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4/27/09 8:28 PM
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Axl_Rose
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Hey guys.

Who is in here is working an original band trying to gain real ground?


If anybody can help, or has already done it, or just has any ideas, I'd love it - it's wearing me out.

This place is full of guys who know everything, so it's worth a shot that one of you owns an indie label or has Jedi-like advice for me.

Here's my band's stuff.

Any feedback is appreciated.

www.myspace.com/leftoutlet
4/28/09 11:19 AM
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jman
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No real advice for you except keep recording music, promoting it, playing gigs and sending things to labels. Try to get to know who the A&R guy is at the record lables you're interested in and send it directly to him.

Good luck.
4/29/09 3:17 PM
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DasBeaver
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I can only offer advice at being an unemployable, broke musician.
4/29/09 9:14 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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Did I read in another thread that you are 28?
4/30/09 4:55 AM
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Axl_Rose
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jman - Thanks. I'll let you know how it turns out.

DasBeav - Weak. We all already know how to do that.


BLAD - Maybe you did? I'm not though. Would that matter?
4/30/09 9:45 AM
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BarkLikeADog
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Yes it matters. How old are you?
4/30/09 1:39 PM
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DasBeaver
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For small periods of time perhaps. It takes a lot of dedication to take it to the next level.
4/30/09 4:21 PM
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Axl_Rose
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Yikes. I don't see how.
4/30/09 6:09 PM
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Thelonious
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Age matters about twice as much as talent in my opinion. A record contract is basically a high risk loan. Jman's advice about getting friendly with an A/R is great, but I've also never met someone in A/R who I trusted so keep that in mind.

Your myspace shows you are booking shows outside of your local market.. who is booking them? I look at your itinerary and it doesn't make any sense financially to me. There is too much travel time for not enough shows and the schedule is erratic to the point you must be working a job to support yourselves, and taking time off to play small tours. That is NEVER going to be sustainable.


My honest advice, unless you are somehow making money with your current bookings, is to slow down and work on dominating your local market. For instance you have a show in NYC, you are travelling to play two shows in two virgin markets and then back home again. Opening up for established acts can help with your press pack, but in the big picture it doesn't do that much. If you are headlining those shows, how do you expect people to show up for a band they have never heard of in cities where there are hundreds of bands they're familiar with playing on the same nights?


You should concentrate on being the hottest act in NC before you venture out. That means being an awesome live show that people are going to talk about. Radio play will help, college shows are great for mass exposure, as many gigs as you can book. It's low travel and probably higher income. When you have achieved a high level of exposure in your home market, then try and book a sustainable tour that hopefully will garner some recognition.


That's my two cents.
4/30/09 6:21 PM
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Axl_Rose
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Excellent advice.

The NYC/Philly dates are the last in a 7 day string, not one offs.

We're still booking that run, but going up from NC hitting cities 2 hours apart or so playing with bands from whatever city we're going to.
4/30/09 6:35 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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If you would answer my question I can focus my advice.
4/30/09 6:36 PM
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Thelonious
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Axl_Rose - Excellent advice.

The NYC/Philly dates are the last in a 7 day string, not one offs.

We're still booking that run, but going up from NC hitting cities 2 hours apart or so playing with bands from whatever city we're going to.



That's better. Try not to ever play just for 'exposure' unless it's a really great opportunity.

Also, The other thing that I didn't mention is don't go into debt recording an EP. Having a pro level EP to send out is great, but spending tens of thousands to record basically a demo is not great and tons of people make that mistake
4/30/09 6:47 PM
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Axl_Rose
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Brother, I don't have 10's of thousands to record an EP.

We've got a good deal worked out with a reputable studio in town.

Knowing a lot of bands and watching them make debt related mistakes, I'm working on avoiding that.


BLAD - At 24, I am the youngest in my band. Focus away.
4/30/09 8:13 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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Couple of other questions:

What are you goals? How would you define success in this particular endeavor? Long term major label deal or nothing? Short term major label fame with essentially no money to show for it? Underground core audience on a smaller label? Constant touring but regular pay? Parlaying a little buzz into something completely unrelated to the act? 20 years on the local circuit getting free ass & booze but nothing else?

For example, would you be happy if you were, say, the Pixies? Frank Sinatra's band (currently touring with Don Rickles)? Lisa Gerrard? (Of course, ignoring their respective formats & material, just on a "yeah, I could live like that" level.

Are the other band members on board with that?
4/30/09 8:45 PM
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Axl_Rose
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Goal-wise, constant touring and being able to pay the bills. Not having to have a regular job.

Everybody is essentially on board with that idea.

I could totally live like the Pixies.
4/30/09 9:00 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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Edited: 04/30/09 9:02 PM
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I used to work with a cover band that was big locally in the mid 80s & is still working their region as the main "go-to" party bar band there. They're all in their 40s & they wear Glo-wigs & song-appropriate costumes, shit like that. None of them have real jobs outside of like Guitar Center shit for discounts, & they play nothing but covers, but they're playin for a livin.

Too far the other direction?
5/1/09 3:41 AM
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Axl_Rose
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Yeah, playing covers is a big difference from playing your own music.

I definitely respect the guys that do it, but it's not for me.
5/1/09 7:05 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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Edited: 05/01/09 7:42 PM
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OK, my .02 keeping in mind that I have never been in a band, but I have worked around the industry all my adult life. Currently I build & service Vegas nightclubs & TV stations by day, & perform in a nonmusical capacity on the Strip @ night, + stage manage a bit here & there:

First off, I'm drawing a few inferences from what we've discussed already - #1. You're weak on the business end of things; #2. You've been banging your heads against the wall for several years now; & #3. You're attached to the material you're performing.

Tell me if I'm way off on any of this.

(more)
5/1/09 7:32 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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So first off, understanding the age thing is pretty important. Lot of reasons for it, but mostly it comes down to consumers identifying artistically with their peers, & the demographic for your music is younger than you. At best you've got 2-3 years at establishing a paying audience, & that's really pushing it, even assuming you're the front man.

Different story if you're willing to let go of your material as is & change formats - for example, country/western, world/new age, folk, jazz & classical all have an older audience built in.

Honestly if your goal were major label success, your shot is already long gone. Willingness to do the independent label thing gives you that extra couple of years, but be realistic about it.

(more)
5/1/09 7:36 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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Edited: 05/01/09 7:41 PM
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...which leads you to your first business decision, which is deciding an exit strategy now. Figure out where you need to be 1 & 2 years from now, & set it in stone that you're gonna be done with it if you don't meet your goals.

Hard to do but if you were running a restaurant or whatever, that's a requirement of the business plan. You can't keep throwing good money & labor after bad, so you have to figure out what your definition of "bad" is & come to whatever natural conclusions that leaves you with. If it ain't workin it's time to move on to plan B.

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5/1/09 7:50 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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Next, quit touring. It's not doing you any good at this point (again assuming you've been at a while.) The days of a promoter & band having that magical meeting at a random gig are long long gone & have been since pretty much before you were born.

The function of touring is to A. cut your teeth in front of varying audiences; B. Work out which material is working for same; & C. Building up a following so large that local radio starts supporting you & someone HAS to give you a deal in order to get their promotion time back.

Safe to say that you've already worked out A & B, & you don't want C, so let's move on.

(Not to say you should turn down a great promotional opportunity like SXSW or a great paying gig, but the time to beat your head against the wall drumming up a crowd is past. Best case scenario is you build up a little somethin by the time you're 30 & you get exactly one bubbling under chart before the majors either rape you or shut you out altogether.)

(more)
5/1/09 8:03 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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...Instead, use that time to do three things:

1. Write as much new material as you can. The more stuff you have to draw from, the more ability you'll have to churn out product regularly once you get your indie deal.

2. Build a working relationship with a local venue so you still have a place to work out the kinks, stay fresh, & have a place to showcase should you need it. Try to structure it so the venue isn't empty when you're there AND you're not getting raped, either. Most of the time, venue management is going to see you as the repairmen for a broken night. Unless you're absolutely positive you're capable of fixing the club, DO NOT settle for that role. For sure you're gonna fail especially in this economy. Work at getting a night where the venue is already doing "OK" & build it into something a tad better.

3. Research the indie labels you like & figure out why, & what made them successful, then go shopping for an indie that's on their way down a similar path. This should probably be your top priority, but the area I'm least qualified to comment on.

(more)
5/1/09 8:11 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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It's worth mentioning that a lot of the great indie labels got that way by first earning enough operating capital from some gimmick or another, so be on the lookout for that.

4AD (Pixies, Cocteau Twins, Modern English, Dead Can Dance) got their budget almost exclusively from the stupid Pump Up The Volume dance hit.

TVT (Guided By Voices, Nine Inch Nails, Sevendust) figured out the nuts & bolts of the business by licensing TV show theme songs before buying out pretty much the entire industrial format. (& it's also worth noting that the market is ripe for that strategy again since they abandoned it 15+ years ago.)

...So what you're looking for might be a similar gimmick, or even PROVIDING such a gimmick on the ground floor to get your indie a kick in the ass in the first place.
5/1/09 8:24 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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& a few afterthoughts:

1. If you believe the market truly wants your material, it's worth considering putting it the hands of a younger act that can propel it to the masses. Often writing & producing is more lucrative than making it on your own. And by "often" I mean "usually."

2. Use your secondary resources as much as possible. MySpace is pretty much worthless as anything more than an ad, but legit careers are being built from YouTube, Rockband/Guitar Hero, & other similar nontraditional venues.

3. Also be aware that most radio stations & nightclubs don't even have legit programming directors anymore. I maintain libraries for a number of clubs & it probably won't surprise you that I'm not exactly traveling venue to venue to find the hot new thing. Most clubs & stations get most of their playlists from Promo Only, a distribution company out of Orlando. I have no idea how they handle submissions; they probably frown on tem outside of their traditional major label BS but it's worth researching.

4. On your promotional materials, make sure to edit the album cut junk & start with the core of your best material. I went to your MySpace, for example, & the track that fired up had a long masturbatory intro before the meat of the song kicked in. Most people are going to make their decision in the first 15 seconds, especially DJs, talent scouts, etc. Don't waste their time or expect them to fast forward, because they probably won't.

That's all I have for now. Good luck.
5/4/09 3:52 AM
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Thelonious
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great honest advice. I really agreed with the above quote about the rubato/jam stuff, but was trying to avoid commenting on the actual music. I sped through a couple sections when I went to your myspace

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