More random thoughts on a late night, this time thinking back to the days when I was in a band (or two)…
If you’re reading this blog, surely you’ve thought about starting a band at some point in your life. Whether you dreamed of playing to sold-out stadiums, or simply to hacking a few local gigs to wow the local scene, it’s all about sharing (and showing off) talent. Actually starting a band can be both hugely exciting and incredibly painful. Here are some pitfalls many of us have faced when starting a band.
Band Member Goals
Are all the band members’ goals aligned? It’s important to ensure that all members of the band are on the same page. How often will the band practice? What kind of music will the band play? How will the band split songwriting credits? Who plays what? Bands require compromise, but if everyone has different goals, the band’s toast.
Band Member Chops ‘n’ Skills
Playing music requires expertise. Of some kind anyway. (There are a ton of stories of unimpressive musicianship achieving success, but in reality, most successful bands are made up o f incredibly talented and/or charismatic musicians.) Performance experience helps as well. Some people are naturally charismatic. Hopefully, if a band member is stage shy, it’s the keyboard player, and not the lead singer. And hopefully, if a musician is “faking” skill on stage, it’s your percussionist, and not your lead guitarist. (No offence to any Wooden Spoon players out there.)
Unless you’re in an a capella group, you’ll need gear. Most musicians over time develop a portfolio of stuff to help create their desired sound. I’m a guitarist and singer. Thus far, I’ve generally invested in fairly inexpensive gear, but my mid life crisis goal is to get a really sweet, Gold Top Gibson guitar some day. (The price ranges for Gibson guitars are reason enough to hold off on achieving that dream.) If you haven’t figured out your sound or setup yet, hit a Guitar Center, or better yet, a Mom ‘n’ Pop music shop near you, and strike up a chat with the folks there to get a feel for the different sounds different brands/builds/types are available. You can learn an incredible amount about gear, as well as your own tastes.
Playing Out and Recording In
If you actually launch a band, congrats! You’re in for a treat. I haven’t been in a band for years, and miss it in a huge way. My one quick recommendation – it’s incredibly easy to underestimate the value of having solid sound help at gigs, as well as understanding basic home recording technology for song development. In my opinion, every musician owes it to themselves to become at least an amateur recording engineer. All you need is GarageBand or some other cheap multi track recording software. Doing so will step up your game above the vast majority of band-wannabes.
So, if you’re one of the aspiring musicians forming bands in this digital and social world, enjoy. At the very least, you’ll create lasting friendships, as well as everlasting souvenirs (i.e. mp3 recordings) that you’ll be able to reminisce with for years.