Suggestions for Bands on the Rise

By: Jeremy Sanchez

Here’s a call to bands trying to live a life that they love. All I can do for a band is offer humble suggestions, but there are a few ingredients that I’ve seen help bands stay alive and employed in this tough way of life. I’ve seen these ingredients work for bands, and I’ve seen the absence of these ingredients make bands fade into memory. None of these guarantees success, but they seem to be some basic building blocks for grabbing a good foothold on the climb up the mountain of growth and achievement.

Step one isn’t a suggestion; it’s a rule that seems obvious enough. Partner with highly talented people. There’s no way around this rule, and most self-respecting bands feel as though they’ve been lucky enough to find these kinds of exceptional partners. I’m not saying people should avoid playing an instrument/singing simply because they aren’t skilled enough for the big stage. All people should have a creative outlet, but some of us should just play alongside our friends because we feel the need to be in the rhythm; there doesn’t have to be an audience to love playing. Becoming a professional musician requires developing a trained set of skills; some are just more naturally gifted than others, as in all things.

Now, on to things often overlooked. Step two is as important as step one; make music with people you love. Otherwise, when times get tough (small turnouts, broken equipment, cancelled gigs) it’s going to be that much harder to fight on to play another day. You must feel and live as a family unit. Take care of one another, and play passionately.

Step three hurts; gig as often as possible, and be driven to play for the simple joy of playing with the guarantee of little to no money, for a long time... Sometimes you’re just going to have to play for exposure. Being in a band isn’t an easy way to make a living (everyone would do it) so you have to expect to give a lot more than you’re going to get back, at least for a while. Most bands have to go through this struggle for longer than they can bare, but building an obsessive and supportive fan base requires focused passion, effort, and time.

Step four is a step that many bands fail to make a habit, and it’s so necessary if you want to keep people coming to your shows; practice until you cannot get your songs out of your head. This is a good way to wrap up my short list of suggestions, because it’s as much of a foundational requirement as the first rule. You should wake up dreaming of those songs you want your audience to make a part of their lives; practice so much that you dream of practicing. If you’re not dedicated, how can anyone else be expected to crave your efforts.

Please, don’t take my words as preachy. I’m certainly no expert. In this line of discussion, who is? I’m just a man who loves to be around living and breathing music. I just want worthy bands to succeed and to play until they no longer have the means to continue. Too many bands die because their lottery numbers don’t hit soon enough. Living a life fueled by one’s desires should be about more than making a quick dollar or playing to packed houses. Living a life fueled by one’s desires is about being lucky enough to share one’s efforts with those willing to love you for them. If that’s not enough to keep you playing, you’re likely to wear thin long before the doors of monetary success are going to open wide. Play because that’s what you’re driven to do, and hope that time sees fit to bless your hard work.