“There aren’t any shortcuts in the music business”.
Tons of people say that, and in my opinion they are wrong.
See, there is a shortcut in the music business. Instead of wasting years grinding away on the road, doing a few key things first will make your career easier.
I’m not saying that your career will be handed to you on a silver platter… But it will be just a bit easier for you.
Listen now to learn about the biggest shortcut you can take in your music career!
What you’ll learn:
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#78: Lessons Learned From A Fan-Supported DIY Band | Brian Mazzaferri of I Fight Dragons
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Jodie Cunningham (@jodiphotography)
And yes. There is a shortcut. I would guess it's safe to say that every single artist in the world would love to have more fans because more fans typically means more money. and also more people showing their appreciation for your music and who doesn't want that. Whether it's money or people who are expressing how much they enjoy your music.
That's a good thing in pretty much every scenario. Now people in the music business, like to say, there's no shortcut to growing your fan base and they're wrong. There is a shortcut. The catch is it's not an easy shortcut. it involves making people fall absolutely in love with you and your music. I see two main ways to do that. the [00:01:00] first shortcut to growing your fan base is fostering a welcoming and engaging community. we've talked to bands on the show about this in the past, on episode 77, which was lessons learned from a fan supported DIY band with Brian Mazzaferri I Fight Dragons. I fight dragons is one of the bands that I'm gonna be mentioning in this episode, because it has a personal relevance for me by the way, you can listen to that episode by visiting Bandhive.rocks/ 77. That's the numbers seven seven Again, it's Bandhive.rocks, R O C Ks slash seven seven. Now here's the thing. If people associate many of their friendships with your band, they'll become bigger fans of your band.
maybe without even realizing why And this is where personal experience comes in. music and shared love for a band is one of the reasons I've been able to travel the world and meet friends pretty much everywhere. And I don't mean I meet them and it's like, oh, Hey, you like the same band?
No, I mean, [00:02:00] I meet them and we already know each other from years of being friends. specifically, for me, this has happened with a lot of bands, but primarily it was AFI and I Fight Dragons. Yes. The same I Fight Dragons that has been on the podcast. And I'll tie that in a little later too, Now, as far as this, I'm gonna focus on one story. Back in 2014, I was about to go on my first Warped Tour. And the month before, I was visiting family in Germany, and one of my favorite bands of all time, Pure Love, Frank Carter from Gallows and now Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. They were doing their farewell tour in England.
I had never seen them live. So I thought, you know what? I cannot pass this up. I don't know if I'm ever gonna have a chance to see this band again. They are my favorite band. I'm gonna fly from Germany over to England. So I was looking at the best prices. And let me tell you, London was ridiculously expensive.
It would've been great to go to London because it was their last show ever, but I ultimately decided to go with Birmingham for two reasons. One, it was cheaper. And two, my friend Jodi [00:03:00] Cunningham, who is @jodiphotography on Instagram, which this will be in the show [email protected] slash 1 44.
you can go follow her
again. That's Bandhive.rocks/ 1 44. She's also from that area. so I said, Hey, I'm gonna go to this show. Would you want to meet up and shoot the show? Because she's a photographer and I was able to get a photo pass.
She said, yes. She came down to the show and we got to nerd out about AFI. That was great. But in a massive coincidence, when I got to my hotel, I posted a photo saying I was in Birmingham and on Facebook, my friend Lewis who's from the I fight dragons fan club commented saying that he only lives an hour.
So the next day he came out to the show cuz I had an extra ticket and Lewis, Jodie, and I all got to hang out and spend an evening together at Pure Love's show and it was a blast. We all had a great time. They kept playing AFI in the house, music and pure love covered the power of love by Huey Lewis in the news, which is a song that I fight dragons covered.
So Lewis also had a great time at the show. We all [00:04:00] got to hang out. We went to some record stores. It was just a great time. And here I am in England where I had never been before and I had two friends to hang out with. That is so cool. Not only because they're from different fan bases and I got to introduce the two of them, but also just the fact that I can go pretty much anywhere in the world.
Have friends, like I could go to Australia and meet up with probably about a dozen different people who I've met online over the years through different experiences for bands that I enjoy. And if it weren't for music, I probably wouldn't know any of these people. I mean, think about it this way.
People outside of the music and travel world, how many people outside their hometown do they know, or their college town, you know, if they went to college, they might know people from college, all over the. But aside from that, how many people around the world did they know now? That's just one story and I've met people all over the us and abroad I have friends in Tennessee, Illinois, California, Arizona, and Louisiana, and a ton more places that I all knew before I went there [00:05:00] because I met these people through fan clubs. Then when I went there, I said, Hey, I have a friend here. Let's meet up. Oh, Texas. How could I forget Texas? I have friends in Texas, too.
can't name all the states. I probably have friends in almost every state. Now here's the thing. I even got my first touring job through a friend I made that was in both the AFI and the I Fight Dragons fan clubs. That's how much being in these fan clubs has affected my life and how much your fan club could benefit somebody else these days.
I'm not even the biggest AFI at our I fight dragons fan anymore. I still like both bands. I still support both bands because they brought me so many good friends over the past decade and a. and I still take every single opportunity I can to see these bands play live because it's a hundred percent worth it to get that burst of nostalgia and remember all the good times and enjoy a good show because they're both really amazing live.
Now with both of these bands, something else that kind of cemented me in their community is I started interviewing them when I was [00:06:00] young. I interviewed AFI for the first time when I was 16, this was back in 2010. I fight dragons. I just turned 17. It was a few months later. It was may of 2010 and my birthday's in March.
So I was a little older, just barely, it was like five months. To this day, I've interviewed each of those bands, probably four or five times, like it's at the point that I've lost count. And it's so cool to be able to say like, Hey, I had Brian from I Fight Dragons on
the podcast. Now I know they're not a huge band, but for
the people who love that band, it doesn't matter if they are the biggest band in the world, or if they are, you know, a regional band or a national band who is now focusing on other pursuits, but still does music ones in a while is still really cool for that fan base to stick together and have their friends in that community.
So do not ever. Undervalue having a community of fans because you don't have to be a massive group. You don't have to be BTS [00:07:00] or my chemical romance or some massive group to have an incredibly dedicated fan base. I mean, AFI, they're not the biggest band in the world anymore. For a while.
You know, back in 2006, they were number one on the billboard charts. Now I don't think their latest release even charted, which if it did apologies, but I don't think it. Their core community is still there. Their fans are still there for them. This is why that band is going 30 years later, if they hadn't fostered that core fan base, they would be playing bars right now.
But because they have that core fan base, they are burning bright. They still have a fire inside. I see plenty of other bands who were as commercially successful as AFI at their peak, but they've fall. Because they didn't build a dedicated fan base. They had lots of casual fans, radio fans, or internet fans.
And then as soon as things fizzled out, that was it. That's not the case for AFI or IFI dragons. They [00:08:00] have nurtured those relationships with their fans by having a solid community. And those bands are now seeing the long term rewards of these communities. so you might not notice what a community does for you at the start, but it is absolutely worth it.
And I highly encourage you to go make a community for your fans, because it is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a long term career. Now that's just the first one. The second thing is hooking people, the instant, they first hear you. And this is just as difficult as managing a healthy community.
If not even more difficult, because to hook people immediately, you have to have an amazing song, which you absolutely pour your heart and soul into. It has to sound amazing. You have to have great writing. You have to have great vocals. You have to have great production. It has to appeal to the average person.
I know every single artist says they do this with their songs, that they pour their heart and soul into it. But realistically that's simply not true. The amount of barely half finished songs that I hear, where the artist says they gave their all [00:09:00] is painful. And this is because often don't realize that their song isn't as amazing as they think it is.
And that's why it hurts because people think they have the best song ever. And it's. I don't wanna be the one to break that to them, but somebody's gotta do it. And I typically try to avoid being that person that said you have to objectively look at your music and think about, Hey, is this the song that is going to change?
Someone's life. Now the other facet to this is if you wanna hook someone, you have to have the right timing and find the right person because not everyone is gonna like your music. That's just a fact. If you appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. So don't make bland, safe music. You have to go out there and do something new.
And that's something that both AFI and I fight dragons did. Now I'll be honest with AFI. The way I discovered them was more of a slow burn. I'd been hearing them on the radio since about 2003, 2004, and it took me a few years to get into them. It was 2008 that I first got into them. And [00:10:00] specifically I was looking for one song it was miss murder, which was on their album Decemberunderground.
And it was on guitar hero three. And I went to FYE. If you remember what FYE is, it's for your entertainment, there's still a few of them out there, but they're very rare. They didn't have Decemberunderground, but they had AFI's live album, I heard a voice. So I got that. And immediately I fell in love with that album because hearing 13,000 people screaming long to every word was like, wow, this band has power.
Not only that though, because as I listened through, I heard a voice, that live album. I realized how many of the songs I already knew. And I just didn't realize that it was AFI! Songs that I enjoyed because I heard them on the radio.
I was like, oh yeah, that's good. I could listen to that again. I never sought it out. But once I had that album, I realized, I know about like a third of the songs on this album, probably about six songs outta the 18. And that's when it hit me like, oh, I really like this band. And I went down the rabbit hole. Less than two years later, I was sitting on that band's bus talking to them about their [00:11:00] music. So I went from this 14 year old kid who had discovered his first favorite band because I, I enjoyed music before that, but they were my first favorite band. And less than two years later had worked my way into interviewing this band.
That is how quickly things turned around for me and how quickly I got started in the music business. Now, on the other hand, I fight dragons. This was I wanna say 2009, the spring or early summer of 2009. And they sent their debut EP to the radio station I was working at and I put it in the CD player to listen to it and immediately knew that they would be one of my favorite band.
Because when I listened to that, it was new. It was fresh. I had never heard a band do anything like that before. And to this day though, other bands have done similar things. I haven't heard anyone do it quite as well as I fight dragons. For years they were one of my other favorite bands and I'm still considering them in my top 10.
Like there's no doubt about it. I fight dragons is one of my top 10 bands, probably AFI too, I would guess.[00:12:00] I'll have to make the list. They still have some of my top 10 albums that's for sure. I don't know if they're one of my top 10 bands that all said to give you a more recent example.
Something that I didn't discover when I was a teen, but that I discovered just a year or two ago, they're relatively unknown band called. This is falling. And the instant I heard their single called . Whisper. I knew that they would become an artist that I listened to for years and instantly went out and bought their album on band camp.
So this isn't just something that happens to teenagers. It's probably more likely as I get older, I get more jaded about music and fewer and fewer artists hit me like that, but it does still happen. And you can make this happen with your music too. The way to do this, there are two things you need to accomplish here.
The first one, like I said is you have to have an amazing track. We already covered that. And the second thing which I briefly touched on is getting your music in front of the right people. And you can do this using a combination of again, having an amazing song and nurturing your community, which is what the first half of [00:13:00] this episode was about.
Because music fans share the music that they enjoy. Now, obviously you can run campaigns and giveaways and all kinds of stuff to get people, to share your music, The absolute best part though, is when people naturally and organically share your music with friends because they want to.
And this just happened to me last night. This is what inspired this episode. One of my current favorite artists Enter Shikari dropped a new song, the void stares back. And as soon as I heard it, I sent it to no fewer than five friends who I thought would enjoy it because I felt the song is that good?
My point is this, there is a shortcut to a successful music career. There's no doubt about that. There is a shortcut, you want to grow your fan base. I understand it. The thing is you have to put in a ton of work for this shortcut. This is still one of the most effective ways to grow your fan base.
There are tons of other options, but in my opinion, this is the path of least resistance for many artists, because it doesn't require endless touring the way other methods might. [00:14:00] Now, I still think you should tour. You should tour as much as you possibly can because it's an amazing time of your life.
And you're going to make fans more quickly this way, but it is also much more difficult. So long story short, there is a shortcut to growing your fan base. It's gonna be a long journey, no matter what, because no one becomes successful overnight. So maybe, you know, you're going a thousand miles and you're cutting off 50 miles.
Now you only have to go 950. That's still a long trip, but it is a shortcut. So all that said go out there, make some absolutely amazing music, foster, a community of fans who will support you for years to come and grow your fan base.
that does it for this episode of the Bandhive Podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. I really appreciate it. And I hope that this episode has inspired you. I know it is a long path to becoming a successful artist And even though people say there are no shortcuts, this is truly a shortcut, in my opinion. It's not the kind of shortcut that is gonna cut your journey in half, but it [00:15:00] will make your journey a little bit shorter, a little bit easier, a little bit more achievable. And all it takes is the upfront investment of your time and money into proper songwriting, proper recording and hosting a fan base or fan club of some sort, whatever you can do to keep your fans involved and get them to interact with each other.
Whatever you can . Do. That is the biggest investment you can make in your band, because if your fans are making new friendships with each other, that will pay dividends in the years to come Speaking of community, we have a free Facebook community for fans of the Bandhive Podcast. So if you want to interact with other listeners of the show, ask questions about what you can do for different situations, touring, releasing, whatever it is.
You have questions about head on over to Bandhive.rocks/group, and that will automatically redirect you to our Facebook group. Again, that's Bandhive.rocks/group. Or you can simply go to Facebook and search for Bandhive, that's B [00:16:00] a N D H I V E all one word, and be sure to select the group, not the page. We'll be back next Tuesday with another brand new episode at 6:00 AM Eastern until then I hope you have a great week stay safe. And of course, as always keep rocking.
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