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Advice to bands re CDs, vinyl, gigs, publicity, merchandise and distribution

Barely a day goes by I’m not asked for advice by bands/artists about getting gigs, manufacturing product, producing merchandise and getting their wares into shops. I often have essentially the same conversation several times a day (the record I think is seven). Artists may get some funding to help make a CD for instance but then have no idea what to do next or they may be getting small gigs but can’t get anything bigger. Bands several rungs higher on the ladder start to face other problems. “Bigger” bands again can’t seem to reach the next level. Our manifesto has proved incredibly popular and brought interest from bands just starting out to well established artists to the point I feel there should maybe more structure to the advice.

I’m not sure yet what form this will take but having one or two get-togethers in the shop after work will save me saying the same thing over and over again. I am however getting pissed off with people claiming to manage or do PR for bands coming in and basically looking for me to do their job for them. Sensible specific questions are fine but the general “what can I do” should really be met with the answer don’t set yourself up as a manager / PR person when you know so little.

There is of course no secret to doing well I’m afraid. Most bands don’t do well because they aren’t very good and bands that are good get nowhere because just being good isn’t enough and they are very badly organised. There is a certain element of “who you know” in Edinburgh but generally things are far healthier here in that respect than in other cities. Edinburgh has a history of Edinburgh based bands stretching from Josef K to The Shop Assistants to Ballboy and now Broken Records and with many still producing music to this day I know those with more experience would be happy to help those just starting out and showing promise.

I would imagine that something will be organised in the next month. Essentially though Kid Canaveral had our best selling album last year because it is brilliant indie pop. We have sold almost 400 Withered Hand albums because Dan writes great lyrics. Ballboy have lasted so long because they make consistently great albums. Paul Haig (the singer with Josef K for our younger listeners) is still making music today as the godfather of both post punk and electronica. So really all you need to be successful is to be very talented and work hard. Maybe that meeting isn’t needed !

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