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What Can I Do?
Written by DEADTUNES666

I am often asked for advice by younger musicians. Usually, it's things that they can do to become a better band/musician/artist. I understand that in these terms, there is a wide open area for speculation. The first thing I do is break down their question to the most obvious.

What is the quickest way to become a star?

For future reference, while I feel I am quite knowledgeable about most things musical, it is never a good idea to ask a failure how to succeed. Rather, one must learn how not to fail.

I feel I've succeeded in life, but have failed at music.

I've had 3 deals with record companies. One was a recording deal, and two were development deals. My attitude and general bad habits were the cause for my failures, and I wish I had listened to those who were kind enough to help me out with their hard work, dedication, and advice. None of which I ultimately took, or cared for. After all I had gotten the deals by myself and I wouldn't need anyone's interference to take the next level by storm.

Because of this, I would classify myself not as a success, but a failure. So take the advice for what it is. Lessons learned by the Bull Durham of music. But I digress...

Back in my day things were a lot tougher on the working musician. There was no internet, or websites, Googling, or video uploads. We made fliers, and wallpapered a town with them for promotion, paid thousands upon thousands for professional studio time because there weren't any home recording studios that were good and cheap, we worked off audio cassettes and sent them by mail to radio stations, entertainment attorneys, record stores, bars, clubs, record companies, and anyone else we thought could possibly help get the word out. A professional photo shoot with analog cameras could set you back $2000.00 for a session.

Making t-shirts was not as cost effective as it is today. If your band had tee shirts, you were working on a whole different level than most bands. My band had tee shirts, keychains, pens and pencils, hats, bumper stickers…Not to mention how much stage clothes cost! All this running around, and I still had plenty of time to cultivate a very serious drug and alcohol habit. The money I spent on drugs was crazy, but the extra time it took to track them down or to do favors for the dealers to get free stuff, and still I was able to run around to a thousand places to get fliers, book gigs, get tee-shirts, visit managers, disc jockeys, whew it was a lot back then.

Today there is everything you need at your fingertips on the computer, yet consistently bands fail to do the things they need to make the next step in their careers. I can't imagine how much I could have gotten done if I had had the computer technology at my home. Technology has made things so much easier yet musicians have gotten lazier and I dare say dumber in the last 15 years. No one was looking for bands to sign in their bedrooms in the 80's, and they still aren't...There can't be a second of your day not devoted to succeeding if you even want to be considered for success.

It took us years to compile a mailing list (snail mail) of potential asses we could put in a crowd, which numbered around 2000. We were proud of that work, but our new management had told us that they were unimpressed by that number, and we needed to get around 10,000. A typical turn out for a mailing list was around 1.5 %, we were consistently playing places that held 600/700 people and many times more. So after we sent out thousands of mailers we routinely got 30 people to show up leaving the bar to draw the other 570.

More is always a good thing. The more time you spend promoting yourself the better. No one wants to sign a band that can't think for itself or needs a record company to do the work for them! It never worked that way, it will never work that way…

If you want the gold ring, you can't wait for it to come to you, it never will!! Go out and grab the damn ring if you want it. It's there for the taking. More hard work and an ambitious goal oriented day is better than less.

Check out DeadTunes's personal website over at Darton Music.
 
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