Technically, they call themselves “South Florida’s first Go – Go Band” because they’re based closer to Ft. Lauderdale, but ‘ya know 20 minutes away and Miami sounds sexier, so that’s what I’m going with. Sorry guys. The band is called Raw Deal and they have a lot of potential.
The initial conversation started out as most do, “Hey, can we fly you out to do for us what you did with Mambo Sauce?” The truth is, it’s extremely difficult to do what I did with Mambo Sauce. It took years and I put the project together with a very specific goal in mind from the beginning. I wanted to create a universally celebrated form of Go – Go music in the way that No Doubt made a universally celebrated form of Ska music infused with other genre elements to create their signature sound. There were a million decisions made in building Mambo Sauce over the 4 years before “Miracles” hit, that led to that outcome (Music, personnel, branding, business structure, etc). I certainly didn’t make all of the right decisions, but I made the best out of what I had. In all honesty, I didn't even come close to achieving the success I was hoping for with Mambo Sauce. Success in any industry, but especially music is not just something you push a button to make happen.
So, naturally with Raw Deal, the first thing I wanted to figure out was what their goal really was. Shooting for international success isn’t so much a dream as it is a lifestyle change in pursuit of that dream. You need to eat, sleep and breathe it 24 hours a day.
When a band has already been formed by people with their own goals and dreams, is already rehearsing and performing, it’s extremely difficult to say, “do these three things and you’ll explode like Mambo Sauce” did, but I did my best and here were the three most important pieces of advice I had for THEIR band Raw Deal. It won’t be the same for every band, but I hope these might help you figure out what your goal and plan is.
1. Figure out what goal you want to accomplish first and then create the steps to get there, backwards. – Almost always, bands are started because a musician and some of their musician friends want to play music. Or a musician leaves a band because they think they can do it better or a myriad of other reasons). In Raw Deal’s case, there was a mass exodus (ok three people, lol!) of DC Dudes to South Florida. Surprisingly, they found a whole band full of Florida folks that love Go - Go (or they do now at least)
Almost never does a band start with a vision of where they want to be in 5 or 10 years. Even less often than that, do all the band members agree on that vision.
Even assuming your vision is not international success like Mambo Sauce or Raw Deal’s vision, you should still have a plan. Say your new band just wants to perform a few times a week and make some extra money. That’s cool. You might create a goal that’s something like this for your imaginary cover Go - Go band called XX Band. This was not the plan for Mambo Sauce or Raw Deal, but this is a template you can use to create your own :
Goal: XX Band wants to play three times per week for $1000 each show by the end of 2022.
And then walk your steps back something like this.
1. XX Band wants to play two times per week for $750 each show by June 2022
2. XX Band wants to play once per week for $500 each show by January 2022
3. XX Band will create a promotional video of their performance by November, 30 2021
4. XX Band will have professional photos taken by October 31, 2021
5. XX Band will perfect the second 45 - minute set of their show by September 30, 2021
6. XX Band will perfect the first 45 - minute set of their show by June 30, 2021
7. XX Band will create a set list that will cater specifically to their ideal fan by May 30, 2021
8. XX Band will create a profile of their ideal fan (Age, favorite band/artist, avg. income, likes, dislikes, etc.) by Jan 1, 2021
This of course is just a rough example and your goals, steps and timeline will be different based upon your band, but the benefit of having these milestones is that the band will have explicit and shared goals to work towards and hitting them is a hell of a morale boost. When you’re all moving in the same direction it makes things way easier.
2. Keep the core of the band small and hire everyone else – You can’t even agree with your significant other about what you’re going to eat for dinner. How much more difficult do you think it’s going to be to get on the same page with 11 other people (you shouldn’t have 11 people in your band either, but that’s for another post). Have 1 or 3 people be in charge and make the decisions. Not two and not four because then if you disagree, there’s no one to break the tie. Any more than that and you’ll never agree on anything for any length of time.
Don’t rehearse it until you get it right, rehearse it until you can’t get it wrong – I noticed these guys doing this, but I notice almost every Go – Go Band I’ve ever seen do this.You can’t get the bridge right or the transition right in a song and you play it five times over until you get it right.Then you move on to the next song. NO!!!!! My classical guitar teacher when I was six years old made me play everything 10 times perfectly.If I messed up, I had to start over again from one.I hated it, but it got me right.I’m sure she hated having to listen to me butcher the song or phrase 30 times even more than I hated playing it, but she knew what she was doing. Go – Go bands have gotten super lazy because all we have to do is play a crankin’ socket and the crowd will react. Imagine how they’ll react if you played a crankin’ socket AND you were as tight as Mint Condition or or Earth Wind & Fire... or No Doubt.
Bonus tip: Don't try to be all things to all people. Great musicians want to prove how "versatile" they are by playing songs in many different genres. From a marketing perspective, this is death. Take all of the elements of the music you like and blend it into one sound that carries through all of your songs, rather than playing a song in each genre. Listen to five of your favorite artists and I'm fairly sure you'll find this is what they did.
Thanks again for bringing me down fellas. I hope it helped!