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So You Wanna Be A Rock Star?  Part - 4 Getting A Gig And More

26th July 2003

Once you have your band and repertoire together, there are a few things you will need to consider before you venture out into the big bad world of showbiz.

Firstly, regardless of musical genre, you will need an image. I don't necessarily mean that you should all go out and buy matching velour waistcoats, but the band must have a cohesive 'look', that identifies you as a unit, and makes you recognizable. Whether you are pitching yourselves to a record company A&R rep or shopping your wares around the live entertainment venues, the idea is the same - if you sound like a band and look like a band, chances are people will mistake you for a band.... just kidding!

It goes without saying that your image should match your sound. If you look like you sound, prospective employers will immediately get the message as to what you are about, and a record company always likes to see an act that is well developed, because it costs big bucks to create and market an image for a band or artist, and if they can save money in that area, they will. This goes a long way in explaining record companies' propensity for giving album deals to young TV soap stars with already established media profiles. It just makes good business sense.

Because you are starting out as unknowns, your first job is to get a profile. This is achieved by two things - work, and more work. The best way to find live gigs is to contact the entertainment booking agencies in your area, and find one that you will trust to sell your act to the venues. You can also go direct to the venues themselves, but having someone represent you who is already known in the industry can be a big help in getting in the door. You should have a good promo pack to present, including photos, a bio, and audio or video, and press clippings featuring the band, if available. If you can market yourself effectively, you're off to a good start.

Make sure that people know where and when you're playing by advertising as much as possible in the local press, and things like posters or flyers left at local music shops and studios. This way, you make it easier for your audience to find you. Through regular gigging, not only will you get valuable exposure, but you will at the same time be honing your skills a players and performers. If someone important comes to see you play live, you want to be able to make the most of your opportunity to make a good impression. Having said that, let me say that everyone who comes to see you play is important... after all, they are the people who are paying your wages and may one day be buying your albums, so be nice to them.

Self-promotion is where it all starts, so things like web sites and newsletters are a good way of reaching out to the people, and getting them to remember you.

A word on record companies... when you have some songs that you feel are strong enough to be put on an album, you have some choices to make, regarding whether you try to get signed, or go it alone. In all reality, you are more likely to win the national lottery than get signed to a major label. That's a fact. This is not meant to discourage, however.  My point is that when you are sending demo packages out, find the smaller labels and companies that will perhaps try that little bit harder for their artists, and take more of an interest in promoting your career. You are also much more likely to retain some sort of control over your music, and how things in general are run.

If you want to retain total control of your affairs, you can opt for a distribution deal, where the company simply takes your product and puts it in the shops. If you have the funds to press your album and promote it, this is a good option.

As you can see, there is a lot more to the music biz than meets the eye. Next time, I will address a few issues that I have yet to cover regarding the business side of music, and other options within the music industry.

See you at the Linkin Park/Limp Bizkit benefit gig for the chronically pierced.

Remember, you can email me with any questions you may have, and I will answer them right here in Behind The Scenes.


Graham Greene


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