Trying to form a successful band and make it in the music business is tough enough as it is. With so much competition and an unforgiving audience, it’s a miracle any group makes it at all. Don’t make things harder for your band by falling victims to the following all too common, but preventable, mistakes.
Failure to Communicate
As with nearly every other form of relationships, inability to communicate is usually the root cause of every other problem within a band. While it might seem obvious, you need only look at the breakup story of any group to see that communication issues are very prevalent in the music world (which probably has a lot to do with pride and big egos).
To prevent these problems from getting out of hand, it's a good idea to set aside some time, apart from practice or gigs, to just sit down and chat. Depending on the personalities of the band members, it can be a genuine “group meeting” with a checklist and agenda, or it could be something a lot more relaxed and casual. Regardless of how it’s setup, it should take place in an environment where everyone can get a chance to speak their mind. It’s also important to only have people directly involved with the band in attendance, in other words, no girlfriends.
While text and email are fine for regular day-to-day band stuff like upcoming gigs, any issues that have some emotional weight attached to them should be done face-to-face as they can only be effectively conveyed when people are in the same room together.
No Set Goals Or Plans
No matter how much talent or cohesion your band has, chances are you won’t get much farther without firm goals and plans on how to achieve them. Far too many bands tend to get complacent once they are comfortable and expect things just to happen naturally. Unfortunately, this usually leads them nowhere. Communication is integral when it comes to setting goals. Every goal is born from a small idea, so don’t be afraid to share what you would like to accomplish. On that same note, don’t be too quick to dismiss an idea from other band members either.
It is also important that your goals remain realistic and achievable. As great as it is to think about one day selling out major stadiums or having a platinum record, they are unrealistic for the vast majority of bands. Early goals should be easy, such as setting up a band website or learning a certain song.
Once the entire band has agreed on a certain goal, create a plan that splits up tasks to individual band members, taking into account skills and availability. Not only will this make every member feel invested, but it will also ensure that you are making the best use your band’s time and talents.
And finally, make sure you set a realistic deadline. Accomplishing these goals should help your group move forward as well as foster a positive energy.
Not Playing To Your Audience
While it might seem “cool” not to put a label on your band or your music, it will only make things harder than necessary. You should be able to describe your band’s target audience, the kind of fans that would go to your shows and buy your albums. If you can't, nailing this down should be a top priority. Don’t think of it as labelling yourself or a group of people, think of it as trying to find a connection or common ground with a collection of individuals who would be the most receptive to your style music.
Knowing your target audience is vital in growing your fan base and open many doors. It lets you focus on choices that will help develop your band’s career while disregarding unproductive projects that will get you nowhere. It’s also the key to playing to a packed house instead of an empty room.
If your band is just getting started or have yet to figure out who your target audience is, do some research; find a band that’s similar to your group’s style and study their fans. What are they like? What’s their average age? Are they mostly women, men, or a good mix of both? Are they active on any social media sites? Where do they go to see live music? Where do they go just to hand out? Learn as much as you can, and use this information to make your choices.
If your band has fallen victims to any of these mistakes, don't feel too bad – they're common for a reason. We all tend to do unwise things from time to time, even without knowing it. But instead of being embarrassed by our mistakes, the key is to correct them and learn from them!
Your Turn to Sound Off!
What are some other common mistakes made by bands?