Reeperbahn Festival is a poignant annual reminder of just how narrow the window of opportunity for a band to find success is. My advice to bands is to try to experience a showcase event like Reeperbahn from the vantage point of the people who might want to do business with their music. They should walk into a roomful of music people all of whom have many fine artists to be passionate about. So much passion, so little time; so many pitches, not many home-runs.
The point I repeatedly make to artists is that the only worthwhile cause is to improve the quality of the art. Exposure and opportunities can be capitalised on, only once the actual art kicks ass.
Killer songs and recordings that sound like they might plausibly be successful are the starting point, an entry requirement, without which nobody’s going anywhere.
Punters and tastemakers alike will beat a path to your door once your product is good enough to reel them in. You’ll know it’s good enough when you hear the sound of their footsteps beating that path to your door.
Friends and family support a band (and come to gigs) for reasons unrelated to music, but for the rest of humanity the first point of contact with an artist will almost always be online, listening to a recording someone has recommended.
When was the last time anyone went to a club on the off chance that there might be a good band playing? In the 90s? The recommendation can come from a mate, a work colleague, a blogger, an artist manager, etc. The reaction to the recording can be either positive, negative, or vigorously indifferent. But punters and tastemakers alike will beat a path to your door once your product is good enough to reel them in. You’ll know it’s good enough when you hear the sound of their footsteps beating that path to your door. The inescapable logic of this becomes obvious once you see the footfall at a showcase conference like Reeperbahn.
Give yourself a chance. Invest in your art. It involves not only money, but – much more importantly – time, focus and dedication. A bit of TLC.