Killyourstereo.com continues its column series where we give musicians freedom to offer a unique, personal and individual voice.
Today, I Killed the Prom Queen guitarist Jona Weinhofen offers the April entry in his monthly column.
The musician gives sage and relevant insights for young bands starting out.
Read Jona’s thoughts below:
Do It Yourself.
In my opinion, one of the problems with young bands is that many of them won’t or think they can’t do anything for themselves. Some young bands expect to start a band, secure a manager, booking agent, get signed to a label, make a bunch of money and not have to do any work for it. This is not supposed to be a bitter piece by any means or a ‘back in my day’ type rant, and I’m certainly not pointing the finger at everybody, this is just some advice to young bands starting up, and a bit of information about the realities of starting a band. Speaking from experience with my own band/s, here is how we went about things.
I Killed The Prom Queen have had only one or two managers over the past 14 years. When we started the band, there wasn’t really management for the types of bands in our genre, so we began to manage ourselves. As an entry level band, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door but when you don’t have the option of having somebody else do it for you, you make do and do it yourself. We would team up with other bands to play shows and organise mini tours to other states and cities. We were lucky enough to have the help of friends from other bands such as Day Of Contempt and Shot Point Blank, and were also lucky enough to get signed to one of the only labels releasing hardcore music in Australia back in the early 2000’s, Sydney’s Resist Records. Through networking and making new contacts we were able to book an entire Australian tour of all the capital cities, which we embarked on with our friends Shot Point Blank. There was nobody to speak to these people and promoters on our behalf, nobody to book our accommodation (aka sleeping on friends floors back then), rental van etc. so we did that ourselves. Tour support from record labels didn’t exist and everything was self funded, even our recordings. In fact ‘Beloved’, our third full-length album and sixth audio release in IKTPQ’s back catalogue, is the first album we have ever made, which a record label paid for.
IKTPQ had one or two managers and booking agents throughout the years but for various reasons, it didn’t work out and we always resorted back to managing & booking ourselves. After doing this on and off for eight years our most successful tour to date was the Say Goodbye Australian tour back in 2008 and that was entirely self booked and managed. Now I’m not saying every person in every band has the natural ability to just become a manager or book a tour, and it requires certain skills and knowledge. As an entry-level band, these are the sorts of skills you can garner yourself, learning as you go.
Not every entry-level band in 2014 needs to be signed to a record label either. With social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter you can promote your posts and advertise yourself and your music. You can give away or sell your music yourself via websites like bandcamp and you can even get your music on iTunes without a label using a website such as CDbaby.com. Everybody these days would like to be getting paid for the music they release but with the state of illegal downloading, digital music and CD’s have become almost like a business card for bands. Your music is what gets fans interested in the music and these fans will then attend your shows and make you money in other ways such as ticket and merchandise sales. There are even huge bands like A Day To Remember who have proven that with the right knowledge and help from good people, you can release an album without a record label and still be hugely successful.
In conclusion, I have no intention of telling bands to avoid signing to a record label, or management & booking companies, because they can certainly make life easier for your band and really will benefit your band if you choose the right team to work with and for you. I am simply saying that you shouldn’t feel like you can’t do any of this for yourself, especially if the option to have somebody else do it for you isn’t there. Get out there, go to shows, speak to people, make friends, meet contacts and assert yourself and make it happen.