I was thinking about this as in many parts of the world we are facing a second lockdown and all that that entails. I wanted to break down – what are some skills you should have if you want to make your band progress and grow a lot faster? After all – the band who can do more on their own is often the band who succeeds. I didn’t want to do basic stuff like ‘social media’ or ‘practicing your instrument’ though those are valid. I wanted to get into some of the core skills that help.
This got me to thinking. What are the skills that really make a difference? Well, first and foremost there is graphic design and video creation. This really is fuel in the fire of the content machine. Then you’ve got things like producing, mixing, and mastering – studio skills if you will. Then of course you have the final, perhaps the most important skill of all – writing.
3. Graphic Skills
This is perhaps one of the more obvious skills but it pays off an insane amount. If you can get good at Photoshopyou save yourself so much time crafting designs, getting flyers done, and all that good stuff. I know it sounds obvious, but so few people actually do that. If you can become that guy for your scene as a whole, everyone is the better for it.
There are of course a ton of free online resources to learn about graphic design. What I would say though is make an effort to do designs for free at first, and then paid, for other people in your scene so that you can start to generate value and build meaningful relationships.
2. Studio Skills
This is the big one that people should always be looking to improve. First and foremost realize that you are not as good at producing and mixing as you think you are. However, it is a skill you can learn. It’s a skill that will save you a ton of time and money too, even if you hand off the project to an expert for the final product.
As with graphic design, there are a ton of resources to do this on the internet. More importantly, if you actually sit down and take the time to get somewhat good at mixing and producing, you should offer to mix some stuff for guys in your community for practice. Again – you’ll get good feedback AND it’s a real-life example to try on.
1. Writing Skills
I know this one seems a bit outside the box relative to the others on this list but it is crucially important even if all your writing is just social media posts and emails to get your band booked places. If you can learn to communicate better and more clearly you are going to succeed. It’s such a vital skill.
One way I recommend to practice this is to start writing for a blog about your genre of music. Not only does this give you the stuff to write about at scale, but it also helps you get some valuable connections. When you write more, you learn to communicate better. Better communication means more opportunities.
So as you can see… there are some non-obvious skills you can be learning that will dramatically move you forward as we get into the pits of COVID. These are all things you can learn with google and which will help you network – so why not choose one and dive in?
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Matt Bacon is a consultant, A&R man, and journalist specializing in the world of heavy metal. Having worked with everyone from Glam Rock icon Phil Collen of Def Leppard, to post Black Metal titans Alcest, by way of legendary thrashers Exhorder as well as labels including Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music, he has dedicated his life to helping young bands develop. Having started his own blog at the age of 14 he views his career in artist development as ‘a hobby that got out of hand’. In 2015 he formed Dropout Media in order to better support the artists he loves. We sit here now, years later with countless tours booked, records released and deals signed, and loving every minute of it.
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