5 Reasons Your Band Isn’t Going Anywhere

Music is an industry where nothing is guaranteed. Even if you’re talented, lucky, connected, and hardworking, the odds of achieving lasting financial success and notoriety are slim. But like in any profession, there are things bands inadvertently do that thwart their own prospects. Here’s a list of five things that keep bands from being successful:

1. Your songwriting isn’t where it needs to be

So many young bands out there look and act the part, but their songs just aren’t engaging enough to catch people’s attention. Rather than throwing energy into social media promotion and booking shows, some artists would be better off devoting their time to figuring out how to write a memorable song. Easier said than done, of course, but if your band has been spinning your wheels for years with no real success to show for it, this might be why.

2. You’re not investing enough energy into booking shows and promoting your music

While some bands aren’t focused enough on the songwriting side of things, others have trouble finding success because they refuse to do anything other than write, record, and perform. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making music and playing a show now and then for fun, but if your band wants to make a real career out of music, you’ll have to learn how to effectively promote and advocate for your art. This means everything from maintaining a social media presence to submitting your music to record labels. For newer bands, there’s a pretty significant learning curve here, but you won’t start seeing results until you try.

When it’s time to spread the word about your music, it’s time to look at Promote It

3. You need more practice

For younger bands, a major hurdle to clear is getting proficient enough musically to write, record, and play live. This might be tough advice to swallow, but if you and your bandmates can’t sing and play your instruments well, your band won’t go anywhere. And while technology is changing music in some hugely significant ways, musicians in bands need to be solid players, and that’s not likely ever to change. If your band is having trouble making traction, it might be time to practice more together and individually.

4. You’re not writing enough music

If you feel like your band isn’t meeting its full potential, it could be because you’re not writing enough music. Some artists try to ride the success with an album or EP for years, but the truth is that if you wait too long to write new music, fans will simply move on and forget about you. Writing music isn’t easy, but failing to release music regularly could be holding your band back.

5. You’re just not ambitious enough

Developing a serious career in music can be heartbreaking and tedious at times. Even if you’re good at what you do, you’ll most likely have to face disappointment and hardship before anything significant starts to happen with your music. This means that if you want to find any real success, you’ll have to be ambitious and tenacious. Some bands just don’t want it badly enough, but for musicians who persevere, there’s no telling where music will take them.

Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.

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  • Wale Baggis - January 30, 2018 reply

    Great article 👌

  • Chad Frey - January 31, 2018 reply

    You only need 1 reason. People are just so damn fickle and they don’t know what’s good for themselves.
    If they don’t want to buy my music I’m not the problem they are. My releases are 10 dollars or less on itunes.
    There’s no excuses.

    Mr John - February 1, 2018 reply

    Hi Chad,
    This is not a flame, it’s constructive criticism: that post makes the problem sound completely like your attitude.
    1. iTunes market has slumped a great deal in the last couple of years, you may want to sell it elsewhere.
    2. How have you promoted that it is there (or even elsewhere if you use other sites to sell)?
    3. How many followers do you have on social media? Are they enough to be interested in investing their time and money in your music? 1000 likes does not equal 1000 sales, but you can get sales up by gigging & touring, advertising, getting in popular music blogs and working hard.
    Hope this helps.
    Cheers

    Mr John

    James Carbonaro - February 1, 2018 reply

    People just don’t understand how great and special and talented you are! Who are you again?

  • Alex Caplin - January 31, 2018 reply

    Excellent points! But you forgot to mention the music industry is in a downfall from digital downloads and streaming services that almost nothing which makes it much more difficult to succeed in a business that is falling apart! Almost all the big recording studios have gone out of business due to record companies no longer having budgets to record.

    Mr John - February 1, 2018 reply

    Again, people are obsessed with sales.
    Go play gigs. All the bands I work with make the most money from gigging and touring. Sell tshirts, 7″ singles, tapes and CDs at the merch stand. It’s an ever growing outward spiral, but you have to be on it to succeed.
    And push your bandcamp. It’s free to create a bandcamp page (which can also sell your aforementioned merch) and you get about 80% of the royalties.
    Successful Lions go where the Zebras are. It’s not the other way around.
    Hope this helps.

    Mr John

  • Cactus Joe - January 31, 2018 reply

    These articles always regurgitate the same things. In actuality, your band’s downfall has to do with trying to copycat what everyone else is doing to try to be popular. Being good does not mean being popular. Why compete with everyone? Rather, carve your own niche and brand with a customized following. You might not fill a large concert hall, but cozy house concerts are lucrative nowadays. Alternative venues are something to consider too, rather than the conventional impersonal music venues. If you have a home studio, don’t shy away from live streaming concerts on the Internet. May not pay, but then again…you don’t have to travel and haul gear. Think outside the box. This article is for those inside it.

    Mr John - February 1, 2018 reply

    Totally agree. This article is very generic and is not root cause of any particular artists problems.
    We all need to analyse our own issues and ask why, why, why, why.

    James Carbonaro - February 1, 2018 reply

    Couldn’t agree more, Cactus Joe. Way too many people are trying to be someone else. Being inspired or influenced by an already established act is not the same thing as becoming their clone.

  • Bren - January 31, 2018 reply

    Good point Cactus Joe – we don’t want to go anywhere. We’re quite happy where we are, having a jam, a bit of fun, playing out of time and out of tune whenever we damp well please – pure bliss!

    James Carbonaro - February 1, 2018 reply

    So then Bren, your band is a hobby. You aren’t going to get anywhere if you are content to be the Thursday night act at your favorite local bar. 100 years ago ‘show biz folk’ worked a different theater every week; making their way from Maine to Mexico and back again, 1 train stop at a time.

  • Ratzo Rizzo - February 1, 2018 reply

    Been playing rock and roll for over 50 years now. Still in a band and just played a streetfest show. Maybe I’m not famous but I still enjoy performing. If I was a little younger maybe I would put a little more into promoting the band, but I’m happy to just be around and playing the rock and roll that I love.

    Tom - February 1, 2018 reply

    Yeah, thats my friends and I, exactly. Still working on our first album, for the last6 years, and its mostly just to show someone we were here. Don’t expect to make a million from it, or even a thousand. And one more thing we found out, when it comes to recording we are not as good as we thought we were. When every note is forever, you get a lot more picky. And we were picky a-holes to begin with!

  • Old Dude - February 1, 2018 reply

    I think there’s a corollary to #1 that also impacts #3. That is that your PLAYING isn’t as good as it should be because you’re writing originals that cover up your shortcomings. Can’t handle certain complex chords? Don’t include them in your originals. Can’t play a complicated lead passage? Don’t include them in your songs. Before you start writing your own songs, learn to play together as a tight, cohesive BAND by playing covers and uncovers. They’ll fill up your sets at shows and please the audience if you play them well, and then gradually work in GOOD originals as you write them.

  • StunnyG - February 1, 2018 reply

    Nothing replaced hard work. Make adjustments, not excuses.

  • Joseph Clark - February 1, 2018 reply

    if you have a signature sound you want to stick with it and not change out affects, course it’s nice to have a crazy song or two. Could you imagine a Frampton stop using the talking box and went to a wah-wah pedal on do you feel, it’s a matter of good songwriting, tight music, promotion and gigs and if you get lucky enough to open for a big band you should be able to either make it or it’s time to retire at that point. And by the way if you can get the girls to like you the guys will usually follow regardless what you’re doing

    James Carbonaro - February 1, 2018 reply

    Brilliant observation Joseph Clark: get the girls to like you and the guys will be sure to follow.

  • Wally Lepore - February 1, 2018 reply

    Reasons 1, 4 and 5 are critically important! Couldn’t agree more!

  • James Carbonaro - February 1, 2018 reply

    #1 & #5 are similar but not exactly the same. However, what it boils down to is this: 40% of success is in possessing the ability to be original or different or something that nobody has heard or seen before. Way too many performers are content to pretend to be someone else. They use to do this all day concert in New York City on Labor Day weekend. It was the best of the tribute bands. You could see Elvis, followed by The Beatles, followed by Led Zeppelin, followed by – well, you get the impression. They were all very good technicians. But if you want to be an artist……………………………

  • John E Mack - February 1, 2018 reply

    Good article. I work these 5 points every day

  • Joseph vanbibber - February 17, 2018 reply

    If the dudes are banging their heads and the ladies the same with hi p movement then your doing your job. Music is the international language. One simply can’t change the world with lyrics alone, we don’t want the crowd to think about the “message we want movement….heads banging and asses shaking..

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