Contacting Bands From Your Studio at Home

How to Land a Band From Your Studio at Home (Part 3)

By now you should be feeling pretty confident with your ability to find the right band for your professional studio, or studio at home. If you still have some questions, you may want to go back and refresh yourself on Part 1 and Part 2 – or feel ask me a question directly in the comments below.

“Sure we know where to find our bands and that’s a great start. But Justin, come on, anyone can do that, get to the good stuff!” I know you’re hungry for some knowledge, so open up your brain hole and get ready for a healthy portion of learn-age.  When it comes to contacting a band there is a ton of methodology behind it, so open wide.

Write Privately

Firstly, and most importantly, make sure you are sending your messages privately (especially if you have a studio at home). Don’t publicize your quest for new talent on someones wall for all the world to see. It’s tacky. And after you start sending hundreds of messages your name will get noticed – (and not in the good way). So leave those walls alone.

The Cookie Cutter Message

DO NOT send a bland, generic, (obviously) copy-pasted message to a potential client. Here’s an example:

“Hey guys, I really love your music, you’ve written some great songs! I’m a music producer and would love to talk to you more about working together. Contact me back. Thanks!”

Sure, you can copy paste this message 600 times from your studio at home, but no one will respond to you. And if you’re sending the message via Facebook, you’ll get pegged as spam after about your 20th copy-paste. If you’re lucky enough to not get banned, I guarantee your name will make its way through the grapevine of bands who talk to one another via groups and forums. Once your name is shown in a negative light, it’s hard to detach yourself from that stigma.

Studio at home

Written Publicly, and Generically.

Actually Listen to the Music

When writing a message, personalize it. Quote a lyric, talk about how the harmonies lift the chorus, make mention of the unexpected saxophone solo. Do whatever you can to show that you’re an actual human being and not some lame old robot. When a band sees you took the time out to actually listen, it hits them right in the heart. They are real, live people who poured their soul into that lyric you just quoted. You’ll make more of a personal connection which will progress into a promising conversation.

What to Include

I’ve written thousands of messages to bands, all as unique as the bands themselves. I always find myself incorporating these 4 things.

1) How I found them.
2) Something that struck me about their music.
3) Asking about their current goals.
4) Letting them know who I am.

You can incorporate them all in one paragraph, or 4 depending on how much you have to say. You’ll notice things that work and things that don’t, so take note.

Writing by Region

One thing that strikes me is how vastly different bands from different areas will respond to the same message. I’ll give you an example. When I was in New York, I’d message bands and tell them something I like about their music and something that could use improvement. I had an overwhelmingly positive response using this technique. The bands in NY craved that constructive criticism. When I moved to Austin and tried that same strategy, bands went ice cold. Here, the bands didn’t take well to criticism. They saw it as insulting. I needed to revamp my approach. Instead, I left out the criticism and received much warmer replies. So bear in mind, something may work at one place/time, but don’t grow too attached to it because you will need to make amendments.

It’s a Numbers Game

One thing you need to know is that not every band will respond to you. You may message 10 bands on a Monday and receive 0 replies. Then you get back on your horse on Wednesday, and score a perfect 5/5. The point is, you need to send out a ton of messages. Because even the bands that do reply are not a guarantee to work with you in your professional or home studio. The more nets you cast the better, so get out there and keep fishing.

I’m hoping that these strategies will help you on your quest to work with new talent. They aren’t meant as gospel, more so as guidelines. You should borrow a few ideas from me and make them your own. See what works best for you.

Next week we’ll cover how to respond to a band that replies to your initial message and how to bring them into your professional studio, or studio at home. Then the conclusion of this segment will be the ups and downs of the entire band messaging process. Thanks for sticking with me so far, and please stay tuned for more.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it and leave a comment below.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4
Part 5

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How to Land a Band (Part 2)

Hello my friends, and welcome back to part two of the How to Land a Band series! If you haven’t checked out Part 1, I suggest you check it out now. So far we’ve learned that our most advantageous technique for scouting bands is our good old friend the internet. I’m going to give you a few of my own personal methods for finding leads, so please feel free to incorporate them with your approach and mix/match where you see fit.

Today we’ll be focusing on:

ReverbNation and Facebook.

Before we dive right into how to use these sites, there are a few components you want to keep an eye (and an ear) out for.

Know Your Own Talent Level

Firstly, you want to know your talent level and what you can realistically produce. Having an honest understanding of your skills will allow you to bring in the right clients to your studio. When I say skills, I’m going to umbrella gear into that description.

I know what you’re thinking, “gear doesn’t count as a skill!” Well, you’re right and you’re wrong. In actuality, your gear has no bearing on your expertise with your DAW. Perhaps you can fly through the Pro Tools hotkeys like a wizard and you have the elastic audio prowess of a freaking ninja, but if you don’t have the right gear, none of it will translate properly. It’s honestly the difference between Slash ripping a solo through a Les Paul or an out of tune Squier. The difference is, as producers, our finished product is indicative of our talents. So if something sounds ‘off’ when our records are all said and done, others will see that as a poor reflection of us.

When listening to a prospective band, make sure you can create a product that sounds even better than what you hear. If the quality outweighs what you’re capable of making, then your best bet is to move on and search for someone you’re more likely to land – there’s no sense in wasting time.

Facebook

Here’s a great approach to Facebooking bands. Start with a local band that you either know, or have worked with. Sift through their page and look for past and future shows. Start a word document and jot down some of the band names you see. Once you have a comfortable list of bands, you can search for them on Facebook.

*Note: When messaging these bands be careful not to message too many acts from the same bill. Bands talk to one another, and if your name comes up, you may come off as more of a spammer then as a genuinely interested producer.

ReverbNation

Search local. You can actually type in your Zip code and search for bands in your immediate vicinity! If you want to go even further, you can even search by genre. You may need to jump ahead a few pages to bypass some of the bigger acts. (It would be really hard to land Eric Johnson, or The Killers.) Honestly, since Facebook is the super giant that it is I would search for the band on Facebook and message them through the FB messenger. If they aren’t on Facebook, search for an email address or a phone number and go with that.

*Note: For more advanced techniques, search on wikipedia for high household incomes near you, then use those zip codes. Sometimes you have better luck with those higher income areas!

Currently Active Bands

One thing you’re going to want to pay immediate attention to is how active a band is on their social media platforms. I always cross reference everything to Facebook. If you search a band and they haven’t posted a status in 3 years, don’t waste your time messaging them, they probably broke up. Generally anything past 2 months is bad news, and remember, the more active they are, the more likely they are to record some new material.

*Note: On ReverbNation, you can actually search upcoming shows in your area. This is a great indicator of active bands.

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Likes and Fans

The better you get at this whole messaging game, the more you start to understand your wheelhouse. For producers just starting out, you’ll want to look for bands in a similar position. For the most part, you’ll be more likely to land a band between 0 and 400 Likes on FB or Fans on RN. You can always aim higher, but it’ll save you a lot of time knowing exactly the types of bands you’re getting positive responses from. The more you produce, the higher your Like threshold will grow.

*Note: Starting your own producer page on Facebook is very helpful when it comes to band responses. If they see you’re established and have a respectable number of likes, it’ll make them more prone to work with you.

Potential of the Band

The last thing I like to check for when scouting is overall potential. If I see a band with a name like “Screaming Pussy Fart”, that’s generally a project I want to avoid. To me, they don’t sound like they’re taking things too seriously, so I don’t even want to waste my time. Trust me, once you start doing this for a long time, you’ll see that the names of bands really do represent their members.

First impressions aside, some signs of potential include great songwriting, (despite lackluster recordings), awesome content, (videos, posts, etc…) and an overall “wow factor”. You want to work with artists that you can push to the next level and help to reach their fullest potential. You’ll start to see how much of a difference you can make, especially when you work with artists who climb from 300 Likes to 3,000 in a matter of months. A lot of it is the band yes, but a ton can be contributed to the brains behind the scenes and quality recordings.

I hope you were able to take away some insight from this article, and I hope it helps you on your hunt for new projects. As we move forward, we’ll cover the next aspect which is writing the perfect message to a band. After that we’ll discuss how to respond to interested parties, how to bring them into your studio, and all of the up and down factors that go along with the whole hunting process.

If you learned anything from this article, please share it and leave a comment below. As always, thanks for reading!

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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How To Land a Band (Part 1)

Believe it or not, attracting clients is a huge part of our job description. I can almost guarantee that most up and coming producers aren’t even aware of the countless hours that go into finding a project – and it isn’t their fault. It’s just something that isn’t talked about.

Far too many young producers are obsessed with finding the perfect reverb technique for their vocals, or when they should be using parallel compression. And mind you, these things are important. But what good is practicing a skill set without the means to implement it? It’s the equivalent of practicing with a band for years, but never putting together a show. Sure that band may be amazing, but how will anyone ever know?

But how do I find the band?

The first aspect I’ll be covering in regards to messaging a band will be where to search. There are a few ways to approach this, so try to mix and match to see which ones work best for you.

Friends

Most producers are musicians first. And of course, that means having musician friends. If you’re looking for a project to work on, this is a great place to start. Ask your band friends if they’re looking to record any new material – if they are – tell them you’d like to produce their upcoming record. Working with friends is generally a great way to start, because you already have a good rapport with one another. This will make for a lax recording environment, and hopefully ensure smooth sessions. If they aren’t interested in recording at the moment, ask them if they know of anyone in the market and have them put in the good word for you. This is a huge word of mouth business, and the word of one band can go a long way. Be good to your friends and your clients, and they will be good to you.

Live Shows

Another technique that works (but I don’t generally recommend) is going to live shows. First I’ll go into the technique, then I’ll go into the reasons I wouldn’t use this as your go to. Talking to a prospective client one on one is an amazing technique that really can go a long way. Face to face marketing is a proven sales technique after all. They know that you’re genuinely interested because you are at their show – seeing them live! Nothing pleases a band more than hearing praise after they just put on a killer set. You can catch them at the perfect time, they’ll be on cloud 9, and listen to everything you have to say. Make sure you bring a few business cards along so you have something to leave behind.

Now, the reasons I don’t fully suggest this tactic is four-fold.

1) Bands can be temperamental after a bad show. If they had an off night and the crowd wasn’t responding appropriately, the band may be sour. You don’t want to catch them in a bad mood, because this will be your one and only opportunity to make an impression. If you make it under poor circumstances, I guarantee you won’t land the band.

2) They won’t feel special if they see you talking to every band. If you’re at a venue, you want to make it worth your while. But you also don’t want to seem desperate. If you’re talking to every single band that played a set, the others who played will take notice. If the main attraction sees you talking to the opening act (who they happen to think are a bunch of jabronis) well, guess what. You’re a jabroni by association. Not to mention the fact that the opening act will feel betrayed when they realize you’ve been talking to the enemy.

3) You don’t have home field advantage. Being in an uncontrolled environment like a bar or club can really work against you. The noise, lighting, and even mood can contribute negatively to a conversation. You’re better off talking on your own terms, whether it be via phone call, or in your own studio.

4) You can find more bands in a fraction of the time by searching online. In 3 hours at the club, you may see 5 bands play. If you’ve never heard of the bands, you’re just hoping for the best in terms of their talent level and playing style. If there’s nothing you dig, then the whole night was a bust. You easily could’ve sifted through 30 bands in those 3 hours, from the comfort of your own couch. Which leads us to our next technique…

Online

Searching for bands online is probably the greatest technique for landing a band. There are so many different outlets you can use, and you can do it on your own time, at your own pace. You can check out Facebook, ReverbNation, Soundcloud, PureVolume, Bandcamp, and so many other sites. Now, techniques for finding the bands and messaging them are going to differ according to different factors. (I’ll cover this in next weeks article.) Once you find a band you’re really interested in collaborating with, you’ll want to shoot them an inquiry message. Feel free to write them your own personal note, and of course, I’ll be covering how to do this in this series, so please incorporate that as well.

I hope these techniques have helped introduce you to the idea of finding your own clientele. I’ll be going more in depth as these articles go on, so please stick with me. I’ll be going over online techniques for finding bands through different websites, how to write the perfect message, how to respond to interested bands, bringing the right band into your studio, and the up and down factors of working with potential leads.

Please feel free to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Subscribe to us on YouTube. Is there anything you’d like to see covered? Let me know, and thanks for reading!

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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6 traits to keep in your production arsenal.

“Producer” is such a tricky term. It creates an almost mythical feel for the person being described. When we dub ourselves a producer, we wear it like the badge of honor it is. It’s an all encompassing word – we are creators, directors, teachers. The best part is, it doesn’t take a Herculean character to possess these talents. We don’t need to pull Excalibur from it’s stone – but we do need some tools of our own. So before we head into the studio battle zone, we should really stock up our production inventory.

1) Show up for battle.

Don’t be a ghost producer. If you care about your clients, and you care about your reputation, then stay involved throughout the entire process. Create a friendly rapport with the artists you work with, and give sound advice every step of the way. You don’t want bands to talk about you and say things like “yeah, he was there for the first day and then we never saw him again.” That’s a bad producer. Bad!

2) Wield an axe.

Or some other instrument. Knowing how to play an instrument will help out immensely in the studio. Picking up a guitar and laying down a solo will not only impress your clients, but it will help with the entire recording process. Playing an instrument can come in handy in a pinch – imagine their bass player just broke his arm, or the drummer just quit the band. You’ll be a knight in shining armor.

3) Grab ‘em by the ear.

And put a worm in there. Producers who have the ability to hear and write catchy melodies are more likely to make a name for themselves. Motifing a chorus can be a real difference maker by transforming a lackluster chorus into something that really pops. (Motifing is basically taking the same melody and using different words.) Motifing can even work on songs that lack melody – just motif the rhythm.

4) Don’t cling to your pride.

There isn’t a studio big enough to house too many egos. So leave yours at the door. Some singers will hate your lyrical suggestions. Some drummers will scoff at your request to use crash cymbals in between sections. Honestly, it isn’t worth the mental stress to fight with people who are unwilling to change. If a band is open to suggestions, then propose away. If they aren’t, then don’t push too hard. One point I want to stress is not to get discouraged by bands who shoot down an idea here and there. Differences of opinion are going to happen – and that’s ok. Don’t take it personally. Wear some thick skin and you’ll be fine.

5) Fortify your structures.

Do your homework and know the style of music you’re working with. If a pop punk band wants to work with you and they’ve written 5 songs, each with a 12 part movement and no choruses, then you’ll need to start breaking things down. Add a chorus or two to some songs. Cut out some musical breakdowns that seem excessive. Basically, trim the fat. Keep the songs structured in a cohesive way so when it’s on the record it all makes sense.

6) Gear your warriors for battle.

Producers should always have a keen ear for talent. If you’ve personally scouted the band you’re working with, it means you sought them out for a reason. They have a look or a vibe that you can just feel. Don’t mess with the integrity of your artists. Guide them in a direction that works for them as individuals, and as a group. Don’t add unnecessary production to a song where it is unwarranted, and don’t try to change the overall makeup of a band. I’m not saying to compromise your morals as a producer, sometimes middle ground will need to be met. But remaining true to your artists will allow them to sound even better, and grow more naturally in the long run.

So now that you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve, make sure you start implementing them during sessions. The more you practice, the better you will become at your craft. So get out there and start rocking. Please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Are there any traits you keep in your production arsenal? Leave me a comment below!

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