YOU CAN’T WIN, IF YOU DON’T PLAY (The Game)

Posted: February 20, 2012 by Windsor Zene in News

AL "THE YETI" BONES

Last night I was laying in bed, my mind racing like Nascar, thinking truly about everything under the sun. When going to bed, I usually have peace and quiet with enough time to reflect on what got done today, how I did things yesterday, and what needs to be tackled tomorrow. It’s also why I get up so early everyday too. How can I sleep in, when I know deep down, most of my goals haven’t been met yet? How am I expected to advance my career in music, when i know that someone out there, is getting up even earlier than me, and doing more than most to get what they want in life?

It’s like Basketball. Growing up wanting to be in the N.B.A, even as a kid, you realize from the times of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, to the generation of the “Big Three” (Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan) all the way to present day, with guys like Kobe, Lebron and Wade; you don’t get there without putting in the time honing your craft.

Music doesn’t exactly work like sports, but the idea and principles behind accomplishing goals are pretty universal I think. They transcend sports, music, education, and life.

Being in a real band is more then just practicing in the basement and thinking how awesome you are!

Rule #1: Your band is NEVER as good as you think it is. Plain and simple. If you think your band is the shit, chances are you live inside a bubble that’s even smaller then Windsor, and the population is: “You bro!”

I think because of the internet, and how readily available music is now, bands just seem to think, “if I keep putting music out there, eventually people will hear how awesome we are, and we’ll get signed and make millions!” –This thinking is not only the furthest thing from the truth, but it’s also the furthest thing from sanity. Oh sure…your band is so amazing, and nothing needs to change, you’re perfect exactly the way you are. Yea right.

Truth is, no industry in the world works that way, why would the music industry be any different?
There are plenty of ways to get what you want out of your musical ambitions, but you have to be willing to do a few things first. Work really fucking hard at, honing your craft in songwriting, learn the music business, and play the game. You must play the game. there are a few things to keep in mind when playing the game, and I’ve decided to let people know what the game is, and how it’s played if you want your band to gain the respect of your peers.

-NETWORKING IS KEY. Should I say that again? Or did you hear me the first time.
There is no audience if there is no network. I have a mailing list of over 3000 people I’ve come in contact with over the last 10 years of touring North America. That requires my time and attention to be placed on internet networking, as well as face to face and cultivating those relations. (ie… going out to shows, bring your cd with you, talk to people in the other bands, talk to them about their band, and your band, and how we should all trade off shows.)–this also gets very important when playing with out of town acts, you should always befriend them, and if you have a place for them to crash you should ALWAYS suggest it to them, as a gracious hospitality move, that will TOTALLY COME BACK FULL CIRCLE, because guess what? While you were so busy opening the show, and packing up all your shit and running it back to your practice space and then decided to have a little introvert gathering with your band and your girlfriends, or while you were so busy having cigarettes outside talking to your “friends” about how awesome you were, I was partying with the out of town band at the show, and then at my house, making sure they left our city knowing who the fuck I was, and what I want from them in the coming weeks. The more contacts/friends you make, the band will benefit from them. If you know how to work it of course, a.k.a “playing the game”.

Its’ always important to note* NOT to be the guys that are introverted and sit and hang out with their girlfriends at a table and don’t mingle with the guests. The people that come to see you, are there to not just see a show, but be apart of the overall scene. I personally come to shows to support certain bands, and see my friends perform, but I am also cognizant of the fact that I am also present because we are representing a scene. This is important when touring, because if you don’t make contact with people at the show, you’re forking out $100 for the hotel each night, instead of sleeping on a floor somewhere, making relations with people in each city. With regards to our city, people go out to drink, and they like to see shows. People in Windsor also have a pretty good “bullshit meter”. In my mind, if you have an ego about your band, you better have done shit to back it up! If I see the same band every weekend perform at the same club, you are not going to be seeing me there very often. How much better could a band actually get within a span of 7 days? How do you expect to build a fan base when you are just on auto pilot every weekend? Sometimes it happens so fast, no one even knows you’re playing again. When you are at shows, it’s important to network with people, otherwise what is the point of playing shows other than basically jerking off in front of everyone? That doesn’t mean to be introverted, or even overly extroverted for that matter, just cordial and cool. You see, there are these unwritten rules, that really apply in smaller cities like Windsor, one of them being, if you show up to someone else’s gig and let them know you are from “insert band name” and you came to see them. I SWEAR TO GOD, they will all be at your next show. The one’s who don’t. Can all go to hell. Seriously…

Another one is, stay till the last band, and be one of the bands’ that make it be known that you stayed. hit the band up on facebook the next day (make individual relations with other band members), hit them up and tell them “i saw your set, it was awesome, let’s do it again some time.” Anything, to let them know you are involved and engaged with the scene.

If you make friends with certain other members of different bands, invite them out to the Coach, or Pogo‘s or something, (YOU MUST hang out where the scene is taking place) to go drinking, and get to know each other. Sounds cheesy, but I can’t tell you when the last time I actually played in a band with “friends” i know or grew up with. I only play in bands now with people I’ve met through the scene, and have become tight with over the years, because of these infamous drinking sessions we embarked on. At this point, I’m in two bands, one being Gypsy Chief Goliath, where we all live in separate cities across Ontario because these are musicians I either toured, played, or recorded with at one time, or another and I felt close enough to them and wanted them to be in a band with me. The other band I play in is called The Mighty Nimbus, which is a band from Minnesota. (Whom all were apart of 2 of my favorite bands before they formed this one.) I was lucky to have been apart of it. Explore your options, and expand your horizons.

Start a side project with other dudes in other bands, this is a small enough scene and city that your name will spread quicker if we all work together.

A lot of time, bands booking TOO MANY shows in the same city each month can also turn people off. You may think you are conquering the world, but in fact you are playing at the same place every weekend in Windsor Ontario Canada.
Hit the road, go out of town, time to have your dues paid back to you, from housing all those out of town bands that played with you in Windsor!

Impressions mean a lot so to give off a good one, you have to be supportive of others, and find bands in the scene you feel compliment each other well when billed on the same show, and slowly try and build. Those bands fan’s will eventually become your fans, and vice versa.

Each member in the band should take a bit of the responsibility. Everything should NEVER be on one guy, (although I cant tell you how many times this occurs.) It’s just sad. But at the end of the day, if you are the guy that is doing all the business, and you are networking and being the “face” of the band when you are out at night, then you will be the one ultimately associated with that “branding” of your band. Which is never a bad thing. Because you will earn the respect you deserve. But the guys might wonder why you’re the one everyone knows. I got the name Al Bones, because everyone used to just call me, Mr. Bones. Well, Mister Bones used to be a band in this city. We weren’t one guy. We were a band. And now we’ve all gone off to sprout new bands in the last decade.

It’s important to be aware of what’s going on in our scene and just be apart of it, by simply “being there.” the more you put in though, the more noticed you become which is great. If you wonder why “OUR” music scene sucks, chances are, you are not in it, and you are simply watching the scene from the outside-looking-in. It doesn’t require you to be apart of it by doing push-ups in the Coach & Horses bathroom until the next gig, but you should be able to stray from home once maybe twice a month and pay back those people in bands that came to see your show. It’s the decent thing to do.

Setting up shows and asking other bands to play with YOU instead of always waiting to be asked, is also good. Not promoting just yourself, but others is a good move too.
If everyone promotes only their own band, then you get that whole debaucle where people come to see YOU but then leave for the rest of the show, or they only come in to see your set and then leave. It happens a lot in this city, and it has something to do usually with, not having an idea of who’s fanbase is there, and why aren’t they integrated.

For instance, I can walk into the Coach N’ Horses building and tell you the names of every bouncer, bartender, server, manager, owner, past employees etc.. (that goes for the entire building) and the reason I know this is, I party with these people as well, because they are in my network. I consider them colleagues of mine in the greater business of the music scene here in Windsor, and I’m proud to say I consider most of them to be my friends.

Instead of sitting at home on a Saturday night, because your band isn’t playing downtown, you should go out once a month for example, and check out a few shows in a night, and let them know who you are and that you came to see them. Like I said, they will all return the favor.

Remember, the easiest thing to do, is to stay at home and chill. That won’t help your band any. But if you are looking for something easy that can help your band grow, come out to other people’s shows. I swear to God, they will return the favor. If you bitch about the scene, and wonder why it sucks, like I said, come out to some shows, we’ll bitch about the scene together!!! But at least we’ll be networking and advancing our bands in the process.

I manage bands so I know and am aware of the scenarios each band may have in their lives that prohibit them from doing the things I’ve mentioned. I know, that time is an issue, work and all the excuses in the world right…? but the point is, the band is a gang, and that gang needs to be known, if it is not, nobody knows you are in a gang, and that’s the opposite of being in a gang.

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Comments
  1. Bummer! I thought we could just make cool videos, play a couple shows here and there and we’d make it! Ha ha!

  2. Al Bones says:

    yup exactly. Field of Dreams baby!!!! “if you build it… they will come”.

  3. Pops Munro says:

    Very well written brother. And also duly noted. If we can all even use a small piece of this advice we could make the scene thrive in no time. Such an abundance of talent but egos do get in the way. And it is most definitely too easy to stay home on a weekend and chill. Let’s get it moving people. Windsor musicians unite \m/

  4. SIN Agency says:

    Reblogged this on SIN Agency and commented:
    For up and coming Indie bands, this is a solid read! Do yourself a favor and make the time to read this!

  5. SIN Agency says:

    Great article and great advice!

  6. Adam Key says:

    Yeah, my brother’s band is always trying too improve themselves. It is the only way of course too gain any kind of inner momentum, they have people are them saying they are badass but they say they suck lol. They need shows and they’ve had some inner problems every now and again the machine looses steam but they don’t give up. It is like a painting you just keep adding colors until the picture is complete, but if you are the creator its never done.

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