Being in a band is more than just being able to string a few notes together and linking that up with lyrics-cum-poetry and drumming sequences, not everyone can understand the true concept and meaning of being in a band.
Moreover, some bands do understand what it means to be in a band, but ironically not one that actually deserves attention. It's not the music that is the problem (or maybe it is, who knows?), it is more to do with numerous decisions undertaken by them that places a banner over their head saying "doomed to fail", what with already Metalcore clearly going beyond saturation point and local scenes fluctuating in fan support, the last thing the music scene needs is a thorn stuck up it's ass, that being unsigned bands who need to come back down to planet earth.
With that in mind comes five top reasons (in no specific order) why unsigned bands get it wrong, reasons that hinder their success or simply cause them to shut down after a few months to one or two years with only one near-credible release out, just to say "I was in a band".
1. Flash descriptions on Social Media.
So ok your band has a social media presence, you're on Facebook, Myspace, Reverbnation and various other sites. Therefore you have the need to write a description about your band and your ultimate aim is to become successful, but hang on a minute you only have 300 likes and a handful of followers / listeners, and you're writing things like "up and coming"? This is one major cliche unsigned bands should avoid like the plague. You are not up and coming until you start receiving a massive buzz in your area, please keep it realistic. Also trying to convince people your shows are "kick ass" or "brutal" is asking for trouble, simply because these are your own words and do not originate from your fans, therefore ask your fans for their opinions and then draw a consensus on what has been said: if they say you're 'rubbish', 'untalented' or similar expressions, then go back to square one and think what you are doing wrong, don't just kick the can in and shut the band down. Information sells, therefore make it 100% legit and not 100% superficial.
2. Conflicts with other unsigned bands
Look just because the other bands in your area have rich parents, or you fell out with them and their subsequent band-members and / or fans, does not mean you should start kicking up s*** about one another, you're just as much a part of the music scene as the other bands and so therefore by constructively working together to develop the scene into a musical factory; diving into the Taylorist 'scientific management' theory here, you begin to establish connections that you might later need to rely on. As a band you might not like other musicians as people, but they are after exactly what you want too, that is to be successful. You know, when rock bands started arising in the early days, there was little conflict between them because they wanted to establish the genre, that said Metal Music is the only rock genre not to have died. As the cliche goes, "If you can't beat them, join them".
3. Expecting too much to happen
Here is another cliche, "give and you shall receive". Bands who are in the mindset that everyone owes them the pathway to being famous are living in cuckoo land. You have to work your way up to the top, by showing work ethic to a professional level, you're more than likely to garner attention than some other band who has the attitude of "we have a release out, review it for us", "we want to play London, give us a gig or book us", "we want to play Wembley, oh wait...", the fact of the matter is that in order to gain success and become known, you have to work for it in order to earn it. Don't expect everyone in the music industry to lay down the red carpet for a band consisting of four, five or more schmucks just because you have played in your capital city by supporting another local-ish unsigned band. Tour the UK and maybe Europe, hook up with bands touring near you e.g. signed bands, get their PR and booking agents details and utmost attention that you would want to open up their gig for them, they may decline but you can only ask - they may even take your details down for future consideration.
4. Made up genres and songs sound copied
Being in a band is about innovation, challenging the rule book of music and setting yourself up to be different from every other unsigned band who seems to want to nick a riff here and there or just cannot be bothered to think for themselves. "We are different, we make our own music" is a statement that is highly overused, be honest with yourself, what exactly sets your band apart from other unsigned bands? Look at these signed bands and think what have they done differently? Motionless In White, ChthoniC, Apocalyptica, Black Veil Brides, Within Temptation, Nightwish, etc... well if you haven't worked it out and you're in a band, then you have been caught out. Distance yourself from your musical influences as much as possible, whilst retaining the best bits you like about them, you may now think that's a contradiction, but it's even more contradictory when people detect a riff that is used by a known band, you will be caught out; this applies to all elements of the song. Oh and made up genres? That's the music journalists job. Heck we're considering to acknowledge "Winter Metal" as a legit umbrella term.
What on earth is djent? It's Technical Prog Metal. See? And who came up with djent? Meshuggah.
Need we say more?
5. Fan control and bands buggering off
So you have been asked to play a gig, that's great no? You have just finished your set and then say bye-bye, or you stand outside until your set comes up and then go in the venue to play, or you turn up late (which is even worse). Promoters get pissed off by all of these and we don't blame them. If you were invited to a business meeting at work, you wouldn't turn up sloshed with your tie in your mouth and you weeing your pants, nor would you turn up to a gig stoned or drunk. You wouldn't either leave the meeting early (unless of course your missus is giving birth, or an emergency arises) would you? The same applies for a gig (unless a major emergency arises as stated), furthermore make sure you haven't got anything else booked that day or if you are getting transport make sure it's adequate. Promoters tend to time shows in accordance with public transport, so there is little excuse to bugger off early. Oh and tell your fans they are just as bad, this makes certain people laugh because those fans who pay anything from £3 to £20 to see a band (in general), and then bugger off afterwards, either because they have a poor excuse like they were only their to see their mates band (so what? They aren't bloody Iron Maiden nor Asking Alexandria!!!) or they don't care about the other bands, not only is it a waste of YOUR money but then why persist on moaning about supporting the scene when you f*** off (bands and fans this applies to) after your mates band just finished their set? Some promoters have said they will not allow anyone back in once paid admission, we think this is a damn good idea (smokers will have a cornered area). Don't moan about the scene if you're one of those who does this.
Just to reiterate the above, if you have to leave due to transport issues e.g. last train of the day, then that is totally acceptable (I think we've all been there), or if you have an early start the next morning at unearthly hours e.g. meetings at 9am that require transport, we have daily jobs or education of some sort so that can also be plausible. Credit goes to our reader Louise Yardley for pointing this out (we hadn't thought of this).
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