Sep 15, 2010

Battle of the Band(s)

DEAR ask a punk-
My band is divided over an issue. A club is sponsoring a 'Battle of the Bands' this Fall. There are a couple of 'rounds' and if you win one night you get to go to the next until the end. Half the band thinks it is a lame idea and the other half wants to do it. We haven't been together for long, so it isn't like I think we could WIN it, but I think it would be a good way to be seen. So you know how I'm voting. So I guess I have two questions - Should we enter the BotB and, with an even number of band members what is the best way to solve these voting ties? - Battler.

Dear Battler-
I usually tell people that "a gig's a gig" and, if nothing else, any live show will help a new band in ways that 20 practices wouldn't... but these "Battle of the Bands" things can be tricky...

First of all, don't expect to win. I don't care how good you are (or aren't.) These things are usually (if you're lucky) decided by the audience, so the most popular/well-known band, the one that brings the most fans & friends through the door are most likely going to win. If you're not lucky then a panel of 'judges' will be determining the winners based on all sorts of shady criteria that you couldn't begin to guess at.

The other tricky thing about BotB's is that some of them are flat-out scams... Is there a heavy "entrance fee" or some other cash outlay (like having to pre-sell your own tickets or make up the $$ difference) that each band is expected to shoulder? If so... then DON'T enter the contest. You would be better off spending the couple hundred bucks renting out a space and throwing a gig/party of your own.

But if the costs of entry are low and you keep your expectations low, it can be a good experience. As I said first off: As a new band ANY gig is going to be good practice, and something like a BotB, especially in a small-ish scene like the one you've described is a good way to possibly meet, all in one place, many of the people involved in your town's music scene: other bands, other promoters, new fans etc... You'll learn (quickly) that some of these people are D-bags that you'll want to avoid in the future, but you're also likely to make some new friends and comrades in the scene and if you don't suck and don't act like complete tools, you might find some of your new friends & acquaintances offering you gigs and introductions to other worthwhile people. ...yes, it is called 'networking.' ...but if you want to be part of the music scene in your town, a little elbow rubbing couldn't hurt.

I can hear some people complaining already... I said elbow-rubbing, not brown-nosing. As I said, you're likely to meet as many people you'll want to avoid forever as you are allies... but hey, that is still useful information to have isn't it? ...that is IF you want to learn about the mainstream venues in your town... There is certainly something to be said for going your own way and DIYing your gigs, publicity and future. I'm all for that as well... but you didn't tell me ANYthing about your band's style of music or basic principles, so I'm left to guess.

As far as figuring out how to break a tie in a band with an even number of people... I guess it depends on how agreeable you all are and how important the decision at hand might be. Something relatively unimportant like "Should we enter a Battle of the Bands?" might be decided if one faction or the other decides to just relent OR you could just flip a freakin' coin. I mean it doesn't really matter THAT much either way, does it? ...Bigger decisions, if you ever have to make them, well, hopefully people will be able to civilly debate, compromise and persuade each other to come to a group decision that everyone can be (relatively) happy with.

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