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    Thursday
    Oct132016

    How to Be of Support to an Independent Band or Musician

    How to Be of Support to an Independent Band or Musician
    by Buick Audra

    These are some notes from the road, from the van, from the merch table. I write this as an independent musician who has never had major label support, a booking agent, management, or any money at all. But I still tour and make records, and this is what's true for me - and I aim to keep it in mind as a fan and consumer as well. We all like bands. We all listen to music. So what else is there? These things. 
    * * * 

    1. Buy the music. "Independent" means "on one's own," so to speak. So, if a band you like has made a record or released a digital single or whatever: buy it. Unless you absolutely can't afford it and it will ruin your life to do so, buy it. Don't stream it on Spotify 70,000 times, or just watch it on YouTube. Buy the music. (If you have to stream it on Spotify, make sure you're following the band; if you have to watch it on YouTube, make sure you're watching it on the band's channel - and have subscribed.)

    2. Help them out on social media. Like and follow. Those numbers might seem arbitrary to you, but bands are living and dying by this weird set of totals these days. In order for bands to acquire the above things (if they so desire), like booking agents etc, they need to have numbers and a presence online. Now, don't get me wrong - if they post two things a year, or only post Hulk Hogan memes: pass. But if they're working for it - posting about shows and releases regularly - like and follow. 

    3. Share their work. The world is an amazing place right now! We can communicate with untold amounts of people with just a few clicks! Gone are the days of putting some obscure band on a mix tape for your cousin. No, you can share a band's video, song, album, tour dates, or just general presence with almost no effort. Do that! As great as it is to share the new thing by Foo Fighters, that guy was in Nirvana! He'll always have peanut butter in his pantry, dudes. Help the indie bands out. They're eating peanut butter with a plastic spoon in the van at 2 a.m. - BELIEVE. 

    4. GO TO THE SHOW. When bands are humping it all over Hell's Half Acre in a van, traveling thousands of miles to play for dozens of people, go see the show, man. TV sucks and so does apathy. Go see a band. Go shake their hands and experience something that can't be reached on Netflix. We're all alive right now; let's participate! 
    *Special note for people who are friends with bands coming to your city: do not say that you're going to the show and then not show up. And DO NOT then contact them the next day and make them take care of your feelings of guilt. Nope. You stayed home and watched Stranger Things; taste the pain. 

    5. If you see a band live and love what they're doing: tell them! Jesus lord, tell them. They're making $7 and getting a free ginger ale some nights. Tell them you connect with the work. Tell them you're glad they played your city. And if you just can't do the person-to-person interaction, let them know in other ways. We are so incredibly grateful for every message we receive, and we read them in the van after shows. The contact matters, it really does. 
    *DO NOT tell one member of the band that you think the other member is talented. Nope. Go to tell the person you admire that you admire them. Ain't nobody got time for the game of telephone. We already know that our band members are talented; that's why we've chosen to be in a band with them. 

    6. Ask questions! I personally enjoy talking about lyrics, gear, songs, or just about anything else related to my work. Please ask! Maybe not 40 seconds before I play, but definitely ask. 
    *DO NOT tell a person what kind of gear they're playing. This may sound elementary, but I am told *often* what gear I'm about to play, and it's simply not necessary. I picked the gear out. I know what it is. Thanks. 

    7. Be appropriate. This covers a multitude of things, not the least of which are: 
    -Give people space.
    -Don't block their merch set-up from being seen by others (really don't do that).
    -Don't tell them you liked their old work or solo work or whatever better than what they're doing now. That's for your diary, not them. 
    -Don't make fun of the other bands they're playing with, or the venue they're at. Especially not if they have "PMA" on their person. Keep the negativity to yourself. 

    8. Understand that touring bands can't really hang on tour. Believe me, I'd love to see all the sights in the towns we play, and sometimes we have great luck with days off - but that's kind of rare. Normally, we drive, we eat quickly, we load-in and unpack, and we play. We leave the next morning. We can't come see families and the other rad stuff; wish we could. It's not because we're dicks, it's because this is our job. Not a hobby, a job. And to be honest, when I do get down time, it's beneficial for me to have less going on. If we're touring, I'm around other people literally 24 hours a day. If I get 90 minutes to myself in a week, it's a miracle. I don't want to fill that space with more socializing. It's unhealthy. 

    9. Keep hope alive. In this age of digital everything and a perpetually evolving state of realities in music and art: keep your heart together. If you become apathetic and numb, art has no way. We're out here in good faith. Not to get famous, not to get wealthy (please, dude, this is not that kind of party). We're out here because we aim to communicate our truth, our love, our beliefs. You're the other end of of that equation. You're the receiver. It may not be us, but make sure you're able to receive signals from someone. Make sure art has a clear path to your heart and mind. Keep hope alive. 

    10. Know that we're human and we're doing our best. It seems ridiculous to say, but people who make art are just people. The expectations that we're going to be special or different or perfect are unfounded. If you meet me at a show and I'm sweaty and distracted and unable to be as present as I'd like during our interaction, please don't take it personally. I'm carrying a lot. I'm trying to scan the stage and make sure my shit is all off of it for the next band. I'm wondering if my bandmate is at merch or if I need to be there. I might not remember your name from the last time we met. I'm wearing a soaking wet suit and trying not to be hard on myself about that weird change in the third song. I'm starving. The transition between telling The Fucking Truth and making polite conversation can be rocky. Forgive me. Forgive us. We wouldn't be here if we didn't care. Of that, you can be sure. 

    Thank you for reading. Thank you for listening.