rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 03/10/2003
Musician's Corner: So You’re in a Band? So What.
by Tom Leu
Kind of a rough title I know, but I needed to get your attention. Must have worked. Congratulations on finding the Musician’s Corner. This is the place for musicians and fans of music to come for insights and information on how to not only survive, but to thrive and prosper in the music business locally and regionally. I attempt to tell it like it is, offering up tips and identifying traps. I point out the good with the bad taken from my learned and real life experiences in the music business. So you’re in a band? Good start, but there is a lot more to “being in band” than just being in a band.

The Reality. Whenever possible, I try to go into situations with my eyes wide open. Working musicians have to endure late nights, long hours, and lots of hard work. Statistics show that there are more bands in existence today than there are number systems to count them all. Or so it seems. Everyone is in a band, was in a band, or is about to join or form a band. Getting into a band is the easy part. Making a success out of your music is the hard part. Because of the sheer volume of bands out there, nobody really cares about yet another one. You haven’t arrived just because you strap on a guitar and buy a drum set and call yourselves the Velvet Underwear or some other semi-profound name that has no real meaning. Bands have to make a name for themselves by delivering significant entertainment value through hard work and promotion.

Bands also have to learn how to properly market and promote themselves alongside learning how to write and play their music. This is no easy task. Most artists are only good at one or the other, rarely both. Musicians and bands should plan to make little money, get less credit than you deserve, and wonder on several occasions why you got yourself into this mess in the first place. On the other hand, along with the hard work comes a whole lot of fun and excitement.

The Revelry. Did I mention fun? Being in a band is also an absolute blast! Those of you that are currently in bands know what I’m talking about. The stories are endless. There is a certain level of euphoria that is not easily described that comes with being in a band. There are few things that can rival the intensity and satisfaction that creating and performing music brings to a person. The camaraderie is also magnificent at times, when the proper line-up of people and personalities is achieved.

When your audience and fans truly appreciate your music and your performance, and go out of their way to tell you so, there isn’t much better. The whole “rock star” thing is really secondary compared to the feeling of accomplishment knowing that others are genuinely enjoying your music and your message. As fans, we’ve all been on the other end of this from the artists that we listen to and admire. A new commercial may go something like this: new guitar $950, flyers for the upcoming show $17, bar tab after Saturday night’s gig $131, being in a successful band - priceless…

The Bottom Line: It’s easy to get into or start a band; it’s another story to be in a successful, working band or group. I encourage all budding musicians and artists to go ahead and pursue your dream and put your band together. Write your songs and perform your heart out. You may be the next superstar act with hits for years to come. Just remember that putting the band together and getting started is just the beginning, not the end. You’re going to have to convince people that your band has got something more to offer other than just existing. Do yourself and your band mates a favor and become expert promotion and salespeople. Combine your great music with great marketing and you’re now really in a band and on your way.
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