Mistakes Rock Bands Make

Your rock band’s level of success may be determined by two main things:

1. The things you do right.
2. The things you do wrong.

Most new bands that want to become a success always ask ‘What do I have to do to get signed, sell a million records or become famous?” Rarely do they ask, “What mistakes do we need to avoid?”, “What things might hurt us?” or “Are we on the wrong path?

I’ll share with you some common mistakes rock band’s make. Some of these examples are from my own band Rhapsody of Fire, and some are from other bands whom I know well.

When we (Rhapsody of Fire), were an unknown and unsigned band in the mid 1990’s, we sent our first 10 recorded songs to several record companies in Germany. Most new bands in this situation simply send their press kits and music to record labels hoping that the music and kit will be enough to convince a record company to invest large sums of money into an unknown and unproven band.

We learned that record labels don’t throw money around to a new band simply because they are talented and marketable. They risk a lot of time and money into all bands on their label. These companies can control some of the risk such as when, how and where to market the band to sell more records, successfully promote concert tours, sell more merchandise, etc. But they cannot control things within the band. Often times it is the band members who rips itself apart and causes problems and money to be lost for the record company. We knew we had to show these labels that we would not be one of those types of bands. It was important for us to communicate to the record label executives exactly the type of people and band we are. We repeatedly told them about our rock solid devotion to our music and the band. We were (and would always remain) polite and respectful, sober and healthy, drug free, friendly, marketable in appearance, cooperative, and ready to face the new musical adventure with a consistently positive approach in all situations. Of course our musical talents and songs spoke for themselves, but our personalities, intentions, attitudes and conviction needed to be stated clearly to the company in order to put their minds at ease when determining if they should sign our unknown and unproven band or not.

One company in particular replied more enthusiastically than all the others. They proposed to make an album immediately. Yes, they believed in our music, but more importantly for them, they also believed in us, as people.

In our case, we made no mistake in this regard because we observed the mistake of other bands and learned from it quickly. This gave us an important advantage that helped to launch a successful music career for our band.

Another common mistake new rock bands make is signing a record deal with a record company without understanding it and without hiring an impartial consultant to advise the band. Some bands sign horrible deals that affect both their careers and lives in very negative ways. I have seen many musicians willing to sign any deal because they are blinded by a ‘promise’ of success. I am not saying that all record labels are inherently bad. Some are and some aren’t. Some deals are good and some are bad. There are good entertainment lawyers you can hire to explain the contracts to you and negotiate on your behalf, but you need to make sure they are explaining to you not only how a contract affects your career, but also how much it affects your life and how much personal freedom may be signed away to a record label. Many professional bands have learned some very painful lessons because they did not have the complete understanding of the terms of the deal being agreed to. Be sure you don’t waste precious years of your career working with the wrong people or company.

Another common mistake is to create a band with the wrong musicians (more on this in another lesson). It’s best to find the right people at the very beginning so you will not be alone during your band’s journey to success. You need a real ‘winning team’ with common goals and the commitment in actions (not just words) to do what it takes to make your rock band successful. Make sure you know that your band mates are not ‘talkers’ but are willing to put their words into action. In the beginning (before you are working with a good manager), there is simply too many things to do in order to bring your band to a successful level. You can’t do it all yourself, you need the whole band to help you and do their part to promote the band and keep it on the right track.

Another big mistake that many new bands make is they try to run the band in a democratic way. That idea sounds nice, but in reality it rarely works. There needs to be a leader (or leaders) in the band to make sure things get done. In the very beginning make sure to communicate the intentions, plans and actions that you (the band) will do to bring your band to the road to success.

You can begin that process now and put your rock band on the road to success by checking out our success coaching for rock bands program.

Alex Staropoli

 Pro Rock Musician Alex Staropoli

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