(We are pleased to welcome Aaron Philips as a new contributor to The Rock and Roll Report. Not only will Aaron be contributing various CD and live show reviews, his position as the drummer in UK modern rock band Blue Bullet (www.myspace.com/bluebulletrocks) gives him on hand experience with what it is like trying to make it in the music biz in this Web 2.0 world. This is his first of occasional features on what it is like to try and make it as a band in the 21st Century.)
No I am not talking about your first sexual experience, but my experiences of playing drums in a rock band!
I have been playing with UK based rock band Blue Bullet for almost three years now after helping set the band up with close friend and guitarist Stu Clarke.
I want to talk about my experiences thus far in the band, and what my preconceptions were regarding making music, and what tips you can use in your own bands.
When I first set up Blue Bullet I was very naïve in my ideas about what was going to happen. I had watched live DVD’s of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, who were my biggest influences, interviews with band members and thought…. It cant be that hard! I mean Maiden got out there, picked up a manager, then EMI records came knocking at their door. Well, it isn’t quite as easy as that. Firstly,
the majority of A&R men that scouted the country for new raw talent have largely disappeared, and spend their time on myspace listening to bands, which in my opinion is wrong. I mean, any band can go into a studio, record and mix a cd and make it sound pretty damn good, but the key to having a sustainable career in music apart from writing music that people love, is the ability to pull it off live.
Nowadays live shows and merchandise are where bands make the money, with CD and single sales dwindling due to downloading on the internet, bands have got to put on a excellent live show to make them stand out.
Also, major labels have in the most part stopped what is called a development period, which is when they sign a act and spend six months to a year making sure everything about them is ready to sell to the masses, they want a band ‘ready to go’, and this means too many potentially great bands get cast aside and forgotten.
I have found the above points true in my band, we had Sony records turn us down for having the wrong image, but in my mind it’s the music that counts and the ability to pull it off live.
This brings me on to my last point of gigging. Especially where we are based in south west England, there is a severe lack of good music venues that are prepared to put on original rock bands, you either have to be playing what genre is popular or be a covers band. This is a problem, as the best way to attract fans, apart from myspace, is to be on the road gigging, and venues really need to start supporting new local talent of all genres, whether or not they fit in to what is ‘In’.
So, to sum up,
1. Get out there and gig as much as possible.
2. Promote yourself anywhere you can.
3. Don’t give up easily, and all work together, too many bands have split because of this.
4. Find a good manager who believes in you and the music.
5. Have fun. Don’t forget why you started the band, your energy and enthusiasm will rub off onto your fans and potential labels.