Starting a Band? 5 Things You Need to Think About
There’s a lot to consider when you’re starting out as a band, and it can be a rocky ride to begin with. Here’s five tips to help you get on your way to gigging success.
1. Your music is unique
It might sound obvious, but the first thing you need to do is to figure out what your musical strengths are. If your guitarist isn’t into raking scales and triple rectifier madness, don’t be a speed metal band. Similarly, if your vocalist sounds like Neil Young, do the world a favour and don’t attempt hard rock. Find your own sound. No other band in the world has the same combination of talent as you do. The sum adds up to more than the parts.
2. Get the right gear
Gear is a big stumbling block for new bands, because usually everyone takes care of their own gear – and that’s where it stops. You need to start thinking like a group, and making a collective decision to buy a PA shows you are serious. You might consider a wireless speaker system, and a small mixer to put vocals and keyboards through – the Alto Professional Live1202 mixer has 12 channels with 100 built-in effects to add depth and dimension to your sound.
3. Band politics
When you first begin to play, it seems everyone in the band is on the same page. But you’ll soon find that you have different tastes in music, different ideas of where you want to play, different ideas about image. The drummer might want to do a publicity video, while the guitarist says it’s a waste of money. Three weekends in a row you’re waiting an hour for the bass player to arrive and she never apologises. To deal with these issues, you need to talk. Don’t play for six hours and limp home exhausted. Put a certain amount of time aside each week to discuss things. Politics splits bands up, but communication is the glue that holds them together.
4. Taking care of business
If you want to make money out of playing, and you don’t have a manager, you need to have someone in the band who’ll take care of business – line up gigs, invoice venues when you play, and chase up payment. This person should be registered for an ABN (Australian Business Number), since many venues will demand an ABN on your invoice. If you don’t have an ABN, the venue must technically hang on to 49% of your fee to cover themselves with the tax office.
5. Make your own demo
There’s no excuse for not making a demo these days, you can do it in your rehearsal room.
Install recording software on a computer, get half a dozen mics for drums and amps, and a DI box for bass/keyboards. Run these through an Alto mixer into something like M-Audio’s M-Track Quad and connect the Quad to computer via USB. Fiddle around to get the mics in the right spot, and hey presto – you’ve got a decent recording.
Starting a band is generally not an easy process, but taking some time to think about your style, the gear you need and how you will run things can help make the whole ride a lot smoother.