Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Hip In Detroit Do or Die Guide for Local Bands

Photo Credit: Joe Gall Photography

Everyone has a list of recommendations for bands these days. Some of the advice they mention applies to Detroit and some simply does not. We have a different music scene here than anywhere else in the country, in the world for that matter. We have seen our share of bands make it from this city and plenty of bands die before their time. We thought it was time for Hip In Detroit to put together a list of advice for local bands, from the mouths of your favorite hip ladies. Take it or leave it, here’s our two cents.

1- Not pressing a physical copy of any Full Length or EP is a mistake.
Some of us, no a lot us, still like to buy a CD or an album. We listen to them in our cars, play them on our record players, and even frame the really cool covers on our walls. For these reasons it's a good idea to have at least a few physical copies of the album.

2- You should be going out and watching other bands and supporting the local music scene. 
If you show up and watch other bands play it shows two things to others. The first is that you genuinely like music, even if it's not you on stage you still get enjoyment out of hearing someone else play music live. It's also a great way to network and encourages those bands to make a point to come see your band the next time you play. It also might make that band more likely to book a show with you in the future. Sharing the love is beneficial for everyone involved.

3- Don't forget about your fans. 
Taking your fans for granted and acting like you're too cool for them is the fastest way to fizzle any hype that your band has. When someone takes their time and spends their money to come out and see your band, you owe them. Would it kill you to say hello, shake a hand, and make them feel appreciated? Staying back stage is okay when you're Beyonce, but you're a local band. Get out there, walk around, and say hello! If you make someone feel wanted and needed, they will come back to get that feeling again. 

4- Taking your female fans for granted is a huge mistake. 
There are a lot of bands that treat their female fans poorly. From assuming that they are only there to fuck someone in the band to disregarding their value as music fans and critics. Female fans tend to be loyal and they are more likely to post about their experience at your show on social media. Females travel in packs, win one over and her whole crew will be there for the next show. These ladies can be your best source of free marketing and can really help you quickly grow your fan base.

5- Printing your bands shirts on cheap t-shirt material is a big mistake. 
You might as well not even bother making shirts at all. If I buy a t-shirt at your show and it itches, it fades really fast, or the logo washes away after the first spin, I feel robbed. I am less likely to keep wearing this shirt (which is free advertising for you), and it will probably make me hold a little bit of resentment towards your band for wasting my money. Go for the good fabric with good ink and charge a few more dollars. Also, as a side note: too much print on the front of a shirt doesn't go over well if you have boobs. If you want the ladies to buy your shirts, keep this in mind when you're coming up with your designs.

6- Just getting on stage and playing the album the way it was recorded verbatim while standing there is a bad idea. 
Standing in a dimly lit room for a few hours to see a band isn’t always as fun as it sounds. Your feet start to hurt and if you don't like the opening bands and don’t have any friends at the show, it can get very boring very fast. Make that wait worth your fans' while by not playing exactly what they could have heard in their car. If you play it exactly the same with no stage show, I'll skip the show next time and just listen to the album. My feet will appreciate the down time and so will my bank account.

7- Don't play too often. 
You have to space that shit out! You need to make the events that you throw special. Don't just play every weekend and get mad when less and less people show up. Play less, and make the people want to come out and see you, especially if you listen to the last bullet point and make sure that they leave the show wanting more. Maybe tonight you wear something special, bring a prop on stage, make a video to go behind the set, or dance your little heart out. We're not saying that every musician needs to get up and put on a show like Tunde Olaniran, but you need to do more than sway back and forth while staring out at the faces staring at you. Make me move, make me laugh, make me experience something that I can’t get anywhere else and I'll make sure I don't miss the show the next time that you play.

8- Don't charge too much for your shows. 
Don't get greedy! There is no reason that you can't make money on a gig, in fact you should make money, but there is a big difference between charging $5 and $15 for a show. A lot more people are willing to drop 5 bucks to come see a band even if they know nothing about them. Very few people would come to a show for 15 if they do not know the artist. And these release shows that cost $10+, but you get a copy of the album need to stop. Maybe I don't want your album. Maybe I just want to check out this show and then if I'm impressed enough, I will buy a copy. You need to decide what is more important, getting more people into your show or making a few extra dollars. Short term versus long term outlook my friends, what's more important to you.

9- Stop thinking the Detroit scene is a clique and that's why you're not getting put on bills and people aren't coming to your shows. 
We hate to break it to you, but if you're good the people will come. There is no secret here, if you're good you will have fans and people will book you because you get feet in the door, thats it. If people aren't coming to your shows, ask yourself what you are doing wrong. Stop thinking it's something that others are doing to you. Not being an asshole always helps too.

10- Not staying till the end of the show when you're playing the gig. 
THIS HAS TO STOP. It might be the biggest dick move of all. We get it, sometimes one member of your band has to leave early to work the next morning or head out of town with the family, but that doesn't mean that all of you get to pack up as soon as you're done playing and leave the venue. You should plan to stay for the rest of the show and only leave early if you have to. Take separate cars, make arrangements to be there for as long as possible. You asked your fans to come and hang out for the night, you're expected to do the same. Plus, someone (either another band or the booking agent) supported you enough to book you on that show. The least you can do is show some respect in return.

12- Quit playing with the same lineup of bands over and over again. 
Ok, you're bros with another band and you love playing together as much as possible. It is really cool when bands team up and start booking shows together, but it cannot be the same 3-5 bands on every flyer. You need to attract as many new fans as you can with every show that you play. You also need to network and meet as many bands as possible. Save the bro downs for special occasions and expand your horizons by playing with as many different bands from as many different backgrounds as possible. You can't get more fans if you keep drawing the same crowd every show.

13- Not sharing positive articles or features that are written about your band/album/or show is a huge mistake. 
If someone took the time to do research on on your band, interview your band, photograph your band, or promote your band in any way, the least you could do is pay them back by sharing it with your fans. Aunt Betty will think it's really cool when she sees that some .com wrote about you and a few pictures from a show that make it look fun might be the tipping point in encouraging someone to come to the next show. It's a win win if you share that article. On the other hand, if you don't return the favor, don't expect that outlet to do you many more favors in the future.

14- Someone else's success doesn't affect you at all. Be happy for others, not jealous.
It's easy to get jealous when someone else is doing well, but there is no reason for this. Someone else's success doesn't cause you to fail. If anything, it brings more positive attention to our music scene and might lead to more opportunities for you and your band in the future. Jealousy is tacky and sad, don't be a hater be a supporter.

15- Depending on Facebook event invites to promote you show is the dumbest thing you can do. 
First of all, do you know how many people will actually look at your Facebook invite? Not many at all. Reach out to as much social media as possible and do not discount the power of flyers and posters. DIY flyering and postering is the best way to advertise your show. If you have time and are creative, a short video teaser or commercial is another great way to advertise. The shorter and the more funny the video is, the more likely it is to be shared around the internet. Reach out to your local papers and blogs and anyone that might give you a little bit of attention and take whatever help you can get! And don't forget to share it! (If you've already forgot about that rule, refer back to #13!)

16- Play your heart out no matter what. 
Don't get pissed because you have to open a show, don't get pissed because the crowd you're playing for is small. Whether are 2 people there are 200, they came out to see you play and to see a good show. Make those people fall in love with you. No one wants to watch you throw a temper tantrum on stage or play a half ass set. If you play a shitty set, you're the one who loses out.



  1. this is great. this should be shared, passed around. well done S&C!!!

  2. Sharing this with my band, and all my musician friends. Thanks H.I.D.

  3. Sharing this with my band and musician friends. Thanks H.I.D.

  4. Great article, other than some of what's written in #4. Though it's arguably well-intentioned, it comes off as the equivalent of a National Geographic narrator telling us about that strange "species" of females: "Female fans tend to be loyal... Females travel in packs, win one over and her whole crew will be there for the next show." How about, "taking any fan for granted is a mistake"? And, oh yeah, "don't be sexist"?

  5. Agreed with the #4 statement on an earlier comment. This is coming from a female musician. Otherwise you hit the nail on the head