Ten Things Local/Unsigned Bands Should Never Do
1. Send your promos to record labels
I’ve heard of bands getting signed by sending unsolicited promos to record labels maybe once in the nearly nine years we’ve been doing MetalSucks, and even then there were other factors in play. That’s not how it works. Work hard, write great songs, practice, play shows and make sure you’re on top of your social network game, then the labels will come to YOU.
2. Bombard press with multiple emails, Facebook messages, etc
One is enough. A second email to check in / follow up is acceptable. But that’s it. Speaking only for MetalSucks here — I’ll assume other sites/publications mostly operate in the same manner — we DO read and listen to everything bands send in. It isn’t possible to give every band a detailed response and feedback, but if we like it we’ll write about it or respond to request more information. Bombarding our inboxes with multiple emails — and then messaging our personal Facebook accounts on top of that — is a surefire way NOT to get covered.
3. Long band bios
No one cares that Jonny and Davey went to high school together, were in another band, recruited Bobby for bass, but Bobby didn’t work out, so Joey from this other competing band came in… STOP IT! Three or four sentences is all it takes to tell press, fans and anyone else willing to listen what your band sounds like and why they should care. Once your band has some notoriety (beyond your hometown) THEN you can worry about a longer bio.
4. Take a long time setting up
Set up as much as you can before even getting on the stage. Drummers, get your cymbals on their stands. Guitarists, get your pedals connected and amp backlined before the show starts. Vocalists: help the other members of your band lift things instead of standing around watching. Then, when the band before you finishes and it’s go-time, get set up as fast as humanly possible. Get your shit plugged in, chug out a few chords to make sure your tone is right, then put your instrument down and walk off stage until it’s showtime. You do not need to prove to the audience how good at guitar you are by running through the “Cemetery Gates” guitar solo for all to hear.
5. Complain about set times
So your set got cut short and the sound guy says you’ve only got time for one more. Deal with it. Who cares if it’s because the show ran behind schedule, or some other band went too long? Be professional about it and don’t complain.
6. Jump down into the crowd
It’s super-awesome when Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan jumps into the crowd in a packed venue of 1,500 people. Not so much when the vocalist of a local band jumps into the empty space between the stage and the 20-30 people in attendance. Notice that national bands who play midsize venues (200-500 capacity) and fill them up decently NEVER do this? Only local bands do, and it just makes you look super bush league and amateur. Everyone is embarrassed for you because they don’t know how to act. The stage is the stage for a reason. Stop it.
7. Ramble on and on between songs
It’s funny when Suffocation’s Frank Mullen gives Long Island motivational speeches between songs because he’s fucking Frank Mullen. It’s only funny to you and your friends when you do it, and everyone else in the room is cringing. Just play a song, say a few words in between, then shut your piehole and play the next song.
8. Plug your Facebook / merch from the stage
We know you have a Facebook page; it’s 2015 and the Internet exists! We know you’re selling merch and it’s important that we buy some; it’s 2015 and times are tough! Calling them out from the stage just makes you look and sound like a local band. Figure out something else to talk about (maybe even plan what that is in advance so you’re not bumbling / killing time between songs) and be professional. The audience will respect you more for it.
9. Argue about money at live shows
Does it really matter whether the promoter stiffed you $25 out of your guaranteed $75 to cover gas? Promoting local shows is not easy, and be honest, not that many people are coming out to see you anyway. Just be grateful you’re getting any money at all and call it a day. It’s a labor of love at this point in your career.
10. Punish dudes in bands that are more popular than yours
Of course it’s totally fine to talk to guys in popular bands, tell them how big of a fan you are, what a pleasure it is to open for them, etc. Just don’t be THAT GUY who sticks around too long and keeps talking about himself and his band. He’s not going to shut you up or walk away because he’s being polite, but trust me, he doesn’t want to give you more than a couple of minutes of his time — he’s got his own friends to talk to and important things to be doing. Know when to walk away.