How To Tame Nerves Before a Big Show

After working hard to create meaningful music, it can be incredibly exciting when your band starts to get opportunities like opening up big shows. But unfortunately, the thought of playing to a packed crowd often comes hand-in-hand with debilitating performance anxiety for some people, including everyone from members of newer inexperienced bands to seasoned music veterans.

While some performers get nothing more than the feeling of butterflies in their stomach before an important show, performance anxiety is a major issue for some musicians no matter their age and level of talent. But if you’re someone struggling to tame nerves during performances, don’t despair. Here’s some tips:

KevinHow To Tame Nerves Before a Big Show
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How Being Impulsive Could Hurt Your Band

Since impulsivity and music often go hand in hand, it can be tempting to make quick, on-the-spot decisions when it comes to how you make, perform, record, and promote your music. Feeling comfortable and confident with the way you make decisions is pretty important in the songwriting arena, but ironically, giving your instincts too much of a say in matters other than music-making could end up significantly hurting your band.

RebeccaHow Being Impulsive Could Hurt Your Band
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Think Your City’s Music Scene Is Bad? Maybe You’re The Problem

In my decade of experience playing music around the country, I’ve noticed a strange similarity in many of the musicians I’ve encountered. Lots of active musicians I’ve met firmly believe their music scene is bad or that it used to be good and has somehow lost its luster over the past few years. Being in a young, ambitious band, I used to relate to these negative sentiments as it can often feel hard to find acceptance and support from a music scene when you’re new and trying to prove yourself. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that no, there’s not a widespread worsening of music communities across the nation, but instead a problematic issue with the jaded attitudes often found in the musicians who form music scenes.

What makes a music scene great

What constitutes a thriving music scene? From where I sit, a music scene worth its salt is filled with enthusiastic artists intent on making meaningful music and supporting other musicians within their community. The lines become blurred between fan and band in solid music scenes because musicians in these communities make a real effort to go to other band’s shows and to act as advocates for music they’re making, even if it doesn’t benefit themselves in any way. Over time, enthusiasm for music being made within a scene infectiously spreads outward and people outside the music community take notice and begin getting involved by attending shows and buying music. That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway.

Why you might be the problem

What often happens in music scenes is that bands become isolated by adopting an “us vs. the world” mentality, which makes total sense due to our flawed human nature. “Why should I go to that other band’s CD release show when they’ve never been to one of our shows?” is a completely fair question for a band to ask, but it’s not helpful in terms of building or sustaining any sort of music community. If you think your music scene is bad and you don’t make an effort to see other band’s shows, why in the world would you have the expectation that other local musicians should be supporting you? You’re probably a small reason behind why your local community isn’t everything you want it to be.

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Leave your baggage out of it

I get the feeling that many musician’s complaints about their local scenes are rooted in years of pernicious frustration and disappointment when it comes to making music, and I completely relate. When you devote so much of your life trying to make good music and getting the world to take notice, it can be tempting to blame your scene for why music hasn’t given you everything you’d hoped it would when you were younger. But you know what makes a scene bad? Musicians bitching and complaining rather than making real actionable strides to improve things and make better music.

If you want your city to have a great music scene, then go and become that great music scene. See other band’s shows and buy their music. Stop complaining and start completely devoting yourself to making and performing music. Instead of obsessing over how other bands from your city get opportunities that you don’t have access to, build and develop the ones you do have. If you do these things, you’ll be too busy building a meaningful legacy in your scene to sit on the sidelines and complain.

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.

RebeccaThink Your City’s Music Scene Is Bad? Maybe You’re The Problem
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How To Book Your First National Tour In Ten Steps

A certain new and exciting credibility is lended to bands when they transition from playing locally to performing at venues around the country. If you’re new to playing music, you might think that touring is an experience filled with non-stop fun, venues filled to the brim with adoring fans, and luxurious accommodations, but the dramatized version of tour portrayed in movies and TV rarely reflects the massive challenges that come along with heading out on a national tour as a small band. If you want a more realistic picture of what it’s like to head out on tour with an unknown band, think sparsely attended shows, strained finances, and sleeping on floors.

But even with the general stress and discomfort that touring usually brings for smaller acts, it’s an absolute necessity if you want to be taken seriously by fans, press, and labels. There’s no better manifestation of an artist’s hopes and aspirations than seeing them set out for a long national first tour for the first time.

If you’re interested in booking your first national tour, this article was written specially for you. Making the transition from playing locally to regionally and eventually nationally can often be overwhelming, so we’ve assembled ten helpful tips to help you get started.

MikeHow To Book Your First National Tour In Ten Steps
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Why You Should Play Shows In Smaller Scenes

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. The music scenes in these cities typically garner a huge amount of attention from bands and fans alike for good reason. If you’re a young, ambitious band, successfully growing a fanbase and becoming well known in any one of these cities could connect you to a world of possibilities within the music industry. But while building your presence in a large scene comes with its massive potential payoffs, playing shows in bigger cities comes attached to massive challenges, stiff competition, and some big missed opportunities you can only find in smaller scenes.

RebeccaWhy You Should Play Shows In Smaller Scenes
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What To Do When You Get Burned By a Venue or Promoter

Hell hath no fury like a band scorned, right? Spending time and energy over emails settling on a date and promoting a show only to have a booking agent or promoter back out at the last second has got to be one of the most frustrating situations for a band to experience. And if you’re a small fish in a big pond, it can seem like you have little to no recourse when it comes to getting the shaft from a big club in your scene, but there are a few things you can do when you get burned by a venue or promoter.

RebeccaWhat To Do When You Get Burned By a Venue or Promoter
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How To Get Paid After The Show

Even if you’re not new to performing, navigating the payment situation after a show can be awkward, especially if the turnout was bad. I’ll never forget my experience after a show in Dallas a few years ago. After a nice write-up in the Dallas Morning News and coverage from a local blog, my band hoped some locals would come out, but the 200-person capacity Deep Ellum venue was empty save for a lone bartender who was on his phone during our whole set. Knowing full well we weren’t getting paid, I asked him if there were any drink specials for bands after the show. “Only bands who bring people get drinks,” he answered without looking up from his phone.

RebeccaHow To Get Paid After The Show
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Band Etiquette 101

Whether you’re aware or not, there’s a few unwritten rules of how band’s conduct themselves within their local scenes. Break them, and you could face repercussions ranging from lost show opportunities to being the subject of ridicule by your peers. We’ve assembled five rules for you to follow if your band is interested in staying out of trouble and maintaining a good reputation. None of these rules have anything to do with the music your band makes, but they’re important because conducting yourself in a disrespectful or aloof way has the potential to keep you from reaching your goals.

RebeccaBand Etiquette 101
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