Remember That Cool Band From College?

college band

While the main purpose of attending a college or university is to gain a tertiary qualification, many enterprising and creative students also find the time to bond with like-minded individuals and form bands that may or may not, flourish after graduation day.  Some of the most famous bands the world has ever seen, including Coldplay and Queen, started out at University while a good number of current-day indie bands such as Vampire Weekend, Jukebox the Ghost and Ra Ra Riot also all originated in colleges across the United States. The prevalence of successful college bands is proof that a tertiary education can be of greater advantage than just the obvious educational benefits it bestows on the students.


How can budding College bands make money? 

As much as a rapidly-growing fan base is food for the soul, it does not pay the bills or feed your belly at the end of the day. Once you have made a name for yourself as a band, you need to start thinking about how you are going to secure a means of income. Merchandise has always been a great way for a band to make some cash on the side. As long as you have a striking logo and some good-quality gear, you are bound to make some sales at your gigs and even via online nowadays. If you are looking to raise funds for specifics such as album launches and tours you can always turn to crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo and PledgeMusic to help supplement the income you generate from your shows and album sales.


Some Big Name College Bands


Vampire Weekend

The indie-rock band was formed in 2006 when members Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson, and Chris Baio were all students at New York’s Columbia University.  The band started out by playing gigs around the university, including a battle of the bands-type contests at Lerner Hall. After graduation, the band released their debut album which they self-produced, all while working full-time jobs at the same time to support themselves and their passion. During 2014 the band contributed a track towards the Valentine’s Day compilation entitled Sweetheart 2014. They also provided a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m Going Down’ for the Girls Vol.2 Soundtrack. Having made a good name for themselves, 2 of Vampire Weekend’s songs were featured on the film adaptation of Peter Rabbit. Ezra also wrote the original track ‘I Promise You’ specifically for the film.


Jukebox the Ghost

Ben Thornewill, Tommy Siegel, and Jesse Kristin all met while attending George Washington University forming a band called TheSunday Mail in 2006. After they graduated they changed their name to Jukebox the Ghost – the beloved indie band they are today.  Having played more than 1000 shows across the US and the rest of the world, the band have truly managed to cement themselves as worthy contributors to the American music industry. Apart from touring alongside big names such as Guster, A Great Big World and Motion City Soundtrack, the band also performed on The Late Show with David Letterman which is no small feat.  During April and May this year their national headlining tour took them to their largest venues to date where they were very well received by eager and appreciative fans.


Ra Ra Riot 

2006 was undoubtedly a good year for indie music as it also saw the birth indie pop outfit Ra Ra Riot at Syracuse University. The band caught the attention of their fellow students due to their high-energy performances and likable personas. In 2007 they landed a gig at South by Southwest and also headlined a show at the Seaport Music Fest in NYC.  In March 2011 Ra Ra Riot was nominated in the Pop/Rock Album Category at the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards. During the same year their track ‘Boy’ was featured in a commercial for Honda Civic and used in episodes of the highly-acclaimed TV shows Royal Pains and Shameless. The band is currently preparing for the 10th-anniversary tour of The Rhumb Line.


Tertiary institutions such as colleges and universities are undoubtedly great places to find talented members for your band. While not all indie student bands are going to end up being Grammy Award winners, they stand as good a chance as any to make a mark for themselves in the very competitive US music industry. The trio that you hear practicing after dark in their dorm could very well turn out to the next chart-topping indie outfit to take the world by storm. Go give them some love now!

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