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The Three C's to Starting and Maintaining a Band

These three words are essential to having a smooth, well-organized band and dare I say, a professional appearance.

If you're reading this, more likely than not you are either starting or contemplating forming a band. Maybe this is your first time starting a band and you don't know what to expect or what to look for. Maybe you have a band already and having trouble maintaining it and keeping it organized. Well, these three things can help you find success when building and maintaining a band!

Coordination

Google defines coordination as "The organization of the different elements of a complex body or activity so as to enable them to work together effectively." This definition is spot on when talking about a band! Whether your band is run by a band leader who plans and makes decisions for the band, or if you run your band democratically where everyone gets a vote on what the band does, or some combination of the two; it is important that your band has specific goals and clear specific ways of completing them. Treat your goal as a destination and let planning and organization be your navigation to get there. Every goal you have needs to be planned out so you have a way to get there. Often times bands will say "I want to release an album" or "I want to play at [insert venue here]" or the classic "I want to be a rock star," and a few months down the line, maybe a year, maybe a few years, that band hasn't come close to achieving any of that. Why? Because you haven't used your time efficiently or effectively. Coordination means finding the best route to your destination. Let's say you and your band want to put out an album. You should ask yourself "What's the fastest most efficient way to get there?" And then do your best to answer that question. In this case, that means planning out what day or days your band can show up to write a song, planning out how much time you want to spend making the sections of that song, and distributing homework for everyone to work on. And don't think that having longer practices means you are more productive and organized. If your practice lasts from morning to night, you probably aren't well organized or using your time efficiently. Try to keep practice no longer than three hours. Cut your practice time into different sections and dedicate a set amount time each section. Coordination also applies to a gig setting. Practice, plan, and time setting up and taking down equipment. Make sure you check equipment a week prior to a show to check if it's operating properly. If booking a gig, make sure everyone can show up and play that day. Before heading into a studio, make sure your songs are exactly how you want them (NO LAST MINUTE CHANGES OR DECIDING IN THE STUDIO) and everyone knows their part. Remember, don't practice till you get it right, practice till you can't get it wrong. Being organized and having things planned out is the definition of coordination and it will ultimately make your journey as a band much easier and it will certainly make you look professional to your audience, and most importantly, to the people you'll be working with or for a long the way.

Communication

One of the most essential things for bands is communication. TALK TO EACH OTHER!!! You'd think this would be a no-brainer but the amount of times I've seen people book shows without telling anyone or how many times someone forgot a piece of equipment and didn't tell anyone till they showed up to the gig is ridiculous. Even worse is when someone has something to do the day of practice, or a gig, or studio time and they don't tell anyone till the day of. Guys, communication is key to having a strong band and if your communication sucks, then you are going to run into a lot of problems. Make sure you talk to your mates and tell them what's going on in life and what you need or what's missing. It helps to troubleshoot problems the second they come up. It's also good to voice complaints or opinions on a topic. As a member of a band, it's okay to voice your opinion. When it comes to music or business, sometimes a second opinion helps and you may spot something others don't notice. As a bandleader, you should promote a healthy level of discussion and discourse to keep new ideas constantly coming through. Communication, however, is more than just between your band mates but with the community at large. It's beneficial to keep in contact with venues and other bands and your fan base. After a show, go and talk to people. You like a band that played with you? Buy them a drink and have a chat. Befriending other bands are critical connections if you want to go on tour or if you're every needing help with something. Go up to a few people in the crowd that seem to like your music and ask how they liked the show or if they are enjoying the night. This can go a long ways and set you apart from bands that just say "Thanks for coming, go buy our merch!" Talk to venue owners and try and be friendly and respectful to them. This may help make booking venues in the future easier. And remember to thank your sound technician and anyone that helps with setup and take down. If you ever have questions for your sound tech or the venue owner or any of the staff, don't hesitate to ask. Gathering information is vital to running a band so always learn when you can. 

Commitment

If there is one thing most vital to the success and survival of a band, it's the commitment of each and every member of a band to the band as a whole. Treat your band like you would a relationship or a job because much like a relationship or job, you get what you put in. Bands that lack consistency by excessively skipping practice, fooling around too much at practice, missing shows or coming late to shows, or wasting studio time, aren't going to go anywhere and most likely won't be accepted or invited to too many venues. When looking for members, avoid ones that don't seem committed and get rid of those that are not committed. Members who frequently flake, show up late, don't complete assignments, and/or don't contribute anything to the band end up actually weighing everyone else down."But he's the best drummer we have!" It doesn't matter how much skill a musician has, if he flakes he's worthless! On the converse, bandmates who are on time to practice, enthusiastic, on top of assignments, and contribute to the band are integral parts of a good band. A big part of commitment is sticking together through thick and thin. Bands may go through a rough spot from time to time where things are moving slow or people are having personal life issues to deal with. It's important to continue to push through any hardships and to keep the band moving. 

Bonus Tip: Have fun!!!!

Guys, sometimes you just got to kick back, relax, and have fun! After many weeks or months of hard work you spent putting a band together and getting it ready for gigs, when you finally get on stage, relax and get your groove on! Move around and dance or whatever it is you want to do. YOU DO YOU! After the show, embrace family, friends, bandmates, the ladies or gentlemen (depending on what your preference is), and your fans. Don't just have fun at gigs though, enjoy practice and whatever adventures you and your bandmates go on! Not many people get to play music and create music. Enjoy these moments when you can! Having fun and bonding with your mates is important to keeping morale high.

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