When you decide to start a business, one of the first things to be done is to assess the competition. Who else is working in your market, doing what you do and soaking up the limited resources (like fans and cash) that are available? What are they doing, and how can you distinguish yourself from them? For a working band, this is absolutely critical. There’s tons of bands out there, groups who make some really good music, who want nothing more than to play at a pub a few times a month, make a little extra money, maybe soak up some free beer, and have some fun. How the heck are we supposed to compete with that? Many don’t even try; they bang their heads against the wall, some going so far as to pay for the chance to get a half hour of stage time. Seriously. We know a guy. He and his band mates have each spent years learning their instruments, and months after months together developing their sound. They play here and there around the Valley, and the standard deal is that either they sell X amount of tickets, or they pay the shortfall out of their own pockets.
We want more.
We want to make this a thing, a really real thing, a sustainable thing. We want to make music with each other, and put it in your ears, and not ever have to stop. We want to paint pictures with sound, tell stories and create laughter. And we don’t ever, ever want to stop. So how do we do that?
Well, we’re working on that. We’ve got some ideas, and we’re putting the pieces into place. We’re trying to treat this as a business, so that maybe eventually this can BE our “day job”. We’re doing things, musically, that will set us apart from other bands locally. If you’ve been to one of our shows, maybe you’ve noticed how we string one piece into the next into the next, creating larger blocks of music. (If you haven’t been to one of our shows…what are you waiting for?) We’re working on new material, both covers and original, finding what works and burning away what doesn’t. We’re figuring out how to actually run this as a business, so that we CAN sustain the creative fun stuff. We’re shaping our sound in such a way that we don’t sound like a dozen other bands in town; we sound like us. We play some of the Irish stuff that got us all started, but we’re branching out, trying new things, pointing ourselves at a different audience.
It’s weird, sometimes, talking business before practice, talking about our demographic, talking about merchandising and marketing. It helps us, though, to remember that we need to do that so we can get on with the fun stuff, the stuff that feeds us. So we think not just about what we’re playing, but why we’re playing it, and who we’d like to play it for, and how we’d like to sound doing it.
It’s going to be a long uphill road…best get started, eh?