While most bands overlook the possibilities in front of them, professionals understand that music business success through Indie band alliances are the way to go.
Many bands are frustrated with their lack of progress towards reaching their goals, whether it’s to sell more CDs, get more gigs or to play in front of more people. Rather than work together to make the most of the opportunities that surround them, most bands are too caught up in their own egos to realize there’s a better way.
In North American society today, there is a prevailing emphasis on winners and losers in everything from sporting competitions and game shows to events with names like “Battle of the Bands” or “Band Wars”. It’s no wonder that young bands get the impression that to succeed they must beat all the other bands around them.
In these competitions, one band wins (and gets their ego stroked) and the other bands lose (and get their ego kicked); meanwhile the promoter and the club pocket most of the money – so who’s the real winner? Welcome to the music industry.
The problem with all this competition is that it limits your perceptions to “Us versus Them” – this will prevent you from achieving true success in the music business.
What? You thought that being “the best” will ensure your ever-lasting fame and millions of screaming fans? Sorry to burst your bubble, but the competitive us-versus-them mentality is like working ‘hard’ instead of ‘smart’.
This type of thinking simply closes more doors than it opens, and the key to succeeding in any business undertaking is to make more allies than enemies. I’ve already posted about your band as a business, so your band and all that you hope to achieve should be considered a business undertaking.
What is an ally? An ally is anyone that you can partner up with for mutual benefit – it’s a win/win situation for both partners. You don’t have to like your allies, but you do have to respect them. An ally doesn’t necessarily have to be a friend, and a friend isn’t necessarily an ally.
Your biggest potential allies are the other bands on the bill.
Too many bands focus on what is different between them and the other bands, “we’re a power trio”, “we’re hard rock”, “we’re heavy metal”, “we’re hardcore” , “we’re punk” etc. The bottom line is that you’re all live bands that have fans that overlap genres. You shouldn’t be treating other bands like enemies or rivals, you should be working together to build up your fan base.
No true music fan has only one band’s CDs in their collection. Chances are if you’re a fan of hard rock you own some Metallica, Guns N Roses, Disturbed, System of a Down, or Pantera CDs – not just every Metallica CD ever made. The same is true for all who attend live shows – whether they came to see your band or not, there’s a good chance that they may like your band and pick up and buy a CD or catch your next show.
When bands work together, they increase their potential audience and reduce the potential competition with each other; this can also be interpreted as increased revenue and decreased costs.
Way back in 1992 Guns N Roses and Metallica were arguably the biggest bands on rock radio and they decided to tour together for a reason – both had new CDs and the opportunity to work together and reach the biggest fan base possible was within sight. Both bands had an opportunity to reach more fans and possibly set some attendance records by working together. They pooled together their collective popularity and resources to make what could have been a note worthy tours from both bands into the rock concert Event (notice the capital “E”) of the year.
Had they merely competed against each other, many fans of both bands might have been forced to choose to attend only one concert; and both bands would lose money, less publicity and far less of a chance to cross over to new audience members.
This type of deal in the business world is called a joint venture. You need strong allies to create a joint venture that maximizes your exposure and revenue. Rather than be intimidated by other acts that have a larger fan base than you, you should be seeking the opportunity of tapping into that bands core audience. You’ll still need solid material and a great performance, but if everything is already in place than touring with a more established band is the way to slowly but surely build your bands appeal.
Treat every show that you do as an opportunity to network with other bands and establish the beginnings of a profitable working relationship together. Don’t stop at just one successful band, work with any band that you respect and that will validate your trust in them. You may wish to target only bands that are more popular than yourself, but to be honest many won’t see the benefit in helping another band out. If you want bigger bands than you to help you out – you should also be helping out bands that are below your status. This helps to create a healthy scene of bands helping each other, and the end result is better for all the bands and the audiences as well.
But that will never happen if you’re too busy passing judgments on the clothes the other band members wear, the size of the drummer’s kit, or the length of the guitar solos. Why make things harder for yourself? Why look for enemies when you could be finding allies to take your act to the next level? Why find reasons to dislike another band when you could be finding reasons and opportunities to help both bands benefit like never before.
Choosing to make alliances with other bands is an option in front of every band; increased success is almost guaranteed if you do. And yet some bands may take years to figure this part of the business out, while others never seem to get it. You’re not in competition with each other; the bands that work together will succeed together. The bands that choose to make all other bands into rivals will eventually be snuffed out in isolation.
Forming alliances with other bands will give you an edge. As you gradually form relationships with different bands and build up a trusted network of allies you’ll have the chance to perform more shows, make more money, have more fans, see more cities and make more friends. As I said earlier, an ally doesn’t have to be a friend, but if one becomes a friend – all the better!
Instead of looking for enemies and rivals in every corner, you’ll be looking for partners, people you can help or people that can help you. Instead of negative thinking and diminishing the possibilities in front of you, you’ll be maximizing your options and increasing your odds at success every time.
The next time you’re at a club and you catch yourself speaking or even having judgmental thoughts about the band on stage just remember – they could be the ally that finally helps you to reach the place you want to be.
Thanks for reading about music business success through band alliances and for visiting the Indie Band Alliance.com!