GIG ETIQUETTE

1. People are at the show for different reasons and to have different experiences. Look around you: are people acting the way you want to act? If not, you’re probably in the wrong part of the room. If you want to flail wildly, please reposition yourself at the front of the stage, where others are likely to be flailing wildly. If you wish to stand still and listen intently, then take a position further back, rather than standing and tutting in the middle of the moshpit.

2. If you have come to the show to see your friends, and what is happening on the stage is of marginal interest to you, why not write off the cost of the ticket and go to the pub instead? You’ll be able to enjoy your conversation, and the people who’ve come to hear the music will be able to enjoy that, rather than your conversation.*

3. If you’re at a seated show, remember that no one around you can move. So if your behaviour is unpalatable, don’t be surprised if aggrieved patrons pick you up on it.

4. If you arrive at a gig early, you should of course feel perfectly entitled to stand anywhere you want. You’ve made the effort. If, however, you arrive two minutes before showtime, is it entirely reasonable to push your way to the front and centre, especially if you’re tall and thereby block the view of everyone behind you? It’s not, is it. Conversely, if you’re short and arrive early and stand at the back, there’s no point complaining when your sightline becomes obstructed as the evening wears on.

5. At outdoor shows, the nearer the front you are, the less reasonable it is to spread out with your friends, family and a picnic on a rug. There are tens of thousands of people present. They all want to get close to the stage, and it’s not fair to occupy half an acre with your sausage rolls when everyone around you is crammed in like sardines, especially if the first song is fast approaching. You’ve lost your right to complain when you get wellies wading through your sarnies if it’s five minutes to the show.

6. When at the bar, remember who was there before you. It’s just polite to let someone else get served if they’ve been there longer. Think how aggravated you get when others push in, before you do the same yourself.

7. Once you’ve been served, your drink is for drinking, not throwing. As ever, moshpit exceptions apply. If everyone is throwing their drinks in the air, what’s wrong with joining in? (As long as you don’t hit the band.) But if you’re at the back, watching your pint describe a perfect parabola as it soaks those underneath its flightpath, you are not just an arsehole, you’re a coward.

8. Still on the subject of drink: if you’re right in the middle of a packed crowd, in the middle of the show, think hard about whether you really need that extra drink. You’re going to have to barge past everyone to get to the bar, then barge past everyone to get back, then barge past everyone to go to the toilet 20 minutes later. Is it really worth that much inconvenience to you and them just to drink overpriced lager?

9. In general, singing along is fine. Not every time, of course – no one wants to hear Laura Marling drowned out by a lone, drunken, tuneless voice bellowing along. But a crowd joining in can be a magical moment. If someone is upset that you are ruining their recording of the show, tough luck for them.

10. And, yes, recording shows. Why not just watch the gig instead of holding aloft your phone to get a jerky picture, with terrible sound, that no one – including you – will ever want to see again? A show is a moment: live in the moment.

STARTING A BAND

Unsure of how to start a band?

Every musician has been there.

Before you’ve been in a few bands, creating one is an intimidating thought. You have no idea how to get the right people on-board or get the gigs you need.

So today, we’re going to go through each step, one at a time. 

Here’s the 10 steps it’ll take to start your own band…. TODAY.

But before we start, make sure to grab my FREE guide on 6 ways to overcome writer’s block.

It’ll help get you unstuck in the writing process when you’re feeling uninspired. You’ll be one step closer to writing better, more creative songs.

Grab it here:

FREE BONUS: Make your songs sound professional by using this free songwriting cheat sheet.

 

CONTENTS [SHOW]

STEP 1: Find Your Bandmates

The first thing you need to start a band? The members of the band.

Traditionally, you’ll need a drummer, a guitarist, a bassist, and a singer. 

But these days, your band can be made up of just about anything.Pianists, synth-players, horn players, and multi-instrumentalists are becoming more and more common. Many bands

even don’t use guitars anymore.

The only two instruments you should definitely consider having are a drumset (acoustic or electronic) and something to hold down the low end. This could be a bass guitar, an upright bass, a piano, or a synthesizer.

There are exceptions of course (The White Stripes, for instance), but these two instruments are very, very common.

Once you decide on the kind of musicians you need, it’s time to hit the pavement. 

One way to find your bandmates is to make posters. Design a simple poster that talks about your sound and what instruments you’re looking for. Have several tearable strips at the bottom with your name and phone number on them. 

You can also use social media. It’s a powerful communication tool when you’re trying to reach out to new people. Try putting the poster you made up on Facebook,Twitter, or Instagram. You could also post it in various local music groups on Facebook.

The strongest tool in your toolbox is your network. Ask your friends! See if they’d be interested in joining, or if they know anyone who would be a good fit. 

Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to get the message out.

Before you decide to put someone in the band, get together and jam with them. See what their talent level is and if their style blends with your own.

Most importantly though, make sure that you have chemistry together. 

Your bandmates don’t have to be the best players in the world. That can come with time.

But you do all have to get along! 

You’ll be spending a huge amount of time with these people. Make sure you have enough of a rapport to stand being in the same room with them.

 

Step 2: Find Your Sound

The next step is to figure out what your “sound” will be.

This happens naturally over time, of course. But you can get a pretty good idea from the beginning if you’re intentional about it.

At your first band meeting, talk about your influences. Who are your favorite artists? What’ve you all been listening to recently? Are there any genres that you have in-common?

Your sound is likely going to be somewhere in-between those answers.

Make sure to check out any songs that your members have already written. What genre do they tend to write in? 

Finally, jam a little bit. What sound organically comes up? You’ll want to write in a genre that feels most natural to all your bandmates.

One important thing: make sure to pick a genre that your singer can sing well.

All instrumentalists can change their style and their gear with time. But singers have only one piece of gear – their voices.

So make sure to pick something that sounds good with what is arguably the most important part of every song!

 

Step 3: Find a Place to Practice

You’ve got a lot of options. Where do you have access to?

Basement?

Garage?

Church?

Music venue before hours?

Professional rehearsal space?

Storage cube?

You can get creative to find somewhere you can meet and get loud.

Just make sure the place won’t get you in trouble. After a few noise complaints to the police, you’ll get some serious fines if you keep practicing there.

If you’re meeting in a place that’s prone to this, try soundproofing the room.

 

Step 4: Start to Write Your Songs

Next: time to write some songs!

This is the exciting part. There’s nothing better than the artistic expression of creating something entirely new.

Go wild. Be as creative as you want.

Before you start, though…

Learn a few covers.

It may sound boring, but it’s important. You want to make sure your group has learned to play well together before you start writing.

It will make the entire process ten times easier.

Once you’ve learned to play nicely together, really dive into the writing process.

To headline a show, you’ll need around twelve songs at least. That should be your goal at first.

But don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. It’s more important to have six amazing songs than twelve average ones.

Take your time. You can always play opening gigs (or covers) until you’ve written the amount you need.

Once each song is written, make sure to get it copyrighted.

Doing that will keep your song from being stolen by anyone else. If someone plagiarizes your music, you will have the power of the law on your side.

It’s a simple process to do so. Head to your nation’s copyright office websiteand start to fill out the forms. 

Make sure to grab our FREE guide to writer’s block. When you and the rest of the band have gotten stuck, these strategies will absolutely help.

Download it here:

FREE BONUS: Make your songs sound professional by using this free songwriting cheat sheet.

 

Step 5: Come Up With A Cool Band Name

Time to head to the coffeehouse.

You can’t play shows until you come up with a band name. So while you’re writing songs, be brainstorming with your band members.

My favorite technique is to get everyone in a room and stream-of-consciousness-style name any combination of words you can think of. 

After an hour or two of this, you’ll have pages and pages of potential band names. A lot of them will be crap, but you’ll have ten or fifteen really great ones. 

If that doesn’t work for you, have your band members go through their music libraries. 

A lot of great band names are references to music they like. Maybe use a name that’s inspired by one of your favorite songs. If it’s fairly obscure, it’ll be seen as original by the music community.

Make sure to pick names that are short and easy to spell. As an added tip, I like to pick names that will show up easily on Google.

A favorite example of mine is my favorite childhood local band, The Wedding. They were an absolutely incredible rock band, but they suffered from having a nearly-unsearchable name. 

You could type in anything you wanted into Google – The Wedding, The Wedding Band, The Wedding Rock, The Wedding Music, The Wedding Fayetteville (my hometown) – but every single thing would come back with results on actual weddings. 

Try not to make the same mistake. Type your potential names into Google and see what comes up. If very little does… perfect. That’s a hole in the internet you can fill.

Once you’ve picked a few potential names, make sure to check if there are other bands with that name on Facebook, Soundcloud, or your nation’s trademark office. 

If you find anyone with your potential name on social media, see how many followers they have. My rule of thumb is that it’s less than 250, the name is safe. 

But if the name shows up in a trademark search, it’s undoubtedly off-limits. 

Also, make sure the URL for any potential band name is open. You don’t want to go all-in on a name, just to be unable to have any kind of web presence.

 

Step 6: Make a “Band Agreement”

In-fighting is the number one reason that bands break up.

Make sure you minimize the possibility of that by creating an agreement for each band member to sign.

This idea can freak many people out at first. “Why do I need to make a contract just to play with my friends?”

It’s not really about having a “contract.” It’s about splitting up responsibilities and resolving tension before it even happens.

It’s about setting some healthy precedents!

Make sure you don’t do this rightwhen the band is starting off, though. You don’t want to spook any potential members with important business decisions.

Here’s what you need to make sure is on the band agreement:

Time Commitment

First things first – agree on how committed each member of the band is.

How often will you be practicing? What are the expectations?

Do they need to come to practice already knowing the songs? Do they need to work their schedule around gigs?

Agreeing on this now will keep your band from resenting someone who didn’t show up to practice because they didn’t know what the expectations were.

Plus, if someone’s not holding up their end of the bargain, it helps to resolve conflict. You can easily say, “Hey, I know you haven’t been doing [x]. I understand that it’s tough to find time, but you did commit to this when we all signed the band agreement. We’re all in this together”

That’s a much easier sell than, “Hey, you haven’t been doing [x]. Dude, are you committed or what? Start doing it now.”

Remember: each band member needs to be putting in the same amount of work, and each band member needs to be able to make it to rehearsal!

Band Responsibilities

Next thing to do is to divide the responsibilities.

 

There’s a few roles that someone in the band needs to take.

First off, there’s the bandleader.

This person acts as the representative of the group. They’ll be talking to venues, labels, and journalists about the band.

They also have a little more power than the rest of the band roles. They can to hire or fire members. They’ll make the final decision if the band is split on something.

Ultimately, the buck stops with them. They’ve got more power, but also a lot of responsibility!

This person should be outspoken, passionate, and patient. Traditionally, the role of “bandleader” is usually the singer.

Next, there’s the rehearsal director.

This person organizes a schedule for each rehearsal and keeps the group focused during practice time.

They’ll also lead each rehearsal. The means while the band is practicing, they’ll be listening for notes on song arrangements or their performance.

As the band rehearses, they’ll dictate what needs to be focused on.

Oftentimes, this role is also handled by the bandleader. There are lots of exceptions, though.

The rehearsal director should be the one with the best “ears.” They’ll need to be performing and listening to their bandmates at the same time.

After that is the public relations manager. 

They’ll be in charge of your image, your brand, and any media your band needs.

They will schedule photoshoots, write bios, and create flyers.

Any kind of promotion your band needs will be their responsibility.

Finally, there’s the bookkeeper.

They keep track of all of the band’s finances for tax purposes.

They keep receipts and spreadsheets to keep the band on-budget whenever you are touring or purchasing gear.

It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Those are the main 4 roles, but each band is different. Your band might have different needs. Do some brainstorming and make sure that each responsibility is being covered by someone!

Finances

This is a big one to iron out early so that fights don’t break out when you start to make a little money.

First off – who pays for what? 

Oftentimes a band will create a “pool” for expenses that each member contributes the same amount into.

Whenever something is bought, the money is reimbursed from that pool.

You can decide to do this however you want, but this is how I’d recommend it.

Next, what equipment do you need?

Decide on that early so that the band isn’t caught with unexpected expenses.

After that, how does each band member get paid?

Will you be paid by cash, check, or direct deposit? Does any money get taken out of each paycheck to go into the expense “pool?”

Your last question is this: Who owns the songs?

This is important to figure out early, because the person who owns the song gets the publishing royalties.

Some bands decide to split every song evenly between each band member.

Other bands decide that the person who writes the lyrics is the sole songwriter.

Another option is to make it a case-by-case basis. Maybe one of the songs is primarily written by two of the members. Maybe another song was written during a rehearsal that someone couldn’t make it to.

Be careful with choosing this last option. It’s so open ended that it could lead to disagreement. If you pick it, really try to define all of the possibilities so that you’ll know what to do when the time comes.

 

Step 7: Record a Demo

If you have the tech, then recording a demo or two is the next step.

You want to have something that you can send venues when looking for gigs. They need to be able to hear what you sound like if you ever want them to give you a shot.

Once you have a few songs recorded, it would be a good idea to edit them together into a 30-second mashup.

If the venue owner sees that the audio clip is short, he or she is more likely to listen to it.

If you’re wanting some help getting a good sound on those demos, check out our Demo to Pro course. 

It takes your songs from sounding like basement demos to radio-ready mixes. And if you’re wanting to send songs to promoters, you want them as close to radio-ready as possible!

Step 8: Pick Your Look

Your look is more important than you think.


A lot of beginner bands will wear whatever they feel like in their first few gigs.

If there’s not some level of consistency, it’s pretty jarring to the audience.

Remember: You are performers! You’re putting on a show. People need to be able to understand what your “deal” is throughout the show.

You don’t have to all be wearing the same thing. A uniform isn’t necessary (unless that’s what you’re going for).

There just needs to be a similar “vibe” across the band.

If most of the members are wear canvas shirts and jeans, but the singer is wearing a suit, it’s going to confuse the audience.

Or if most of the members are wearing black, but the drummer comes out in a bright blue polo and cargo shorts, no one’s going to understand what you’re going for.

Whatever you decide, embrace it. Commit to the characters you want to play.

If you do that, you’ll put on a killer show.

Step 9: Start Searching for Gigs

Once you’ve got your name, your look, and your songs, it’s time to start playing some shows.


To do that, you’ll need to convince venue owners to let you play there.

The first step is to build an Electronic Press Kit, or an EPK.

This is basically a music industry resume for bands.

Set up a simple website using WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix.

On the site, include these things:

  • Any music you have
  • Band photos, both from a photoshoot and from shows
  • Album art, if you’ve released anything
  • A bio about the band
  • Music videos if you have any, or videos of your band performing
  • Links to your social media, other websites, and places to buy your music
  • Flattering quotes from past press
  • The contact info for your band

The website needs to be presentable, but it doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. The promoters you’ll be sending this to will care more about what’s in the EPK than how it looks.

Once you’ve built your EPK, then buy any equipment you’ll need to play a show. 

The equipment you should purchase will depend on your particular band’s needs. 

No matter what, make sure that everyone has some way to be amplified. Guitar amps for electric guitars and basses, pickups for acoustic guitars, and clip-on mics for strings or horns. 

If you’re using electronic elements, make sure that you have the necessary synths, programs, or drum pads to perform your stuff.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a spare PA. There will be lots of gig opportunities at the beginning that don’t have a PA for you to use. 

So not only can you get more gigs with a PA, you can charge more as well.

 

Step 10: Spread the Word

Once you’ve found some shows, it’s time to start promoting yourself.

This will be an all-hands-on-deck operation. You’ll need to be putting up posters, creating events on social media, and telling your friends. In fact, tell your friends to tell their friends.

You want as many people to show up at your first few shows as possible. That will show the venue owner that you can bring in some money, meaning they’ll invite you back again.

With a crowd, you’ll have the energy you need to have a killer performance!

 

BONUS: Look For Other Professionals

Once you start getting traction as a band, it’s time to get some new people on your team.

To grow as a band, you’ll need the expertise of others.

You’ll need a manager to handle the day-to-day tasks.

You’ll need a booking agent to help you get more gigs.

You’ll need an accountant to handle your now-more-complicated finances.

You might even need a marketing team to spread the word about your band.

Who you get is up to you. Some bands will even just get the advice of friends who have already done it.

Regardless of what you do, having a team is one of the best ways to grow your career. 

But don’t get them too early. Otherwise you’re just throwing away money.

Wait until you’re transitioning from garage band to featured performer. Then make it happen!

 

Conclusion: How to Start a Band

This seems like a lot of steps, but it’s actually a very simple process.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t start a band today. Go out there and make some music.

ROYAL BLOOD

Royal Blood by Royal Blood is the swiftest-selling debut rock release since Noel Gallagher’s eponymous High Flying Birds’ album, which topped the charts in October 2011. Some might say this doesn’t mean much, but 65,000 sales in a week does mean the duo are already due a silver disc award from the BPI. Here’s nine more facts to bring you up to speed with the south coast success story.

The album was released in two limited editions: a while vinyl edition of 800 limited to the Rough Trade stores, and a signed edition available via the band’s website. Both are sold out, although both are already in plentiful supply on eBay and Discogs at vastly inflated prices. If you’d like late access to this rather grubby reselling bonanza, there’s another limited edition (of 1000, with an art print) available now. We’re waiting for the royal blood-splattered coloured vinyl.

The band were formed after Mike Kerr spent nine months on Australia’s Gold Coast, attempting to write music and form a band. Frustrated, and missing friends and family, he returned to the UK. Ben Thatcher picked him up at the airport, and was asked if he wanted to give it a go. The band played their first show the following day.

There’s really no guitars at all on the album, honest. “We just filled a room with four or five amplifiers, all on full and all having a different sound, and at the other end was just one bass”, says Kerr. But he’s not saying how he gets that sound. Live, he plays his bass (a Gretsch Electromatic Jr.) through three different Fender amps (two Super-Sonic guitar amps and an 8×10 Bassman), but the rest? It’s “entirely secret!”

Jimmy Page is a fan. The Toronto Star asked the Led Zep legend which band he’d like to join, and he responded, “I can recommend a band that I’ve just heard that sounded really amazing, but they don’t need anybody else. They’re called Royal Blood.” Page first saw them play on Later with… Jools Holland, and then later at the Mercury Lounge in New York. And Royal Blood are fans of Led Zeppelin: “Robert Plant, vocally, is a big influence”, says Kerr, “because I hear so much of him in my other two favourite singers, [Jack] White and Jeff Buckley.”

Famously, the band got a push when Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders wore a Royal Blood t-shirt onstage at Glastonbury. Then again, the duo are managed by Wildlife Entertainment, who also look after Arctic Monkeys… as well as Paolo Nutini, Travis and Drenge (a band mentioned by Labour MP Tom Watson in his letter of resignation from the shadow cabinet).

Album closer Better Strangers was named after a line from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, where Orlando responds to Jacques’s “Lets meet as little as we can” request with the equally insulting “I do desire we may be better strangers.”

When the band played at Brighton’s Bermuda Triangle last December, Harry Robbins (a local mixed media artist who’s done all of their artwork) was on hand during the day at tattoo emporium Inka Tattoos to assist fans getting Royal Blood ink. Robbins describes his work as “often symbolic, obtaining either a deceived message or a clear one, pursued by a warped decorative purpose.”

That “Royal Blood are from Brighton” thing? It’s only partly true: Thatcher and Kerr are actually from Rustington (whose previous musical claim to fame was being mentioned in the lyrics of Flanders & Swann’s comedy song The Gnu) and Worthing (where both Billy Idol and Keith Emerson attended school).

MOST IMPORTANT GIGS IN HISTORY

1. The Beatles at Shea stadium, New York, 15 August 1965

Considering the sound was awful, there was no lighting show, no screens and no one could see the band, you may wonder how this gig has made it to the top of the list ­- but it was a world changing concert that paved the way for the large stadium and arena tours that we know today. No music act had ever filled a stadium before or sold so many tickets for a one off performance, so this concert set a precedent for where live music was going. These were the days before the band had the luxury of stage crew, bodyguards, event staff or security services so the 55,000 strong crowd were held in by New York State Police and the baseball crowd fences, leaving them seemingly miles from the action. The fact that promoter Sid Bernstein made a lot of money from the show and no one complained changed the long held opinion that there was no money to be made or market for large outdoor concerts. How little they knew.

2. Bob Dylan,  Manchester Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 17 May 1966

Any of the British gigs from Dylan’s 1966 world tour could have made this list. At every show Dylan stepped out with an acoustic guitar to complete silence and utter reverence from his audience before treating the spell-bound crowd to some of his compositional masterpieces such as Just Like a Woman, Visions of Johanna and Mr Tambourine Man. Then the curtain came down and when Dylan re-emerged it was with his R&B band The Hawks (later to become The Band ) at which point the audience rose out of their seats, booed, hissed and shouted abuse. At this particular infamous show one audience member shouted “Judas”to which Dylan replied “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar” before turning to the Hawks and saying “Play it F**king loud!”. The spirit of punk may have been truly born on this tour and it was in the same venue exactly 10 years later that punk arrived not just in spirit but in person.

3. The Sex Pistols at Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 4 June 1976

While not in the same room as the Dylan show, but in the same building, this was the night that punk spawned a thousand bands. Manchester band The Buzzcocks had arranged the concert and booked a little known band called The Sex Pistols to support them. The room was by all accounts less than half full (capacity 150) which, considering the amount of people who claimed to have been there, is remarkable. Anger, distortion, rebellion and spiky hair-dos spewed off the stage infecting the small, shocked crowd, inadvertently forming several of Britain’s seminal bands such as Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Fall, Magazine and, sadly, Simply Red.

4. Johnny Cash at Folsom State Prison, California, 13 January 1968

This is actually two shows as Cash performed in the morning and the afternoon to ensure that they got the best recording possible, but let’s not get bogged down in technicalities. This show was not only ground breaking as no one had ever recorded a live album in prison before but it was also an incredible gig as documented by the live recordings on: At Folsom Prison. Cash brought the roof down as the armed security services stood nervously with their fingers clutching at their triggers, half expecting Cash to cause a riot. Cash had done a stint in prison himself and against the wishes of his record label insisted on playing the show and releasing the recordings as a live album, which has since gone on to be one of the most famous and best-selling live albums of all time.

5. Queen at Live Aid, Wembley Stadium, 13 July 1985

In general Live Aid should get a mention as one of the greatest gigs of all time – not because it was the greatest day of live music the world has ever seen (in fact Glastonbury Festival probably beats it every year) but because the world’s biggest artists were on show around the world for free, raising over £60 million for charity. It was Queen’s performance (largely Freddy Mercury’s), however, that completely stole the show where some of the world’s biggest acts had failed. Freddy had the crowd enraptured from front to back and when Bohemian Rhapsody hit its crescendo hysteria ensued. The world was watching and Freddy delivered.