There are tens of thousands of Bands in London. In our studio alone we had over 150 band bookings. Since March we’ve had over 1,000 different bands book in to rehearse or record. Some of those we see once and never see again and others have been coming down for years. We opened in 1979, so now we’re seeing three generations of musicians. We sometimes see grandads and grandsons bumping into each other as they arrive to rehease !
Over the years we’ve also seen just about every genre of music, type of musician and level of skill and ability. We’ve had Brit award winners such as Amy Winehouse (favourite studio was no 9), Kate Nash (favourite studio was no 10) in. We’ve had megastars from the 1960’s such as Eddie Floyd in, We see Punk rock Legends such as the Damned in (fave room 7), we see Lee Thompson of Madness pop in for a blow on his Sax all the time. We see up and coming bands, who are breaking through such as Modestep (Fave room 16). The list could go on….
Amy Winehouse was a brilliant singer, probably the best voice we’ve had pass through the studios. The first time I heard her sing, she didn’t have a deal, she was simply one of many bands rehearsing cheaply in our off peak rate. I was immediately stunned by how great a singer she was. As she was in the room and I was outside, I was even more stunned to see a tiny girl appear from the room. But she had talent by the ton. It may amuse people to know my first reaction when I actually saw her was to think “it is such a shame that girl singers like Amy don’t get on, whilst tuneless bimbo’s do”. She proved my fears wrong, because she believed in herself and believed in her talent. As she became an international megastar, I took quiet satisfaction that our studios had been part of the story. We sold her the blue Mexican Strat guitar, which she played on her first TV appearance on Jools Holland show. By then, we realised she was destined for great things.
So you may ask, how could you be the next superstar? Well Amy rehearsed and honed her act, recruited the right people for the band and took her time to assemble a surefire set of material before she launched herself on the world. She also worked on her stagecraft and technique to ensure that she had all the tools in the locker that she needed. She could play so she wouldn’t let awkward musicians thwart her. She’d just tell them how she wanted it to sound and if they still didn’t get it she’d show them.
One mistake many artists make is they expect success to happen instantly. It rarely does. Sometimes an artist will get a lucky break and get their more quickly, but there is no substitute for putting the work in. Surround yourself with the best people you can. Before you play a gig, ensure that all of the songs are good. Video yourself performing and always try the band out with a few low key warm up gigs. You would be amazed how many musicians bottle out of bands at the point where they have to perform in front of strangers.
With my own band, we’ve always had two types of rehearsals. Ones to work new material out and ones to rehearse the set. The vibe is very different. Where we work on new material, we always just have the band around. If we are rehearsing a set, we often invite mates down. Their reaction to songs tells whether the set is on the right lines.
We’ve always structured the set so there is an opportunity for every member of the band to shine and for interaction between everyone. We work on the pace of songs and try to make sure songs in the same key are not played together. That way you don’t get everything sounding the same. We have set songs where we go crazy and try and get the audience going and songs where we try and let the music do the talking. We’ve always tried to get guests along to jump in with the band. A few surprises can reap great dividends. If you have a band and you see one of your heroes, ask them to come along and do a number with the band. Tell them that they are a massive influence. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter and engage with them and their fans. Chances are they won’t but sometimes they do. Always carry a couple of CD’s of the band or a card with a link to your music online and your details. Successful music promotion starts with the artist. Don’t think that because you are good at what you do, someone else can do the donkey work.
The people who get on are the people who are prepared to take a chance. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to catch the eye and you will never catch the eye if you are hiding. You have to be at the front, leading the charge !
Here is a list of 100 tips for music promotion and making your music stand out from the crowd – http://hypebot.typepad.com/hypebot/100-free-affordable-high-.html