Don't Start A Band, Unless You Have Some Clue How To Market Yourself

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Rocks Off has been bad, very bad. In our last two "Don't Start a Band" blogs, we ragged on our bassist, our drummer and our guitarist. We meant it all in good fun, but we have yet to rag on ourselves, and that's just not fair. So here's to equality and journalistic integrity. We joined the band a year ago. Our first performance as lead vocalist was last June, but the band has been around for about seven years, previously under another name. We've been a longtime friend and fan of the band, so when we were asked to help them market their music as well as get involved in performances, we were stoked. In the seven years of its existence, the band often came to us for feedback. And being a journalist, we liked to talk with the fans about what they thought. They all said the same thing: "They're a great band, but they need more stage presence." So one night, after discussing the band and ways it could market itself over a few drinks with the drummer, he proposed a question: "Can you sing?" We were in choir from middle school through high school, but it had been a long time since we had even attempted to sing (other than in the shower when no one was home). We hesitated. He noticed. "Look, you're friends with all of us, and you know we'll be honest with you. If it sucks, it sucks. We'll tell you. But if it's good, we can do something with it." We had another drink and agreed. A week later, we were trying out. We had always wanted to be in a band, but didn't know how to go about starting one. Instead, we lucked out and became involved in a project that had already been years in the making. Eventually, our first show came around, and we had an idea. Since the recurring feedback was that the band needed more of a stage presence, we thought we would try something new: uniforms. Not really, but kind of. We know, we know. It sounds stupid, but we weren't thinking My Chemical Romance-esque, we just thought it would be a good idea to look like a group. Originally, we wanted to keep it simple, so we suggested black T-shirts (or polos, or button downs) and jeans. "Every band does that," our bassist said. He had a good point, so we decided to wear red instead. All of us are either current or former students of UH, so we thought we'd represent the Coogs. But it didn't really work because of the stage lights, which we didn't take into consideration. Coupled with the fact that we were all wearing different shades of red, we don't think anyone even noticed. One day, before our first show, a fellow Cougar and acquaintance of ours asked if she could attend, review it, interview us and write about our band in a presentation she was working on for class. Why not, right? We informed our band mates and asked them to play nice, to which they agreed. The girl showed up to the first show. From the stage, we saw her taking pictures and, after the show, asked her what she thought of our music. She was a bit shy, so she didn't have much to say, but she did tell us that she was still planning to plug us in her project. Sweet! We asked her to send us a copy of the finished product, which she agreed to do. It took us months to get it from her and, when we finally did, we realized why it had taken so long. Our drummer told us that, had he done this, he would have lied, said it was lost and never brought it up again. Instead, she actually sent it to us, and we were shocked. In it were fabricated quotes and bios that were as wrong as they could possibly be. It was as if she actually researched us, but then, for whatever reason, decided to lie. She even quoted members of the audience calling us "Houston's grunge revival mixed with A Perfect Circle and Tool." We wish... but no one ever said that about our band, so the first press we ever got (if that could even be called press) was a complete lie. It also mentioned that our bassist was a Chicago native and would occasionally break out his accordion and didgeridoo onstage. Both statements are false, but maybe he could learn to play those instruments. We're thinking about the keytar too. So our first two attempts to market the band were, in Internet terms, a fail - failure is too long of a word for us bloggers. But since then, we've been working hard with a lot of people to get our music out there. And we've got some time in the studio booked this weekend to (hopefully) finish mixing our first album, so soon we will have an actual product to actually market. FTW! In the meantime, we should really quit smoking. Our only position in the band is as lead vocals, so we should work on that. Maybe tomorrow we'll give it a shot. Or maybe the next day. Or maybe not at all.

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