Is Playing Festivals a Waste of Time for Unknown Bands?

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,

We're a nobody Canadian band. Does it still make sense these days to play a showcase with hundreds of other nobodies at a behemoth festival like SXSW or CMJ? It seems to us that unless you're buzzing going in, it's just a waste of money (especially if you have to drive from Halifax to Texas). But say we do it anyway (and many do): What is the best way to maximize your time there? Is a festival the best or worst time to approach a booker/promoter/label rep/music supervisor?
-Showcase Suckers

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Street Teams Are Bullshit: How to Promote Your Band Online

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
I've recently started a solo music project after being in a band for 10-plus years. Previously, there were four people sharing band duties such as booking, promoting, etc. Being just one person, I find there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. How can I create a new "team" to help keep the gears in motion as I work to build a name for myself? I know all about street teams, contests, and other means for getting people to help spread the word, but I need a core team that I can rely on. I don't know how to make this happen since I'm an indie artist and not able to offer pay or other big benefits. Any insight is appreciated!  

Thanks
Jordan

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Is It Ever OK to Steal Another Band's Name?

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
Considering the overused tropes of band nomenclature, it is only natural that someone somewhere named a band something that is perfect, then broke up. Maybe the band never played a show, or maybe the band put out a terrible, obscure record. What is the rule on that, how long before that name is open again? When is a name fair game?
MG

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You Don't Have to Move Your Band to L.A. or New York to Make It

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her; confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
I'm in a young band from Reno, Nevada, called Memory Motel. We just released our debut 7-inch, and we're getting to the point where we need some form of management. It's becoming increasingly difficult to deal with everything on our own, and as a result it feels like we're swimming in circles. The only problem is that Reno is a town that's not exactly filled with many good band managers/ booking agents/industry contacts, and cold-emailing people doesn't seem to be working that well. Do you have advice for an indie band coming from a small market like Reno, trying to find more contacts? Should we just pack it up and try to make it in a big pond like L.A. or New York?
Huge fan of the column.
Memory Motel


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How Do I Take My Local Band to the Next Level?

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her; confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Hi Fan,

My band, Knights, is about to send our 12-song self-produced and self-financed album to get mixed and mastered. The album art is done, and I have a timeline/agenda set for self-releasing it. Recently, though, I've been thinking: Would it be a better idea to attempt to get it released on a label? Is it a common practice for people to complete whole albums and not release if they can get a small label to back it? I have no problem releasing it myself, but it would be nice to get on a small label and hopefully be helped by some of their marketing and booking resources.

Regards,
Nick


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How to Reel in a Big Name Producer

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her; confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
Fan,

Say there is a producer the band admires--around the Mike Mogis level--or perhaps someone in a band we think we would be a good producer because it turns out she arranges all the songs in her own band despite not being the leader, or has an amazing ear for harmonies, or what have you. But we don't know them. What's the best way to ask them to produce our next record? Obviously we'd send them music, live videos, whatever they need to assess the situation. But is it fine to reach out to someone you admire, or completely arrogant/ignorant to assume they'd give a stranger the time of day, especially if they're in the middle of a successful career themselves? And if they've never produced before, when should money come up?

Sam


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Our Newly Vegan Bandmate Won't Participate in Our Black Metal Band's Ritual Blood Sacrifice. Help!

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her; confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,

I am in an anonymous black metal/noise trio whose signature concept centers around the performance of music as an actual spiritual/occult ritual. We have been relatively successful despite not publicly performing live and have garnered some critical acclaim and a fantastic fanbase. Each of us comes to the table with distinct ideas about the practice of ritual music and we share a lot of common ground spiritually.

Up until recently all of us have agreed on the use of blood sacrifice in the performance of our rituals (recordings). But over the past year one of our members has converted to veganism and now refuses to participate in practices formerly utilized in the making of our music. The other member sees this practice as essential to what we do and I am on the fence about it. While I am for sacrifice as a spiritual practice I also understand the need to accept that people and their spiritual ideas change over time. But I don't see an easy way to reconcile the other two. What does one do when the spiritual beliefs of a band member change and then conflict with the core premise of the band? It's clear that we all want to stay together and continue, but something has to give.
Please advise, MT


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Is Your Band Your Business Or A Make-A-Wish Style Charity For Marginally Ambitious Bassists?

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her; confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,

I am a performer in a relatively successful touring act. On our last tour, we made $25,000. I book all of the tours. I plan the live show. I keep track of money and pay everyone. What do you think is a fair compensation for this? Is it ok to pay myself more for doing this stuff? What is a standard percentage of total earnings? How do I explain to my large-ego'd bandmates that I deserve more money than them? Secondarily: How do I cut the slackers and hangers on out of my posse? Like, the guys that don't do any work but claim that they do and then reap many of the benefits from claiming that they are part of my project?


<3
Darling Nikki


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Show Your Support for Mitt Romney by Shopping at Guitar Center! The Power of Passive Endorsement

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her; confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
There is a boutique amp manufacturer who I've had a relationship with for seven years who makes amps that I love. They give me a huge discount on amplifiers and ask nothing in return. I've visited their shop a few times, and that's where my problem starts. The owner of the company has politics that I can't stand. Not just differing views, but really extreme, uneducated and uninformed. And they definitely aren't shy about it--there are posters all over the shop, bumper stickers on the company vehicle, constant talk radio blasting vitriol. I've been thinking about getting a new amp lately because every time I play through my current amp I just think about this person's politics and get bummed out. What should I do?
Your pal,
"Rick"


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Ask Fan Landers: Should I Publicly Humiliate My Bandmate for What He's Done?

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her; confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,

I've been the core of an act with someone for 10-plus years. We were pretty loosey-goosey on the money end of things for a long time, mostly because there wasn't much of it. I was putting up the front money, but I wasn't losing much, so I let it slide. Fast-forward to a couple of years ago when we formalized the business end of things between the two of us -- I leveraged a loan to try and give things another push (in addition to other things I was already covering) and am still not being reimbursed for the other guy's half of expenses. He seems to think his bar tabs even out for the travel and promotional expenses I've laid out. And while we're on the eve of things getting legal, I've been getting advice from several people to go the "public humiliation" route -- to make him look like the cheap, self-centered guy he really is. I find the suggestion astonishing -- do you see any beneficial reason to proceed in that fashion?

-Anonymous


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