Over the past 15 years, I have dedicated my life to music and helping musicians to become more educated and self sufficient. I started off like you; a local musician in a local band playing the local scene. When I finally found a stable band to play with, I was 21 and the other guys (who were phenomenal musicians who made me sound better than I was) were 3 and 4 years younger than me, so it was tough to find places to play. Most bars and venues didn’t like our average fan age of 16. So we did what you probably do; we rented out a hall and put on shows with other local bands struggling with the same issues.
So I began my career helping younger local bands have the opportunity to play and be heard. From there, I founded FTF Records and began promoting 2-3 local shows a month. We struggled for a bit, but soon enough bands and fans realized that we were all in it together and our crowds grew from just 25-50 people to an average of 500 per night. We were able to give bands a crowd to be heard by, pay them some money, and make some money ourselves. Eventually, this grew to form FTF Concerts, which grew to be promoting over 200 shows a year. From there, I began managing bands and signing acts to the label. Through this, I’ve had the pleasure of touring with acts across the Midwest, and along the East and Southeastern states of the U.S. and I’ve had the honor of speaking at conferences around the country and in beautiful Vancouver, B.C.
Currently I co-own and help to oversee the operations of BeardCore Productions, which is most notably known for our 3-day music festival BeardStock, which features more than 60 bands on two stages across 3 days.
Why is this all important? It’s not really. But it’s a little background on me and how I’ve come to think I know anything worth sharing. It’s also how this list started compiling. I’ve been told that I need to write a book because I’m always rattling off reasons you should stop being in a band. Basically things I’ve witnessed over the years that tell me someone has no idea what it takes to be in a band or is just a douche and needs to quit.
So here we go…
1. If you can’t bring at least 20 people to a show in your home town….
Honestly, where do you think your music career is going if you can’t even get 20 people to drop a couple bucks to see you play?
“Well, we’re still pretty new. Haven’t built our fan base yet.”
Bad news son, your fan base will actually shrink a bit before it grows again. When you’re starting out, your friends and family will come to support you. After a while, they will stop and you will need to rely on actual fans. If you suck bad enough where your friends and family can’t even stand it… you should probably quit being in a band.
2. If you think your band’s sound is “original” or “like nothing else out there”….
I hate this one almost more than anything. Look, I get it. You want to be original. That’s great. And I agree; no one will ever be you. Thats what makes you YOU. But please don’t say “our sound is like nothing you’ve ever heard” or “we’re just different”. Chances are it’s not. And chances are you’re not either. It’s nearly impossible to create a sound that is truly unheard of. In fact, I’m just going to go ahead and say it’s completely impossible. This is not because everything has been thought of. It’s just that so many different styles and different takes on those styles have been created over the years that almost nothing sounds completely unique and your influences will always shine through. If your “artistic integrity” forces you to refuse to believe this… you should probably quit being in a band.
3. If you think you’re going to get “signed”….
I am all for bands getting signed to a label. Sure, labels can be the devil, but the right label can be an Angel for the right band. But facts are facts; there are fewer labels with money and they are working with fewer projects nowadays. Oh, and there are more bands (therefore, more competition) than ever before. So the chances are really slim, especially if your band is not touring constantly… and if you suck. Don’t let this one slow you down though; go bust your ass and tour the world, build your fan base, sell out venues, sell more merchandise, and make labels flock to work with you (then, just be your own label). But if you think some A&R guy is going to suddenly start hanging out at the local bar where you draw an average of 50 fans… you should probably quit being in a band. (btw, A&R guys are pretty much extinct)
4. If you think its your manager/booking agent/promoter/club owner/or anyone else’s job to promote YOUR BAND’s show….
It’s YOUR band. It’s YOUR music. It’s YOUR art. YOU do the work. YOU bust YOUR ass. No one else is going to do it for you. Hopefully some kick-ass people will come along and help as much as they can, but if you think anyone is going to just take it over for you and make you famous because you packed some shitty local venue with 25 friends who care more about the drinks than the music… you should probably quit being in a band.
5. If you read this list and think my opinion matters….
I can say whatever I want. Thats the power of the Internet. What I cannot do is even begin to understand your passion and your drive. I know my own passion and my own drive, but only YOU know yours. I’ve got a million reasons why you should probably quit being in a band, but when it comes down to it there is only one that really means anything at all:
If you could walk away after a gig….
I’ve used this one a few times with bands I’ve worked with who were going through some tough times or rough patches; having a hard time drawing at shows, songs not selling, not getting press, members quitting on them, etc. When I come across this situation, I always do the same thing. I go to their next show and as soon as they finish and are stepping off the stage I ask them, “can you quit right now?“. If the answer is “no”… then you should probably not quit being in a band.
It’s YOUR band. It’s YOUR art. It’s YOUR dream.
Who the hell am I to tell you to quit?
~ Your Fan,