So… How DO They?!?
It’s hard enough to make it in music from ANY market. But what if your hometown just hates your genre? Or worse, is a music hub city (like a London, New York, Nashville, or LA) that hates your genre. How do bands get big in a market that hates their genre?
This can be particularly frustrating. All the resources you could need are at your fingertips… but unavailable.
So, we’ll start talking about the particular challenges of living in a music hub that hates your genre.
Why do most musicians fail?
It’s funny how this works. When musicians come from a music hub that DOES love their genre, they complain their market is too crowded. Now when the genre is hated, it’s not crowded enough!
Maybe they’re both right. Maybe it’s good to be in a market where it’s kind of in the middle. I don’t know. Or maybe one of them is wrong. You DO have a challenge when you’re in a city that doesn’t embrace your genre. And when it’s crowded.
How do bands get big? The challenge is believing in yourself.
The reasons most musicians fail is because they don’t work hard enough, buoyed by one excuse after another.
And the question of whether the market is too big or too small, likes your genre or doesn’t, are excuses.
So, that necessitates one of two strategies.
How to make your band unique
If it’s a big enough population in your market that does love your genre, you need to find those people. And the internet is really, really cool for that. You can really target micro-target through things like Facebook ads and really find those people.
Find ways to differentiate yourself within both your genre and your market. By stretching yourself to find that niche, the connections you do make with fans are going to be even stronger. If everyone else is zigging, zag.
Now, when you are based in a market that doesn’t appreciate your genre, you have the same opportunity. Think about it. If you are a fan of the genre that your band is making in a city, you’re thinking the same thing. When they discover you, they’re going to be devoted to you.
How do you get famous in music?
When you are based in a market that hates your genre, getting gigs is going to be a challenge because what touring band is gonna want to play your city in your genre? There aren’t enough people! But when those shows DO happen, the fans are going to show up. And you better be opening the show. If you’re going to try to headline a show, you can’t find openers. It’s really hard. So get out of town!
How do you succeed in music playing shows?
For a really great strategy for touring outside your market, check out Tour Smart by Martin Atkins.
If your hometown is not going to embrace what you do, get out. How do bands get big in a market that hates their genre? They get out of it. Get out of your market and play the markets around your market. Build in two cities within a couple hours, three hours, four hours drive. That book is freaking awesome on this strategy. If you haven’t read it, read it. And if you have read it, reread it. Take notes. Think about that book in terms of your band. It’s got awesome advice.
If you were to sit down and go, okay, well these are the cities that would be awesome for me to be in. What are those cities and can you get to them fairly regularly and become almost like a local? Especially if you’re in the Northeast United States, you’ve got a dozen major cities within two or three hours drive. It’s ridiculous. So you can make yourself a hometown band in a bunch of other places by just being there every couple of weeks.
How Do Bands Get Big – The Perception Issue
And I should add, there’s this perception issue. There’s a huge perception issue with being a local band that I think is detrimental to your career as a band that is too big for your market.
When you’re doing it right, every time you play, it’s like an occasion. There should be a party. There should be pre-parties and post-parties for your performance, even in your hometown. If you can make that happen, that is, that’s gold. When you get that perception from people that you are even bigger than you actually are, that is great when you are no longer perceived as a local band.
The value of being a local band is that you become friends with your fans. But the value of the internet is you can become friends with your fans everywhere. So use that as the value, but don’t, don’t let people perceive you as a local band. Don’t avoid markets beyond your hometown if your hometown doesn’t like your genre – or YOU! Embrace the travel. Embrace it. Go and hit the other cities as an outside force, as a band. So big, you just can’t be contained.
What are the chances of becoming a famous musician?
When you are in a music hub, whether or not they like your genre, you have some advantages. I have talked often of the value of getting a producer. The basis of the idea is the way the bands normally do it is that they write and they record and they produce all this stuff themselves earlier in their career and then their career goes, gets up, gets up, and they’re still doing it themselves.
And then they get signed. Now the label’s like, well, now we’re going to invest in a producer and they’re going to help you. And I think that model should be flipped. I think that bands early in their career should hire a producer. Rather than spending money on another stack of amps or more drums or top of the food-chain equipment.
Don’t Spend The Money Here – Spend It Over There
Instead of spending money on recording a double album that nobody’s going to hear, spend the money on a producer early in the career who will teach you how to craft a great song. Find a producer who will teach you how to write a song that will turn audiences on. A producer who will work with you to write awesome songs that will get the attention of audiences, get the attention of labels, get the attention of the industry. Work with a producer who will be in the studio with you to make sure that you’re recording a sound as awesome as they possibly get from you. And learn from them.
And if you live in a music hub, you are spoiled for choice of great producers. How do bands get big? Often its through working with a great producer.
You might be in a city and there are a ton of great producers but they might not be necessarily for your genre. I am of the belief that at its core, a song is a song. And genres are just ways of reinterpreting the basics of that song. And if you can find a producer, an open-minded producer, a producer who you hear something and what that producer is doing that you go, I would like to apply that. I think I could apply that thinking and we’re thinking about this stuff out of the box.
Now when you can find that producer, you can work with them early in your career and you can get your sound, get your song-craft, maybe even have a touch of a unique genre in what you do. That could be key. That can be awesome. And you could have gold sitting in them there Hills.
How to get your band on TV
Another advantage to using a producer outside your genre, especially when you’re early in your career, is that when you’re able to find a sound or something that sets you apart from everybody else in your genre that is going to get people’s attention, that is going to get people excited and is going to be just nothing but good for your career. Maybe as an artist, you just want to sound like everybody else in your genre. How do bands get big? Not so much THAT way.
Okay, maybe that’s cool. But I would think as an artist, I would think that you want to add something to your genre that people haven’t heard before. Not just your voice, but something even more intrinsic, more fundamental than that. A new idea. You have to come to your genre with a new idea. And if you don’t have one that’s okay. Find a producer that you can work with who might be able to find that idea with you. Not for you – with you. Because this is your career. These are the songs you record. The songs that you put out there, 20 years from now, you may still be chained to that song.
How do bands get big in a market that hates their genre? It can usually be due to working with a great producer with out-of-the-box ideas.
You’re the one out on stage who has to play it. So don’t do anything that a producer suggests you don’t want to live with, because you will.
So, try to think about your hometown as an advantage, despite the fact that you think that it’s not necessarily a plus for your genre. You are in a music hub with a lot of world class talent for song craft that can bring something new to your music that could be a plus for you.