Most bands never achieve their goals for one very simple reason. They break up.
Longevity in a band’s career is highly underrated.
I think this stems from the romantic notion of an unknown band being plucked from obscurity by a label, or tales of a band getting great radio play early in their career and making it big quick.
‘Forklift driver one day, rockstar the next.’ Its a great story but not a great template for bands to follow or believe in.
I think a more realistic story revolves around an average band working really hard, They’re constantly playing shows and writing songs. The band slowly improves over time, eventually getting to a point where they start writing killer songs and playing great live shows. Not quite as sexxxy as the previous story but its actually the way it often happens. This was certainly the case with Gyroscope and our good buddies Karnivool.
In May 1998 Gyroscope and Karnivool played what would be the first of many show’s together. It was at the Swanbourne Hotel in Perth, it was heat 1 of the national campus band competition.
Neither band was particularly great that night and neither of us would go on to win the competition. Instead both bands kept on working hard, always playing shows and always writing new songs. It took until 2004 before Gyroscope would release its debut album ‘Sound Shattering Sound’ and Karnivool would go on to release their debut ‘Themata’ in 2005.
Seven years is a long time to take before releasing a debut album.
95% of bands would have broken up in this time.
Persistence and patience eventually pay off and keeping your band together may just be the single most important thing you can do as you ride the crazy roller-coaster that is being a musician.
Which then leads us to the question.
So how do you keep a band together?
This isn’t easy to answer. Bands are a multiway relationship that requires balance with the other parts of your life. Its goddamn difficult but there is one thing that I have found generally links all bands that have been together a long time…
They split songwriting credits equally.
We made a decision in the early years of Gyroscope to split all the song writing credits equally. This meant all 4 of us earn’t 25% of every song we wrote. Irrespective of who wrote what. This idea wasn’t new. We followed bands like Metallica, U2 and Radiohead, who all do the same.
I think this is incredibly important for young bands because it sets the tone for everyones roles with in the band. It encourages the members who may not be contributing to the song writing to make sure they contribute in other areas. Such as running the facebook pages, sourcing the merch designs, booking gigs and organising the rehearsal studio.
It means picking up any slack, so that even if your not directly involved with the songwriting your still pushing the band forward with your other responsibilities. Great songs alone will not get your band to where you want to go unless your doing all the smaller things really well too.
A note to songwriters: unless you really start getting some serious radio play the difference in money you’d earn by yourself against splitting with your band mates is not huge. It will be big once you start getting stacks of radio play but by that stage you’ll be earning good money via your live shows anyway.
Overall you’d rather have a smaller section of a large pie, rather than a large section of a pie that know one is that interested in baking.
Go down this road and you will have all members on board pulling in the right direction, your band will stay together and most importantly keep persisting at being the best band you can possibly be.
Band longevity + Persistence = Greater chance of achieving goals