I see people all the time talking about starting a band or trying to take their band to the next level. While I have not started a band myself I have studied the situation for a while and have some pointers that I think would be helpful for anybody serious about becoming a sensation like Metallica. It seems like there are many things people just don't think about or understand that are key to doing what Metallica did. Here are some things I've found and what I would do if I was to start a band:
Write good music
This is obviously the most important and there isn't much more to say about it. The quality of a band's music is key, although it's not the only factor.
You will find that when most of the top bands started out they released at least 1 album every year or 2. They were grinding hard trying to get material out for people to listen to. All the best people in any field always produce and work hard. Don't worry about getting everything 100% right, there's no such thing. Obviously your work should be as high of quality as you can make it, but don't let perfection keep you from ever finishing your album. Remember that you want to try to get 1 album out every year or 2.
Last at least 10 years
I think one of the most important things any successful band has in common is that they last for a long time. Look at some of the most popular bands: Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, Iron Maiden, etc - they all lasted a long time. Just like in business it takes time for things to grow and catch on. You should plan on being a part of your band at least 10 years if you want to be successful. It needs to become a part of your life.
Don't change members
Another thing the most successful bands have in common is that their lineup is stable. Metallica has always had 3 core members. Same with Slayer. Pantera never changed their lineup. Maiden has always been consistent. Bands that keep changing members are bands that are built on a shaky foundation. You need to find members who are serious and dedicated to go a long time, and crush it.
Find members you can work with
A band is like a marriage. You need to be committed and serious. You're going to be with these people a long time. Make sure they are just as serious as you are. You have to plan to have problems just like you would in any relationship. Make sure everyone is committed to go through the ups and downs.
You need to have different types of songs
I think this is one of the biggest things bands trying to be like Metallica forget. Bands ALWAYS write songs that all sound the same and have similar structure. This is a huge no-no. You need to change it up. While you may be a metal band and metal may be your focus, changing it up on a few songs can be a nice break that will engage people even more when the heavier songs come on. Even Dimmu Borgir knows this - they always break their songs down with a keyboard interlude or some orchestral breakdown. However you do it, break your songs / album up. Metallica always threw in a couple of ballads and slower songs for good measure. Some of their most popular songs are these: Nothing Else Matters, Fade to Black, One, etc. They knew that you need to change it up and keep it dynamic. It is so frustrating how all these new bands come at you with like 10 songs that all sound very similar and do very little for you emotionally. You really need to dig deeper and strike a more dynamic chord with people. I'm telling you, this is one of the most over-looked things of bands trying to be popular.
You need to do whatever it takes to make people know about you. Marketing is an important piece to any successful business and a band should be no different. Play as many shows as you can. Play for free. Play longer than anybody. Bend over backwards for people. Do whatever it takes to get your name out there and show people that you're not messing around.
You have to have something hit at some point
Whether it be a song that catches on or a solid album release, at some point you are going to have to break through and mark your band as a contender with the big boys. Once you finally strike it big with a song or album you are obviously able to grow at a much faster rate. You have to do whatever you can to create something or do something that gets you attention.
By following these pointers I would estimate that you would be ahead of 95% - 99% of the bands out there. Building a solid band is just like building a solid business. You need to put in good old fashioned hard work and be sure it's something you enjoy working hard on. It's not just a band, it's a way of life. Put everything you've got into it and see what comes back in return.
Filed under:Misc, Music