Over the past 20 years I have worked with hundreds of unsigned original bands and there are some mistakes that keep cropping up. So hopefully this blog will help you avoid them, or maybe recognise that your band is guilty of a few and make some changes.
- The Venue – We all want to play Wembley Stadium, however taking 80’000 people is a tough ask. Playing venues that are the right size for your level is crucial to looking after your fan base and the vibe/pr of your live shows. It’s hard to build a buzz at an event if 50 people are rattling around in a 400 capacity venue. If you put 50 people in a living room the party is going to go off. Sold out venues feel so vibey even if it’s small numbers.
- Performing a cover – I’m not saying don’t play covers at an original gig, however I am saying to choose your song carefully. I remember a band I used to manage play a wicked set before finishing on ‘Jet – Be My girl’, bringing the house down. However all I saw was a young promising band show everyone that they weren’t ready to be signed as their songs weren’t as catchy or well arranged as that super hit!
- Playing too many songs – Building your fan base and showcasing your product is about energy and excitement, this is why unsigned bands perform for 30-40 mins. Most bands can play for an hour or longer but I wouldn’t recommend it. Get on the stage and tear it up with the best 7 or 8 songs you have and leave the crowd wanting more.
- Ending on your big song – This is the dumbest thing I see bands fuck up. When you are a newish band, you are playing to your following but also people who have never seen you before so start with your strongest track… At this stage you are not Metallica and if you have Enter Sandman in your arsenal you walk on stage and play it first! You don’t have the luxury of building your set over a 40-minute show… the first 3 songs should tear people’s faces off!
- Wearing just black – I get it! Black is a cool colour however too many bands are playing small venues with average lighting and looking like a cardboard cutout from HMV. Think of the size of venue you are playing and don’t end up a floating head!
- Missing the data capture – Record companies have all figured out that the strongest fans are the ones who are happy to be contacted via email so build that database at every show… A weekly/monthly newsletter or email from the band to engage is a huge bonus… so ask a friend (preferably a hot girl in a band T-shirt) to collect emails at the door with an incentive if they do.
- Who are you? – Many gigs you play will be to people who have never heard of you before so getting the band name across is crucial… I’m not talking about once, I mean enough times that people remember it. I hate it when people ask the band what their name is after the gig!
- Don’t pick a slot – Don’t headline a show if it’s your 5th gig. If there are 4 bands playing that night, structure the bands to the tickets sold. Also if you are playing to an empty venue then that is down to YOU getting people to your show.
- Content creation – It kills me to see how few bands take pictures, videos, or live stream their gigs. One band member should be in charge of Socials and this is a great time to tell a story of the day let alone show the band off live. TELL A STORY!
- Too many shows – Lastly its common sense and I know it’s usually down to over enthusiasm but don’t book 2 shows in the same town within a few days of each other unless you know you can pack both gigs. Splitting your crowd into 2 isn’t going to help you, and you can bet your ass the venue/promoter won’t be high 5’ing you when they find out!
Are you guilty of any of these? Also if you have any other suggestions I would love to hear from you with a comment. If you’re in a band or project and fancy saying hi on my Facebook I’d love that! www.facebook.com/damokeyes