This is the start of a series I’m writing about being in my band Flat Earth Society (FES) and all the hi-jinks that ensue from being an unsigned and unpaid musician. This will be things like the realities of trying to start a band to what gear we use and what bands we are into. Pretty much anything.
Check us out here if you don’t know us: https://fesbanduk.com/
I am not writing this series from the perspective of someone who has “made it” or succeeded in what they do. I am writing as someone who is constantly figuring shit out as they go and making mistakes at every opportunity! I have been doing this band life shit for a little while now I’ve picked up a very small sense of what I’m kinda sorta doing. Not sold? Me neither. Let’s move on.
So you’re in a local band, you’ve played some gigs and you’ve got some songs. Cool! Now you’re thinking you need more gigs and more songs and that people should be paying you for you to play them. Well cut that shit out because you ain’t getting paid for a long long time my friend.
Advice number one – Your band is your business.
I’ve known a few musicians who really dislike and disagree with this concept but I think it’s an idea that once you can accept, you can start to turn this fun thing you do with your mates into a job rather than just a thing you brag about at parties. (When I say job I still don’t mean you will get paid, I just mean you will have to do a crap tonne of work).
A band is an enterprise wherein you create something that is hopefully good enough that people will like it and then want you to create more of it. Right?! So don’t release a load of shitty demo’s with your phone put em on sound cloud and start emailing promoters thinking it’s good enough. Nobody want’s to hear those demos and when you do release something worth while nobody will care because your first stuff was garbage. We decided that our first piece of content online would be a live studio session because we knew we could capture the essence of the band and have something for people to hear and watch while we work on getting the actual goods out. Like an amuse bouche of musical goodness.
So let’s look at FES. We are currently working towards releasing our debut EP at the end of March. This includes scheduling for:
- Recording the Music
- Creating artwork
- Creating Physical CD’s
- Picking your single and making a music video
- Creating Merch (T-shirts to sell at gigs because there is no money in CD’s)
- Setting up a website / Online store / getting music across all platforms
- Creating Promotion and building hype for the EP
- Arranging Reviews, features and any other mention you can get on blogs and websites
- Talking to record labels (If you are so inclined)
- Booking a tour / plenty of shows around the time of release to promote this thing!
That’s a lot of things that you have probably never done before that you now need to work out how to do. The best way we have found is by planning out an entire year in advance. So when you fix your release date you can then back track over the course of 12 months of what you need to be done and when. Thinking in terms of what you want to achieve over a whole year puts your aims in perspective because releasing an EP isn’t the goal here, it is just another step on the path to your goal (which should always be world domination).
(What the start of the year is shaping up to look like on the wall of FES)
Another important step after planning out what you need to do is then working out your financial situation. Making a record ain’t cheap and you need to know how much every little step is going to cost you so that you can hopefully work a way to claw back some of the costs! For example: For this release we will be printing 200 copies of our CD based on the costs involved, how much we want to sell them for and factoring in the cost of the artwork and promotion for the CDs. Printing out 100 would lose us money even if we sold all 100 discs whereas 200 leaves us with merch to sell for a long time to come and hopefully a little bit of profit to help with travel costs.
There’s way too many things to consider when planning this stuff. So just be logical and try not to run out of money.
I’m going to go into how we recorded our EP, arranging our tour and other such things of a boring nature in the future but I think Part 2 will most likely consist of nerding out over guitar pedals because I actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to that!
One Love x