Gilson Rodrigues de Arruda runs Imperative Music, a Brazil-based label, distributor and management company. Amongst other things, they release excellent compilation CDs once or twice a year – free of charge to the bands who feature on them – and distribute them worldwide.
Volume 13 is due in the next few weeks and will be the first DVD release! We’ll have copies of it to give away ourselves once the package arrives. Keep your eyes open for a review.
Calling on his years of experience, Gilson drafted the following article – things that the big bands do, which upcoming acts could learn from. Read, enjoy, learn…
I’ve been working since the 90’s on the metal scene both in Brazil and abroad, and I would like to share what generally famous bands have done in the past. Maybe the newcomer bands can learn something of that and benefit in their career .
Also, in addition to my experience in international relations with bands, record companies, stores, media in Europe, United States and Japan, I also graduated in Foreign Trade and I noticed several tools, data, situations and policies in business worldwide that any band can use on promotion and agreements.
Working at the national level is one thing, it is still important to always be a professional, but working at a world level is a step up. You need improvement, professionalism, dedication, devotion and a lot of patience and humility.
10 Basic Systems in the Heavy Music Business
1 – This is a business. There will be entrepreneurs/managers wanting to make money with your band, but you can gain space and some money in the right places. If you want to do shows abroad, look for an agency, ask the bands that have worked with it. If you want to invest in Europe then select key countries like Germany, France, and the UK because in these countries they have a lot of public and many record labels and – most importantly – magazines to try get a record-deal, interviews, merchandise sales, etc. through.
2 – Do business with everyone. It’s not capitalism, but what I want to say is about partnerships. For example, be sure to send your CD to be reviewed in any fanzine from Bolivia or Lithuania because they are as important as ones from Germany or the United States. I know about one story of a Swedish band that was signed by European record label after the label saw the band in an interview in small fanzine from Bolivia. Incredible? I’ve heard and I know some bands that do not interviews with people located in distant/poor countries, or do not send promotional material to get reviews in other parts of the world. What is the advantage in this?
3 – Send answers to emails within 24 hours. Or within a maximum of one week if you are experiencing personal issues. Remember, good care is in fact to keep customers, and people will see you as a responsible person for future business. On you Facebook page and other social networks, print your contact addresses (emails, postal address, website, phone number).
4 – Learn English. Learning English is expensive when we are living in poor country and our schools teach almost nothing. At least the band’s vocalist/ leader need to master that language, it will be useful, it’s something to think about and study.
5 – Having a band is a long-term investment. Sometimes it is not with the debut album that the band will succeed. See the bands from the past – many of them have obtained international contracts with major record labels when the band has released their second or third album through a small record label within their country. This was the case for Behemoth. In these cases, persistence is fundamental.
6 – Promotion has never been and will never be a missed investment. All the media is a channel to get to somewhere different. Some readers read only one magazine, and the country may have two magazines, so it would be good to send your promo-CD to both. Start broadcasting locally, statewide and later nationally, and when the band is mature and have a very well recorded, mastered, produced album, invest in the international market.
7 – Connect and cooperate with other bands in your territory. Other locations as well, but locally is a great start. Give yourself the confidence and space to learn from everyone else. You will also need to chase after people, and not wait for the phone to ring to get things done. A lot of humility and enthusiasm will be good for building your career in the music world.
8 – Plan to produce your next album in renowned studios. If it is not possible on the debut album, plan for and aim to do this for a future album. The cover and design of the CD need to be well presented. The same is about band pictures, video-clips and so on. Try a professional production.
9 – Share anything! The tools of our day are social networks, but before that there were photocopied flyers and we sent these little bastards in the mail and it worked. Today on Facebook, for example, “like” and “share” makes people aware of gigs/festival, reviews of the demo or album, information about the release of the CD or T-shirts. Any and all matters about your band are important things. It’s a must-share to keep the band up and get new fans, because you think Metallica or Megadeth are every day “spreading the word” with their new videos, comments or something from their private lives? This is a type of “marketing” to conquer and direct the ‘looks’ to them.
I do not believe that the big bands play only what they want or like. 80% of the repertoire is to please, to take advantage of the wave of the current musical scene. We already had the hard rock wave, the grunge wave and today we are in the heaviest wave or extreme. See the great success and interest of the major record labels in bands like Behemoth, Amon Amarth – their songs even appear in movies. Even Dream Theater and Metallica have made their recent albums heavier, so the actual trend is extreme metal. You need to pay attention to this and work around it if your band intends to succeed.
10 – Be yourself. Don’t copy – it is half way to failure. I know we are all fans of many bands, but imitating the voice and the riffs of a big band can limit the interest of the great majority. Be better than the original. In the Demo stages it may even be fun to see a band imitating and playing like such a big band, but when the band is going to release a full length album, better try to be original as much as you can. I know that many bands have influences, but it cannot be a ‘copy’ such that anyone listening say that your album is just like some other band. The ideal would be to have someone say that your band is as good as such and such established acts.
I wish all bands good luck and hope that this report drawn from the years that I have been working in Brazil and the rest of the world can be of some use and improve the career of your band!