5 HUGE Mistakes Unsigned Bands Make

This is gonna be a rager with a lot of ranting and yes it was inspired by conversations about specific bands. A lot of the things I am going to list here are going to seem punishingly obvious, but apparently they are not. These aren’t unique issues either. That’s why this is not going to be a pull your punches sort of article because frankly I am tired of seeing this bullshit crop up on the reg. So instead we are going all out and in depth on the key mistakes people are making here and hoping that through them we will be able to look at tangible ways to improve and grow your band and what you can be hoping to bring to the table so that I don’t find myself compelled to write about how your band are a bunch of dinguses. Anyway, I boiled this down to five points, there’s probably a lot more, it just made sense with my standard format. If you don’t like it go write your own fucking listicle.

1. Don’t sign with a sketchy label

This is a big one that people don’t seem able to understand. When you are offered a record deal this does not mean you are getting the sun, the moon and the stars. It doesn’t mean that even if it’s coming from the vaunted European soil. Shockingly, Europeans can be shitty too. And guess what – there’s actually a market for metal over there, so people are more likely to want to rip you off for a quick buck. Point being, always thoroughly vet a label offering to sign you. If you don’t know any of the other bands or all of the other bands seem to not be getting anywhere it’s probably not worth signing with them. While a label is certainly a mark of approval in some cases, in others it can be a veritable black mark on your record, a sort of shorthand for ‘These guys are clowns and you should not take them seriously.’ I know that it sucks and it’s hard to identify which is which but stuff like this happens all the time.

2. Get good band pics. Not goofy ones

I know a lot of people are fans of goofy band pics because they’re fun and silly and show the more ‘human’ side off your band. After all, if Sleep did a goofy band pic then why can’t you? Sleep is one of the biggest bands in the world after all! Here’ the thing, I don’t care. Sleep have a reputation and a legacy, you don’t, you’re just an entitled dick who doesn’t get why people don’t take you seriously. You are just some other dude that I don’t care about and need to be convinced to like. Keep that in mind when determining the promo shots that you want to use. If you don’t take your presentation seriously then why should I? Even the king of silly bands, Alestorm, have a very clear methodology in even their goofiest images. I don’t care how much time you spent in the studio for this album, you need to show me that you are serious. If you aren’t able to show me that you are serious by taking decent and real promo shots then I don’t know what you’re even trying to do.

3. Don’t have the same name as 10 other bands

This is another one that should fall under the ‘Captain Obvious’ category, but here we are. There are a lot of bands out there who will take the same name as another known band and then wonder why they don’t get anywhere. I wish that I was joking. If you have the same name as ten other bands it can be okay, you can make it work, IF you are the only band remotely related to your subgenre with that name. Still, I recommend against that for a variety of reasons, primarily just because SEO and social media traction is hard to game when there’s other bands repping your name. Here’s the thing though – regardless of that, there are a lot of bands who will choose the same name as other bands IN THE SAME GENRE, so now market overlaps are guaranteed and everyone is confused. You need to make it easy for people to find you, what’s their motivation to hunt?

4. Don’t copy another band’s album title

Another one that should be obvious but gets made a shocking amount of the time, even on the major level. Just think about all the records named ‘13’ or some variant thereof that came out in 2013. It was almost to be expected and wound up being super cringey and sad. It somehow gets worse though,. I have literally seen bands pick the same album title as a band of the same name, and even share song titles. They don’t seem to see the issue with this and I’m not sure why. Not only is it y’know plagiarism to an extent that, even if it was a mistake no one would take your claims seriously, but also its just going to make you look like a joke. Do you just… not like original ideas? If you spend time on your music and can’t even be bothered to come up with unique song titles why should I give a single shit about you?

5. Don’t have a shitty mix

Like, fucking seriously. You spent a year writing this record, you spent a few grand in the studio at minimum, you want to spend money on marketing, getting this to a label and getting it in front of more fans. So you want to put your best foot forward right? It’s not like you’re rushing to get this out because the golden telephone call has come and you are about to go on tour with Metallica. So why fucking push it? There are so many bands who will put out a mix that is ‘just okay’ because they just want a release out there. But that means that everyone in the world views them as ‘just okay’’. If you don’t take the time to make sure that your record sounds as good as it possibly fucking can then it’s over. No one is searching within your sound for greatness. You need to either prove you are an expert with a deep knowledge and a valuable product, or be told to buzz off. Put up or shut up.

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