….the details in each may apply more so than you think. So let’s get to it!

 

 

There is more than the Door.

I can’t stress this enough!! Having worked door for bands , I have seen bands get duped so many ways and to hear them complain afterwards is so disheartening! There are more deals other than the door rate that can be negotiated with the venue. Also, there are more things that amateur artists to the industry don’t think about (like the Force Majeure/Act of Nature in case some natural disaster or condition happens that prevents you from making the show, that releases both sides of the deal from owing) that can come into play. Main thing is to cover your butt, always! This is a dog eat dog industry. You gotta fight sometimes for what you love. So, how can the door dupe you might you ask? Countless times I’ve seen people try to weasel their way in while you’re taking care of others so they can avoid paying cover. They can also do this by going into the venue a bit earlier and chill at the bar or get food even… so your hands are tied there. You can’t go up and be like, hands up cash out! In the end, all the venue cares about is profit themselves- sad but true. You gotta sometimes have the courage (well you should ALWAYS be like that) especially when you have other acts on the bill. Say for example, the draw didn’t turn out as expected and you had about 50-100 to split between 4 acts…….. AND if any of those bands had to travel outta province/ state….at least that sort of covered their gas? Yeah, not cool. Added to that, they probably would not make the same mistake with you again. Sure, it’s all of your passion,but gas isn’t free. Instrument maintenance isn’t free. Food doesn’t magically appear and bills don’t get paid. That being said, what deals are at your paws that we can help you get the most bang for your buck?
1. Flat or Guarantee Rate : 400$ for playing and providing,etc.

2. Versus: $400 at door or 60% of door (whichever is higher turnout)

3. Plus: 300$ plus 40% of door

4. Points/Split : 60/20/20 of Net

Once you decide on what best suits you and your bill, you can find the optimal way of providing the best payout so everyone isn’t hating each other in the end!

 

 

Walk this Way! Don’t just talk it.

Ok, so you got potential audience members anticipating the big show you’ve been promising them- a grandiose spectacular that will have them so mind-blown , they’ll need to be wheeled out of the place from their paralyzed state. Then they get there..the anticipation is real….it’s growing…and growing…and…. nosedive. That big effect show is just a little puff of smoke that Puff the Magic Dragon would shake his head at, and the laser show irked off the dang sharks with frickin’ laser beams. In other words, you promised more than what you could pull off. Therefore you have a disappointed audience that will probably not want to come back to any of your shows other than your loved ones , because you tried to sell them on an unsold dream. I’m going to be using this term again later, but , K.I.S.S (Keep it simple, stupid!) Go for the cool effects, and instead of just blathering on about it, show the audience!! Let them go in not knowing anything , and then they will be truly surprised!! Accumulate cool effects or save up and rent some gear from your savings, if you really wanna wow ’em. Also remember…Que Sera , Sera…what will be , will be. Trust in yourself….you put in the work and SHOW it, not TELL it- the outcome will be greater/

 

Are you all set?

A lotta bands do it, they got their set list on stage in all pretty or scribbly handwriting or type-set… but how prepared are you for the unexpected things? Being a guitarist and bass guitarist, you must realize there is a chance of broken strings! Keep some handy, if not another guitar handy! And for the love of the higher power…..HAVE A DANG TUNER. New strings come out of tune fast, so yeah…those new shiny strings may be a hella good idea to look all spiffy and not to mention that gliding feeling of those gorgeous slinkies or elixr’s…. but they get outta tune so easy! Hell, look at the climate you’re in- that can change your tuning, too! Keep a pedal tuner handy. Invest. It will be the most important pedal you will ever need. Instrumental part aside , how well do you know your set? It can ruin the flow when a band is chatting and are like ‘well this song? why did you put down this song? we aren’t done it! well we just jammed it yesterday!’…. be comfortable with your set and have confidence, so that sheet of paper is just a decorative piece to chuck at fangirls and fanboys at the end of the night, along with that drumstick that smacked off of their head. Just like with the music and lyrics- the less you gotta think about what’s written….the more natural it will come out. Be confident, dudes and dudettes… you got this.

 

Rock N Roll All Night and Party Every Day

 

Oh the glamour of the music scene. Parties, booze, that drunken person worshipping the ground you walk on as you shotgun a beer….. stay up til the wee AM where you gotta head back on the road again for another night. What about the repercussions? Nah, we don’t have them, we’re majestic unicorns! Rules don’t apply to us!!! Get off your high horse. Living off of no sleep, junk food, and 24 packs will not let you be at your best and will not keep you surviving in this industry and health wise. It’s ok to have fun, have a party here and there, and the odd drinks. But the moment it starts affecting your performance? Buddy, you dun’ effed up. I’ve noticed this on stage at a few shows now, and some happening more frequent from same bands than others…..it’s ok to have a drink before hand..but don’t be so damn inebriated you’re constantly screwing up your own songs. It looks even more bad if your parts are easy. Maybe they have stage jitters, or it’s the adrenaline…or drinks…or all combined…but for real…learn to calm it down a bit….all in moderation. You’re there for the music, wait to party and get loaded if you wish after. It just looks crazy bad- and sounds bad too- if it’s impacting your performance.

 

Copyright

 

Be like Dave’s hot sauce and put that sh*t on everything. First thing if you’re wanting to become a pro band , is to trademark your name. Copyright it too. Cover your ass! Your songs, your album…copyrightttt itttt. That way if Thor LeGorgeAss digs your crooning word ability and finds your song lyrics so delectable he snatches them and claims it as his own…..you’re not left there throwing your mic, and wanting to bash his head in. People say Poor Man’s Copyright is legit….sadly, it’s not. It doesn’t cost much either to fill out trademark and copyright forms, so just do it!! Protect yourself!! Also the rights to airplay…here we have what is called SOCAN, that anytime the artist’s songs get played on air , they get some cash! Look, you guys! Money and free promo!!! 2 in 1 deal!! Highly recommended. Just protect yourself. Think of it as sex….you ready for a baby? If you aren’t, protect yourself and your money! Got it?

 

She Blinded Me With Science!

You know all those who said, ‘You’re artsy and not mathematically/scientifically inclined?’ Well big raspberry in the face to them. Ok, angsty. My Bad. But human chemistry is so damn important when it comes to the stage it needs to be bolded and brought to the forefront! As in any relationship, there’s gotta be that bubbling chemistry that attracts the atoms. Ok.. you get it. There needs to be two kinds going on relationship wise: The relationship chemistry with your bandmates, AND the chemistry between you dynamos and the sea of adoring music lovers supporting you. Don’t ignore your band mates and be Mr Stiff Roboto… move around, show your personality, interact, share the mic etc with your fellow bandmates. Trust me, if you see playback of your video and see the awko-taco-ness… it’s truly cringeworthy. It’s supposed to be fun, not an awkward high school prom photo with someone your parents set you up with. Not only will it look good, but it will make you feel good! It will help loosen you up having fun with your buddies and help floof off that anxious energy and turn it into fun! Here’s the balancing equation part though…keep that in mind, but now you need to totally not neglect your audience! Make them feel as if they’re part of your show! Incorporate them! (I will discuss stage banter in another section) lock eyes, make gestures, give them the ability to scream Encore at you! Just don’t make them feel like they’re disgusting and you don’t want to acknowledge their presence. No, just no. That being said….have fun.

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

Change is inevitable. And times are a-changin’. Always in the industry, new things come and go..yeah you gotta stay true to you…but learn adaptability and leniency. Stay in the know. Any musician / songwriter can relate when you come up with that perfect song….perfect melody….perfect everything…there’s not a thing you would ever wish to change…it’s your baby. But….. truth is…love is blind, sometimes. We fail to notice things that might need minor tweaking. If the singer can’t hit that note, you gotta make some minor tweaking let it be the note or the key. Maybe the chorus isn’t right, the meaning is lost in the song, etc. Be open to change and feedback. Sometimes it will even amaze you at the end and you’ll wonder why hadn’t you thought of that.. don’t be scared of change, but rather embrace it! Hell, it might even be a hit! Also, remember…a band is a mutual agreement…..everyone’s say is important.

Part two to this is stage banter and covers. I know a butt load of bands that say F*ck covers! F*ck bantering!! Umm, hey hambone, what do you suggest for transition? Once again, sometimes talking to the audience about the song can make them immersed in it. It’s ok to do. You will not be judged, and if people wanna judge….not all people are alike. You do you. Covers can be tricky, but they do have advantages. People get mad at tribute bands for hauling in crowds sometimes more than all original bands….First of all 1) Huge mainstream bands do covers…if Metallica can rock the shit outta The Misfits and make it awesome – stop worrying. 2) People like singing along or knowing  a song or two! That way if you play some that they like they will be like ‘Ooo they do that song! I love that song!’ and at the same time, you’ll also be introducing them to your originals as well. Once again, a 2-in-1 deal. Don’t fear the covers, but don’t oversaturate them. Put your ego aside, and give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, ditch ’em; you’ll never know what works for you until you try.

 

Time is On Your Side…..if You Will it. 

I can not stress this enough for starting bands- yes Headlining a bill is fabulous! But if you’re new or moderately new….. You won’t have a packed crowd at 1-2am…. People will have left except for your trusty entourage of supportive family and friends. If you’re Aerosmith, yes this is fine, but when you’re starting- this is not your prime time! Say for instance the show starts at 8pm… each slot is 1 hour length for each set…. there’s 4 bands…. here’s the maths again, sorry. The prime time is the first two slots…sometimes third. 8-9… everyone is trickling in  most times so it’s a hit or miss depending on the bands and rep …woot yay. 9-10… warmed up ..this is prime time spot… people are fully settled and got their drinks and are all good to go. If possible, get this spot. Third slot, 10-11….still good and safe and I would say second best after the 2nd slot…. but for the love of all that’s good and mighty..avoid headlining for a bit. Yeah sure your ego wants to fill that damn void of being the top kahuna… but , until you can sell out shows and have a good fan following….put your ego aside and take one of the other slots. This way you’re not playing to an empty crowd.

 

The Bow on Top- Stage Apparel/Look

I probably got a whole lot of middle digits raised when people saw this component earlier, and for that please give this a chance and see what is truly meant. By this I do not mean you have to dress in tuxedos and look like you’re going to a wedding (unless that’s the thing of your band style- go for it!) But what I mean is you can look uniformed without uniform! Look like you all actually belong together and put effort into it, instead of Gunther got hauled in outta his car to fill in. Let it be colour scheme, or the kinds of garments, etc. Just keep it together. It looks weird having one person in overalls, one in a tux, one in a jogging suit, and one in a dress. It’s just the aesthetics of stage look. Keep a theme, keep it together. You can still show your personality! That’s why  I suggest colour or basics. Like we’re gonna wear jeans, hell long board shorts can work too…just keep it in the same colour zone. You don’t need expensive stage apparel- you just need to be all on the same page.

 

 

 

 

 

Now after all of my rambling, I hope you all were able to take some info to help you on your road to success in the music biz! There’s a lotta simple things that people don’t say or bring up, but it’s all in the small details! From your payment, to ideal stage time, to chemistry. Learn it. Own it. Own that stage. You got this. Also, keep a press kit handy. If you’re interested into what goes into a Press Kit (Physical or Electronic) Just comment or send me a message and I’ll write a piece on that to help you step by step! Or if you got any other industry related Q’s…just message or ask me on a comment and I’ll help out!

 

Rock on and Cheers to success!

 

~ Bree

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. Trevor says:

    Great advice, Bree. I’ve played in and watched bands that make these same mistakes.

    Don’t write up a set, practice playing sets! It’s ok to change from the plan if it isn’t working and your set isn’t making the audience feel it, but don’t even have a band meeting on stage!

    • Nothing worse than the band meeting on stage! Then fighting……le sigh. I hope bands and solo artists can take from this article so hopefully they can stop having these things weigh ’em down! The monetary part , too…eek!

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