Try being a serious musician long enough and you’ll soon see that nothing about writing, performing, and recording music is simple or straightforward. Whether it’s setting up to track the acoustic guitar on a song or performing to a packed venue, if something can go wrong it often does and sometimes in spectacular fashion. In case you’re not familiar, this idea is called Murphy’s Law, and it’s especially prevalent when it comes to bands touring. Even when things run smoothly, touring can be a challenge for artists, but if you find yourself unprepared for the hidden costs of touring, you could be in for some major problems.
If you’re new to making music or are just plain aloof, it might seem like the world of live music is a free-for-all where bands and their fans can do whatever they want, but that attitude is a classic hallmark of being “that guy” when it comes to shows. Music scenes are sort of like elephants in the way that they seem to remember even the smallest details about musicians and how they conduct themselves publicly, so what you do at shows is actually really important whether you’re performing or not. Here’s a few of the more prominent “that guy” traits that every musician should avoid:
In a perfect world, the musicians we choose to work with will be thoughtful, helpful, and encouraging when it comes to the music we’re making. But like any relationship, the interpersonal connections between musicians in bands and other musical projects can often be as complex and dramatic as music itself. Sometimes the answer is to dig in, find common ground, and to do the hard work of maintaining these relationships to keep them healthy. But when relationships between musicians become damaged past the point of salvageability, there needs to be a major change.
Like the bands that frequent them, new music venues are born and every day it seems. Great venues are able to deliver a sense of magic and meaning to musicians and the fans that watch them alike, but setting yourself apart as a music venue is almost as tough as creating meaningful music. Here’s a list of five great new American venues doing just that:
As much as we’d all like to think that inspiration and the pure love of music is enough to keep us musicians motivated to practice, challenges like work, school, or relationships tend to get in the way of our goals. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then becoming a serious and competent musician can only happen with action and planning; not only playing music when you feel like it. And when it comes to bands trying to make, record, and perform serious music, the idea of practicing consistently is even more applicable.
Every serious musician’s nightmare is blowing it on stage, but it’s an inevitability whether you’re relatively inexperienced or have been in the game for decades. Everything from nerves to lack of practice can contribute to a bad show, but no matter the reason, playing badly at a show can be devastating to a musician or band not only when expectations and emotions are sky high but also because putting yourself on stage typically requires a great deal of vulnerability.
Play shows long enough, and you’ll have a bad one eventually, even if you’ve practiced and aren’t particularly nervous. Doing everything you can to avoid blowing a show is important, but you might want to shift some of your focus on what to do when you step off the stage after a show that didn’t go your way.
Money is a topic that lots of bands go to great lengths to avoid, and it’s easy to see why. Finances can be tricky on an individual level, but in the context of a band, discussions centered around money can range from awkward to downright awful. But while it can be tough for some bands, having honest discussions about money simply have to happen if you’re serious about making music.
Even under the best of circumstances, moving on after the breakup of a band can be an emotionally devastating experience. And while extreme emotions can sometimes prove to be prime territory for making music in, that’s not always the case. After serious bands part ways, some musicians find a way to move on and keep making music, but others opt to throw in the towel in an effort to wash their hands of the experience altogether.