|So, you're in a band. You've got a solid set and some shows under your
belt. Through your hard work you've managed to scrape up about $4,000. A guy calls you up
and tells you he wants to "help" you by taking your money. He, of course,
promises you all sorts of wonderful things in return for your investment. What do you do?
You tell him to kindly find another fool who will fall for what is clearly a complete
rip-off. In a day and age when some secular bands are spending 1 million dollars to record
their albums, what can you realistically do with your meager $4,000? Suprisingly enough,
you can really do a lot more than you think. To demonstrate, let's look at what you can do
for under $1,000. For example, with $890 you could start with 48 two-color t-shirts, 100
two-color 4 inch square stickers, 500 black and white glossies, cover studio time for a
16-track 3 song demo mixed down to DAT, and walk away with 70 copies of the tape with
inserts. Then you market the shirts, the tapes, a few stickers and some photos. By my
estimate, after expenses, you'd have a profit of about $50. That may not sound like much,
but you now have $4,050 in the bank. Seventy people have your tape, and they'll probably
share it with 1 or 2 other people. That means, collectively, maybe 120 people are
listening to your tunes. Forty-eight people are wearing your t-shirts - free publicity!
Are you beginning to get the picture? The idea is to make your money work for you.
else to keep in mind - if you don't have the money to get quality merchandise, DON'T
DO IT! You'll be cutting your own throat. Nobody wants to buy t-shirts that shrink so
small after one wash that you can't wear them. Nobody wants a tape that sounds like it was
recorded in a giant soup can and falls apart in your tape deck. Save your money until you
can do it right. Meanwhile, practice and do more shows.
Now what? Re-invest your money. Make more shirts and tapes. Start putting together a
demo package to send to record companies (i.e. tape, photo, bio, sticker) if that is what
you wish to pursue. Create an image and develop a following for your band. You might
consider a responsible and reliable booking/promotion company to help you with contacts. I
strongly suggest you only work with people that you thouroughly check out first - don't
ever deal with any individual or company that asks you to give them money upfront without
a written contract promising a tangible return on your investment. In other words, if
you're not getting tapes, promo photos and so forth, take your money elsewhere.
Record/booking companies are businesses just like any other. They need to make money to
survive. Sometimes they will go to extraordinary lengths to get that money. Even the
Christian music industry is not exempt from underhanded business tactics.
Those living in the greater Seattle area have been faced with other major obstacles. No
support from Christian radio, no major venues, no promotion, nor communication between
bands and interested individuals. Now for some good news...November marks the opening of
the Solid Rock Cafe at Calvary Fellowship of Seattle. Every Friday night, this club
will feature Northwest bands, dance nights, open mikes and more. It has a new full-size
stage and P.A., and an espresso bar. Also coming in 1992: A music festival featuring rock,
metal, alternative, punk, and rap bands. We want to see this become an annual event.
January/February will be the starting point for the first NCMI Network (Northwest
Christian Music Industry) meeting. A time for studio people, musicians, bands, and
promoters to get together to exchange numbers and share what they are involved in. Rumor
has it that there is strong support for a new Christian radio station with a balanced
playlist. There is also interest for a Christian music store (no, not a bookstore).