The Impracticalities of Being in a Band Nobody Likes
Now my first observation is a pretty obvious one, nobody likes a band if nobody knows them, and nobody knows a band because nobody likes them. I’m going to explain this a bit more clearly as that statement can quite easily be misunderstood. Obviously I’m aware new musicians are going to have fans, be it friends or family,or just some random locals who really dig their haircuts, but generally new musicians don’t have a big following because durr they’re new. It’s the challenge that faces all new bands, they could be the most talented, most original, and most incredible band on the planet but if nobody knows you exist other than a small circle of friends and family, then anybody outside that circle won’t pay attention. It’s the same psychology that applies to just about everything in life, if something is popular then logic dictates it must be good, why else would so many people be there? In my hometown we have a nightclub called Rock City, it’s a pretty cool place, great sound system, cheap drinks, and lots and lots of people. A lot of my friends go to Rock City pretty regularly and each time they complain with “urrrgghhh, I hate it here, it’s always the same.” or “I’ve heard this play list a hundred times.” and “urrrgh, there’s that same guy from last week trying to telekinetically undress me again.” We all know what to expect,yet we will always return, reluctant to try anything new like a smaller, more stylish venue. Now it’s not that places or bands or anything that soars with popularity is bad, they got to where they are for a reason, but it’s because of people’s attitudes towards anything new is what is making it hard for anyone or anything to compete. So the majority will look at an event for an emerging act with a handful of people attending and then look at the big ass event with thousands attending, they won’t know anything about the smaller event but will assume the big event is better because it’s popular. This then makes it difficult for a band to thrive due to potential supporters prioritising the established band because it’s a safer bet, why support something you don’t know when you’ve already found something you like?
So how can the average rock star wannabes tackle this problem and spring themselves into the glorious light of society’s approval? Chuck bank loads of money at it of course! Hooray for life crippling solutions! Seriously though, money isn’t always the answer but I’m speaking generally here, your run of the mill band out of a typical British town without much of a music scene will probably need to dig deep into their overdrafts if they want to be noticed. The problem is that new musicians are in an industry that requires them to spend far more money than they actually make back, at the beginning anyway. The very basics for starting out like instruments, recording, rehearsals (if they use public practice rooms and studios) and traveling to venues all starts to add up, and if they are doing small events and charity gigs like most new bands then they won’t be getting much of it back. It’s possible to do this on the cheap, gear from pawnshops, get a friends uncle to record them in his basement…and afterwards make an EP, but if they want a more professional approach then that means Les Pauls and Abbey Road. This kind of thing is particularly difficult for solo musicians because bands get to split the cost amongst them, but those brave souls facing it alone have to cover everything themselves. That’s probably why all the acoustic acts are playing sad songs, and shop at charity shops, because they can’t afford food or rent or clothes that haven’t already had 3 previous owners. This also causes several delays for some bands, I’ve known bands that aren’t progressing because they can’t afford to shoot a video or record an album, then things get put on the backburner and forgotten about and eventually they split.
Being in a band is like any other hobby, it requires time, money and commitment, it requires all three to work and the more of it you put in the more success you’ll get out. Okay, but what if you’ve got money from working full time jobs and running little businesses on the side? Well bad news, kids, these things require lots of time and effort too, and the more time and effort you’re dedicating towards making money is less time and effort going towards your music. Trying to be in a band will constantly clash with your work and social life, you may now have masses of money to pay for those swish laser guitars and music videos, but no time to do it, because life demands your existence requires more than simply making music. Why is life so cruel! It’s also not just your own schedule that is a problem, it’s the entire band, and the larger the band the more difficult it will become to find time where you are all free, each member is relying on the others to show up and not get trapped inside their house because a large bear is outside, it’s a miracle massive bands like Slipknot even got out of Iowa, I assume they were all unemployed. It can also clash with their social life, obviously a big part of being in a band IS social life, you’re out with friends at gigs most of the time, but when it clashes with family events or friends birthdays these things will usually take priority. This is all dependent upon how committed each member is, some bands will make the music their first priority, but for bands who are just doing it for a bit of fun or who have large responsibilities outside the band, it’s all too easy for their band to diminish.
So, you’ve got your dollar bills and your laser guitars and nothing to distract you from the all important band, some nice promoter spots you and decides you don’t sound like troll sex and offers you a gig, it’s your time to shine! You invite all your friends and family and they are all like “Fuck yeah! That wasn’t nearly as troll sexish as I expected”. A few gigs down the line your band is getting better, you’re gradually bringing in some genuine fans but a lot of people are starting to get bored of seeing the same band over and over, or maybe everyone lied and you actually suck, who knows! By this point it becomes difficult for a band to bring down people because believe it or not people don’t want to do the same thing over and over again, unless that thing is parties, sex, roller-coasters, ice cream, laughter, gigs, sex, Game of Thrones. Okay I’ll rephrase, people don’t like watching the same band over and over, particularly if they don’t like the music, and when it comes to the hundredth time for you to ask folk to attend yet another charity gig or dive bar featuring your featureless band, then excuses will start rolling in. We are all guilty of it, some of my best friends are in great bands and I do love supporting them, but after a while you start to learn their set better than them and it becomes a chore, you know what to expect and each gig becomes less and less enjoyable, it’s natural, but it’s an issue for bands who need to impress promoters when nobody shows up. This turns every future gig into a chore for the bands themselves as they try convince friends and family that “this gig is the big one” and how they “won’t want to miss it”, sure they will have a committed following who will come to every gig they serve up, but even their most loyal friends have lives to live and can bail on them last minute, and the last thing a band wants is to be caught looking like a rabble of rejects in front of the judgmental promoters…speaking of which.
Another issue that faces bands is ironically the exact same thing that helps them the most, promoters. A promoters job is to promote events and the artists performing at said events, the more tickets they sell the more money they get in the bank, which translates to happiness all around, simple enough. Understandably the promoter wants to make more money so they can buy necessities such as caviar and designer umbrellas, but in order to splash out on all the luxuries the world has to offer they have to trust the bands they are booking are capable of getting people to their events, otherwise they are out of pocket and must resort to McDonalds like the rest of the filth that is the general population. If bands are not able to bring in enough people for the promoter to make a profit then they will be branded with the black mark of “unpopular twat hammers” which will resonate all over town, I’m sure I’m exaggerating but if your band can’t bring in fans then you won’t be in the promoters good books. I don’t mean to patronise but as you may or may not be aware, promoters don’t like new bands because they don’t make them money. This is nobody’s fault, as we’ve been over numerous times, all bands must start somewhere and promoters know this, some promoters will usually trial a band and depending on their success will then invite them back for more gigs, but if the promoter makes a loss, they won’t want to take that risk again. As you’d expect this creates a loop that then becomes extremely difficult to break, promoters won’t give gigs to help bands become popular, bands remain unpopular because they can’t get gigs, the only way to break this perpetual problem is if either the bands works their way up through smaller promoters until the bigger boys give them a chance or if they are spotted by the right people to help them make it big. Not all promoters are alike, some believe in local talent and will allow them support slots at bigger shows which helps the bands generate more fans and in the long run helps the promoter generate more money when that band returns with all their groupies and gangsters. It’s when the music community works together that the best results are achieved for everyone, the trick is convincing everyone it’s worthwhile and to support local bands, unless they suck…fuck those guys, nobody likes them.