Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Band

starting a band

*guest post by Gideon Waxman

Forming a band is one of the most exciting parts of being a musician. Being able to focus your creative ideas within a collective, alongside your close friends with dreams of stardom is an amazing journey to be a part of.

Alongside the dreams, ambitions, hopes, and desires; there will be immense challenges along the way that will surely test your perseverance and determination.

But if you have the talent, originality, and passion to succeed, then people will ultimately recognise your music, and your fan base will continue to grow!

Remember, you won’t be able to reach your goals alone. In order to facilitate your growth as a band, you will need a good manager, agent, record label, publisher, lawyer, etc. The list goes on. Your first port of call is finding yourself an experienced and valuable music manager who can develop and nurture your career as an artist.

The music industry is always on the lookout for hot new talent, and there are plenty of ways you can find yourself catching the attention of people who have the power to build your music career.

Having been in bands for seven years, I’ve had to learn from certain pitfalls. Here are some of the top mistakes to avoid when starting a band, so you can maximise your time and effort.

First Things First, Hone Your Craft

Too often I see young bands releasing poorly recorded demos, paired with mediocre musical performances. If you wish to conquer the music industry, you need music listeners to take you seriously. 

Consider why major labels sign their acts in the first place, and what they look for. A dream signing would be an artist that has the complete package. A complete package is a band that has a unique and original sound, can perform to a high standard, already has an existing fan base and has a distinctive and memorable identity.

The music industry is a highly competitive industry. In order to maximise your chances for success, you must hone your craft and strive to write the best songs as possible. Not only this, but you must display a high level of musicianship, and individually be able to execute strong performances.

Writing not only inspiring and creative songs, but also having a unique sonic identity is key. A music manager or record label will want to see that an artist can also continue to develop and write great songs with ease in order to sustain a long career in music. 

Don’t Compromise on Quality 

The modern music industry has evolved exponentially. We live in an era where music listeners are accustomed to hearing perfect studio recordings on all manners of devices.

In a world where around 40,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify each day, how will you stand out from the crowd and make yourself heard?

Bands often later regret putting their early music out without much thought with regards to production value, and the lasting impression it will leave on an artist page’s discography. 

To avoid any later regrets, endeavour to create and release content you are totally satisfied with, whilst considering the longevity of it as a marketable product.

Investing in quality content including sound recordings, promotional material, and music videos will bolster the impact of your music. Quality studio recordings provide a far more enjoyable listening experience, and immersive visuals will help keep viewers engaged with today’s short attention spans.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands either. It’s easier than ever to capture high-quality recordings in a home studio, plus the quality of programmed virtual instruments has never been higher. No longer is it necessary to spend obscene amounts of money to make excellent studio quality recordings that can impress.

Don’t Wait Around for Things to Happen

It’s easy to get caught up with the prospect of waiting for a mega-manager or record label to spring up out of nowhere. This sometimes does happen, but the reality of the industry means that music businesses will avoid taking risks wherever possible.

Because record labels and managers want to be certain (or as sure as possible) in their ability to develop successful bands, they will want potential signings to prove they can be self-sustainable through building a genuine connection with fans.

So what do they look for? Music streaming statistics and view counts on YouTube are strong indicators for an artist’s growing popularity. If you are selling merchandise and have fans willing to pay for tickets to come to your shows, you are on the right track.

Don’t be afraid to get your music out there – both online and at live gigs. If you have been putting in the work behind the scenes, then you will be ready to deliver killer performances both in the studio and on stage.

Prioritise building a fan base for yourself – If you have the patience, and you are able to establish yourself correctly, you will naturally find yourself in a position where the music industry will be forced to take notice. 

Be Open To A Quality Manager

Most music managers operate on a commission basis. This structure means that managers are rewarded for their efforts and accomplishments; because they will subsequently profit off your success. 

The reality of the music industry is that managers, agents, and record labels are prepared to invest their time and effort into developing bands they believe in; If they feel there is enough potential that they will grow into a successful act.

If you find yourself catching the attention of a music manager, prepare to do your research into their style and track record. Expect a manager to channel their efforts at the early stages in order to reap the potential rewards that lie ahead.

Gideon Waxman is a London based drummer with over 14 years of experience. Since completing a Music Degree at the University of Westminster, Gideon has been touring with metal act Familiar Spirit. You can find more of his advice at Drum Helper , a free online resource dedicated to helping drummers achieve more from their playing.