What Happens When a '90s Star Gives Up On His Music Career?

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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Eric Gruneisen
Axl Rose (not the subject of this column but clearly relevant here), struggling to catch his breath.

Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
I am not in a band, but I work in music as a manager/assistant. My goal is to eventually be a full-time manager (without a day job to supplement my income). I get paid a monthly fee rather than a percentage of what my artists make; some months I have more work, some less -- although it seems that the busy months far outweigh the non-busy ones.


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How Can My Band Rebound After a Bad Tour?

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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These two liked it, but...they were the only ones. Photo by Sarah Cordingley via flickr.
Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
I'm upset that I've sacrificed so much for such little recognition and my last disastrous tour ruined what little credibility I had in the first place. It went like this: six members of my band backed out the day of our tour kick-off and I was stuck with only one new member who played noise. We had rock shows booked around the country for two months straight and our performances did not reflect the work on the record at all so the audiences were disappointed and confused.


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A Rough Guide to Choosing Your First Bandmates

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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Flickr/J. Todd Poling
Sometimes, the chemistry is just there.
Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
I have almost no technical musical capabilities. However, for some reason, I have recently found myself in a situation where a few people are interested in making music with me, I suppose due to my tastes, attitude and general involvement with DIY. This would be purely for fun and I am by no means trying to "make it" beyond creating something that I think is good. I'm trying to decide who to play with. On the one hand, a couple of my best friends want to start a band. On the other hand, a friend who I don't know as well, but with whom I think I have more shared music/art tastes and band-oriented goals, also wants to start something. I know I don't have time for more than one project right now. Would you play with your best friends or the person who seems more musically compatible?

First World Music Problems in Brooklyn


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Is My Band Playing Too Many Shows?

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
I'm in a relatively new band in Minneapolis. We're about two years old and things have been going very well for us. We're not a buzz band by any means, but the EP has gotten us a fair amount of attention, at least locally. We've opened for a number of national touring acts, some extremely friendly Canadian bands and played with a ton of local bands. We've said yes to almost every single opportunity to play.


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My Daughter's Teen Band Might Start Making Money -- How Do I Report Band Taxes?

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Fan,
My daughter is in a teen band. Ages are 15, 15, 15, 17. They had their first paying gig and we are expecting more. For the gig, a payment by check went to one of the parents who then dispersed the funds. This caused concern about how to report taxes, etc.. We have been getting advice to start an LLC. I'm concerned that we are over complicating this as we don't expect money to start rolling in but they could generate perhaps $1000 to $3000 in payments in 2014 (my wild guess). We expect this band to exist for 2 to 3 more years, who knows.

Any thoughts to get us started? My hope would be a simple way to be able to accept payments by check, hopefully put any profit back into the band (recording, videos, travel, etc..). Again, the concern is that the gig payment went to a parent.
Mike

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Is Your Band Doomed to Forever Be a Local Act?

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
My band Close to Modern has been together for six years; we are based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. 2012 was a great year for us. We played shows in LA, San Francisco and Phoenix, our SXSW set got us a tweet from Carson Daly and we released our EP last September. When the EP came out we were feeling on top of our game and hustle, and it got good reviews from the local weekly magazines and from our fans. Now we're stuck. Las Vegas isn't an easy city for bands, and we're overshadowed by the Strip. Playing casinos is impossible for local acts outside of cover bands.

We've sent our EP and links to indie record labels nationally and internationally, and we've opened for a lot of touring bands in town. Now though, it seems things have slowed down for us. We're having trouble booking different venues in the cities we already played. I know we're not big enough for managers or booking agencies, but we want the opportunity to book more out of town shows. We just don't know what direction to pursue.

Thanks for your time,
Daniel

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What's the Right Way to Book a First Tour?

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
As of late, I have had the pleasure of helping my friend's band book a tour, and as excruciatingly painful as it can be, I'm doing it because I'm an aspiring booking agent. Now, I'm not helping a band lucrative enough to even need an agent, nor am I the "CEO of Spanky Nuts Agency." I'm just someone helping his friends book a tour, and that consists of finding bands from other areas who would want to share a bill with them. I still have a whole lot to learn about it, as this is the first tour I am booking. My questions to you are the following: 1. Am I doing something wrong? 2. What all should I do as an aspiring agent? 3. When is the right time for a band to have an agent?

Thanks,
Garrett

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Should I Manage My Husband's Band?

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Hi Fan,
My husband, two cousins and a friend have been practicing in my basement for about two years. (Wee for me!!! LOL.) They have played quite a few open-mics with good response. A few local bands have invited them to be openers, and the bar that they do open mics at has offered them spots on a bills.

Here's the problem: My husband is the lead singer and is super type A, so he has been doing most of the "managing." With his full-time job, he'd rather spend his free time writing songs than doing all the coordinating of practice time, shows, etc. All the other guys are kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants-type characters with no interest in being in charge. My husband asked me if I wanted to take over that kind of stuff -- including possibly putting together a promo package and everything else that will come down the road (merch, etc.). I'm 99 percent sure the other members would approve.

My question is: what are the biggest factors I need to think about? How to network? How to deal with a band that is mostly family? I am intrigued by the opportunity but have some reservations. Any advice you have for me would've greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Kim

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Why Is My Obscure, Vinyl-Only Band So Obscure?

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
I'm having trouble getting press for my band/other bands on the micro label we're on. It's an all analog label, that has actually been tracking/mixing to tape and pressing exclusively on vinyl for the past five years. So, there are no digital copies of our music in existence. We do have YouTube videos with quality clips of the music to provide samples of our sound. We've been trying to get an LP reviewed for some time now, and have upcoming releases we're very excited for and would like to have press about them. We've had a small amount of success getting smaller blogs to review it. But despite positive reviews, none of that really translated to any sort of buzz or records sales. I keep hoping reviews from higher profile media outlets might translate to 'buzz' or at least a couple record sales. No one from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Spin, etc. is getting back to me. I'm also not hearing from lower tier magazines. Not sure if it's the emails I'm sending, if there's some secret password that gets you in the club, if it's the fact that we're not a major label, if they're all just afraid to admit no one on their staff actually owns a turntable, or if they just want money to review a record. Any advice on getting records reviewed?

Cheers,
Not Merge

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If You're Not Touring Your Album You're Burning Your Label's Money

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan,
I'm in a weird spot with my music "career." I have a label that's actually willing to put my stuff out, but the last album barely broke even. I don't tour and I don't even have a band with which to play local live shows. Since I'm doing this as a hobby at this point, I'm
inclined to stop releasing music on labels, and to put my stuff out for free on Soundcloud or Bandcamp in the future. Some of my buddies argue that doing so devalues music, and would contribute detrimentally (in spirit) to a declining music economy. How do you feel about artists like me releasing their stuff for free?
When I've released individual songs for free in the past, interest in them is much lower than the albums that I've done (and sold). What do you attribute this to? The lack of paid publicity, or do you think people are less likely to pay attention to singles than albums? Is
releasing singles (even for free) every month or two less advisable than saving them up for one album every two years?
Signed,
Keep My Name Out Of It

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