Be Positive. Or Else.
I went to a show the other day, and I was pleasantly surprised to find an out-of-town opener band that was extremely talented. I usually take great pleasure in name-checking bands, but for this article the band will remain anonymous.
I saw this band perform, and as I said, they were extremely talented. They have a great vocalist, a solid sound, a great live performance, and they exude cool when they’re on stage. The bassist is a girl, and she looks like she’s one you just can’t afford not to know. I mean she just oozes cool, with her laid-back stance, nonchalant face, and awesome bass lines. Their indie-rock sound really stunned me, so I naturally made tracks to go visit them when their set ended. I sauntered on up to their merch table and proceeded to strike up a conversation with the drummer and the bassist.
Now before I go further, I will say that I am an advocate of humility. I think it’s a great thing to have- so much so that I seek out people who have more humility than ego for my friends. But there are places to be humble and places to bust out with the ego- and when you’ve got a fan ready to drop some money on your album, that is not the time to be humble.
But that’s exactly what these two band members did- be as nonchalant as possible about their talent. They dodged my compliments, they answered my questions unassumingly, and they just generally tried to tone down the fact that they had just ripped up the house with an awesome show. They were a little disappointed that only 30 or so people showed up for the show, but they still should have showed a little more excitement about themselves. I came away a little bit confused after talking to those members of the band- they didn’t sound passionate about who they were and what they were doing. I could hear the passion in their music, but it just didn’t transfer over to real life. I still count myself as a fan of the band, but it brought up an interesting point in my mind.
If you’re going to be a band, it’s your job to be excited about who you are. Especially if you’re great (like this band is), if you’re signed to a label (this band is), and have a fan eager to know more about you (like I was). You have a chance to start a relationship of sorts and cement a fan in a town that is not your own. You should jump at that chance, not brush off the fact that you’re touring the entire Midwest.
You have to be excited about yourself. Some days it’s just not fun to be excited- sometimes it seems like work and sometimes it plain just is work. Sometimes you fake excitement. But these people came out to see you, came up to see you, and they expect to be entertained. They expect to be met with the same type of people you’d be on a good day- the type of people who are excited to be on the road, to be a band, to be playing music. And everyone has bad days, but you can’t let that get in the way of being a good self-promoter.
Because that’s what it comes down to: self-promotion. You can’t be a great independent band without self-promotion. As much as everyone hates promoting, it must be done. It’s the ‘work’ part of being a band. If you treat it with as much respect as you treat the music, you will go far in the music world.
So don’t be apathetic, tired, or uninterested if a fan comes up to you at a show. Fake it if you have to, but meet that fan at their level. Connect with them. Make them want to see you guys again. It may not be fun given your circumstances, but then again, it may turn out to be fun. Never pass up an opportunity- you never know which one will make you big. Always go for it. Always.