So you just formed a Rock / Metal band with your friends, covering your favorite bands and planning to rule the world of Rock. You may have just watched The Pick Of Destiny and was motivated by Dio supporting the young Jack Black in his quest to Rock. That’s all quite good, but to increase your chance of making it in the World of Rock / Metal, consider the following tips I’ve learned and noticed from a modest decade of reviewing and playing music.
1- Find musicians who share your vision
Perhaps you both like Death Metal, but a couple of practices later, you notice that you are more of a Melodic Death Metal fan and your guitarist prefers old school American Death Metal. If you don’t agree on the direction of the band, you will soon run into trouble. It’s not enough that you both like Morbid Angel, what’s important is what you want YOUR BAND to sound like.
2- Practice, practice and practice
Bad band chemistry is the worst thing about a band. When your guitarist can play the craziest sweeps ever but has timing problems, you know you’re in trouble. Practice regularly with the band and try to record your practices, then listen to yourself playing and criticize your flaws. Imagine the recording belongs to a different band and ask yourself if “it impresses you”; if it does, then you’re on the right track.
3- Build your online presence
Fans enjoyed your live performance, searched your information online and were bumped out by your obsolete 2004 Myspace page. This is especially frustrating if you’re a reviewer trying to dig up information on a band you want to review. Set up your social media pages quickly and put yourself on the map for all to see. You’re more likely to get feedback from music fans online than in real life. If you’re unreachable online, you are lowering your chances of success.
4- Attend local events / know your scene
Playing music automatically puts you in a group called “the scene”, where you are part in a big group of people who enjoy music, specifically Rock / Metal music. By attending events and becoming a familiar face in the scene, you will know if “you’re into this shit”. If you have no idea who are the event organizers or the media representatives, you will probably miss out on your chances of getting local live gigs or proper exposure. You can’t play the game if you don’t know who the players are.
5- Improve your gear
Blaming the sound engineer is easy, but truth is their job is not to magically make you sound good. If you do not take care of your instruments and constantly checkup / upgrade them, you will always be dissatisfied with your sound. As a start, knowledgeable music fans will judge your performance and talent more than your sound, but after numerous performances, your low quality instruments will decrease your level of musicianship and fans won’t enjoy your show.
6- Spice up your playlist
As a startup band, your setlist will probably be made up of cover songs. That’s perfectly understandable, but you should at least try to replace 20% of your setlist with each live performance. That way, those who have seen your first performance will have something to look forward to in the upcoming one. By doing this, you will have a list of 20+ cover songs by your 10th performance along with some original tunes which will naturally come along the way.
7- Prepare a demo
You band definitely needs to have something to show to the fans as well as the event organizers, may it be a demo original, EP or even a video recording. Make sure your demo is at least of average quality and also remember to make it available online on your Social Media pages (see tip #1 above). Many local pub owners will request a demo before they have you play at their pub, just so you know.
8- Reach out to the local media
As a founding member of LebMetal, I have to say that this definitely one of the most important tips in this guide. Local Lebanese bands have to understand that they need to keep constant contact with the media and not the other way around. I personally receive Metal releases (physical CDs) and news from European labels in France and Germany but I rarely receive news or even releases from Lebanese bands. The suggested process is really simple: when you release an album, grab some copies and send them to all your local Metal media representatives, you will be doing yourself a favor by initiating contact with the media. We might not be able to help you financially, but we can post your news on our website / social media pages and recommend you to our ever-expanding contact list. Help us help you.
9- Hit the local pubs
Practice, prepare your demo and start looking for pubs in the local scene. You’ll be surprised to find that Rock music is a widely requested music genre in the Lebanese nightlife. Earn your way to being the house band and doors will open to you. If you’re a Metal band, pubs may not be your first option so seek the local event organizers, big or small, to earn your place at their upcoming events. You might find yourself playing on the same event roster next to the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers (like local band Pindoll) or Moonspell (like local band Weeping Willow).
10- Don’t quit!