By Dillon Riley
As a young band starting out in a local scene, securing gigs and building a following can seem like a daunting task. While social media platforms, online streaming, and word-of-mouth certainly help level the playing field, creating buzz around your new project is still an uphill battle in this or any other era of the music industry. There are a multitude of ways to get your band’s profile above water so to speak, but one easy method that’s not talked about enough is simply making friends with other bands.
The easiest way to do that is to start going to as many shows as possible and make your presence as a group known to the music scene in your area. Chances are, you’ll find at least one group that shares similar ideals, aesthetics, interests, sounds, or tastes that you can bond over. Once you have another group or set of groups on your side, finding footing in and ultimately out of your local scene becomes a lot easier. Of course, the inverse of this is also important: reciprocate whatever help you receive by sticking up for and helping the bands that help you in whatever way you can. Here’s just a few ways in which band friendships can help improve your own project as well as the ones around you.
1. Grow your following
Pretty simple concept here, if you play shows with your friends, people who follow their work will then become exposed to your music organically. Generally speaking, they will also be interested in your music by virtue of being fans of the groups you associate with. Just like that you’ve reached an audience you may have be unable to find on your own.
2. Get more gigs
Being band friends with another group pretty much guarantees you have built-in show buddies. On top of having people to hang out with at events, you also may now have a partner band willing to jump on whatever bills you put together for venues. Oftentimes presenting fully-formed show listings to venues for consideration can help you secure holds for dates because you can prove that the show will have a definite draw. Plus, it makes less work for the talent bookers at venues, which definitely reflects well on your group and your friends.
3. Go on tour
Building off the second point, making friends with bands means you get to share gigs, both in and out of town. Assuming you’re ready to take your act on the road to new venues and markets, having friends who have done out-of-town treks before is vital as they can get you in touch with friends and associates they made along the way for gigs, and perhaps more importantly, places to stay after the gigs.
4. Find a label
The idea of sharing resources and work also applies in this conditional case. Assuming you’ve made friends with a band that’s courted attention from a label (or better yet, signed with one), you might get to hang out in greenrooms with agents and managers. It goes without saying that asking someone to introduce you to their label is sensitive — you never want to get someone in hot water for asking too much of their label or connections.
5. Make your music better
Finally, this one is perhaps the most important and straight-forward. Having a group you admire and associate with often inspires collaboration — and healthy competition. As both of your bands progress, not only do you learn from each other, but you probably start to try to outdo each other. Each successive release becomes an opportunity to do a little bit better, and sometimes even a friend can spark that fire!
Those are just a few things to consider as a bandleader when it comes to helping raise the profile of your band, which is something we’ve been thinking a lot about this #BetterBand week!
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Dillon Riley is an aspiring music journalist and music industry professional currently living in Boston, MA. A graduate of Boston’s Emerson College and Berklee College of Music, Dillon’s extensive study of music and journalism have given him a unique perspective on the intersections of the two mediums. Talk to him on Twitter about shoegaze if you like.