This guide on forming a band was contributed by Ruth of Celtic Clan. If you have useful and practical information regarding the music industry, you can contribute a guide too.
This article is part two of the How To Form A Band series. If you haven’t seen the first part already, you can see it on Music Industry How To:
This is a three part series looking how to set up and run a professional or semi professional band. If your aim is to form a band which can make money from gigging (Or you already have a band but want them to do more with themselves), make sure you read these guides in full.
Start off by reading the above mentioned guide, and once you’ve done, get started on this one.
Now that you’ve caught up with part one, let’s continue on from where we left off.
P.S. If you find these guides helpful, please share them on your usual social networking sites, and link to them on your own websites. The more shares we get, the more articles we’ll write.
Marketing For Maximum Exposure
When I set up my band Celtic Clan, I had the advantage of knowing how to market a product, as that’s my background (marketing and PR). Happily, this resulted in a full book of work, just 3 months after launching. We did around 100 shows in our first year, and were able to turn professional almost immediately.
Some of my ideas you’ll like, and some you won’t. When reading this guide, I suggest you take what works for you, but do bear in mind these are tried and tested methods. So many bands fail at this step because they don’t know what to do to get work, and people get fed up of waiting and drift off.
I’ll keep everything brief here, and if as a reader you’d like more expansive information, keep checking our website and band blog as I often post more up there.
Step 1 – Deciding Who Does What
Vital!!!!! If people have different skills to offer, that’s great. But everybody in a band has to pull their weight, otherwise resentment forms.
I’d recommend one person (the bandleader) handling this side of things if possible, so you can keep track more easily. And DO NOT be afraid to take a cut of the fee for doing this. I take 15% for managing the band – it’s all transparent and nobody minds, because without it, we wouldn’t be getting any gigs in the first place. If you’re the person in your band who gets gigs, you can see more advice on how to get gigs here.
Step 2 – Branding Your Band
A ‘brand’ is the uniqueness of something that makes it memorable. Think of all the great brands that spring to mind instantly: Coca Cola, BMW, Walkers Crisps, Cadbury’s Chocolate. All household names with recognizably. And that’s what you need for your band.
We chose a great logo for ours, a strap-line (the slogan, if you like), and a look; kind of Celtic, gypsy with coin belts, crushed velvets and waistcoats for the guys. It makes us look professional and we stand out.
Everything to do with your band should reflect the look or feel. This should ideally be sorted out during the stages where you’re first forming a band, but if you’re past that stage and haven’t done so yet, now is the time.
Step 3 – Building A Great Website
This can’t be under-estimated. Get a decent site build, it should cost around £400 – no more.
Note from editor: If you want another way to creating a music website for much cheaper, you should check out this site which walks you step by step through the process of how to make a music website.
A good site really sorts out the men from the boys. Again, keep the band colors, the logos and the ‘look’ in keeping with your branding.
If you can set up a website before you begin gigging, this is a huge help. I did this with Celtic Clan, and it helped make us look like an established band, before we really were. It requires planning and some financial investment, but if you’re all in it together…
So, firstly you need to register a domain name. Use a site like 123-reg.co.uk (Good value). Register your domain name before someone else does.
Then start planning how you want your site to look. Ours unfolds in a great order, is easy to navigate and is full of lively info. People remark on how professional it is all the time. Imagine you’re a punter looking for a band, what do they want to see?
Your site should include pictures, a promo video if possible, gig lists, write ups on the band members and audio recordings.
Lastly, you need to find a good web designer. We used Darren from iKandidesign.com – a really helpful independent guy who works for lots of entertainers. He’s based in Birmingham, so if you’re also based there you may want to check him out…
Step 4 – The Marketing Accessories
As well as your site, you’ll need supporting material. These are physical tools which help your band stand out when you’re up on stage. Here are a couple of the things we like to get made:
- For maximum effect, we like to use two pop-up banners. These provide a great backdrop for any stage, and instant publicity. They cost around £60 each to have made, and they display just the logo, the website address, and our strap-line. That’s it. You don’t need any more info. Don’t put the phone number on, as you want to drive people to your website. People will be able to see a lot more information about you here, and be able to pre-qualify themselves as being someone genuinely interested in your band. After all, if they’ve already looked around your website and still make the effort to call you, don’t you think they’re going to be more interested then someone who takes your number in the spur of the moment and doesn’t know anything more about you? Your website will both inform people about what you offer, and screen out anyone that isn’t potentially serious about hiring you. This will both save you time and get you more gigs.
- We also give out postcard-sized flyers as our cards. These have the logo and strap-line on the front, and bullet points and contact details on the back. That’s all you need.
That’s probably enough to get going, but it’s worth considering CDs and T-shirts etc for the future. Anything to promote your cause.
Step 5 – Getting Seen
This is the hard part, but what you’ve been working towards. If you’ve done your background work, you’ll have a website, supporting materials, a good set list, good internal organization and all be working towards the same target. Time to let people know you’re out there. Consider the following:
One of the best things we did in the early days was the Keeping It Live showcase. This is a showcase event which happens in the UK twice a year, once in the northern area, and once in the Midlands. It’s a 3 day event that is really well run, and attended by literally hundreds of agents of all sorts. The phone rang every day for 3 months after this, and filled our diaries up completely. If you’re not from the UK, look around for alternative events like this where you live.
- Open Mike Nights.
Sounds obvious, but a good way to get some exposure.
- The Care Home Circuit Is Another Opportunity.
Retirement villages are massive now, and they have an active entertainment programmer. Speak to the activities coordinators there.
- Register With Agents.
Agents are impressed with a good bio, photos, and if you can put a show reel on YouTube for them to show their clients, that also helps. Bear in mind this must be agent friendly (with no branding). So when you’re having a video made, get two edits. One with branding for your own use, and one without which agents can use to promote you.
- Look For Opportunities Outside Of The Norm.
Malls and shopping centers often have events. Ask what’s coming up over the next few months and see if you can be involved.
- Weddings Are A Prime Market.
Book to display at a wedding fair. Make sure you can play at the fair, or at least play your DVD whilst on the stand.
- Offer To Support Well Known Local Bands.
Or to a charity night somewhere. Make sure you inform the local paper of when it’s happening too. Provide them with a good photo and a small write up of who you are and what you’ll be doing.
How To Form A Band And Get Paid Gigs Conclusion
So that’s it for part 2 of our guide on how to form a band, you can see part 3 here. The opportunities are endless once you get your thinking cap on, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to getting paid gig. The important thing is that everyone in the band is committed to working, and available for work when it comes in. Good luck in your search!
This is a guest post by Ruth from Celtic Clan, the Birmingham Contemporary Irish band that doesn’t just do Irish! Take a look at their website for more useful information or to book the Midlands’ best Celtic and Irish function band.”