One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my live band is getting a group of musicians together that all share the same goals. There are a lot of musicians out there but not all of them want to play in bars. Some musicians just want to jam and don’t want to play any live gigs at all, ever. If your band is going to succeed you really need to have common goals.
The first thing you need to discuss before you even decide on what type of songs you want to play is where and when you will play gigs. This will determine your song selection as well as whether or not the individual band members are willing to commit to certain types of gigs. Too many bands dive right into learning songs which is always the first goal of any band. Let’s talk about that first goal of learning songs for minute.
When you first get a group of musicians together it makes sense to have a common goal of being able to play songs together. If you have a musician that only wants to jam and not learn the songs, it’s easy to get rid of them right at the beginning. There’s no time wasted on a musician that doesn’t want to learn the songs right from the beginning. It’s fun learning to play the songs and being able to play them well. It’s a time investment to reach this goal and depending on how many songs you learn as well as how quickly you learn them the investment in time can be huge.
The next logical step to take is to be out playing gigs. This is where a lot of bands start to have problems. If a band member suddenly says “I want to play gigs but I won’t play in bars” even though everyone else in the band is fine with playing bars, it can put a huge strain on the band. Especially because you’ve already invested all that time into learning the songs. I’ve been in bands where one member won’t play on Sundays or won’t play anywhere but his basement. It can cause your band to instantly start having trouble. That’s why I recommend the first discussion you have as a band is where and when you will be playing gigs.
Another common problem I’ve seen sink live bands is touring. If everyone in the band wants to tour but one person can’t because they are working full time to support a family, it makes touring almost impossible. You can make it work, but it takes extra coordination and advance planning. That’s why it needs to be discussed well in advance of the opportunity to tour. I’ve seen the big problems happen when it comes to financing time in a major recording studio to record your band’s first album. You may have a member that refuses to chip in any money for the recording project.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Remember way back before you started learning any songs as a band? That’s the time to discuss the evolution of the band and decide on a set of specific goals that you want to reach. That’s the time to discuss things like where you want to play gigs as well as what types of gigs you will and won’t play. Before you learn the songs is the time to discuss touring options. It’s also the time to discuss when you will record your first album and how you plan to finance it.
A sample set of goals could look like this:
- Learn or write 30 songs in 3 months
- Start playing gigs anywhere we can get them (excluding Sunday and Christmas)
- After 1 year do a mini-tour of the surrounding states
- Immediatly after tour, enter studio and record album financed with gig earnings with additional costs split equally by all band members
These are simple goals to lay out in advance and it’s an easy way to weed out band members that aren’t committed to making the band successful. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming and setting high goals. You may never make it to that tour and album recording but at least you’ll have a goal to be working on instead of being stuck playing the same 3 gigs over and over!