This post marks the first in our brand new ongoing series dedicated to helping you run your band as a business. We know the difficulties bands encounter when they first start out (whether it be finding a reliable rehearsal spot, the right recording space, or just getting booked to play somewhere) so this series is designed to help you avoid the unforced errors, the mistakes that a lot of bands make but need not.
We also recognize that a successful band does more than just steer clear of errors; the goal is to distinguish yourself, to stand out in a meaningful way, so we aim to help you excel, not just play it safe.
To that end, each week’s post will concentrate on a potentially difficult task(s) faced by bands, and will cover a specific set of strategies for how to best handle the challenge posed. The ideas outlined in the post will be fully expressed in an accompanying guide, available to all who subscribe to the series via email.
This week’s post is dedicated to helping you sound better live than anyone else. This guide contains fourteen detailed points constructed to prepare you for your very first live show, or to rapidly propel your band to a new level of professionalism before the next gig.
Live sound quality has long been overlooked as a variable than bands can actually control. In fact, there seems to be an unwritten rule that young or inexperienced bands must suffer the effects of less-than-stellar live sound as a rite of passage as they start their careers.
We put this guide together to illustrate that, not only is live sound firmly in the hands of the musician, but that mastering it can immediately set your band apart from the others working at your level, and can even help you leapfrog ahead of the bands you are currently opening for. That is to say, great live sound can help you be great, even if you are not yet that good.
These secrets aren’t vague suggestions with little practicality; instead, you’ll find them immediately applicable to your next practice session. This guide delves into the smallest details, from how to establish sight lines with your bandmates, to making the most out of your soundcheck, to how exactly to position your amps on stage to create the best sound both for your performance and the audience’s enjoyment.
Here’s a tiny sample of what’s included:
It is key to set up the stage in such a way that each musician can clearly hear what’s happening around them. Guitarists and bassists: your ankles don’t have ears. If you are using a combo amp, invest in an amp stand that will tilt the amp up to ear level. This will ensure that when dialing in your tones, you hear exactly what the mic (and in turn the audience) will hear.
This level of specificity in guidance will help you learn from your mistakes during practice, rehearsals, or soundchecks, rather than at your next show. The alternative is something we all dread: the nightmare gig.
You’re at your first show and equipment starts breaking. A cable shorts, a string pops, a drumstick snaps, and you don’t have any spares. Or imagine you’ve established poor sightlines with your bandmates, causing communication to become virtually impossible. On top of that, the sound coming out of your monitors doesn’t resemble what you practiced, and you can tell the audience isn’t getting a representative sample of your music. As the night wraps up, you and your bandmates depart the gig, bummed and frustrated. Instead of going out to celebrate with a beer, you’ll have to do a post mortem of the show, and decipher what exactly went wrong.
Each aspect of this nightmare scenario is covered in our guide. It won’t just tell you to be wary of all possible breakdowns. Rather, you’ll find implementable tips that will make help you make headway toward avoiding these standard pitfalls of live performances. You can start out ahead of other groups, and make the kind of first impressions that launch exceptional careers in music.
Written By Samuel Waymire. Additional Contributions By Tyler Sullivan
I wrote this post in parallel with working very hard to open the doors to our brand new recording facility here in Asheville, NC.
In addition to recording kick ass records, R1N is devoted to helping new bands and artists gain an advantage over their more experienced competition. If you want to learn more about what R1N is all about, I have written a manifesto that sums that up nicely.
If you’d like to have all future Band as a Business guides delivered directly to your inbox, sign up here. You will be joining an exclusive club of your peers, who we plan to include in all future promotions, experiments, and creative endeavors.