Why Your Band Doesn’t Need To Move To Brooklyn To Make It Big

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]

 

There are countless examples in film, TV and music of young, ambitious people moving to dense urban areas like New York or Hollywood and becoming big pop stars or famous actors. Patti Smith’s incredible story of meeting artist Robert Mapplethorpe and becoming a music icon in 1970’s New York portrayed in her incredible memoir Just Kids features this idea, albeit with more nuance, meaning and creativity than most stories.

If you’re a band stuck somewhere like the midwest, it might seem like moving to a place like Brooklyn, home of seemingly countless amounts of bands who’ve either “made it” or are in the process of “making it,” is the only way to achieve notoriety, but you’re probably wrong.

The Rent

By far, the largest and most obvious challenge of picking up and moving to a place like Brooklyn is the ungodly amount of money you’ll need to generate every month to simply have a place to sleep and store your stuff. Let’s check some numbers. If your band hails from a place like, let’s say Cedar Rapids, Iowa, you’ll pay around $700 a month for a 1-bedroom apartment. Being a serious band in the middle of Iowa has its challenges, but the cost of living is not one of them. For the same apartment in Brooklyn, you’ll be paying about $2,600 a month on average.

In Cedar Rapids, you and your bandmates could all have part time jobs, play music six nights a week and have money to spare for things like putting out albums and touring. Unless you or one of your bandmates has a ton of money, you’ll all need to work long hours at multiple jobs to simply be able to live and breathe in a place like Brooklyn. All that non-music related work doesn’t leave too much time for music. Sure, you can tell everyone on Facebook that you live in Brooklyn, but your band probably won’t have time to do things like write songs and play shows.

The Competition

In music scenes like Brooklyn, Austin and L.A., young bands trying to make a name for themselves are a dime a dozen, even with the insane challenges of being based in a dense urban area. Rather than moving to one of these scenes, your band might be better off putting your energy towards touring as much as possible. The segments of the music industry who might actually have the power to do something meaningful for your band take notice of bands who are consistently on the road perfecting their craft, not bands who move to big cities, burn out and stop playing music.

If you look at your band like a business, what you’re producing is songs, live performances and records. You should make strategic choices as a group that allows you to make music as possible. Maybe your band has outgrown your hometown and needs to do something else to accommodate its growth and ambitions. That’s completely understandable, but putting yourself in an all-or-nothing situation like picking up and moving to a big expensive place is a risky option that has the potential to sink your project.

Staying home and touring more is way less sexy than a dramatic move to Brooklyn, but it’s probably smarter. This way you’ll be able to maintain the momentum and relationships you’ve formed at home while introducing your music to new people across the country. And even if you come from a small city like our example of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, your hometown provides tons of resources and support that you’re always going to need as a band.

Another option is to move to a location based near where you want to be musically active that doesn’t come with a $2,600 monthly price tag for rent. If you love what’s happening in the Brooklyn music scene, maybe moving to a cheaper suburb close by is the better choice. Sure, New Brunswick, New Jersey isn’t as ‘cool’ as Brooklyn, but average rent is about $1k cheaper there and it’s located a quick drive or train ride away. If your band is in it for the long haul, you’ll have to make smart compromises for the sake of your goals.

Decide What “Making It” Means

For some bands, success is purely measured in dollar amounts, play counts and views. For others, the very act of writing music and sharing it with people is more than enough of an incentive to keep going. But no matter what your goals are with music, it’s important to sit down with your bandmates and have a discussion about what it is you’re hoping to get out of making music with each other.

Getting on the same page about your goals might inspire your band to make some drastic changes like quitting your jobs and moving across the country or a boring one like scheduling one more practice every week. But if your goals involve writing tons of music and playing it for fans night after night, picking up and moving to Brooklyn probably isn’t the best way to go about doing it.

Is Touring Still Relevant In the Digital Age? Yes, Actually – More Than Ever.

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]

 

In 2017, there’s never been more ways to experience the world around us on our computers and smartphones through the omnipotent lens of the internet. The internet’s effect on how music is now being created, discovered and distributed is so profound that it’s hard to remember a time when listeners discovered new music from friends and record store clerks rather than music blogs and playlists.

For bands coming up in an era when seemingly everything can be done, seen and heard through the internet, it’s tempting to question the real value of something like touring. Is touring still relevant in the digital age? Yes, actually. More than ever before.

Where are you right now? Are you reading this article on your laptop at a coffeeshop? Or maybe you’re thumbing through it on your smartphone on the train home from work.

Look around you. Everyone’s eyes are constantly glued to some kind of a screen, and this is why the live music experience is more vital now than ever before. No amount of technology can replicate the experience of seeing a band performing their music right in front of your eyes in real time. Live music will always be a distinct and powerful experience because it’s something that can’t be translated to the world of screens.

Yes, at any given moment there’s thousands of bands live-streaming their performances from every corner of the globe that you could watch whenever you like, but that will never substitute the feeling of being there in the venue and experiencing it all for yourself in person. As our culture becomes increasingly reliant on the internet for everyday things, the need to experience nature, visual art and music right there in the moment will become more important than ever. And here’s where your band comes in.

If you make great music that you can pull off well in an engaging performance setting, people will go out of their way by rearranging their night and by paying to see you. Yes, touring is an experience filled with challenges, risk and even financial hardship for some bands, but if you’re viewing what you do as a sort of business, investing in the touring experience might be your best shot at actually earning money as a band.

Many of the fans who’ll jump at the chance to see you play live in their hometown won’t drop a dime on your new record. This is a difficult thing to accept, but it’s true whether we want to blame streaming services like Spotify, rampant music pirating or the shifting attitudes toward the value of media in the digital age. Yes, you’ll probably sell more music if you release your records on vinyl, but even with those increased sales, the days of small bands making a living purely from selling their music are pretty much over now. The live music experience will always be valuable because it can only be experienced in person, and if you’re able to present your music in a truly unique and thrilling way, there be a higher demand for your performances.

But the benefits of touring in 2017 are more than just financial. Hitting the road with your band not only builds tightness and more confidence musically, it can also give you priceless connections with other bands/artists, new fans and music industry folks that you simply couldn’t have established by releasing music and strictly playing shows in your hometown.

Yes, maintaining a social media presence can help with these things, but nothing can substitute the value of human interaction. Talking with a fan after you’ve just gotten off stage is an experience that can’t be matched with a tweet or Facebook comment. And maintaining a constant presence on the road tells press and industry people who might be interested your music know that you’re serious about what you’re doing.

Trends in music come and go every day it seems, but touring is here to stay. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the fact that a band has to make huge sacrifices for their touring efforts to be worth it. Hitting the road for two weeks over the summer to play a few cities in your region might be fun, but it won’t make a significant difference in whether your band gains traction or not.

If you want to get the most out of hitting the road, you’ll have to book multiple tour routes a year through cities where you think you have the best shot at building a presence in. You and your bandmates will have to walk the thin line between obligations, like careers and relationships at home, and taking the time and energy to build a national presence by frequent touring.

It’s not easy, predictable or simple, but if you’ve been at this game for awhile, you probably already know that nothing in this industry is.

New Web Domain '.BAND': More Than Just the New Kid on the Block

[Editor’s Note: This was written by Jesse McCracken, Social Media Manager for Rightside, and it originally appeared on Rightside’s blog. Visit tunecoredomains.band to get “.band” or “.rocks” web addresses that capture your band’s and you brand’s personality and voice.]

Van Morrison is a music legend. As a singer-songwriter since the late 1950s, he has seen the industry go through a lot of changes. He’s quoted as saying, “You can’t stay the same. If you’re a musician and a singer, you have to change, that’s the way it works.” Well, get ready for a big change to how musicians can present themselves on the Internet, one that every artist needs to know about: new top level domains—alternatives to .COM—that are geared toward the music industry.

In my day job I manage social media for Rightside, but I am also a lifelong musician. When I learned that Rightside was adding the .BAND domain to a portfolio that also includes .ROCKS, I started thinking about all the ways my fellow artists can put a music-specific domain name to work.

Make it super easy for your audience to find you

To make a living in the music industry, you need an online presence that’s easy to find, be it a website, SoundCloud profile, or Facebook page. Don’t bother saying a long, ungainly URL from the stage; no one is going to remember it—they may not even remember your group’s name the first time they hear it. As entertainment journalist Hugh McIntyre noted in his recent article in Forbes, music acts can use .BAND to “make it immediately clear who they are and what they do with a short, snappy domain name.”

Jeff Pollack, CEO of Global Media & Entertainment for Pollack Music & Media Group, knows the importance of recognizable branding for bands and musicians. Pollack has been at the forefront of music trends for nearly 25 years, and his clients have included MTV and VH1. “Artists require not only talent, but also a strong, creative identity that will allow them to stand out in a highly competitive musical landscape,” he said. “New domain name options, like .BAND, give musicians exciting new opportunities to extend a unique identity online.”

Synth-soul group Keeper grabbed the URL keeper.band and redirected it to their existing site, keepermusic.com, which isn’t as easy to say or remember. That short, memorable web address will come in handy.

Match the brand to the .BAND

Your band name probably doesn’t include the words “dot com” or “dot net,” but if you’re like Dave Matthews Band, KC and the Sunshine Band, or the Steve Miller Band, your name has the word “band” in it, and if so, there might be a perfect match in the form of a URL ending in .BAND. Having your band name exactly match the words people type into search engines can positively impact your search-engine ranking.

Improved discoverability, artistic expression and having the perfect online name are potentially big advantages for today’s artist.


Visit tunecoredomains.band to get “.band” or “.rocks” web addresses that capture your band’s and you brand’s personality and voice.

Part 2: The Melting Iceberg Syndrome, The Music Business And The Change Under The Couch Cushions

By Jeff Price

On the other hand…perhaps, since the beginning of the music business, more artists are earning some money for the first time as opposed to a few earning less.

In the old school model, an artist got signed to a label.  The label would agree to pay the artist a negotiated royalty rate on each CD sold; usually around $1.40 to $1.70 per album. The label would then advance the artist band royalties from their “to-be-earned-in-the-future-CD-sales.”  The artist would  take this money (their own royalty money) and use most of it to record the album that the label would own and control.

Continue reading “Part 2: The Melting Iceberg Syndrome, The Music Business And The Change Under The Couch Cushions”