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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.