by MATT BACON >
One thing I think is really good to remember and far too easy to forget is the man hours needed for life in the music industry.
This isn’t something that a lot of bands seem to realize and something which consequently turns around and bites them in the ass. These hours add up remarkably quickly and the fact that they don’t get considered is a serious problem for a lot of groups trying to get somewhere substantial. When it comes down to it – to run a band that wants to go anywhere you need to be willing to dedicate at least ten hours a week – and that’s if you’re operating at maximum capacity and have the sorts of connections which you need in order to tour, print merch and all that stuff. If you have yet to establish those connections then you’re going to need to take even more time to get anywhere in this industry. That’s fine too – but again – the issue is not doing the work as much as appreciating the time that’s going to need to be put in. So let’s look at what a breakdown of those man hours is going to end up looking like. Obviously this isn’t fully in depth – but I think it starts to give you an idea of where we are coming from.
The biggest chunk of time you’re going to need to dedicate to any band is probably going to be booking.
That’s simply because that’s what most bands want to do – play fuckin’ shows. Of course – no matter how connected you are it’s going to take time to get anywhere with this. You need to determine a routing – the easy part – but then you are going to need to sit down and figure out how you’re going to book it and if things will even be paid for. This is where things get tricky, because of course every band member has different personality types and things that they want out of the music. Some want to play as much as possible, others are a little neurotic and only want to play select shows. So it’s not uncommon for a band who’s trying to play out to find that they have to spend just as much time trying to make things work schedule wise as they do trying to make things work financially or with booking the tour itself. All in all – of your ten hour band week you’re probably looking at this taking 5 hours.
These days the other thing that every band needs to be willing to work on is their marketing, something which is very much tied into their social media and branding.
Now this can take a variety of formats. First and foremost I think is making sure that the presentation of the band remains consistent and cleanly executed. This takes a variety of formats, be it with the way that the social media posts work and making sure that they all follow a specific format, or with the way you roll out new content. Spending time with this and making sure that it’s being properly rolled out is a huge undertaking and one that requires a lot of brainpower to figure out. While a lot of the booking can feel like grunt work and negotiation the marketing end of it requires you to really be thinking four or five steps ahead and making sure that things look good and make you look good.
Of course – you need to also keep track of the other big moneymaking factor for bands – merchandising. This is a tricky one because it can sometimes require lengthy trips to the post office. It also requires you to be able to do things like take inventory and analyze which sizes are doing well and which sizes are going to require you to re-up on. This is one of those things where the relationship you have with your shirt printer suddenly becomes super valuable. If they are understanding and you provide regular income then you will always get a discount and this is going to lead to a much better future for your band than if you just try and buy 10 large shirts in order to fill out your stock. Simultaneously you need to spend time looking at how well things are selling and determine what pieces of merch you can cultivate and which are going to need to go. This should take up about an hour of your time every week.
The last key thing to really be focusing on is research and building towards the future.
This requires a bunch of little things, like performance analysis, SWOT goals and all the rest of it. Most of these don’t need to be done once a week, but there’s a fair amount of small things that still do need to be regularly checked up on. Hell – if your band is in a quiet period you should just look at spending some time to catch up with old contacts. A simple “How are the kids?” can go surprisingly far in this industry and allows people to take you a helluva lot more seriously than a lot of this other shit that goes on. You don’t want to exclusively be a taker – you want to be the guy who is constantly learning and working with others to help develop things. This is the future that we’re building towards – not auto-masturbatory bullshit artistry.
So I think it is rapidly becoming clear why people in bands are so stressed all of the time then.
These are just the basic things and getting these things done in and of themselves can be a fucking headache and a half. This is a fairly ideal scenario too for a band looking to do a little touring a development. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, be it because of a group who doesn’t want to do a lot of work or because a band has too much work to take on. The general ratio breakdown though seems to be fairly even across the board. There are of course people who do this for a living, and they often make a ton of money – why? Because this shit is hard and to be able to do it for multiple bands is a struggle. So think about that and develop your skills – you’ll need them.