Tips For The Band

Artist Burnout

Is the new model for success in the music business leading to artist burnout?

At least in for some artists, this may be the case. The money isn’t in the albums anymore, it’s in the performances and merchandise. Instead of going out on tour in support of a new album, artists are finding it necessary to always be in the public eye.

The strenuous nature of this type of exposure can lead to physical problems such as vocal nodes, hip surgeries, and cancelled tours due to exhaustion. In other words – artist burnout.

CD sales no longer are not what they used to be and many live shows are physically exhausting dance extravaganzas.

If  artists burn out at an early stage in their careers, how will they continue to perform (and make a lucrative income) in their later years?

In an article on digitalmusicnews.com, Paul Resnikoff writes:

So what’s going on? Meat Loaf thinks this is what the modern music industry is doing to artists. Instead of embarking on grand tours to support lucrative album releases, the collapse of the recording is forcing artists to be ‘always on,’ constantly gigging, recording, and making appearances.

Add the intense demands of digital, and artists are frying themselves. “That’s the problem with a new artist,” Meat Loaf recently observed. “They don’t sell records like they used to.”

“So they’re forced to do a lot more than just tour. TV shows, interviews, all that talking and doing extra stuff between shows, that’s when you rupture your vocal cords. Overwork, over-tired and then bam.”

Toya Glasgow, an R&B-focused blogger, pointed to an appallingly overworked Rihanna. Back in 2011, the non-stop, never-take-a-break rush included a full tour and upcoming album. “Rihanna has been overworking herself like mad. She’s been touring excessively with not much of a gap in between so-called breaks. When she does get a day or two off, she uses it in the studio to finish recording her upcoming new album.”

“It just seems like she’s working herself into the ground just to meet the deadline… Is all this excessive workload causing Rihanna to become ill?”

And remember, these are the wealthiest, best-supported, most mainstream artists around. So what about everyone else? For developing and less-lucrative acts, touring now seems closer to a survival exercise than a good time. And part of the reason is that selling recordings (ie, pressed CDs) on tour is no longer a viable option. “That kept a tour going,” one source with experience in the van told us, while pointing to newfound pressure on less-lucrative items like specialty vinyl, hats, and yes, t-shirts.

Check out the original article for more on this topic.

Stage Fright and Musicians

A large percentage of musicians experience stage fright, before or during almost every performance.  Is this necessarily a bad thing?

If you can use the nervous energy to get that extra “edge” to your performance, it can be a good thing.

In fact, a certain amount of anxiety may be necessary for you to get into “the zone” where everything just clicks for you and your performance.  Without that extra kick, your performance may just be flat and uninspired.

If, on the other hand, stage fright overwhelms you and causes you to freeze up, it can be devastating for your performance.

Here are some more tips for overcoming performance anxiety.

The 9 Keys to Becoming the Best That You Can Be

Nine different ways, to be specific:

  1. Preparation: Learn how to practice the right way

  2. Manage energy: Learn how to control your body’s response to adrenaline

  3. Confidence: Learn how to build confidence

  4. Courage: Learn how to play courageously (vs. playing tentatively and worrying about mistakes)

  5. Concentration: Learn how to slow down and regain control of your mind – even under pressure

  6. Focus: Learn how to quiet the mind, focus past distractions, and stay in the moment

  7. Resilience: Learn how to recover quickly from mistakes (so you don’t make even more mistakes)

  8. Determination: Learn how to keep yourself motivated and relentlessly pursue your goals

  9. X-Factor Learn to unlock that something special, that je ne sais quois that makes all the difference in the world

Check out the original article for more on the causes and cures for stage fright.

 

Gigging as a Solo Musician

Thinking of going out as a solo musician?  There are lots of reasons to do so, even if you are already in, or plan to be in, a band.

It can (sometimes) be easier to get (and keep) gigs, plus you don’t have to split the money into multiple tiny pieces.  You also don’t have to worry about band members who don’t show up, are difficult to deal with, or can’t remember how to play the songs you rehearsed.

Here are a few more tips from an article on the website bandsonabudget.com:

-Take yourself seriously. If you don’t take yourself seriously because you’re a solo musician and not in a band, you should probably stop now. Less is more sometimes, and a one person performance can certainly be EPIC if not more epic than a full band performance. People are used to seeing rock bands play, and they’re use to seeing boring acoustic gigs as well. Make sure you take it up a notch. Play with heart, and deliver. This leads us to…

-Practice. Why do you need to practice? It’s only you, right? Well, there’s a million of you. No matter how good your songs are, it’s going to take a little something extra to get people to really pay attention. Know your setlist front to back. Try not to wing it. Fluidity, professionalism, and a well tuned guitar are all going to make room for your personality onstage. If you’re nervous and fumbling, it’s going to be obvious almost immediately. Practice in the mirror if you have to. Close your eyes if you have to. Just get INTO IT. Believe what you are saying, and others will believe you as well.

-Sell merch. Don’t spend a ton of money, but remember lots of people buy merch for lots of different reasons. The venue crowd is going to want to see an incredibly convicting, emotional gig to be convinced. The coffeehouse crowd is likely to support you just because you came out, and you’re busting your ass on the road (hopefully they’re buying it for the right reasons, but unfortunately there’s no way for you to know so swallow your pride and stop caring about it, now). Merch will help you look professional and together. Since you’re probably traveling with less, set it up in a suitcase or something compact and fun. It lets people know you showed up for a reason- to spread the word about your music.

-Don’t be afraid to let people know you need money for gas because, well, you do. If you’re cool with a tip jar, do it. Depending on the setting, it may or may not work. If you’re on a legit stage, don’t. Save this for more intimate performances. Making people aware that you HAVE merchandise that you NEED to sell isn’t always a bad thing, just make sure you’ve gained the trust of the audience already… or, just make sure it’s not the first thing you say when you get up onstage.

For more of the article, go to bandsonabudget.com

Annoying Rock Star Behavior

You may not be a big rock star (yet!), but … someday.  It could happen.

Now is the time to either learn how to treat your fans the way they should be treated, or start practicing how to be annoying as only a star can be.

Here from Rolling Stone are a few things you could start working on now.

 

1. Show up ridiculously late
Rock stars aren’t accountants, and nobody expects them to take the stage at the precise moment listed on the ticket. We get that. A little late is good, even. It gives everyone time to park, deal with will call, wait in the bathroom line and get a beer. But some artists routinely take the stage two, three or even four hours late; Lauryn Hill, we’re looking squarely at you here.

2. Exclude key band members
Some bands have members who just don’t feel like being rock stars anymore. We understand that. When Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones decided to scale back their lives and get off the road, we would have all preferred to see them with their bands still. The shows suffered from their absence, but people have a right to quit. A band isn’t the mafia.

3. Play too much from the new album
We have no issue with bands playing a ton of their new material. It does, however, get annoying when you pay to see an artist and the vast majority of the show is new stuff, especially when that material is a pale imitation of the old stuff. There’s a certain expectation when you buy a concert ticket (especially to an arena show) that you’re going to hear songs from throughout an act’s career. It’s just hard for people to fully appreciate music they don’t know very well.

4. Only perform the hits
The flip side of Number Three. Some artists have long catalogs of great songs, but their concerts tend to fall back on the same 15 songs they’ve been dragging out for decades. It’s like eating 10 chocolate bars for dinner; it’s not satisfying. You need to balance it out. Sure, the crowd loves to hear hits and you want to do anything you can to hold their attention, but you also need to challenge them a bit.

 

For more great tips, check out the full article on RollingStone.com

Organizing a Band

I recently found an interesting article on organizing a band and dealing with the changes that come along in this business of music.  The excerpts below touch on a few of the topics covered and how to deal with them.

Music is a business. You have to decide how seriously you want to pursue your personal enjoyment versus making money. This is not to say that you can’t have both and sometimes if you plan carefully you can have a rewarding experience in every way.

Music is all about entertainment. I am not suggesting you get a monkey and organ grinder. Act like you have an interest in what’s going on. Have confidence. You’re probably much better than you think.

Don’t get locked into the same old music. Some songs are treasures and you will want to play them forever. Put some new stuff in there every once in a while to challenge yourself and keep things fresh. There is nothing more frustrating to hear a good band, and years later they are doing 80% of the same old stuff.