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Five and Alive: Beginner Mistakes
Five and Alive: Beginner Mistakes
07/09/10 at 08:43 AM by Adam Pfleider
This week Colin Frangicetto of Circa Survive is laying down five tips for you up-and-coming bands out there.


I racked my brain for something to write about that might actually offer something useful to those who read it, so I thought about what questions people ask me the most at shows and in emails. Often it is something like, “How can my band be professional and get on tours?” or “How can my band get a record deal?” or “Where’s Anthony?”. Since I can never answer that last question properly, I decided to write about the things you shouldn’t do if you’re a band that’s just getting started. Take it or leave it suckers.

Disclaimer: No one can give you a sure-fire way to the top, especially not me. So, that means no one can tell you how to fail either. (This also means me, so don’t believe anything said in this blog.) This is meant for people who are dead set on trying to “make it.” My ultimate advice for anyone playing music is this: don’t try to “make it.” Make music because you want to, because you love it and absolutely need to or your head will implode. To increase your chances of finding success: work hard, stay humble, treat all people with respect and always have low expectations in order to consistently stay pleasantly surprised. The rest of this article is for you dopes that are convinced it has more to do with “promotion” and bullshit like that.

These are the top 5 beginner mistakes.

Making a "press kit" and sending it to everyone in the music industry...
A few years back, it was the standard thing to do. Every band had a package that included their demo, a glossy group shot of themselves awkwardly trying to look natural, a one page “bio” written anonymously by their de facto manager (otherwise known as singer's best friend) and a press page consisting of every mention the band received on Absolutepunk.net. It’s called a press kit, but talent agencies, management companies and record labels all over the world will often call it “unsolicited material.” This means that because they didn’t request it, they are not even legally allowed to open it. The days of sending stuff like press kits and demos willy-nilly all over the place are no more. I like to call the press kit “un-intentionally recycled paper” or the “money down the toilet” kit. For a band just getting started, your presence on the internet will function as your press kit until someone else makes it for you and solicits your material in the correct fashion. Don’t waste anymore of your money, time and paper! Focus on writing good songs the rest will follow.

Spamming other bands' Myspace pages...

We’ve all seen it… You go to the ‘The Faux-Hawk All-Stars’ Myspace domain to hear their new single, start scrolling down the comments and come across a message for you: “Hey there, you like The Faux-hawk All-Stars? Well come to our page and check us out, we sound just like them!” While Myspace may not be what it once was, it still is a place where a lot of people listen to their favorite bands as well as discover new ones. Besides being horribly annoying, there are a bunch of reasons not to do this. First, with all the spam happening on Myspace, most people will be so scared of having their account hacked that they won’t even consider clicking that link. Secondly, if they do follow your link, you have been downgraded in most people’s minds before they even hit play. By comparing yourselves to someone’s favorite band(s) you’re creating nearly impossible shoes for yourself to fill. You’re not the cool new band someone randomly discovered on Myspace, you are the band that dared to say they sound like The Faux-Hawk All Stars and failed miserably to live up! There are no short cuts here. If you want more friends on Myspace, go old school and manually add other bands’ friends who accept friend requests from bands. If for some reason I am wrong and this it in fact does help bands get fans… Please just stop doing it to our page. ^smiley face^

Booking multiple hotel rooms on your first van tour...
If it’s your first tour, then chances are you are traveling in a van (or possibly multiple cars). It is also likely that you’re getting paid somewhere between $100-500 dollars a night to play. This may sound like common sense to some, but you’d be surprised how many bands I’ve witnessed booking multiple hotel rooms every night extremely early in their careers. Don’t do it! Put a sign up at your merch table saying you need a place to stay. Then announce it on stage. You’ll be shocked at how successful this approach can be. If someone offers you a place to stay… be polite, don’t steal anything, don’t eat their food, don’t trash the place, and then stay in touch for next time! (Unless they wind up being brain-sucking zombies…promptly remove their heads from their bodies.) Another tip is instead of going to the drive through or eating out, go to the supermarket and buy pasta to cook at their place. Cook band meals every chance you get! Staying at people’s houses/apartments is not only way more cost effective then staying at a hotel, but you can make friends for life this way. In the beginning, every dollar counts, and when your transmission shits the bed in the middle of Odessa, Texas, you’re gonna be stoked you have that extra $2,000 bucks in the band lockbox. Challenge yourselves and make a 1-hotel room per week rule. When you do get that one hotel room...book it by “naming your own price” through Priceline….and use betterbidding.com before placing your bids. (Don’t tell Shatner I said that.)

Starting to play shows after you've written four songs...

This is pretty much the number one mistake I watch new bands make over and over. The reason why it is a mistake could be many things. Usually, it's because you are just not ready! Yes, your 20 friends that come will think you are great, but the rest of the audience will not be as kind. Even in the beginning, you want every performance to count. People are total dicks when it comes to first impressions. You suck once, you will be “that sucky band” when people see your name on a flyer from then on. Another reason is that it kind of nails you to a certain sound right away. A lot of bands are still finding their sound within the first 10 or so songs they write, and you want to have the ability to experiment with a bunch of extremes before you play to the public. When you’re just starting, you should be able to change your sound without having people criticize you. As soon as you start making fans, the clock has started and it’s not very easy to wind it back and start over. Of course it's awesome to play shows and there are exceptions to every rule, but if you are attempting to make your band a career, then you might want to wait until you are sure to blow minds.

Uploading your album to Pirate Bay as a popular band's new release...

I’m actually kidding, this is pretty fucking genius. (Unless you’re horrible.)

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