Starting Up…. Yes, But How?

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You think it is time to do it…. time to make yourself known, expose your composing talent, start your band. But how will that journey be like? What will you have to do and how and when will you have to do it?

My good friend, it is self-evident that that is entirely up to you. Experience is not something you are born with and, therefore, you need to “build” it. In the beginning, you are the only one who can determine when to start… maybe you have been practicing your musical instrument a few months or many years, it is your choice. What is important is that the structure must be solid!

The possibility of joining a ready band, most likely with its own history, long or short, is of course very high. In this case you will have to follow the already existing spirit of cooperation, trying – if the freedom or the luxury for something like this exists – to give your own touch, without egoism or exaggeration or “it is either my way or I walk!” and, of course, without finding yourself in a secondary position in regard to the rest of the band members. In any moment you may think that what you have there does not follow your standards, you have every right to state your objection and leave the band, but not in an offending way to the others -be very careful! – even if you believe that they did not treat you nicely! Because, my friend, THAT shows who you really are! Be a gentleman when no-one else is! Nobody should be able to stitch you up!

But, if things do not evolve like this and you find yourself looking for members for your own band or you start your own band with members of your choice or simply some friends that are very close to you, you are standing on “square one” and, therefore, there are different options and directions. First and foremost you have to set REALISTIC targets and then discuss them with your fellow band members. “What do we want to do, guys?”. I am very sorry to break it to you like that, but it is the hard truth: “forget about glory, fame, money!”. These three things are unachievable, unless your band logo is “METALLICA” (or enter your own favourite superband). Which means you need to focus on the musical and lyrical composition. This is where it gets difficult… The band is a living, breathing organism. In order to survive, it needs – apart from the love for creation – money TOO. You have to realize you will be forced to spend, as well as your bandmates, generous amounts for the band’s survival, whether that will be in the form of “rehearsals” or -later on- promotion, recording etc., subjects we will try to analyse in different chapters. I guess… you will have to get used to the idea. You will have to draw money from your pocket for a long time, maybe forever. No, it is not nice, nor is it fair… but unfortunately, it is the truth. And, of course, this is not your fault, my friend.

Life is not always very generous to most of us, so, most likely, you and your bandmates will have other obligations, outside the band. Oh yes, how wonderful it would be to be able to play all day, every day! It is not possible. It just isn’t! At the same time, this can be very tragic, because the obligations are so many that “there is no room for a band in my life”. And this is where it gets more difficult. Time management. Well, my friend, you will have to train yourself, if that is a problem! You have to! Not only in order to be able to work together with your mates, but in order not to cause them any problems. One of the worst thing – I personally see it as a curse – is the “inconsistent bandmate”, who disrupts any scheduling, disorienting the band, not because of a serious incident, but because he “forgot” or “did not calculate the time properly” or “took a wrong turn on the way in” and a whole bunch of childish excuses. Time is precious but not inexhaustible – and that is exactly what makes it precious – so manage it correctly. And, believe me, it is not a shame to ask your bandmates for help on this! If they know how and they can help you, they OUGHT to! Think of a situation where someone simply manages his time badly while someone else is consistent and punctual, despite two jobs and a family with children, paying a significant cost, and I don’t mean just the monetary expense… This is something that cannot be mended! 

Something that many people out there are oblivious to – and is truly important – is this: we are volunteers to this journey. We can only offer what each of us can – or at least this is the way it should be – out of love for Music, for creation, not from some kind of “obligation” towards each other or a third party. This is why the term “family” stands true when describing a band. And here is when the “more difficult” gets “even more difficult”! Everyone, including you, needs to try their best for a band to work as a family. Each one needs to know each other, understand each other’s idiosyncrasy, approach each other with respect and see their weaknesses and, sometimes, be patient with the others’ moods… because they are simply your bandmates. He is who he is in his post. He is also a volunteer to this madness. That, of course, applies when there is no exploitation of the kindness, the good will or the positive spirit of the others. The band is your family and, as you want your family to operate, your parents and siblings, that way you should wish your band to operate. In contrast, if things happen differently, sooner or later the structure will collapse, sooner or later you will all participate in adventure that will only bring you trouble… Bossiness should stay out of the picture. Leave it out at this point! This stage needs soldiers more than anything else. A good soldier can assume the sergeant’s role without insulting the others. But in the end…. He is still a soldier!

As you can plainly see, we have not even started yet! We will put a full-stop here and, if we are all well, we will cover other subjects next time. Specialization! Music, Lyrics, Identity. Is it possible? Let’s see…

Enjoy music, above all!

Text: Savvas Betinis
Translation/Rendering in English: Theodoros Apergis

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