The Indie Initiative – So You Want To Be In A Band?

BOSTON (Hypebot) – For the next 5 days The Indie Initiative will feature excerpts from the wonderful new book Reality Check – A Common Sense Guide to Breaking into the Music Industry. Author Matthew Walt is a Boston based booking agent who has seen first hand how and why some artists soar and others never get off the ground.

If you are like me, the notion of a “real job” sounds like a fate worse than death – sitting in a cubicle, surrounded by corporate suits, doing “the nine-to-five thing” as your life passes you by. Who among us spent their childhood dreaming of wasting their life away seated behind a desk? I certainly didn't. But then, strangely, that is what I do much of the time, even though I work in entertainment – and so does just about everyone else I know.

You may think: what better way to escape a life of dread than to join a band? Perhaps you started while in high school because you had a passion for the Beatles, the Cure, or the Crue. Maybe you got into it later in life for the ladies, the free booze, the camaraderie, or the escape.

If you are a hobbyist, then more power to you. A passion for music is a passion for life, and future generations will be better off for it. But if you are in a band because you want to “make it big,” whether you think in terms of superstardom or just to eke out a living doing something other than that lousy desk job, then it starts with a simple question: Do you really have what it takes?

Before you answer with a resounding yes, ask yourself one more: Do you really know what that means?

The problem, in my experience, is that most people forget to ask themselves that second question. They are so sure they have the talent that they overlook, or ignore—or worse, take for granted—the work which makes the requisite exposure possible.

So let’s slow it down for a moment and start to outline a plan by asking a series of questions, such as:

  • What are your goals and objectives—both short-term and long?
  • What do you hope to achieve? A record deal? A hit song? A career on the road?
  • Who is your target audience? Are you able to identify a particular demographic?
  • How are you going to reach them? Are there specific Web sites or blogs you can utilize?
  • Who else caters to that audience?
  • How have they been successful?
  • What specific steps did they take?
  • How much time do you have available to you?
  • How should you structure that time?
  • What are your assets?
  • Who are your partners?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What relationships would be of value to you and why?
  • How do you cultivate those relationships in the first place?
  • How do you foster those relationships over time?

    Asking (and answering) all of these questions and structuring your business accordingly will help distinguish you from your competition— and whether your business is a band, a booking agency, or a bread company, it just might give you a chance. Of course, in doing so, what you will inevitably find is that you are right where you thought you never wanted to be: seated behind a desk, working regular hours—at least for the time being.

    You can purchase Matthew Walt's Reality Check – A Common Sense Guide to Breaking into the Music Industry as either an e-book or paperback here. – By Bruce Houghton