The thought of making a mistake so bad that it ruins an entire show is something that keeps a lot of us up at night. When my old band was unexpectedly asked to open two big sold out shows in my hometown a few years ago, I literally wasn’t able to sleep the nights before out of fear that I’d blow it. Luckily, my bandmates and I played well both nights, and none of the disasters I lost sleep over materialized. Unfortunately, show meltdowns do happen to musicians, whether it’s rooted in the preventable performance mistakes or something purely psychological. Here’s some advice on how to avoid them:
For a new band, venturing out on tour is one of the most exciting things in the world. Bands that haven’t had the chance to suffer the inevitable setbacks and disappointments that come with experience often feel like there’s a universe of opportunity and hope to be uncovered on the road, and they’re not wrong. Touring can be grueling, thankless, band-exploding work, but it’s also the sort of thing that can transform an inexperienced band into a confident and connected musical force to be reckoned with. It’s all up to luck and talent. Here’s three benefits new bands will get on tour:
It’s cliche, but when we’re young, we feel invincible. There’s a sense that the stuff we do to our bodies in our teens and twenties won’t have much of an impact on us for the rest of our lives, and sadly, that’s just not the case. Young musicians can get into lots of bad habits early on in their careers, but not wearing earplugs is something that can lead to consequences that can not only negatively impact their careers, but can also cause lifelong health problems.
There’s a stigma amongst musicians about performing on stage with a backing track for the simple fact that most artists are largely expected to be the ones responsible for generating all the sounds coming from the stage. But with things like bedroom producers gaining popularity and more solo artists looking for ways to save money on the road, the use of backing tracks is becoming a more frequent occurrence on stage. Even traditional bands are beginning to broaden the creative potency of their live sound by way of backing tracks. But stigmas aside, playing to a backing track can be complicated, frustrating, and possibly detrimental for an artist’s live performance.
I’m going to say something you might disagree with: most shows aren’t worth your time if you’re a seasoned musician. When musicians are young and looking for experience, every show is worth considering whether it’s an open mic night at a local coffee shop or playing covers at your beloved grandparents’ 50th anniversary barbeque. Every chance to perform represents an opportunity to grow and learn and gain exposure for young musicians.
But what happens after you’ve been playing open mics and barbeques for years? What do you do when the show offers (big and small) keep rolling in but only a select few stand to do anything to get you closer to your musical goals? To preserve your sanity and help you make the most out of your efforts in music, I think you should politely decline any show that doesn’t stand to help you or your music succeed.
If you’re a regular reader of the ReverbNation blog or are just an experienced musician, you already know how unpleasant touring can be for musicians at any level. But there’s something unique and story-worthy when a young band sets out to play a tour they booked themselves for the first time. DIY touring is brutal work but is also the type of stuff that transforms inexperienced musicians into confident performers. For the young and inexperienced, here’s five things to expect on your first DIY tour:
At its best, touring is fun, lucrative, and creatively fulfilling. At its worst, it’s capable of bringing even the most experienced musicians to their knees. Touring can lead to disaster for musicians of every level of experience, but new bands are especially susceptible. Here are three reasons why.
When I first started touring, I measured success by whether my band ended our time out on the road in debt or not. Personal spending aside, I considered simply being able to be on tour without having to spend money a success. But many tours and a decade later, I see things pretty differently not just when it comes to spending and earning money on tour, but whether it’s worth it for me to be out on the road in the first place.