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.
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.