For new bands, the experience of getting up on stage and playing is exciting and meaningful no matter the circumstances. But for seasoned musicians, shows with wretched sound, empty rooms, and non-existent payouts quickly gets old. The “down for anything” stereotype musicians have had flung at them is dangerous because it’s an attitude that devalues the immense work songwriters and performers put into their craft. If you’re serious about making music, you have to learn how to discern what opportunities are worth pursuing from the ones you should be gracefully turning down. Here are three shows to say no to if you’re an experienced musician:
Every serious musician knows that putting on a great live show takes planning and work to pull off. But for some reason, some bands hold the belief that successfully playing live only requires a great performance, and that things like showing up on time is something that doesn’t apply to musicians. The truth is that when bands don’t act professionally at shows, it not only hurts them, but also the venue, audience, and other performing musicians. Here are three things that happen when your band is late for shows.
When you begin playing music out – especially in a new place – it can be intimidating. There’s often gateholders to breaking into a music scene, and they often have their own standards by which they allow people to play the shows they involve themselves with. I come from a big town where I was involved in the music scene for almost a decade, and then moved to a giant city with hardly any idea of what to do next. This one is personal to me.
What I truly believe is that no matter how old you are or what kind of music you play, there are ways to find people to play with and an audience for you. You just have to get out there and find them. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to play shows or have never done it before, let this serve as a guide to booking your first show.
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.