Canadian Musician - September/October 2017 - Page 62

BUSINESS Matt Jameson is the bassist and manager for The Junction and Wing Night (the band). For more information, visit www.thejunction.ca and www.wingnighttheband.com. By Matt Jameson 10 Tips for Your Band’s Political Utopia 1. Finding Members We’ve all heard that finding the right people is the hardest thing to do when forming a musical act – and with good reason. A perfect blend of talent, work ethic, temperament, and expectations all within a similar genre – where do you find that? You don’t. You’re not going to find someone that checks all those boxes perfectly, so ensure you have similar goals and can be friends before anything else. If you disagree at some point (which is guaranteed to happen), you’ll know that you’re both fighting for the same goal; however, now it’s just an argument over which path is better (in your opinion). 2. Democracy Rules Vote on important decisions and split the cash evenly. “But I write the songs and lyrics and I’m entitled to more, aren’t I?” That’s true, and I would say, “Be my guest.” The groups I’ve seen with this set-up inevitably break up. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have lead singers who have foregone millions of dollars in bands that are still together. If you wrote the lyrics, you will be recognized for it and other opportunities will present themselves. Who else is going to be invited to songwriter circles or seize chances to collaborate with established artists? 3. Strengths & Weaknesses Recognize what each member is good at. Whether it’s songwriting, stage banter, booking shows, managing social feeds, grant writing, or even being the bad cop, assign responsibilities to divvy up the workload. If you aren’t already a supergroup of songwrit- 62 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N ers coming together to be the next Traveling Wilburys, good luck. You need diversity and a variety of skills on and off the stage. 4. Don’t Go into (Much) Debt I’ll admit I totally did not take this advice. There was a time when The Junction borrowed mon- ey from family to make a record after we got out of our Universal deal. This is a slippery slope to get out of because, unlike record labels, your family has no staff, no distributors, and basically no means to get that money back. Demo tracks as cheap as you can so that you can attract funding from people that know how to make a return on the investment in your music. 5. Content You’ve heard it before and, admittedly, we’re not the best at it, but you need to be pushing con- tent on the regular to be perceived as “active.” The Junction took two years without playing a show and everyone thought we broke up. 6. Grant Money You should already be acquainted with FACTOR. You will apply and you will get turned down. Don’t let this discourage you. It’s important to keep trying and reading the feedback so you can get closer and closer on each attempt. Continually applying also shows that you are active and can keep your name in the ears of judges and jurors. 7. Managers Do not bother searching for them hoping they will launch you onto the charts. Focus on the music and the live show. If either of those things starts coming together, you will be approached by people that want to help you. Congrats! If they seem legit, you should welcome their help. They should be able to open opportunities that you can’t; other- wise, why are you considering working with them? They should be able to demonstrate this several times before asking you to sign something, and before signing anything, you need to ensure that you’re comfortable with someone speaking on your behalf. If you hire a sleazy manager, they are going to spread the sleaze with your name on the tip of their sleazy tongue. Do your research and ensure your morals are aligned. 8. Record Labels Again, don’t go seeking them out like they are going to save you. If things are going well, there will be labels keeping an eye on you. At this point, get a lawyer that knows the music business and read about Chance the Rapper. 9. Touring If you haven’t seen this beautiful country from a van window, I can understand why you would want to; however, don’t get caught up in the idea that you “NEED to tour.” It’s 2017, and largely, discovering bands isn’t done in the venue anymore. Focus more on getting a great show together and capturing it so you can share it online. It’s way cheaper than renting/ buying a van and can build an audience for you before you arrive in a city for your first gig. If you’re able to pull out 50 people in your hometown that you don’t know personally, touring opportunities will follow soon after. 10. Read “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann