Check out the From the Road page for a new interview with Laura Nichol from Light This City.
I just recorded and my site started to blow up once it was online, because I promote over 10 hours a day. When I don’t promote my site basically doesn’t do as well. I also noticed that there are things like ‘friend adding robots’ which many bands use. I don’t know where to find a good one, it would free some time up for me since I’m a one man band its hard to do it all on my own. Honestly, I know all these big bands cheat! My question is simple how do I safely cheat the way other bands do so I can keep up? I have great marketable stuff and I’m sick of watching tons of shit bands get huge and signed. Times are hard for new bands, especially that play emo, because Myspace no longer lets you add people under the age of 17, which is basically all the people that even like what I play. Do you know any tricks or secrets that could help give me some hope or something? Please get back to me if you have time, cause honestly I don’t have a clue who to ask these questions to. All I know is I have good music that people would like, but other than promoting, I don’t know what else to do. I can’t find a good manager and I don’t know how to attract record labels. I’m really stressed by all of this. Your advice would mean a great deal.
Dear Mr Roboto,
Myspace’s weight in the music world is continually growing, while the anonymity of the Internet still allows for all sorts of cyber-manipulation. Logic than follows that it might be easy to fake, or project, the appearance of popularity in order to attract record labels, booking agents, managers, and of course that all coveted “heat” (or “hype”). Bands will do just about anything to get all of the above and it’s easy to get sucked into the game and compete, or worse feel like you have to “cheat” just to get your music heard.
How do you safely cheat the way other bands do so you can keep up? There is a very simple answer to this question: DON’T! Sure, bands will scam, cheat, lie, and steal to be popular. The music business is full of ugly people, but my suggestion is make a conscious decision to NOT be one of them. When Darkest Hour first started the big deal was SoundScan. It used to be all the rage amongst bands to add numbers to their live SoundScan forms. See, when bands play shows they write in how many records they sell every night and then once a week fax the info to their record label. It was real easy to turn a 2 into a 20, etc. That was the way to cheat in the 90’s. Enter the next generation, the Myspace count cheat.
Have I seen bands get big off of using their Myspace page for promotion? Yes. Is it possible to fake your profile into looking sick as shit and attract the attention of a few managers and record labels? Yeah, sure that’s possible too. But you have to think it all through. First, forget that its just plain stupid to fake anything (especially being a rock star, I think that’s probably the lamest thing you can try to fake) but just think about what might happen if you do convince that record label, manager, or booking agent to work with your band because of fake numbers. How would you like to do a tour that no one shows up to because you don’t have any real fans, or your record comes out and no one actually buys it. The point of Myspace is not to just have gigantic numbers, it is to network your music so people can hear it and your actual fans can keep in touch with the happenings of your band.
I think you’re missing the point of Myspace all together, and more importantly I think you’re missing the whole point of playing music. You mentioned you’re a “one man band.” I am sure you have already encountered how hard that is going to be. My suggestion is take those songs and get a band together. You have a flying leap start, by already have songs written. You just need to take your music to the real world, in addition to the virtual one. You have to start spending 10 hours a day playing music, not sitting in front of the computer. If you are going to spend ten hours a day on Myspace promoting your band, then you might as well just have a 10 hour a day office job, instead of trying to be a professional musician. Why do I stress playing shows and jamming with other band members? Because actually playing music for (or with) people is the interaction you should want to have as a musician, not the interaction that comes from the other side of a computer screen.
Throughout the years you have had an array of guitars, pickups, amps, cabinets, etc… I saw you in 2005 and thought you had some crushing tone. Les Paul customs with “Dimebuckers” in the bridge. I ran out the next week installed it in my guitar and have been rocking it since. The past few months I feel like my tone could be better though, and I was thinking about trying out EMG’s. Should I stick to the “Dimebucker” in the bridge or test out the 81’s?
I’m 19 and attending college right now working on getting my bachelor’s degree in engineering. I love Darkest Hour and I see you’ve gotten yourself a college degree so maybe you could give me some advice. How did you handle managing your time between playing music and schoolwork? I know that a lot of guys in bands never went to college and dedicated their time to music but I really want to be able to support myself in case things don’t go my way.
Student of Rock!
Dear Student of Rock,
Playing in a full time band and going to college full time go together about as good oil and water. Both lifestyles seem to work directly against each other. Parents often times pressure you to quit your band because they fear it will interfere with your studies (which they always think are more important) and your band mates pressure you because they are afraid attending college might in some way hold the band down or keep them from opportunities. Is there a way to do both? How do you handle schoolwork, playing music, developing a band, and still keep your sanity? I can help with the fist couple but the sanity part, well that might just be up to you.
When I attended college it was for a total of five consecutive years. Darkest Hour existed the entire time since we had started in high school. We were a signed touring band for the last 2 1/2 years of my college life and let me tell you it was not easy by any stretch of the word. Here are some tips that can help:
- Use Your Breaks: The number one thing we did to work around my school schedule was to schedule touring around college breaks. We went on tour anytime I had a 4-day break. We would do weekends up and down the east coast, and on winter and summer breaks we booked longer tours. There wasn’t a whole lot of pressure to tour (and we had to book it ourselves which was hard as shit) so that made it at least easier to sneak shows in between class days without worrying about having to tour and miss class.
- Schedule Your Life: Another thing I would do was stack all my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was also working as a bike messenger for 4 of those years and was able to only work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This allowed me to work and go to school all during the workweek. Since Friday’s and Saturday’s are the key nights to play when your doing one off shows this worked out nicely. The other thing this allowed me to do was book long weekends. Since I didn’t have to be back to class until the next Tuesday I could leave Thursday night and we could play shows Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. That’s a nice four-day block I could do anytime.
- Talk to Those Teachers: It’s a common misconception that college teachers are hard asses. Honestly, I got along with almost all my teachers and it was pretty clear that I didn’t fit in. In my graduating social work class there couldn’t even have been more then 10 men total and I was one of five or so in his twenties. Oh, I guess the tattoos and fact that I was always doodling Van Halen and Pantera logos all over the place didn’t help. All my teachers knew my situation and all were pretty understanding, as long as the work I turned in showed that I had put in the appropriate amount of time and thought. Get them on your side, everyone loves a story about someone chasing their dream. Especially teachers.
- Learn How to Study: I’m not going to lie I didn’t go to class all the time. I now wish I had paid a bit more attention. But what I did learn fast was how to study. You need to look at how your teachers present information and learn how to pick out what is important and what you will be tested on (hint: they are usually the same thing). Doing all the reading assigned to your course goes hand in hand with learning what to study. All those weekend tours and trips, those drives are the perfect time to get that reading done.
- Manage that Time: In this instance college is a perfect way to prepare you for the world after it. If you continue to pursue that career in music you are going to have to learn how to juggle a whole bunch of shit at once. My fifth and final year of college I held down a forty hour a week internship, recorded So Sedated So Secure, went to school full time, and worked on the weekends. It was unforgiving and brutal most time but that’s what college is about. If I were you I wouldn’t get sucked into all the parting. It’s fun but really you will have plenty of time to party back stage. Its best to just focus and get’er done. That way you can get the hell out and start rocking the world.
- Don’t be Afraid to Lean on Your Friends: Lets be clear I couldn’t have made it through all those years in school and kept the band alive if my band mates weren’t cool dudes. They were always very supportive, and I owe them for that patience. I also had the very awesome support of my now wife but then girlfriend. Without her there is no way I could have made it mentally. It’s good to have friends that you can talk to especially ones that have graduated college. It can help keep you focused to draw on their experience for needed guidance.
I’ll never forget the summer before my last year of college. We had signed a record deal with MIA records. We had recorded Mark of the Judas (my sophomore year of college) and it was about to be released. I thought for sure I was about to be on tour for months straight. I couldn’t handle the idea of waiting any longer to start my real dream. I was determined that summer that I was going to tell my parents “Fuck it! I only have one year left I’ll just come back to this later, lets rock!” I went to talk to my parents knowing they were going to be pissed, but I didn’t care. Turns out my dad was real weird about it. He didn’t get mad or anything we just had this strange conversation about how I just didn’t understand. He said once I left college I wouldn’t go back, that everything changes and it just would be to hard. We kind of left it unresolved and I left for tour.
On the last day of the tour we played New Jersey and all the MIA staff came out. Yeah, they all came out to tell us that on the day our first record was coming out we were going to be dropped. Turns out the record label we had just signed to went bankrupt. I took that as a sign and decided to finish that final year of school and get my degree.
Looking back on it I can tell you how right my dad was. Dude, I couldn’t hold my shit in college right now. It would be so hard to go back I can’t even explain. In the long run, staying in school while still rocking gave me the ability to grow as both an artist and a person. I believe it was facing all of those challenges that prepared me to live life as a modern musician. It’s funny, but the one thing I always felt was in the way of my musical career (college), ended up being the one thing that prepared me most for life as a professional musician.