Everyone starts out the same. It’s rough. Taking whatever shitty gigs they can get, playing on stage to five of their friends, and basically making no money. At first maybe it’s exciting. You’re just getting started, after all. But after months of this it can get frustrating.
So you start thinking, if I only had a label. (Now I have that Wizard of Oz song stuck in my head)
Good news is the music industry is changing, drastically. Not so good news for the record labels, although they don’t want you to know that. How could you make it in the music industry without the infamous record label. Isn’t that the end goal?
It doesn’t have to be. The problem is most musicians don’t understand, or want to understand, business. So when a label comes around and offers you a spot in their circle of trust, with claims to market and back you monetarily, it sounds like a great plan.
It’s not that record labels are bad. It’s just in today’s world they are unnecessary.
And quite possibly, ineffective in some cases. Yes they are going to:
Here’s the issue I have with that. There is no other creative field, or any business for that matter, that so readily signs their soul away than musicians. And it’s because the labels are making tons of money off of you. They’ve done a really good job at making you think you need them.
They rule the industry, at least for now. Don’t get me wrong, some labels are really good people who love music. But there are SO many others that manipulate you by using your need to create music and your want to become a star against you. For them it’s genius, for you, it could go either way.
Stop spending all of your brain power, time and energy on trying to get on a label. Use it, instead, to promote yourself.
For the stuff you don’t know how to do contract it out, hire someone freelance. Find budget friendly, creative ways to get your name out there (flyers are not the only way). Use social media to talk and connect with your fans. There are so many resources out there from flyer design to music mastering that don’t require you to sign a contract or take a percentage of your sales.
Treat your music like it’s a business. Keep working at it every day. Become obsessed with getting better. It’s going to be hard work but when you sell something all of the profit will go to you. Not some label’s President who you’ve never met. How sweet is that?
Just like eating Reeses, there’s no wrong way to name your band. Unless your band name sucks. That’s the wrong way. You didn’t get to choose your real name so make sure your band name is sweet. You want people to be screaming it all. night. long. If it blows, they won’t.
1. Just Because You Think It’s Funny Doesn’t Mean It Is
Nobody wants to hear your stupid, NOT funny story about how you came up with the name Noodle Bears. You might pee your pants a little every time you say it, but that chick at the bar thinks you’re an idiot. You are better off naming your band Orangutan Farts. Farts are always funny.
2. STOOOP with the Punctuation and Special Characters
Yes, exclamation points are fun! But people need to be able to say your name. How the hell am I supposed to tell all of my hot friends to go see your show? Oh yea, let’s go see 3..$?*& tonight. Same goes for too many x’s. If your band name looks more like a drunk text, try again.
3. Too Many Words
Any band name with more than three words is too many. Hell, three is a lot. Keep taking words out until you get down to two. At the most. And then take one more word out. Ha, just kidding. Keep it to three and your domain name should still be ok.
4. Generic Names
Surf band with the word beach. Metal band with the word death. Bands with the word band in them. Come on people. Make it memorable. You’d be better off picking up the dictionary and picking out some random words.
5. Don’t Pick Random Words Out of A Dictionary
At least make sure the name sort of matches your style of music. If you name your band Fuzzy Slippers I shouldn’t expect hardcore death metal. This isn't the time to be ironic. Make sure our tiny brains can still put your name and your music together, like a puzzle, after our hangover has subsided, of course.
I could breathe better. I felt better.
It didn’t happen often, but when I was really young my family would get together and play music. I can’t quite pin down the moment when I knew I loved music. I guess it’s always been there.
I started playing piano when I was seven or eight. I learned how to read music and how to create my own songs. I then transitioned into singing lessons, choirs and violin. I studied classical music. It fascinated me.
Then I went to college and I met some guy (Chevontez) who was in a reggae inspired rock band. I was studying advertising, marketing, branding, copywriting, everything I needed to know to promote a business. Around this same time I took my first design class.
It was obvious what I had to do.
I started designing for bands.
I later learned people around campus started collecting the flyers I put up. Every week was a new piece of art promoting a band and people hung them up in their dorms or apartments. It was probably more about the band but I'd like to think they liked my artwork. At least a little bit.
Music and art are pretty much the same thing. We are creating something out of nothing. I paint images on a blank canvas while you create sound to fill the air. Music and art make people think. I love both. Equally.
I run two businesses. One (my day job) is in the medical field the other is my art. Obviously it’s easier for me to make business decisions for the medical office than it is for my art. I can tell you that even with my experience it is hard to silence my creative self when I’m trying to brand or grow my business. I’m too close to it. I’m too emotionally involved. It can be really hard to separate those two things. But both are so important.
If you just sit in your room and don’t get anything out there, well, your biggest fans will be your cat and your Mom.
On the other hand if all you do is hustle and don’t practice or work on your music, people are going to get bored and find something else. We all have short attention spans now days. Are you still here?
Which is why I am starting this new series exclusively for musicians. Every Friday I’m going to have a new idea, strategy, concept for you to think about to help you stand out. I want good music to become popular music. I want the Top 10 songs on Itunes to be original, creative, and smart.
I want your music to change the air. So we can all breathe better. So we can all feel better. It will never happen if they never hear it.
Piano was the first instrument I learned. I started playing when I was around five years old. I was lucky to have a Mom who knew the importance of being creative, and learning an instrument was a top priority.
We always had a piano in our household. I used to open the back of the piano and watch as the keys struck the strings, it was all so magical. Although I don't play anymore it did teach me so many things. It led to my love of music and an appreciation for how music works. It also probably taught me how to sit still and be patient, which is a valuable lesson when you are five.
Music and art seem to go together perfectly. While I am painting, I am listening to music. Painting in silence is barbaric. Here are my five favorite bands.
Who are your top five favorites?
Here is a quick sketch I did while watching some Grey's Anatomy. My husband hates that show. I mean, the ONLY reason I watch it is for the medical stuff... Anyways, my husband's headphones were sitting on top of his Pod on our coffee table. I've been drawing and painting so many figures I thought it would be good to do a still life.
I'm Jackie, an artist, illustrator, and friend to ghosts, monsters, and aliens. This blog is full of DIY projects, stories, and things I think are cool. Stay weird.