Whilst you might have a love for music, it’s no secret that being in a band can be a challenge at times. Here’s how to make things easier:
Ultimately, growing and developing a band is not supposed to be easy. Otherwise, every band in existence would be wildly successful. Complaining about it being difficult will do absolutely nothing to improve the situation. In fact, it’ll worsen the situation by wasting time and curating a negative atmosphere.
Here are a few pointers on stopping complaining:
- Accept that it’s not easy: Once you’ve fully accepted that being in a band is no easy task, you’ll be less-likely to get discouraged when you inevitably run into difficulties.
- Maintain a positive outlook: View problems and difficulties as an opportunity to learn and grow instead of something that’s setting you back
- Ask yourself what you can do to fix the situation: If there’s something you can do to change the situation, do it. If there isn’t, then accept that the situation is out of your control. Focusing on the solution rather than the problem means you won’t unnecessarily fuel the problem with complaints.
Keep Your Ego In Check
As you might have noticed, musicians are particularly susceptible to an inflated ego. However, this can be immensely detrimental to a band’s progress and overall wellbeing. In short, an inflated ego:
- Curates a sense of entitlement: An inflated ego generally means an over-exaggerated perspective of your self-importance. As a result, you’re much-more-likely to feel as if you’re owed something upfront for your musical talent. The truth is that you are owed absolutely nothing unless you’re consistently adding value to other people’s lives. If you have a sense of entitlement, you’re likely to get discouraged and start doubting the project if you don’t see immediate results.
- Hampers your own judgement: An inflated ego can make it all-too-easy to misjudge situations or blame others for your own mistakes.
Here are a couple of tips for keeping your ego in check:
- Accept that you are no more important than any other band member: A good band comprises of several distinct individuals playing to their strengths. Each member contributes a significant amount of value to the overall project and possess a key set of advantages. Even if you’re the founding member and/or pinpoint person, it does not make you the most important.
- Acknowledge your reliance on other people: As previously mentioned, a band is very much a team effort. Whilst you undoubtedly rely on your bandmates, you’re also fully-reliant on your friends, family and fans to support you. In other words, any success you have can largely be attributed to other people’s efforts.
Understand It Isn’t Just About The Music
For many musicians, one of the hardest things about being in a band is gaining traction. In many cases, this is a direct result of artists focusing on the music, but not focusing on anything else. Whilst the music itself will undoubtedly be your main focus, it’s not the only thing that requires consistent time and effort. Refusing to focus on anything other than the music itself is a case of ‘placing the cart before the horse’. Whilst you might be producing fantastic music, it’s not going to be heard if you haven’t built the necessary infrastructure around it.
Here are a few other things you should be investing consistent time and effort into:
- Social media: In today’s digital era, bands and artists are struggling to make headway without a solid social media strategy. Attention spans are currently at an all time low, meaning you’ll have to create engaging content on a daily basis in order to stand out. For more information on developing a strong social media strategy, check out our article ‘How To Promote Your Music On Social Media | 21 Game-Changing Tips‘
- Building a network: You’ve surely heard that music is a ‘who you know, not what you know’ industry. Whilst industry connections are certainly a vital component of success, they aren’t going to magically fall into your lap. You should be making it a priority to go to shows, industry events and meetups as often as you possibly can. In addition, make sure you take a totally selfless approach to networking. Meet as many people as possible and focus on how you can help them instead of how they can help you. If you nurture relationships with other industry operators over a sustained period of time, they will eventually start coming through for you.
- Administration: I’d be extremely surprised if you joined a band with the intention of doing admin. However, it’s absolutely necessary for a band to be successful. Shows need to be booked, rehearsals need to be structured and recording sessions need to be planned.
Treat The Band Like A Part-Time Job
A major reason why being in a band can be so problematic is because members are often juggling other commitments. Understandably, your day job and your family are most-likely going to be at the forefront of your priority list. However, it can be all-too-easy to continuously push the band to the side in order to fulfil more imminent commitments.
If you’re serious about progressing as a band, you’re going to make it a priority. The best way to do this is to simply treat it like a part-time job. Create a weekly schedule for the band and stick to it as if you were getting paid. Your weekly schedule should include:
- At least 1 rehearsal
- Individual practice time
- Admin/social media/curator research
- Writing/arranging new material
You wouldn’t skip a shift at a paying part-time job if you’d had a long day. Therefore, don’t do the same with the band. In addition, if you don’t feel you have time to work on the band, you’re going to have to make time. This might been giving up your Friday night out with friends or your Sunday afternoon binge-watching Netflix so you can work on the band.
Another great strategy is to delegate specific roles to individual band members. Role delegation evenly distributes the workload and allows each band member to play to their strengths. I’d recommend hold a band meeting to identify each member’s strengths and abilities, then delegating roles accordingly.
Here are a few examples of roles you might consider delegating:
- Pinpoint person: The pinpoint person oversees all aspects of the band to make sure everything is running smoothly. In addition, they often act as the main representative for the band when liaising with other industry operators. In most cases, the band’s founder will naturally adopt this role.
- Social media manager: The social media manager oversees the content strategy and posting schedule for the band’s social media channels. It’s best to delegate this role to someone who’s personable, creative and charismatic.
- Administrator: This role usually involves booking practices, arranging shows and hiring backline. It’s best to delegate this role to someone who’s well-organized.
Make Sure Everyone’s On The Same Page
In my experience, bands fall apart very quickly once problems and/or disagreements start going unchecked. When you’re part of a committed project, you’re undoubtedly going to encounter problems and disagreements with other members. By nature, everyone (rightly) wants to have their fair say in the overall direction of the project. When members aren’t on the same page, it’s likely that acrimonious personal disagreements will start to occur.
Here are a few pointers for making sure everyone stays on the same page:
- Hold regular band meetings: The best time to do this is generally after rehearsal. Go for a drink or some food and have a chat about your overall strategy as well as upcoming events.
- Listen before speaking: When a member is voicing their opinion, it’s vital that the other members give them their full attention and think things through before responding. This will allow for a much more productive and constructive discussion.
- Seek clarification: If you make assumptions over things you don’t understand, it’ll unsurprisingly result in members being on different pages. Make sure you seek clarification from others if you need it.
- Put it in writing: I’d strongly recommend making summary notes of everything that’s said during each meeting. That way, you’ll have something to refer back to if further disagreements arise.
Do Your Research On Curators
All-too-often, I’ll hear the following statement from band members:
“I’ve submitted my music to every venue, playlist, radio station and label I’ve found, but haven’t heard back from any of them”.
This is understandably frustrating and can make band members feel as if it’s near-impossible to gain any traction. However, blindly submitting your music to every curator you find will almost-always result in failure. This is for two main reasons:
- You’re submitting to totally the wrong curators: Whilst this might seem obvious, I’m consistently amazed at how many bands are doing this. If you’re a newly-established metal band, you have very little chance of getting on a playlist that caters to established hip hop artists.
- You have no prior established relationship with the curator: If you haven’t already allowed the curator to warm up to you before submitting your music, you’re severely hindering your chances of standing out.
If you take a little bit of time to research and engage curators before submitting your music, you’ll almost-certainly find that things will get easier. Here’s a quick guide on how to effectively research and engage curators:
- Create a hit-list of suitable curators: Take a couple of hours to find blogs, playlists and radio stations who cater to bands and artists that are similar to you (in terms of both style and popularity).
- Engage and promote suitable curators: Once you’ve found a suitable set of curators, start actively engaging with their content and promoting them on your own social media channels. Whilst doing this, it’s vital not to push your music on them. Simply spend a few weeks showing genuine interest in their work without directly expecting anything in return.
- Pitch your music: Once you’ve established a bit of a relationship with the curator, reach out to them and pitch your own music.
If you’d like a more detailed guide on researching and engaging curators, check out our article ‘How To Submit Your Music To Radio Stations [FULL GUIDE]‘.
Set Short & Long-Term Goals
One thing a lot of bands struggle with is staying motivated long-term. This is often due to the following:
- Setting unrealistic or unmeasured goals
- Not setting goals at all
Both of the above points can severely hinder motivation. Unrealistic goals will often result in failure, whilst an absence of goal setting can make you feel as if you aren’t progressing. The best way I’ve found to stay motivated is to set realistic short and long-term goals. In addition, your short-term goals should essentially make up your long-term goals.
Here are a few examples of effective short-term goals:
- Write two new songs in the next month
- Book a show in the next two weeks
- Run a giveaway to boost Spotify streams in the next week
Here are a few examples of effective long-term goals:
- Write and record an EP in the next six months
- Book a tour in the next 12 months
- Reach 1,000 monthly Spotify listeners in the next 12 months
Essentially, short-term goals offer a consistent sense of achievement and progression. This sense of achievement and progression can serve as an effective motivator for your long-term goals.