How Should My Band Navigate Our Rising Popularity?
Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
My band just embarked on our first 3 month tour after being together only 7 months. I know it sounds silly but we must have angels because we survived New York. We even obtained a show at a renowned state fair on a sponsored stage...Huge! The band has even garnered a lot of great press. Call it post-tour blues but we just don't know what to do next. We have a lot of genuine fans who all give us the "you will make it" speech but I know how slim the chances are. Our manager also happens to be our producer so we can record at any time. Do we record an album and distribute to stores? I'm the guitar player and composer so do I get with the singer and write more? Do we need to work on our marketing or even try to get in touch with record labels? Festivals? We just need some guidance because as you can tell, I don't even know if I'm asking the right questions. Any help would be awesome!
See also: Help Us Negotiate With the Record Label
The most striking thing about your letter is that you're asking for a road map... yet you have a manager. That your manager is also your producer makes me wonder: is this person a producer first -- someone who sees a rising star and is eager to hitch their wagon to it? Or is this person your manager because they have been around forever and have made some introductions that panned out? The manager should have the road map, or at least help you map your route through Downtown Ambition City. Also, that you would think to ask me and not your manager says something. But, alas, that's for you to decipher.
Before you do the record making, writing an album or at least some songs for a proper release is what has to happen first. Meanwhile, you can be reaching out to labels, or reaching out to people who can reach out to the labels for you (manager, lawyers who are the new managers) since you are in an in-between state. While it's much more standard that people might shop a proper album for release these days, labels like the flexibility of nabbing someone before they have fully-formed the product. They like input. Maybe they want to have you work with another producer or demo some country tunes, only like the funky songs. Good to leave some room for that as well as have some demos that showcase whats next for your band in terms of sound and artistry while working on an idea of how you will capitalize and harness the interest you have.
Your healthy skepticism about "making it" will serve you well. Even if you make all the right steps and choices, it's a crap shoot. The enthusiasm of others can be a bit of a drug. Mind that.