Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Getting yourself exposed... I mean, your band

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2009 at 4:00 PM

So, you’ve got a band that’s doing ok in your hometown and now you’re thinking about playing out of town. If you give it a try, you’ll probably find out that playing in a new town is just like starting over from scratch. No one knows who you are and you have a hard time getting folks in the door.

Many bands get around this by getting exchanges going with bands from other towns. You invite them to open up for you in your hometown and get them some exposure and then they hit you back and invite you to open up for them in their hometown. Problem solved!

Well, nothing’s that easy. My group, Actual Proof, has been working with regional bands over the past year or so and we’ve found that it can be a mixed bag. Here are some thoughts:

You need to make sure that you find a band that has a similar sound/style. If you’re playing jazz, then you probably don’t want to work with a group that delves in hard-core rap. That’s obvious, but you can also run into problems if your band plays complex compositions and the other band just likes to jam out on the same chord for half an hour or so. Their fans might just want a long jam... not a musical tour-de-force.

You should watch out for flakes. Some musicians are cool people, but they can be flaky about nailing down a gig for you in their town. They might be slow to reply to your emails or calls. It’s always good to work with musicians that are more on the professional side.

Unfortunately, some musicians and bands are just plain dirty. We brought an Asheville band to Charlotte, got them exposure when they opened for us at the Double-Door, and they never reciprocated. After a lot of prodding, their leader simply stopped replying to my emails and phone-calls.

On the bright side, we have developed a good relationship with a damn fine funk-soul group from Wilmington — The Groove Campaign. They’ve not only hooked us up with quality shows in their hometown, they’ve let us stay with them (saving us a long drive back to Charlotte), and we’ve become good friends simply because they’re good guys. And that’s what it’s all about people — playing music and developing friendships with musicians in and out of your hometown. We’re looking forward to bringing them back to Charlotte this winter, playing a show, sharing some brew and chatting over a greasy breakfast the next morning.

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