Get Schooled: What To Do When You’ve Done Everything Right
Posted on September 28, 2015
September 28, 2015 | by Jamie Coletta
As everyone’s favorite Staind song goes, it’s been a while. For those who don’t know who I am or what this is all about, my name is Jamie Coletta. I work at an independent record label called SideOneDummy Records and for the past eight months, have been writing a recurring column on PropertyOfZack called GET SCHOOLED.
After years of working in music and being an active member of our community, I noticed younger bands making a lot of mistakes in their early days. For the longest time, I just kept my mouth shut but after a while, got sick of hearing peers make fun of bands for these mistakes. Instead of joining in, I decided to do something about it. GET SCHOOLED was created with the simple thought that if no one tells you how you should do certain things, how will you ever know that you’re doing them wrong? It was a way for me to teach young bands how to properly communicate with members of the music industry without driving them insane, how to create a lasting impression without spending any money, and more.
With PropertyOfZack closing its doors last month, I debated whether or not it was worth it to keep GET SCHOOLED alive. To this day, I still run into people who reference the column or have bands reach out to thank me for writing it, so fuck it – here we are. A fresh start.
As always, the words I write here are solely my opinions. There are always exceptions to what I’m telling you. That being said, what happens if you’ve been working diligently on your band for a while, following every piece of advice you can find and still nothing is happening? What’s a band to do when, by all industry standards they’ve done everything right, but they’re sitting in the same place they were a year prior?
Seriously. If you’re doing everything you’re “supposed to” (properly utilizing social media, playing consistent shows to growing crowds, networking, making fresh/compelling content, etc.) and creating interesting, quality music, then don’t change a damn thing. To quote You Blew It!, just keep doing what you’re doing! This is where patience and consistency come into play. Those may be the two hardest things to maintain when you’re a young band trying to break out, but they’re also two of the most important.
A lack of patience has been the downfall of many bands – don’t let it be yours.
Let’s say you spend months making a record. This is it, guys, I can feel it!, you tell your bandmates while listening back to the final mastered tracks in your van. You proceed to self-release the record and then, all of a sudden, when you were expecting emails and offers to immediately begin flooding your inbox, there’s nothing.
You could take this to mean that what you’ve created isn’t good enough (and let’s be honest, sometimes it might not be!) but to run with that negative mentality is probably the least productive move for the future of your band. This moment is a crucial step towards progressing onto bigger and better things, so try not to get caught up or overthink anything.
Instead, gameplan your next move. Make sure you’re playing a healthy amount of shows after the release, and if you can, hit the road, too. At least two weeks on tour, DIY or not, in support of a self-released record shows potential labels, managers, agents and more that you’re willing to put in the work, even when it seems far easier to stay home. After that? Repeat the cycle. Create new art. Record it. Take it on the road. Again, if you’re making music that is even the slightest bit impactful and challenging to our current music scene, just keep doing what you’re doing. It may seem like it’s taking forever but I promise you that people will pay attention.
And hey, let’s be real, sometimes things just won’t work out. Even great bands don’t make it sometimes, and that sucks, but that’s just the nature of this world into which you’re about to willingly dive face first. There is an unreasonable amount of quality competition for bands and not nearly enough industry professionals (keyword: PROFESSIONALS) to get behind them. Accepting that you are only in control of what your band creates and how it is shared and delivered to the world is the only way you will be able to enjoy yourself in this process.
tl;dr? If you’re making great music, keep hustling and someone will notice. It may take longer than you’d like but it’s bound to impact someone along the way. And if it doesn’t? Take some advice from my girl Aaliyah – dust yourself off and try again.