Establishing a local band in your hometown or city can be a surprisingly daunting task. This is especially true if you’re in a new city where you don’t have an established family, friend, or musician network. Regardless of where your band’s looking to get started, having the right approach combined with a little (OK, maybe a lot of) persistence can help you start booking more venues and playing more shows.
Here are a few simple tips to help you get started:
Don’t Play Too Often
The instinct for many bands just starting out is to play any show that they can get. While building your experience and exposure is a good thing, too much exposure can actually hinder your band’s growth. You want your audience to feel a sense of urgency when you put on a show, as if missing that night’s show means not being able to see your band for several more weeks. If you’re playing the same venue too often, you may end up making your band too accessible, which could actually hurt your attendance.
Playing in an over-sized, half empty room isn’t fun for either the audience or the band. When targeting venues to play, aim for those you are confident you can fill with friends, family, and fans. As your audience grows, you can begin booking larger venues.
This applies to all aspects of the experience: the type of music, the type of venue, and perhaps most crucially, the composition of the band itself. Bands that feature multiple lead vocalists and multiple featured soloists are inherently more interesting. On the venue side, while the lure of downtown venues and hip nightspots is strong, don’t summarily reject fundraiser and other private gigs; while their exposure they offer may be more limited, it’s still good for networking and an opportunity to see what material works best where.
Collaborate with Other Local Musicians and Bands
Networking is a huge part of the music industry at every level. Networking with venues, musicians, and other local residents is crucial to your band’s success. Try to attend other musicians’ shows and get to know the local players in your town or city. Once you’ve identified a few bands or musicians that you think might be a good fight, ask them if they’d like to collaborate or do a guest performance. This is a great way to give your own fans something different, as well as expose your band to a different following.