sample band agreement

Sample Band Agreement

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Sample Band Agreement

Here is a sample band agreement that you can print out, or copy and paste into a word processing program and adjust as necessary to fit your group.

Band Partnership Agreement

Introduction

This Band Partnership Agreement is made between the following individuals (collectively referred to as “Band Partners”):

This agreement will be in effective as of the date of the final signature at the bottom of the document (“Effective Date”). The Band Partners agree as follows:

The Band Partnership:

The Band Partnership establishes themselves as a general partnership to be known as (Band Name) __________________________________________________________________________________

Under the laws of (State/Country/Region) ________________________________________________

For the purposes of musical and related entertainment activities. The Band Partnership will commence on the Effective Date and will continue until it is ended according to this Agreement. The principal place of business of the Band Partnership will be at (Address)

Band Partner Services:

In order to fulfil the Band Partnership purposes, each Band Partner will contribute musical entertainment services to the Band Partnership. Such contributions include, but are not limited to:

               -serving as a recording artist with respect to sound recordings

               -serving as a musical performer in all media and on the live state

               -relating merchandising rights using logo, name, and other identifiers to the Band Partnership

Non-Band Partnership Activities

Each Band Partner is permitted to engage in one or more businesses, including other musical entertainment efforts, but only to the extent that such activities do not directly interfere with the business and obligations of the Band Partnership. Neither the Band Partnership nor any other Band Partner will have any right to any income by a Band Partner from any non-Band Partnership activities.

Name and Logo

The Band Partnership will do business under the name(s)

As an assumed name and as its trademark and service mark.

The Band Partnership also uses the following logo:

Domains and web addresses operated by the Band Partnership:

Warranties:

Each Band Partner warrants that he or she:

               -is free to enter into this Agreement

               -is under no restriction that will interfere with this Agreement

               -has not done nor will do an act that may hurt the Band Partnership

               -will not sell or transfer any interest in the Band Partnership without the prior written consent of the other Band Partners

               -will refrain from activities that could prohibit him or her from performing

Each Band Partner indemnifies each other from all claims that may arise from any breach of these warranties.

sample band agreement

Profits and Losses

The Band Partnership will share in all of the Net Profits, losses, rights, and obligations of the Band Partnership at agreed upon levels during each accounting year, assuming that the Band Partner is still under obligation of this Agreement.

“Net Profits” will mean all payments, (with the inclusion or exclusion of) publishing, licensing, and synchronization rights, that are paid to the Band Partnership or to any Band Partner as a result of Band Partnership activities, after deduction of Band Partnership expenses to include rent, travel, hospitality, accounting and legal fees, other reasonable expenses as agreed upon by Band Partnership).

The Net Profits will be distributed in cash to the Band Partners.

If a Band Partner is expelled or withdraws from Agreement, he or she retains earned songwriting and publishing rights for songs released prior to the partner leaving, but terminates rights to other forms of Band Partnership income.

Division of Publishing Revenue

Revenue from the Band Partnership Publishing Company, if such publishing company has been created, will be distributed as follows:

               -Songwriting Revenue shall be split according to the songwriting split paperwork signed for each song upon its contract with a licensing/publishing company.

               -Publishing Revenue shall be split equally among all members of the band. Only current band members shall receive publishing revenue. When a Band Partner leaves the Partnership, his or her share of songwriting revenue no longer includes publishing income but retains Songwriting Revenue as legally documented for each song.

Publishing Administration:

The Band Partnership or Band Partnership Publishing Company will have the worldwide, exclusive right to:

               -administer and control to he copyright ownership to the Recorded Compositions

               -designate all persons to administer the copurights to the Recorded Compositions

               -enter into agreements to co-publish, sub-publish, or otherwise deal with the copyrights in the Recorded Compositions.

In the event that one of the Band Partners leaves the Band Partnership , the control of the jointly owned copyrights will vest exclusively in the remaining Band Partners for the term of this Band Partnership. The Leaving Member’s interest in the Band Partnership will extend only to those Recorded Compositions which were commercially released for sale during the Leaving Member’s period as a Band Partner. Any payments and accountings due Leaving Member will be made annually.

Meetings and Voting

Each Band Partner has the right to participate in the business of the Band Partnership. Meetings of the Band Partners can be called by any member of the Band Partnership on reasonable notice. Voting will occur as follows (here, check whether the decision is determined by a unanimous or majority vote):

Unanimous                                       Majority

Expelling a Band Member

(unanimous except for party to be expelled):

Admission of a new Band Partner:

Entering Into Agreements that binds the Band

Partnership for more than one year:

Any expenditure in excess of $1000:

Incurring obligation to borrow or lend money:

Selling, leasing, or transferring Band Partnership

Property:

Entering into contracts that take less than one year

to compelte:

Amendment of this Agreement:

Dissolving the Band Partnership:

If one Band Partner is to have extra voting power or the ability to override decisions, state that member here:

Books of Account and Records:

The books of the Band Partnership and all other documents relating to the Band Partnership will be maintained at its principal place of business, or online at this address:

The fiscal year of the Band Partnership ends on December 31.

Distribution of Band Assets after Termination:

               -Income and Debts: After termination of the Band Partnership, any income that is owed to the Band Partnership will be collected and used first to pay off Band Partnership debts (if any) within or outside of the Partnership, as they relate to the Partnership. Any remaining money will be distributed among the members in accordance with their voting power or ownership in the company.

               -Band Property: Any property owned or controlled by the Band Partnership will be sold or evaluated and distributed in accordance to each member’s voting power or ownership in the company.

               -Royalties and Future Income: If, at the time of termination, the Band is entitled to royalties or owns property that is generating income or royalties, the Band Partnership will vote to either establish an administrative trust or designate an individual such as an accountant to collect and distribute the royalties on an ongoing basis to the Band Partners according to their respective interests.

Addition of a new Band Partner

Each new Band Partner must agree to be bound by all of the provisions in this Agreement. A new Band Partner has no rights to Band Partnership property or assets existing at the time of admission or in any of the proceeds derived from Existing Property (assets existing at the time of admission).

Leaving Members:

A Band Partner may leave the Partnership voluntarily. A Band Partner who resigns must give 60 days prior notice. A leaving member is entitled to their share of assets, royalties, or incomes generated during their time in the Band Partnership as described in this Agreement.

Band Partnership Bank Account

A bank account may be opened by the Band Partners. This account will be used for business pertaining to the Band Partnership.

Mediation, Arbitration:

If a dispute arises under this Agreement, the parties agree to first try to resolve the dispute among themselves. If this cannot happen, a mutually agreed upon mediator will assist in resolving the dispute, to include a lawyer if necessary. Any costs and fees other than attorney fees will be shared equally by all parties. If it is impossible to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution within a reasonable time, the parties agree to submit the dispute to binding arbitration pursuant to the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association.

Any decision or award as a result of any arbitration proceeding will include the assessment of costs, expenses, and reasonable attorney’s fees and a written decision by the arbitrators.

MY SIGNATURE BELOW INDICATES THAT I HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD THIS AGREEMENT AND HAVE BEEN ADVISSED OF MY RIGHT TO SEEK INDEPENDENT LEGAL REPRESENTATION REGARDING THIS AGREEMENT:

Guest Post: You Have To Work If You Want To Play

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Today I’m excited to bring you a guest post from long-time King Rat front man Luke Schmaltz. For those unaware, King Rat has been a stalwart in Denver’s music scene for over twenty years – a long fucking time for any band, let alone group of punkers known to enjoy a schwill or two.

If you’re looking for advice on how to gain respect in the scene, how to grow, and how to get signed, listen closely to what Luke has to say. There aren’t many with more knitty gritty experience.

You Have To Work If You Want To Play

The path of an independent musician is not for the passive, lazy or shy. Whether you’re working with an indie label, operating DIY, or just sitting around wondering how to get signed — your role as a tireless, shameless self-promoter is a demanding one to say the least.

The average group, musical act or performance ensemble lasts about two years. I can make this claim with absolute certainty because I am the founding member of a band that has been gigging, making records and promoting itself persistently for nearly a quarter century. I am also the former owner, talent buyer and production manager of an independent music venue. I have seen thousands of bands, soloists and deluded showoffs come down the pike, make a splash and then quickly vaporize.    

The reasons for this are numerous, yet they hinge on the simple fact that the artistic compulsion tends to overshadow reason. This causes most to be blinded by their own skewed vision as they hitch the horse to the wrong end of the cart, climb on board and proceed to prod away at an empty harness.     

Plainly put, many musicians do not identify their audience from day one. Similarly, some artists fail to pinpoint exactly what genre and subgenre they imagine themselves to be working in. Others hit the ground running and experience a smattering of success, yet they fail to follow through and sustain the momentum. Meanwhile, the talented and lucky few find adoration, yet they fizzle out due to the simple fact that they never develop the habit of consistently promoting themselves.

Shoot with the Lights On

Would you waltz into a target practice range and just start plugging away without flicking on the lights first? Probably not. Writing a bunch of music in the hopes of gaining attention without first making sure that people are interested in the sort of message you’re creating is the same thing.

If you’re making eccentric noise for the simple pleasure of satisfying your own whims, perhaps you’ll get lucky and accidentally strike a chord that resonates with an audience.

The fact of the matter is, if you’re strictly creating music to indulge your personal eccentricities, you’re most likely going to turn people off and experience a lot of abject loneliness. As the old saying goes: people don’t know what they like, they like what they know.

This has never been truer than today, especially with all of the free entertainment options that are constantly bombarding the collective consciousness. If you make it all about yourself, about appeasing your need to be adored, about relentlessly trying to figure out how to get signed — you’re probably going to lose.

Sure, applause is great but if you care more about being reassured of your greatness than about your audience and their experience, you run the risk of being irreversibly dismissed. If you set out with a genuine desire to move people in a meaningful way, at least the odds of succeeding won’t be totally stacked against you.

Classify and Specify

Determine who your audience is going to be and why they need to hear from you before you start rehearsing and recording. Don’t be a hack, however, and settle for morphing into a knock-off of your favorite band just because you love them and they are successful. You’ve got to pinpoint your genre, determine your sub-niche, and then put your own stamp on a certain sound that becomes your brand, your identity, the unique subterranean alter ego of a specific musical style

For example, my band King Rat can be classified as a punk rock band, specifically opting for the old-school approach. Within that space, we have carved out a reputation as being musically tight, sonically polished and confrontationally poignant while putting forth catchy tunes, gritty live performances and an attitude that inspires people to have a great ol’ time. You could micro-classify us as authentic hard-rocking truth punk for thinking drinkers. Sure, that’s a mouthful and I wouldn’t put it on a flier but hopefully, you get the idea. You need to differentiate yourself from the many thousands of other bands and acts that will pop up the same year you do.

Define your genre, your niche, and your sub-niche and then assess if there is a base of listeners engaged in that sort of music. If the answer is yes, then forge ahead. If the answer is no, you may want to rethink how your creative time could be better spent on something that will appeal to people while satisfying your artistic impetus.     

How To Get Signed, and other advice  

How to Get Signed: Make the Hit Worth the Swing

If you were a professional boxer, would you square off with your opponent planning to throw just one strike? Of course not. Unless you can magically connect on the first punch (thus the term ‘One Hit Wonder’) you had better engage in combat with a multiple-swing strategy. The same goes for your band. You can’t orchestrate a career out of one good song, one good show, one good review. Sure, a popular tune goes a long way when it comes to establishing a name, but if you don’t follow up with works that are equally as good or better, you’re yesterday’s wallpaper.

Initiating your career with well-crafted songs and a solid studio product is the first step towards establishing momentum. Your first splash creates a wave that propels you forward, yet it will soon lose velocity if you do not continually empower it with new currency. Always be active and productive to some degree but space out your releases, shows and tours. Give people enough so that they want more, but don’t play in the same zip code every weekend or every month for that matter. Also, don’t release multiple albums in the span of a 12 month period and then expect to coast on those laurels for the next three or four years.

Each event you orchestrate — whether it’s a gig, an album release, a tour or a PR campaign should be designed to increase awareness about your brand and to attract listeners to your music. An organically cultivated fan base built through hard work is going to be the main element that attracts an indie label to your band. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself at the negotiating table with a major label, however, don’t look to a punk rocker like me for advice — get a lawyer.        

Hear the Big Picture  

Being courted by an indie label about a record deal is by no means an indication that you’re about to find yourself on easy street. An opportunity to reach a larger audience means that you will actually need to scale up your promotional efforts to match the label’s distribution network. One of the biggest mistakes musicians make when they sign an indie record deal is that they think that their burden as a promoter is somehow lifted. They assume that someone else is going to take on the role of managing social media, orchestrating email campaigns and interacting with fans.

Sure, a major label with millions of advertising dollars and a large staff will do all those things for you while you count your millions. An indie label, on the other hand, is going to be run by a skeleton crew at best with a limited promotional budget. In fact, the only reason to get involved with a label in the first place is to take advantage of an established music distribution network — both physical and digital. The fact of the matter is that if you sign with an indie label, your duties as an integral part of the promotional machine behind your music are going to increase.

Social media, email marketing, and fan interaction are effective ways to build your brand and get more people engaged with your music. If you want to turn a hobby into a career, taking a passive role in those areas is not advisable. If you’re reading this, then you are probably the one in your outfit who assumes the responsibility of informing the world about your music. Don’t wait for your bandmates, manager or girlfriend to take the reigns for you and focus on the long haul. If this music is your creation — casting a wide, intently focused marketing message is your responsibility.

This must be a labor of love, or you will burn out. If you don’t truly cherish creating, recording performing and affecting people in a positive way with music — then see this for what it is: a phase. Get your jollies, have a little fun, quit worrying about how to get signed and then get the fuck out of the way.

If you’re serious, however, you stand a chance of realizing one of music’s greatest gifts: the elation that comes with earning the attention of an invested audience. Performing for a room full of people who are hanging on your every word, singing along with all of the songs and unanimously stoked that you are there at that moment … well … there’s really nothing else like it.  

 

Luke Schmaltz is a freelance writer and the founding member of Denver-based punk band King Rat. He spends his time creating songs, blogs and articles as well as promoting his band — who recently signed a one-album deal with indie label Unable Records.  

Health Tips for Touring Musicians

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Touring: the ultimate party, right? I’ll admit, I often have a tough time turning down those drink tickets. After all, when you’re playing a new town for door money, you gotta do what you gotta do to minimize expenses. But I’m in my thirties now. As much fun as it’s been to chill backstage over whiskey and joints with the other bands, I can’t do that shit all the time anymore. Riding in the van with a pounding headache and sore body just isn’t as appealing as it was when I was 23.

So here I’ve decided to offer some quick health tips for touring musicians. They’re easy to implement, and best of all, either free or super cheap.

No one expects you to be backstage doing yoga. Although that seems to be gaining popularity lately, there are a number of quick health tips for touring musicians that are easy to implement and can make a big difference in how you feel on the road. I talked a lot about how to book a tour and what to do on tour in this article.

Don’t be eating Taco Bell every night. Pick your nights to party and your nights to take it easy. Simple sutff like that.  Staying healthy on tour can be a challenge. Spending every night in the club and every day in the van isn’t exactly optimized for exercise and healthy eating.

Health Tips For Touring Musicians: Stretch Before The Show

Here’s an easy way to feel better in the morning. All those jumpkicks take their toll on your legs and knees after a while. A few quick stretches will keep you feeling limber and loose onstage, and less cramped the next day in the van.

Knee-To-Chest Stretch

Start by lying on your back with both knees bent. With your hands, slowly pull the right knee to your chest and hold it there for as long as it feels comfortable. The goal is to reach 30 seconds. Repeat this stretch with the left knee. Cycle through 3 times each morning.

Hamstring Stretch

This stretch also begins on your back. Bend your right leg, hands placed behind the thigh. Lift the leg at least a few inches and straighten to the edge of your comfort level. If possible, hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat with the left leg, and cycle through 3 times each morning.

Neck Stretch

Stand with feet about shoulder width apart (feel free to sit if its more comfortable), take the left hand and slowly pull the neck down to the left shoulder. Hold for 5 seconds, longer if comfortable. Repeat the process with the right side. This stretch can be easily done any time your neck feels tense.

Wrist Stretch

Stand arms-length from a wall in your living room or another area with a bit of space. Push the hands lightly into the wall, with wrists upside down. Hold for four seconds. Repeat as necessary. This stretch is ideal for tennis players, writers, and musicians, or anyone putting strain on their wrists throughout the day.

Health Tips For Touring Musicians: Easy Pre-Show Exercises

Want to look super cool backstage? Check these out. (If you’ve got a bus, or extra room in the back of the van, or better yet, a hotel room, these can be done there with less fan fare.)

Wall Push Ups

Stand up against a wall in your home, arms length away. Lean into the wall with your arms and push away. Repeat 10-15 times, or as many as you can handle. If you can get through 3 sets, 4 times per week, your upper body will show results.

Guitar Lift

Hold two guitars, one in each hand. Stand with legs just wider than shoulder length with a slight bend in the knees. Ams down in front of you. Lift up like a bird flapping its wings (only slower!) until your arms are as close to shoulder length as you can get. Slowly lower back down. Repeat ten times. 3 sets, 4 times per week.

Running in place

This is one of the simplest and most effective aerobic exercises that you can do on the road. You’ll look super cool running in place out back of the club or in the green room. Try running in place for 5-10 minutes, 4 times per week. Aerobics are good for the entire body and help maintain (and even lose) weight.

Sit-ups

I heard you cringe when you read this! Sit-ups are effective for the abs and core strength. Lie on your back, feet on the ground and knees arched. Cross your arms over each other, hands on the opposite shoulder like a pretzel.

Alternatively, place hands behind your head with elbows out wide. Sit up until you’re near an upright position. Slowly lower back down. Repeat 10 times. 3 sets, 3 times per week.

Health Tips For Touring Musicians: Eat (Slightly) Healthier

Look, I know money is tight on the road. When the club offers that free chicken finger basket, it’s tough to turn it down. In all honesty, you don’t have to – as long as that one shitty meal is surrounded by a couple days of healthier meals.

Taking a supplement can be a great idea. In particular, getting enough Omega-3s on the road is both important and challenging (see the link above for a great option here). Keep your joints and mind functioning well by ensuring you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients you need.

Here are some tips for on eating healthier on the road:

Bring a cooler and keep it stocked

Stopping into a grocery store and stocking up on quick stuff like bread, fruit, and healthy stuff from the deli makes it easier to drive by those fast food restaurants off the side of the interstate. This route is not only cheaper, it’s much healthier because you aren’t making any impulse decisions like super-sizing the fries or drinking soda. I’ve found that I love eating fresh fruit in the morning.

It starts my day out right and sets a tone that’s easier to follow for the rest of the day. When traveling, any momentum you can muster up makes a huge difference.

Know what you’re getting in your rider

If you have any control over what’s on the table in the green room when you show up, exercise your right to ask for healthier food. Over the last few years, I’ve been stoked to see so many bands I’ve worked with at festivals and events requesting hummus and pita bread instead of chips and dip, for example.

Granola bars are great too, as well as peanut butter and whole grain bread for protein. All of this stuff can come with you when you leave, which makes the previous step that much easier.

Eat vegetables at every opportunity

Without the luxury of a kitchen in the van, it can be tough to eat fruits and vegetables. When other people are doing your food prep and cooking for you, they’re often going to serve cheap, processed shit that typically makes you feel worse than you did before you ate it.

Take advantage of those veggie trays in the green room. Take advantage of home-cooked meals whenever you can, often one of the biggest perks of staying at a fan, friend, or family member’s home instead of a hotel.

Another tip my group became fond of is to hit up places like Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes. There, you can gorge on veggies, soup, fruit, and a bunch of other stuff to your heart’s content.

Health Tips for Touring Musicians: When it comes to partying, choose your nights

We can’t all be Keith Richards. Personally, right about the age of 30 is when I started noticing how shitty I felt, not just hangover-wise but all the time, when I felt obligated to party excessively more than I felt comfortable with. It’s tough to say no when you’re in a bar every night surrounded by people out enjoying themselves and other musicians doing the same.

It’s important to know who’s driving after the show, for sure, and sometimes it’s better for you in the long run to be the one that volunteers to fill that role more often. (If you’re in a band that doesn’t drink, this section might not apply to you – that certainly hasn’t been my personal experience touring with punk bands. This one’s for the lushes among us ;-).

Also, wait until after your set to party excessively. Sloppy shows in new towns aren’t winning you any fans.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll opt to keep your brain fresh on the road instead of slogging it down with booze. Learning a language is a great way to do this. I’m proud to recommend Live Lingua, the world’s first and best online immersive language school.

With the increasing availability of WiFi hotspots, being productive during some of that windshield time in the van is a good idea!

 

Join My Band! How To Respond To Your Dream Job

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You’re perusing Craigslist or reading the local music zine. All of a sudden, you the ad you’ve been waiting for. ‘Join My Band!’ it says, and a quick look shows that the ad was placed by one of the top local groups in your city. The ones that pack out their gigs, get the direct support slot for the best national acts, and generally are the focal point for your genre.
What is the best way to respond to the ad to optimize your chances of getting an audition? Let’s take a look at how to outreach and present yourself in the best possible manner. At the bottom, I’ve included a sample email that you can copy and paste (fill in your own details of course!).

Join My Band: Touring Guitarist Needed

Step one is to not reply right away.

That’s right.

It’s tempting to hit Reply and put a few sloppy sentences together real quick and get the email out as fast as possible. But that’s a great way to make yourself look unprofessional.
Think about it. If you were applying for a job, you’d do everything in your power to put your best foot forward. It’s the same concept here (only with a much cooler endgame!) The key is to highlight what you have to bring to the table. A band that is good enough to post an attractive ‘Join My Band’ ad is looking for someone on their level.
Open up a Microsoft Word document and spend a few minutes jotting down what you’ve got.
  • Stage gear. What do you rock on stage? What’s on that pedalboard? List out your equipment, and be sure to note if you have backup gear. One summer on tour, we had a particularly rough drive over a dirt mountain pass to get to a show in a Colorado mountain town. I opened my road case at soundcheck to find my guitar had snapped at the neck. I was pissed, sad, and kind of embarrassed. But luckily I had another guitar in the van. If I wouldn’t have had another guitar to play, I’d have been screwed. These things happen, and legit bands are prepared.
  • Tour and gigging experience. Have you spent time on the road? Opened up for your favorite band? Highlight that shit! It’s time to prove that you are the right candidate and that includes being experienced.
  • Back-of-house experience. In my book So, You Have A Band I talk in-depth about how important it is that each band member has a role outside of playing their instrument. Are you in charge of booking gigs with your current band? Did you create a social media strategy that brought in 1,000 new Facebook likes and boosted attendance at shows? Now is the time to highlight that stuff and let these guys know that you’re serious and will do your part offstage.

Join My Band: What Not To Say

This isn’t the time to be a fanboy. Saying that you’re a fan of the band and have seen their shows is a good thing, but remember that the person on the other end of that email is just that: a person. They’re going to be weirded out if you reply and go on some rant about how much you worship their music and this one time you learned one of their songs in your bedroom.

Come off as a fan but also an equal. They’re not looking to give a handout. They want someone that can hold their own and isn’t going to be flustered at practice or onstage.

If you are just starting out as a musician, think long and hard about applying to play in top-level band right off the bat. You’re not doing yourself or them any favors by bullshitting your experience or jumping into something you’re not ready for. Be honest, and if you aren’t ready, then don’t apply. Believe me: band members come and go. If you’re truly dedicated to playing in a working band, this won’t be the last opportunity. You’ll see that ‘Join My Band’ ad again.

Sample Email

Hi guys,
My name is Tim Wenger. I saw your ad for a guitarist on Craigslist and wanted to get in touch. I’ve followed you guys in the scene for the past few years and have caught a few shows – I definitely dig what you’re doing and would be honored to be a part of it.
I have about a decade of experience playing guitar in ska and punk bands and touring. Here are links to recorded music I’ve helped to write and record, social media channels, and other highlights online:
I have a professional stage setup with Schecter Tempest and backup guitar, Marshall halfstack, and pedal board including distortion, delay, wah, tremolo, and a few other effects. For five years I have worked in the industry as the editor of a local music magazine and talent buyer at Herman’s Hideaway.
I have booked and been a part of multiple out of state tours and am proud to have shared the stage with bands including The Toasters, Hepcat, Guttermouth, and others. I also have a 2000 Fort Econoline van that is set up for touring.
I’d love to learn more about your group and what you are looking for. Look forward to hearing from you!
Cheers,
Tim Wenger
xxx-xxx-xxxx
xxxxxx@gmail.com

Musician Interview Series: Art Alexakis of Everclear

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This article first appeared in Colorado Music Buzz

by Tim Wenger

Portland, Oregon’s alt-rock superstars Everclear plan to drop their first album since 2012’s Invisible Stars next spring. They have fashionably dubbed the new record Black is the New Black. CMB spoke with front man and long-time band leader Art Alexakis about the album, where he is as an artist, and a documentary in which he was a major player.

Everclear hoped to touch new ground with this new album. Alexakis wanted to make a record that was strictly rock and now filler and feels that this is it.  “It’s just a badass hard rock record that I love listening to,” Alexakis says. “I haven’t felt this way about a record since Sparkle and Fade (1995) to be honest with you.”

For Alexakis, it gave the band an opportunity to make a statement about the lost state of society and begin a search for answers. “There are no ballads. I wanted to make a contemporary sounding rock record that didn’t go over the same ground but still pushed all of the buttons that a rock record could push. I’m kind of playing in the darkness a little bit more.”

Striving to tell a story

His songs strive to tell a story, some aiming to get a firm point across. With the record as a whole, Alexakis sought to find an explanation, or at least some kind of standing ground, for the common person observing the current socio-political landscape. “Something I’ve always said about my songs is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and there still is with this record.

Things are so fragmented right now politically, and most people are somewhere in the middle just wondering what the fuck is going on. I think a lot of the songs on this record, a lot of the characters that I created, it feels like they are trying to make sense of this darkness. It seems like everyone is throwing their hands in the air and there is this darkness that is just taking over, and I’m not okay with that.”

One song in particular from the record stands out to Alexakis on this point. “There’s a song called “American Monster.” The perspective of that person, that’s every evil person that ever lived. That’s like the embodiment of Satan, but I don’t believe in Satan. I believe that there’s nothing more scary than human beings when they want to be, and also nothing more beautiful and uplifting as well. There’s the juxtaposition of that, so I think this is a record that really takes American culture and looks at the darkness of it, and tries to make sense of it.”

Pressing onward

Everclear has been making music since 1991. Art Alexakis is the sole remaining original member, having watched bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund leave the band in 2003 following the release of the album Slow Motion Daydream.

He found new members and the band recorded Welcome to the Drama Club in 2006 and Invisible Stars in 2012, with numerous tours in between including the now annual Summerland Tour, which each year showcases Everclear along with other bands who saw commercial success in the 1990s.

Alexakis, through all of this, has never lost his will to keep playing and determination to progress his music. “I’m 52 years old, I make no bones about it, I’m actually proud of it,” Alexakis says. “I love playing rock and roll. I love playing music. I have the passion for it, I have the fire for it, I still have the health for it. I go out and I leave blood on the stage every night. That’s rock and roll to me.”

Follow Art Alexakis on Twitter.

Guest Post: 7 Tips On How To Run Your Band Successfully

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Editor’s note: Evan Hundhausen, known around the Boulder, CO area as DJ Cola, attended my talk at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, CO and recorded the presentation for transcription. I’ve known Evan for a few years now, he was a top contributor to Colorado Music Buzz for quite a while. I encourage you to check out his work at the links in his bio. Want to know how to run your band successfully? Here is what he put together – take it away, Evan!

by Evan Hundhausen

On a Thursday night in September, at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, Tim Wenger lectured about how to run your band successfully.

There the small audience in the bookstore received invaluable insight taken from Tim’s own experiences touring with his own band.  He also talked about all he learned from his experience as a music editor at a major publication and his job as venue manager working nightly at a club in Denver. 

Read on to find out what Tim had to say about how to succeed as a band in today’s musical landscape.

 Press Releases

“Pitching media is a big part of being in an independent band and pitching them correctly is an important thing,” said Tim.  “Let them know that you’re building a buzz around town and they will cover you.  It’s their job.”

Tim explained that the media does not want to “miss out” on something hot or cool like your band playing on a Friday night.  Tim also stressed the importance of acting professionally in your email regarding how to run your band successfully.

“I’ve seen so many emails come into me written in all caps or completely lacking punctuation or using like hip-hop vernacular or any other form of complete un-professionalism.”

Editors delete emails immediately if it’s not done professionally Tim said,  so be sure to include a press release, a high-resolution photo, a link to your music, a link to your social media account and give the editor a good reason why they should cover your events like your latest record release or a new music video.  Tim stressed you should “hype” it up.

“If you don’t get a response in a few days there’s absolutely no harm in sending a follow-up email.”

Editor’s note: See this post for more info on how to write a press release for your band.

Image is everything!

When it comes to social media bands should post regularly, use a pic and portray an image of them moving forward in the local scene.

Tim talked about how tempting it is to be negative on social media.  For example, it would be easy to bash the club you played at last night because things didn’t go so well, but don’t do it!

According to Tim, regarding how to run your band successfully, you need to stay away from negative social media altogether.

“The entire foundation of a band is built on attracting people to your band and to do that you need to create an image of positive progression.  You need to create an image of a community around your band… You want to be out there mingling, you want people to see you, you want people to see that you’re part of the community and you’re building a movement around your band.

Promote your shows!

“What I see a lot of bands around Denver that are very successful doing… actually driving them to people,” said Tim. “Set up like one night a week leading up to the show where one or two of your guys are going to drive around town and deliver these tickets. Take them to people’s work. Take them to people’s houses.  Do anything you can to get the tickets in people’s hands.”

The more tickets your band sells the better the times slots, dates and shows you will get down the line because promoters and managers at the venues will see your results.

The night of the show

“You want people to leave the club with the image of you as being a professional,” explained Tim. He added, “you always want to have merchandise.  You always want to have T-shirts, music. Give them away something for free.  Everybody should be leaving with something that has your name on it every single time. There’s really no excuse for that not to be happening.  Digital download cards are a great way for that to happen.”

Tim’s favorite website for musicians is Bandcamp. For merchandise, he likes BigCartel when it comes to selling your band’s wares.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash. neonbrand.com

How To Run Your Band Successfully: Touring Hacks

Befriending another band in another town is a “tried and true technique” according to Wenger when it comes to finding a way to go on tour with your band.

“Contact a band in that town, in your genre, and just talk to them,” said Tim. “Ask them if they’ll host you, you know, do a show swap.  They bring you to their town.  You bring them to your town.”

Tim emphasized the most valuable thing a traveling musician could have is other bands that are friends in other towns.

“It’s basically worthless to play somewhere once and never go back again,” Tim added.

He mentioned the term “routing,” which is how you expand your fan base in other areas.

You should go back every six months to a year and the people who saw you last time will come back and bring their friends to your next show.

There is also another term Tim brought up called “circling,” which is how bands expand their circle.

“Maybe it’s Denver, Grand Junction, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and then the next time you go you add two more dots to that circle, you know, you add Pueblo or Santa Fe or whatever it might be and you slowly expand your circle… It works.”

Editor’s note: See this post for more information on how to book a tour.

How To Run Your Band Successfully: Road Etiquette

There’s no sleep on the road and too much junk food is bad for you, so Tim suggests putting ice in a cooler and storing good food to eat while in the van.

Also “me time” doesn’t happen so much on the road and before your live show that night you should take some time to go on a walk, go do your laundry or sit in a cafe to get away from your bandmates and to recharge your batteries.

Can I make a living with my band?

In all of Tim’s experiences in bands he never pocketed any money.  All the money made went right back into expenses and merchandise.

“It’s a very taboo subject and it’s something that’s really sensitive for a lot of people,” Tim said. “It’s the ‘dream’ and it drives a lot of bands apart and it’s very stressful over time when you’re not making any money and maybe you have a kid or a wife or whatever it is. You have obligations.  You have rent.  It’s tough.  That’s why I emphasize so much the making it be a part of your life, but not the entire thing.  I think that’s the biggest thing that leads to burnout… There’s a reason why I don’t have a chapter in my book called How to Sell a Million Records because I haven’t sold a million records.”

So, I have a band!

Tim says the biggest problem with bands is breaking up and he wrote his book to help keep bands together instead of apart.

“The entire impetus for this book is to help bands manage themselves better, present themselves better, so they can last for more than six months, two years.”

 

Want to learn more about how to run your band successfully? Get all the advice you need on running your band today by buying, “So, You Have a Band: The definitive guide to presenting your band as serious business” by Tim Wenger in Kindle e-book form or print on demand over at Amazon.

 

 

Evan Hundhausen received his MFA in Creative Writing at Naropa University.  He writes blog posts at DirtyFilthyDiscoTrash.com and his self-published short story collection, “Accelerated LearningTechniques for a Budding Sociopath: A Bunch of Short Stories,” can be found for sale on Amazon.  Currently Evan spends his time writing for magazines, writing novels and even screenplays.  See him DJ at djcola.net

Musician Interview Series: The Blasting Room

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This article first appeared in Colorado Music Buzz

The list of bands that have recorded at the legendary Fort Collins studio, The Blasting Room, reads like a who’s who of modern punk rock. Looking through my cd collection, I noticed that the majority of the bands recorded at least one, if not multiple records there, and the names Bill Stevenson, Jason Livermore, Andrew Berlin and Jason Allen are regular fixtures in the bands’ thank you notes.

They must be doing something right. Either that, or there must be some untold perks of recording there that keep the musicians feeling at ease and begging for more. Why else would musicians from all over the world travel to the arid vastness of northern Colorado to record, when they could certainly find a place to do it in their own backyard? Are they doing it to feed off the established name of the studio and give themselves more credibility? Or are these four guys just that good?

The Blasting Room: Hall of Legends

Legions of bands that were influenced by the music of–and who many of have played with–the Descendents have all made the voyage to Fort Collins to work with Stevenson and Livermore. NOFXBouncing SoulsSuicide MachinesMustard PlugRise AgainstLess than Jakethe AtarisNo Use for a NameGood RiddancePropagandhiMxPxLagwagonthe CasualtiesAnti-Flag, the list goes on . . .

The guys love working with bands that they know personally. “I don’t want to say­ I have to be less professional, but I can be more like ‘Dude, that sucked!’ you know? Whereas, when they are bands that you don’t know, you have to be a little more professional,” says Livermore. “There are different personality types; some people, you know that they don’t want you to tell them anything, you might not say exactly what you want to say.”

They seem to handle it well though, and want everyone who pays for their time to have a great sounding record at the end of the day. “It depends how much of a vested interest you have in their music, and how far you are willing to go,” says Livermore.

The man and the legend at the Blasting Room is none other than Bill Stevenson, his fame outside of his recording prowess as a founding member of the Descendents and All, and drummer for Black Flag. “It’s been a pretty organic evolution,” Stevenson says. “We built it originally as a vehicle for ourselves, so we could do our own recordings. The first thing we recorded was the All album called Pummel.

Stevenson continues, “We looked at finances, and recording gear had become affordable enough to where we did a little math and thought, ‘Well, with what we would spend on about two records, we could just buy the gear and have it here and do our own records here.’

 

My book So, You Have A Band is the ultimate resource for independent musicians. Learn more by browsing around this site, and I hope you’ll stay in touch!

 

Getting started

Almost immediately, Stevenson and his crew had bands hitting them up, wanting to record with them in Fort Collins. “It seemed like, no sooner did we get the gear and build the walls here for the studio, and before we even had paint on the walls, I was getting phone calls from bands that wanted to come record here,” Stevenson says. “We were like ‘OK, yeah, I never thought of that!’ We didn’t really realize at the time that we were making a business.”

They began having bands come in, and the legend of the Blasting Room was underway. As far as a business goes, theirs is about as punk rock as it gets. “We’ve never actually done a business bank loan sort of thing,” says Stevenson. “Initially, we used the dollars that we got from Interscope Records for All to buy the initial gear. And then in the late ’90s, when we did a pretty substantial upgrade to put the SSL console in, we used money from our recording funds for Descendants on Epitaph, and also I had some money from Black Flag royalties.”

This is a large reason why so many bands like to give the Blasting Room their business. “The bands love coming here, they feel at home,” Says Stevenson. “They know it’s not corporate, they know it’s not a conventional environment. We have a long history with a lot of the bands.”

The crew

Another big draw to the Blasting Room is that the crew here has about as much experience playing music as they do recording it. They have been on tour; they have spent time in the studio, and understand the mindset of a band that is coming in to make an album. “It’s a studio that was built by, and is run by, musicians, so there is comfort there. It’s not suits or businessmen running it,” says Stevenson.

Recent years have been tough for studios. Many have not survived in the industry due to the economic downturn, and the fact that a serious musician can generally afford to purchase their own recording equipment. But somehow the legend of the Blasting Room keeps them afloat, even in a tough economy.

“I’m kind of surprised a little bit because there are all these studios in L.A. that have gone out of business, and somehow we are busier than ever,” says Livermore. “[But] it’s not surprising, because we’ve worked our asses off. I have worked 80-hour weeks for years on end.”

Part of the reason for their success may be the location. Fort Collins is not the first place that comes to mind when you think of a home base for a great studio, especially in the punk rock world. “The decision to be here kind of precedes the studio,” says Stevenson.

“We (ALL and The Descendants), after being located in Los Angeles for a long time, decided it would be smart to live in a smaller city. When you get right down to it, for economic reasons, but for other reasons, too. L.A. is kind of a big mess, and we were living like sardines out there.”

Finding home

They wanted to be somewhere where the rent was cheap and they could be a little more off the beaten path. They moved to Missouri for a few years and lived in the middle of nowhere. “After being in the middle of nowhere, we realized that we hadn’t really solved the problem because we were completely cut off from everything,” says Stevenson. “We then decided we would try and find a town that was maybe in the middle. Not nearly as large as L.A., but not Brookfield, Missouri.”

The band then settled upon Fort Collins. “We had been through on tour, and had fun here,” Stevenson says. “We knew a few people here, and it just seemed like an O.K. place to be. You know the story, the porridge is too hot, the porridge is too cold, the porridge is just right? Literally, that’s how we picked Fort Collins.”

“A lot of the local bands want to come in for a day or two and record one song, and do that every month for a year,” says Livermore. “We used to record a lot of albums, and then about four or five years ago it seemed like everyone started coming in and doing EPs.”

Livermore’s story fits perfectly into the dream that is the Blasting Room. He moved to Fort Collins specifically for the job he has now, although he didn’t quite have the job yet when he moved. “I just kind of hung out at the studio all the time. Just did whatever they wanted me to. I was a total bitch,” Livermore says. “I also did a lot of touring with these guys,” he says, pointing towards Bill.

Livermore also had a connection with Stevenson before he came to Colorado. “When I was in college, I was in a band, and we had a manager who was also the manager of the band Bill is in, All. He got those guys a record deal at Interscope. Bill and (guitar player) Stephan (Egerton) would record bands, and they decided they wanted to build a studio instead of use the money to record somewhere else,” said Livermore.

Andrew Berlin has been at the studio since 2001. “I’ve always loved recording, and when I came out here I called every studio in town,” he says. “Almost every one of them said ‘We’re too small for an intern, you might want to call the Blasting Room.’” Back then, the Blasting Room was made up of just the A room.

Growth

Berlin, who started out watching Stevenson and Livermore perform their magic in the A room, would bring in local bands in the middle of the night and apply the techniques he learned during the day while Stevenson and Livermore weren’t using the studio. “I would sit on the couch all day and watch Jason and Bill work,” he says.

“The B room used to be a practice area for bands. At the point when both the bands and I got tired of going in at one in the morning, and finishing at five in the morning, I brought in my home stereo system and a couple a Dats, and started recording bands during the day.”

The studio is currently made up of three rooms: A, B, and C. Room A is the main recording room, the mother ship of epicness. It features a Solid State Logic SL6000E console with 56 inputs VCA Automation and Total Recall and the staff uses Pro Tools 10.1 to make your ears cry tears of joy.

“We started out as a tape-only studio before Pro Tools existed,” says Livermore. “We got Pro Tools in 2000 or 2001. I held out for a while because tape sounds better. We use Pro Tools because that is pretty much what everyone else uses. It makes existing in the recording world easier, we can say ‘Just send me your file.’”

Studio B is, in many ways, a hand-me-down of old Studio A equipment. It features a 32 input Soundcraft 600 console and runs Pro Tools 10 HD-3 Accel. Studio B is a bit more affordable for small-time musicians than Studio A. Studio C is the ‘mixing and editing suite,’ where the guys import their studio magic into the music.

Equipment

To top it all off, they have a nice collection of instruments and amps. Feel like your beat up Marshall half stack isn’t going to cut it for a world-class recording? Give their Mesa/Boogie Road King amp a try instead.

Andrew Berlin records a good number of local artists in Studio B. Because it is a bit cheaper, most unsigned bands choose to record there instead of Studio A, but the process is much the same. “The way I record/mix a new or local artist changes very little compared to a well-known national artist,” Berlin says. “Time is an obvious variable, since national artists usually have a bigger budget, however the relationship and process are remarkably similar.”

Local talent may often feel intimidated by the ‘aura’ or legend of the Blasting Room, but the guys there are more down to earth than most people you will find in the music biz. They are always willing to throw in a bit of expertise when necessary. “We’ve never refused working with a band, but because new artists can be unfamiliar with recording professionally, we will sometimes need to adjust some parameters such as the number of songs done within a given period of time,” Berlin says.

“It would be a disservice to them, and their fans, to end up with a sub-standard representation of their music, and our studio is equally motivated to create something they are proud to share.”

The Blasting Room is certainly not the cheapest route when it comes to recording, but is far from unaffordable. They openly list their basic rates on the website and ensure bands that sometimes taking your time is of the essence when it comes to financing a record. “We will always work with bands to make their project possible,” says Berlin.

“From experience, we are usually able to offer advice that will enable them to have their project fully financed. Because we are booked a few months in advance, this actually gives bands time to save up or raise money through projects like Kickstarter.”

Bringing it all together

No matter which studio the project is prepared in; a great result is attainable with the right guidance. According to Berlin, the rooms have different vibes. “The A room has that large room and you can get these massive tones.

The B room is pretty dead and dry, and some records would prefer that. You can get a real dry, ’70s crisp drum sound in there. It’s got its own advantages in a way.”

The crew at the Blasting Room worked very hard to get to where they are, and always remember that it is the musicians that make what they do possible. They love what they do, and love being able to provide bands with something that they can display for as long as their career in music lasts. “I’m thankful and have much gratitude to the people that keep coming back to us,” says Livermore.

How To Book Your Band’s Tour

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A while back, I gave a presentation at Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Own IT! Music Mastermind Series about how to book your band’s tour, and general beat practices for DIY touring.

I’ve done a fair amount of touring, and basically gave a once over briefing of what I talk about in my book So, You Have A Band. 

I covered just about every angle of touring other than acquiring a van, and thought I’d share my presentation outline here for bands to reference.

Touring is a lot of fun- you will undoubtedly have some of the best experiences of your life traveling around with your best friends playing music.

But it is also a lot of work and can go very badly if you don’t prepare correctly. Use the info below as a check list to go over in a band meeting. Some of this is basic common sense, but you’d be surprised at some of the stupid shit I’ve seen bands do.

My book So, You Have A Band is the ultimate resource for independent musicians. Learn more by browsing around this site, and I hope you’ll stay in touch!

How To Book Your Band’s Tour: Are you ready to tour?

Can you draw a decent crowd at home?

Do you have merch and recorded music?

Is your band registered as an LLC or another type of business? Do you have tax info figured out?

Do you have a reliable vehicle? What will you do if your van breaks down? Get a trailer, or rent one.

How well do you like your bandmates? Are you going to pull a Novus Folium and break up in the middle of your tour and make complete asses out of yourselves?

How To Book Your Band’s Tour: Touring is not a vacation.

It’s awesome and epic and times you will never forget, but it is also a lot of work. You are never alone for more than a few minutes of time. You sleep on floors and in the van. You lose money.

DO NOT BRING YOUR GIRLFRIEND OR BOYFRIEND. Unless she/he understands the point above, and is willing to sell merch and not have their own agenda that they will try to impose on your trip. If someone has a special diet, someone needs to pee every hour, someone gets carsick, these are all factors to think about. When it comes to being on the road on DIY tours, less is more.

A lot of touring is similar to gigging at home, as far as being a good band- if you are comfortable, have a strong live show, and understand marketing, try to replicate your experiences on the road.

How To Book Your Band’s Tour: Routing Your Tour

How long can you go? How long can everyone get off work?

How far are you willing to drive in a day?

Understand that when on tour, in order to stay afloat, you need to play every night. Every now and then a show will get canceled or you won’t be able to make anything happen, but you should strive to play seven nights a week.

Go for a week at a time. If everyone handles it well, progress to longer tours from there.

Everyone tours the west coast- maybe you should go somewhere else. Keep it realistic. If this is your first time leaving Denver, you don’t need to drive to Seattle or Boston. Play in Albuquerque, Grand Junction, Salt Lake, Kansas, etc. Mountain towns in CO. College towns like FoCo, Durango, Gunnison, etc for weekend trips.

Target your markets to be places that you can hit once or twice a year, or more. It is pretty much pointless to go somewhere once and never go back. The entire point of a tour is to build a fan base in new markets.

Do research on promo for that town- can you get an interview with a magazine or local college radio station? Will you have time to walk the main street and give out handbills? What is the venue expecting from you, if anything?

How To Book Your Band’s Tour: How and Where to Book

Again, the entire point of touring is to build a fanbase in new markets. Start small- bar gigs. Find a local band of a similar genre and offer to do a show trade with them. You want to play with local bands because they will bring a crowd. Otherwise, you will likely be playing to an empty room.

Most bars/clubs have booking contact on their websites. Also, check indieonthemove.com.

Offer to promote the shows- hit up local college radio stations about interview/airplay, ask the venue who is in charge of fliers- if it’s you or them or a local band. Get ahold of the flier and buy a Facebook ad targeting that city with a facebook event, flier, info on the show, etc.

Often it is best to contact local bands before blindly contacting a venue. In all honesty, a lot of bar level venues don’t care to book out of town bands unless they are playing with locals because no one will come out. Locals may already have a show set up and be able to throw you on as an opener.

Make sure your routing makes sense and finishes close to home. Try to make a circle starting and ending close to home.

Be humble and professional. Don’t contact venues blindly through a Facebook message. Create a form letter that can be emailed that look similar to a press release or EPK- photos, links to music, short bio, what you have to offer as far as promo, length of the set, maybe even references. The more professional and experienced you come off, the more likely they are to book you.

In my experience, local bands are usually pretty cool about money when they are playing with touring bands (at least in the punk world).

They get your situation and know that you need gas money. While on DIY tours you likely won’t profit, but if you book well you can at least pay your way and attract new fans as you go.

The idea of all of a sudden quitting your job to tour full time, at least to me, proved to be a pipe dream- we constantly let ourselves down because we were never able to get to that point and it ended up hurting our morale greatly. Start small, and be willing to put in a multi-year time commitment to build your band, and keep your head down and work.

How To Book Your Band’s Tour: What do to on the road

Bring a cooler and keep it stocked with sandwich stuff, water, etc. Try to eat healthy, at least sometimes, because you won’t be sleeping much and if all you eat is Taco Bell, you’ll get worn down and it won’t be as fun.

Try to wait until after your set to party excessively. This is the music business, an industry that loves its partying. People may bring you shots on stage. But if you are a serious musician, getting on stage drunk and playing a sloppy set in a new town is not going to attract anyone to your band.

Know when load in is, and know who to settle up with after your show. Try to get into town early in case something happens. Having one person that is the point person in your band (usually the person who dealt with the venue during the booking process) is a good idea because they should have some familiarity with what to expect.

How To Book Your Band’s Tour: Merch

As long as the venue will let you, keep your merch set up from the time doors open until they close, and keep someone at the table. Especially right after your set- go to the merch table, meet people, shake their hand, hug them, and then sell them your cd.

ALWAYS HAVE A NOTEBOOK OUT TO COLLECT EMAILS- KEEP THE EMAILS ORGANIZED BY TOWN IF YOU CAN- AND SEND OUT NEWSLETTERS TO THESE PEOPLE WHEN YOU ARE COMING BACK, AND WHEN YOU HAVE A NEW ALBUM OUT, OR NEW MERCH, OR WHATEVER. HOPEFULLY, THEY WILL BRING THEIR FRIENDS, WHO THEN WILL BRING THEIR FRIENDS THE NEXT TIME.

Don’t hit on girlfriends/boyfriends of the people in the other bands. And be cool to the other bands- you want to be friends with them. When you are in a band, being friends with as many other bands as possible is going to help you so much.

How To Book Your Band’s Tour: Best Practices

Maybe take a break from the rest of the band before your show. Go on a walk, or go get some food, or something to get your mind away for a bit. When I was out with The Yawpers in 2013, Jesse the guitarist would disappear every day once they got done driving, and meet the guys at the venue at load in. This seemed a bit extreme to me, but taking any opportunity to have some alone time is a good idea.

Keep two people awake at all times while driving overnight.

Be sparing when it comes to hotels and other luxuries- money is going to be tight. Bring a sleeping bag, pillow and blankets. You’ll use the shit out of them.

Stop at a Laundromat sometimes.

Musician Interview Series: Kris Roe of The Ataris

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This article first appeared in Colorado Music Buzz in March, 2014

 

The Ataris, like most career bands, have undergone lineup changes over the years. Front man and founder Kris Roe even caused a bit of a ruckus by throwing former drummer Rob Felicetti’s equipment offstage during a 2012 gig in New Jersey.

That was over the top. But he has kept his band relevant in the punk arena for nearly two decades now. When I spoke with him about the upcoming album reunion tour, the impression I got from him confirmed my long-standing suspicions that he is one of the hardest working guys in the scene. He does what it takes to keep his baby alive, doing it by himself when he needs to.

Roe and his songs, to me at least, were and remain to be a beacon of what life should be about. Partying, girls, and that epic feeling you get inside when you spend your life pursuing your passions and making your own way.

On his lyrics

While his lyrics were often cynical and full of adolescent spite, if I looked deep enough, I was always able to pull out that candy coated silver lining. So I was more than excited when the opportunity arose to interview Roe, for what I knew would be a good story, and to preview one of the touring shows Colorado Music Buzz is most excited about in 2014.

He spoke about his songwriting, the tour, and where his solo work is headed after the tour’s conclusion.  “The best songs and the best music to me is the music that still has a lot of honesty and sincerity, has a lot of imperfections,” says Roe. “It has the beautiful mistakes that make things good. Too much autotune bullshit these days.”

On So Long, Astoria

So Long, Astoria, released in March of 2003 during the latter end of pop-punks reign of mainstream popularity, is the album that Roe feels brought The Ataris into their own light. “If I were turning someone on to The Ataris, I would definitely give them So Long, Astoria,” says Roe. “It’s the album that I feel defines what our band is about. We had three independent albums out before that and we really built up a grassroots following, but it was that album that I felt I was growing and figured out how to come into my own as a songwriter.”

Leaning hard on his signature picturesque lyricism, the album served to trademark The Ataris’ style. “I learned how to focus on the strong points, which for me was always telling personal, vivid stories,” says Roe. “That was one time in my life when I felt I was really able to hone in on that part of my life and everything that I was going through and tell the most descriptive stories that I could.”

The Ataris have called California home for the majority of their career, but Roe is originally from Indiana and lets his roots seep into his music. “I think it obviously fits our songs,” says Roe. “There are so many bands that are what they are because they are from Southern California, or from New York, or wherever.

I always carry a piece of the Midwest in what I write because for me, being it the photography that I take or the songs I write, I like the kind of sad, broken down beauty of these places that were once in their heyday, and that time has passed. That’s definitely in the songs, but I think moving to California helped me grow as a person and show a bit more hopeful side in my writing.”

On Recent Releases And Touring

The most recent release for fans of the band to grab was Roe’s acoustic album, Hang Your Head in Hope. Roe just came off a solo acoustic tour across the Midwest and South, where he performed songs from The Ataris as well as his acoustic album and showcased his photography. “The normal band, when we go tour, we’ll tour for a couple months then take a couple months off,” he says. “In that time I’ll go do shows on my own. “

The recent Polar Vortex was a companion on that tour. “The shows were great,” Roe says. “It was a lot of fun with really good turnouts. Aside from one show, in Austin, Texas of all places, where there was an ice storm. It was like I was following the polar vortex everywhere I went.” Roe plans to do a solo tour in the UK, Europe and China. “Keeping it back to back, then we’ll record and tour with the band after that.”

Lucky for us, the Mile High City stands out for Roe and his band. “I’ve always loved Denver,” says Roe. “As somebody that reads, my first memory of Denver was reading Kerouac’s On the Road, and playing the Bluebird Theatre, and being on Larimer Street, and all that area where Kerouac talks about. For me, that was big. I also always felt that Denver has a great music scene.” You might just find him around the campfire this summer. “And I love camping and camp a lot in Colorado.”

Online: facebook.com/theataris

 

How To Find A Manager For My Band

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This is the second in our So, You Have A Band extras series.

How to find a manager for my band

Hint: It shouldn’t be someone related to or dating a band member.

This post will cover how to approach bringing on management. I can’t push this enough- have weekly band meetings, maybe this happens before or after a practice and only lasts for twenty minutes or so.

‘How to find a manager for my band’ is a question many musicians ask. In the right circumstances, they will find you. When your band is at a level that management is necessary, offers will come in.

If you really can’t handle the back-of-house duties of your band, I suggest you have each band member read my book. Then, discuss in band meetings how you want to proceed.

When your group is established in your local scene and drawing a good crowd to shows, it may be time to consider bringing on management. I can’t push this enough- have weekly band meetings. Maybe this happens before or after a practice and only lasts for twenty minutes or so. Discuss what you want from a manager at the meeting, and develop a plan for going forward.

My book So, You Have A Band is the ultimate resource for independent musicians. Learn more by browsing around this site, and I hope you’ll stay in touch!

Conducting yourself at shows

Part of drawing a manager and of impressing anyone at a higher level than you in the music scene is to be professional. Consider the impression your band is leaving.

Conduct yourself well at shows. Don’t promote your fans to do illegal things or misbehave- the music scene in your city is likely controlled by a small handful of people. The impact you make one night is small that night, but stays with you in the future. Venues, especially their promoters and talent buyers, communicate with each other. What are they saying about your band?

Keep this in mind when rehearsing your stage show.

Also, it is important not to over-promise yourself. Make sure everyone in the band is on the same page with what they are telling people about your band. If you can draw 50 people, tell people that you can draw 50 people, not 75. One of the worst things you can do as a band is over-promise and under-deliver.

Don’t tell your manager or a promoter you can draw 100 people when you can only draw 50. One of the worst things you can do as a band is over-promise and under-deliver.

In the book, I talk a lot about developing a business plan and sticking to it. This is incredibly important – bands need to think long-term.

Each person in the band should have a “back-of-house” role- whether it be booking shows, merch design and management, social media and promotions, driver, etc. Everyone needs to hold everyone else accountable for their job.

If the guy who is supposed to drive the van after the show ends up getting drunk, don’t just let it slide. If the manager or person in charge of dealing with the venue forgets to settle up at the end of the night, or isn’t acting professionally when doing so, don’t just let it slide.

Weekly band meetings, in addition to practice, are a great idea and give an opportunity for brainstorming, venting, and planning.

Communicating with a Band/Manager

Don’t assume that anything is going to happen- be able to pitch yourself well. The first step is to do research online of managers in your city, or of bands in your genre.

If you plan to reach out with a cold contact, put your best foot forward.

Have one person from the band be the main point of contact when approaching a management company, venue, or another band, and have them brief the rest of the members on what is going on. This avoids confusion and saying things that don’t get back around to everyone.

Contact the person or agency and ask for more information, or to speak with someone. When they contact you to discuss, this is the appropriate time to give them the background info on the group. Don’t email with an unasked for story about your band. They’ve heard it all before.

Bringing on a manager

If you are going to bring on a manager, do some research. Find someone who knows the scene well. Be willing to pay him/her a 20% cut for the work they do. Don’t just bring in a friend or significant other to act as your “manager,” it makes your band look ridiculous.

The manager needs to know the music business. Having a ‘mom-ager’ or ‘dad-ager’ is typically a great way to look like a complete fool in front of venues and media.

If your Mom goes up to venue management to book a show, settle up, talk about sound, etc., and doesn’t know what the hell she is talking about it is very obvious and makes your band look amateur.

A manager who isn’t a music business is not going to do anything to further your career. Everybody wants a piece of the music business. Most people aren’t cut out for it. The biggest thing about being in a band is that it is easy to be in a band but hard to do it well.

Conflicts between friends will ensue. There is going to be resentment. There is going to be no money.

Your manager should be able to help you through these tough times. That’s why they’re called a manager. That’s also why it’s important they know the music business well and aren’t just someone in the band’s Dad or girlfriend.

Overview on band management

The best advice I can give is to make sure everyone is on the same page as far as what the band is doing. This is a huge reason why weekly meetings are amazing. Everyone can get on point, and hold each other accountable for being professional, not sloppy, on time not late, on point not drunk, and make sure everyone is doing their part.

Being in a band is much, much more than just showing up, drinking beer and playing shows. If someone has no interest in doing more than that, kick them out of the band. Many successful bands put up the image that they party all the time and it’s always so much fun and that they have it all figured out. This is not the case.

The constant images of bands partying on tour and some kind of leisurely life is a front. It’s meant to brand their image. Any band that can’t be professional in public situations, and is always drunk and out of control, is never going to go anywhere and will not attract any fans. Everyone in the scene will hate them. Keep your shit together and don’t be drunk all the time.

Same goes for your manager- they need to act as a warrior for your band. They need to stick up for you and be willing to answer phone calls and emails promptly. If they don’t act as a member, and an ambassador, they aren’t worth your time.