from the no-sitting-back-and-relaxing dept
That doesn't mean that all it takes is work, or that if you work hard at things, you're guaranteed to succeed. There's nothing that's ever guaranteed success. But working hard can't hurt. Parker sent over this cool example of the band Hollerado, who detailed not just a variety of creative ideas, but also detailed the almost superhuman level of work and commitment the band put into building up their success as an indie band. The details come out in an email the band sent to Bob Lefsetz, whom they follow (not surprisingly). I was trying to pick the highlights, but there are so many, that I'll repost a big chunk of the letter, because the story is really worth reading (if you want to see the full thing click the link above):
For our first american tour, no-one wanted to book us. So, instead of booking shows, we drove as far way from our homes in canada as we could get. We would then show up at venues where a show was going on and tell them we were 2000 miles away from home, had a gig booked down the street but it somehow feel through. "Would you guys mind if we played a short set here tonight?" IT WORKED! We played countless shows this way.Now that's a hard working band. But it's also a band that doesn't take anything for granted and that isn't sitting around waiting for someone else to give it the magic answer for success. It's a band that clearly cares about its craft as well, and recognizes the value of getting out there and playing. While it doesn't come through as fully in the letter, some of the commenters on the post also add in the point that the band is also extremely engaging with fans, and puts on a fantastic live show (not a surprise, given everything else).
-Since we rarely got paid more than a few drinks and sometimes pizza, we needed to make gas money.
-We had a laptop with the the tracks to our demo CD. We would go to best buy, get a CD burner and a couple spindles of blank cds. We would burn a hundred demos in the parking lot and then return the CD burner to Best Buy. we would then put the demos in ziplock bags. (hence the name of our first record… record in a bag)
-Once we had a stash of demos we would drive to the nearest mall and set up shop in front of Hot Topic (probly the most shameless thing we have done for our band). We would stand there for hours, with discmen and demos asking anyone who would stop to take a listen if they wanted to buy a demo in a bag. We could sell the discs for 5 bucks and still make $4.50 to put towards gas.
-We did this for 2 years. Anything to avoid having a real job, right?
-In febuary 2009, we released our first full length album for FREE online.
-That same month we invented the RESIDENCY TOUR. We took the old concept of playing a residency one day a week at the same bar and made it psyco. We booked 7 residencies for the month, one for each night of the week. Every Sunday of that cold February we played in at the same club in Boston, every monday at Piano’s in NYC, Tuesday was Lacolle Quebec, Wednesdays- Hamilton ontario, Thursdays - Toronto, Friday - Ottawa, Saturday - Montreal. Repeat 4 times. 28 shows in a row. over 12,000 miles of crap canadian winter driving in 28 days.
- In febuary 2010, we started our own record label to release "record in a bag" in stores in Canada. Although every distributor we talked to said it was impossible, we were finally able to convince one (Arts and Crafts) that we could literally package "record in a bag" in a ziplock bag filled with goodies. So far we have sold over 10,000 copies of it in Canada. With no label support, our first single "Juliette" went top 5 in mainstream Canadian alternative radio.
- Things began to take hold in Canada and we soon became privy to the Canadian grant system for touring acts. Still, when they gave us a budget to play a showcase in China, we took the budget and stretched it for all it was worth. We turned it into a 3 week tour deep into china. We recorded a song in mandarin chinese and released it on the internet in China. We were able to return for another tour 6 months later.
I'm sure some of the usual commenters will claim that this is somehow horrible or will misrepresent this as me saying that all bands should just start driving 12,000 miles to do a show in a different city every night. But, as I've pointed out over and over again, there is no magic bullet to be successful (and there never was). The point is that if you're committed, hard working, good, creative and willing to embrace what fans want and what the technology allows, you have a much better chance of succeeding today than ever before. As these guys have shown, you don't have to worry about gatekeepers any more. In the past, the strategy was almost entirely focused on getting "noticed" by a gatekeeper and then hoping that they would provide that magic bullet (which they rarely did in real life).
For those who are willing to embrace what this world allows, the story above is likely to be inspiring. For those who want to sit back and have everything handed to them, I could see how it would be horrifying. But I get the feeling those people won't ever be satisfied.
Oh, and make sure to check out this absolutely awesome live action "human" 8-bit video they did (all in one take!) for one of their songs.