sillouhette band

Bands fail.

They fail almost all the time, because musi­cians often throw cau­tion to the wind and have a mind that it’s a sim­ple endeavor. I am here to tell you that it’s not. If you’re not tak­ing your music seri­ously, and you’re in a cover band or you’re just play­ing with friends, then fill your boots my friend — more power to you. But if you intend on actu­ally mak­ing money from your career as a musi­cian and you intend on doing it with oth­ers, there are some things you need to know before even start­ing. This isn’t a com­pre­hen­sive list, but here are some of the more impor­tant things to keep in mind on why bands fail.

Get to the know the people you’re with

Like I’ve always said “Joining a band is like mar­ry­ing four or five peo­ple all at once.”

Get to know these peo­ple really, really well. You’re pos­si­bly going to spend months in a crappy van with these cats, and it’s impor­tant to have the right kind of peo­ple next to you in that sit­u­a­tion. It’s very impor­tant that you avoid join­ing up with musi­cians who aren’t tol­er­ant at all, who get in ter­ri­ble moods because of the poor con­di­tions and fly off the han­dle, tak­ing out their frus­tra­tion on every­body else. Keeping a band mate like that is an exer­cise in futil­ity for your career; you’ll spend five  months on the road and then with­out warn­ing your band­mate has either left mid-tour or after­wards, and you’ll have to end the tour pre­ma­turely wast­ing everyone’s time. Or you’ll have to spend even more time look­ing for the replace­ment and teach­ing him when you get home. I don’t care how tal­ented he is, I don’t care what he can offer, if you find your­self with that per­son then avoid them at all costs. Humor and a relaxed behav­ior is impor­tant here, because you’re going to fail a lot and – while that’s OK – some peo­ple over­re­act and they make a moun­tain out of a mole­hill, and it can kill the morale of every­one.


Now, If you’re doing drugs and you’re not ruin­ing your life, I don’t care and nei­ther should any­body else. It’s not our busi­ness, some peo­ple can han­dle their drugs really well, they aren’t addicts, and they aren’t a prob­lem. (Editor’s Note: SuperNerdLand does not con­done drug use, but not all laws in the world con­form to a sin­gle stan­dard of pro­hi­bi­tion. Drug use — and abuse — exists in the world, deal with it.) Putting aside heroin as choice drug for obvi­ous rea­sons, I know peo­ple like this and they are fan­tas­tic peo­ple, but if you start to see a bud­ding prob­lem where some peo­ple in the band are irra­tional and vio­lent because of this then it’s time to find another band. That is a tick­ing time bomb, and you need to dis­tance your­self before you’re caught in it’s blast radius. You might find your­self pick­ing up their habits, and as far as cross­ing bor­ders go, you’re going to find your­self on the seven O’clock news whether you were doing drugs with them or not. Sometimes a major — or even minor label — might not pick you up if you’re a bit of a flight risk. I’m not knock­ing drugs, just find some­one who can han­dle their stuff and keep it at home, or in the very least not travel across bor­ders with it.


If some­body has kids and a wife, house pay­ments, a job they can’t take leave of, their school­ing, or a girl­friend, then you’re most likely just set­ting your­self up for dis­ap­point­ment. These peo­ple have respon­si­bil­i­ties beyond the band that will most likely con­flict with your abil­ity to tour, even some­times with reg­u­lar six hour prac­tice ses­sions and stu­dio time. You can rarely find some­body who can jug­gle these things with rel­a­tive ease and if you’re really look­ing to make some­thing of your­self as a musi­cian, your career has to be in your top two. My hat goes off to all those moth­ers and fathers who still pur­sue the dream, but if all of your band mates have over­bear­ing girl­friends who require all their atten­tion, or a job that sim­ply can’t be left for a tour, then that’s an obsta­cle you can avoid by just not join­ing up with them. Sometimes it’s a lit­tle eas­ier to take the safe path and avoid the pos­si­bil­ity of the prob­lem all together, espe­cially when prob­a­bil­ity isn’t in your favor.

Safety & Maintenance

Before you hit the road, get all of the equip­ment checked out by a pro­fes­sional and fix any prob­lems that arise. Save up money, and keep spare parts and extra patch cords/XLR cables at all times. When you lug elec­tron­ics from place to place with alter­nat­ing weather con­di­tions, there’s going to be some wear and tear, and you’re going to have crip­pling prob­lems.

Speaking of crip­pling prob­lems, if some­body steals all your equip­ment out of your van while you’re sleep­ing in your hotel room, you are going to be fucked beyond all mea­sure. Don’t bother with locks on the van, don’t bother with alarm sys­tems, fuck that noise and bring your equip­ment into the hotel rooms. If you’re all going out to party, leave some­body behind to watch it. I don’t care if it doesn’t fit, I don’t care if you’re tired, I don’t even care if your band­mate is pouty about not join­ing the party, make it fit, put some elbow grease into it and tell him to bite the bul­let or you are going to lose all of your equip­ment. Be absolutely firm on this issue and do not waver.

It’s an industry

The music indus­try is an indus­try; it’s not a club or a hobby. First and fore­most you are sell­ing a pro­duct. Major labels don’t pick peo­ple up because they’re tal­ented, they pick peo­ple up because they can make money for the label. Part of under­stand­ing how to make money with your music is look­ing at how mod­ern artists write their mate­rial, how they struc­ture their songs in a con­densed and palat­able for­mat. That’s some­thing you’re going to need to con­form to whether you like it or not, because while you might love twenty min­ute con­trived as all hell solos or ten min­utes of noise with­out struc­ture, the largest demo­graphic today does not. They like monot­o­nous crap that’s about as pre­dictable as any hor­ror movie today, and I get it. I don’t like it — I really don’t — but that’s where the money is and this is your job. I’m not telling you to make Pop music if you’re a met­al­head, I’m say­ing use their struc­tures and keep it sim­ple and repet­i­tive, so it’s catchy enough to stay in the listener’s head.

You might say that this is sell­ing out, but I beg to dif­fer, I call this “Investing in your Pursuit.” Spend ten years, do three or four albums like or whatever’s on your con­tract, and you’ll have enough money to start your own label. Then you can pro­duce and cre­ate what­ever sound you want, and you can tour and shill it all to your hearts con­tent directly to your audi­ence.

Remember, it’s an indus­try, so if all of these things aren’t at least some­thing you con­sider and you aren’t seri­ous — then relax — but heed some of my advice. It will  save you a heap of trou­ble in the future. KingMusicMusic,Why Bands FailBands fail. They fail almost all the time, because musi­cians often throw cau­tion to the wind and have a mind that it’s a sim­ple endeavor. I am here to tell you that it’s not. If you’re not tak­ing your music seri­ously, and you’re in a cover band or you’re just…
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Christopher King
I yell at stu­pid peo­ple on the YouTube. Enjoy my pain, because some­body has to.
Christopher King

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