October 4, 2015

NAMM 2015


By Jen Boylen

The National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM is a not-for-profit whose goal is to promote music making through trade shows, professional and market development and NAMM membership opportunities. The mission of NAMM is to strengthen the music products industry and promote the pleasures and benefits of making music, both of which are embodied during the NAMM trade shows.

NAMM has two shows throughout the year: One in Nashville during the summer and another to start the year in Anaheim, California, which took place Jan 22-25, 2015. NAMM shows are the world’s largest trade-only event for the music product industry. It has steadily grown in attendance each year with over 100,000 attendees  at each show.

The main attraction at any NAMM show is the product exhibits where buyers can see what’s new in the industry and what they will plan to buy in the coming year. This year, many new and exciting products were unveiled as a part of the event–including mew and limited edition drums and kits, synthesizers, drum machines, microphones, headphones, guitars, accessories and countless others.

Computer programs were also on trend this year. Reason and Native Instruments both released new programs or upgrade packages, but were sadly outdone by competitor ProTools. ProTools | First, a free version of the program, made its debut during the Anaheim event.

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In 2008, ProTools released its first free version of the program, and now, seven years later, they have returned to that business model. Today, free is the trigger word for many consumers. So much so, that a ‘freemium’ business model is frequently adopted by many companies. The freemium idea, where free meets premium, balances on a simple idea: give customers the core product for free in order to sell enhancements and upgrades. Many computer applications, such as Skype or interactive games already follow this practice, and this is exactly what ProTools is trying to achieve with the free version of its software. Artists who haven’t used ProTools previously due to its price, will now have an opportunity  to do so. This is a great way to hook folks on ProTools which is at the root of their marketing strategy, ProTools is allowing people to test  their product with a free, scaled down version. In turn, they gain brand loyal consumers who are willing to invest in the ProTools name in the future.

NAMM 2015: The Best Of The Rest


By Zachary Caputo

Every year, a flurry of news publications, bloggers, and industry pros travel to NAMM with only one thing in mind: finding the biggest reveals of NAMM and spreading the word like wildfire! Big announcements from the major companies flood all your favorite websites tenfold until the eyes glaze over.

Sometimes lost in all the hoopla and marketing of the big players are some of the outstanding products brought out by smaller vendors. Fear not though! We have scoured  the massive, four-day extravaganza that is the National Association of Music Merchants trade showand here’s a list of our top 5 favorite NAMM reveals that flew under the radar:


5: Rickenbacker 4003S Bass

Okay, so maybe this isn’t “under the radar” per say, but I didn’t see this on anyone’s lists and it is absolutely worth noting. The Rickenbacker 4003 series bass is pretty much the most famous bass guitar of all time, being seen in the hands of Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead, Jesse F. Keeler from Death From Above 1979, Scott Pilgrim from Sex Bob-Omb, and Kanye West’s new protégé Paul McCartney, but this is far from a normal “update”.

The Rickenbacker 4003S is a classic variation of the 4003 series with dot inlays replacing the signature diagonal inlays and the beloved dual trussrod system that made it a favorite for Mr. McCartney and others back in the day. After years and years of letters begging to bring this iconic model back, Rickenbacker has finally answered the call and is returning it to the production line just the way they used to make it. They are keeping all the original features, even the rounded edges and the Rosewood fretboard, to make this the true comeback of a timeless guitar. And you thought you’d never be able to play “Blue Jay Way” on bass ever again.


4: Novation Launchpad Pro MIDI Controller

The Novation Launchpad has quickly become a live performance staple since its initial launch (pun absolutely intended) in 2009. Many small changes and new models have come since then, such as the Launchpad S or the Launchpad Mini, but never has Novation really messed with their MIDI formula for perfection… until now.

This new model, the Launchpad Pro, revamps the beloved controller with brand new features adding extra sensitivity and color-coding capabilities, so you can match the pads to the exact clips on your Ableton Live screen for quicker access. It can also seamlessly transfer between session (or clip cueing) mode, note (or MIDI instrument) mode, device (or effects controller) mode, and the 100% customizable user mode.

But just because it lights up in pretty colors for Ableton Live does not mean it is not an universal MIDI controller. It still works with your DAW of choice and can still be just the classic MIDI instrument you have come to love.


3: Hotone Audio Xtomp Guitar Modeler


Have you ever had one of those moments where you went “Man, I really wish I could get a modeling pedal for my guitar that is as small and versatile as DigiTech, but does not suck as much as a DigiTech!” and released all your anger on your drummer because he obviously was smug about the whole thing? Well, anyone who has ever played a guitar knows your pain, and it seems that Hotone Audio is here to save the day and your drummer.

Enter the Xtomp: the guitar pedal that can be loaded wirelessly with 300 different effect presets from world famous pedals all over the world. Yes, you read that right: wirelessly. You are going to be able to download new pedal presets, tweak them, and throw them straight onto the Xtomp all using an app on your phone. How crazy is that? Now, the pedal has not officially come out for public purchase yet, but if Hotone can really put their money where their mouth is, this can be the next must have pedal for your board. Just don’t tell your drummer.


2: Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Software Synth


The Omnisphere has been held in the higher echelon of software synths for years now because of its versatility, deep customization and great quality overall. Spectrasonics has periodically provided updates for it, adding new features here and there and slowly allowing for more possibilities, but with the announcement of the Omnisphere 2 they are busting the door wide open.

This time around, you have over 400 different waveforms (that is 100 times more waveforms than Omnisphere 1) to plug into your oscillator to truly create any possible sound your heart would desire, and all of them are completely tweakable. But if you are in a rush and do not have the time to twiddle with knobs, worry not! It also comes with over 10,000 preset sounds to let you get the exact sound you need right when you need it.

On top of all of that, the interface has been redesigned, there are 25 new FX units, a new Live Mode, and the list just keeps going. The bottom line is that if you liked Omnisphere 1 at all or even just like any software synths, this is going to the top of your wish list.


1: T-Rex Replicator Tape Delay Pedal


Cassettes have been making a small but persistent resurgence as of late. Other than the fact that they are easy to record on, it has made absolutely no sense to me. They  does not have the audio or packaging quality of vinyl, nor the universal capabilities of CDs and digital; it has  just   been a confusing series of events. The people at T-Rex, though, have finally answered the question on all of our minds: “Why?”

Enter the Replicator tape delay pedal. While many tape delay pedals nowadays use machine-built, engineer-designed circuit boards to “recreate” the classic tape delay sound, the Replicator says “forget that!” and uses actual tape, playback heads, and a specially crafted chrome cassette to create a real, 100% analog tape delay. While they only had a prototype on display at NAMM, the result is the beloved tone companies are always chasing but never catching. The echoes meld beautifully, the sound is warm, and most importantly, it is made with longevity and tape endurance in mind.

It comes with a whole dump truck of features, such as a tap-tempo circuit added in with a revamped motor, an analog chorus made from dual playback heads, and even the ability to use two expression pedals alongside the delay for on-the-fly customization. I am pretty sure if you ask nicely, they will throw a kitchen sink in there as well.

This one pedal blew me away more than anything else at NAMM -and we are not just talking about the “best of the rest” – simply because of the hard work and passion that very obviously went into it. It’s tentatively going to be available for purchase in autumn, so now you know what to ask Santa for.


Why attend NAMM: An interview with Vic Salazar (of Vic’s Drum Shop)

By Jen Boylen

Vic Salazar, owner of Vic’s Drum Shop (located inside Music Garage), has been attending NAMM’s winter show for two decades. This year he chose and presented his picks in four specific categories along with five other retail-buying experts to NAMM attendees. His choices included the Sonor Vintage Series Drum Kit for Best in Show, Drum Workshop as a Company to Watch, Evans 16-Inch Drum Heads as a “Gotta Stock It” item and Vic Firth Universal Practice Tips as the best add-on or accessary. Vic opened up to Music Garage about why he goes to NAMM and what the show is all about. Read all his insights  below.

Music Garage:
Why do you go to NAMM?

Vic Salazar: This is the trade show where I do all of the major buying for the shop. Given our vast selection of gear and the sheer number of manufacturers we represent, this task can be a bit daunting. What to buy? What are the right quantities? What finishes? Luckily as challenging as this buying process is, I still find it incredibly rewarding and satisfying. It gives me great pride in providing our customers with the variety of inventory that Vic’s stocks consistently. This a huge component to the success of the store.

MG: Why do you think other people should attend? Is it for consumers or solely business owners and distributers?

VS: The NAMM Show is not open to the general public. Attendance to NAMM is restricted to retail owners, suppliers, employees, endorsed artists and guests of NAMM Member companies.

If you are a dealer, I think it’s extremely important for you to attend. It gives you the perfect opportunity to see and examine all of the newest innovations in musical instruments and accessories firsthand before anyone else. This is critical when determining what gear you should invest in stocking. Attending NAMM also enables you to make a direct connection with manufacturer representatives in person. In some instances, this may be the only opportunity you may have to interact with a company rep face-to-face. This industry is based on relationships; the better the relationship that you have with a manufacturer rep, the more likely they will feel invested in your business and be interested in assisting you to grow it.


MG: What was your favorite part of NAMM this year?

VS: As usual, I had a blast checking out all of the new gear, attending evening concerts, and reconnecting with my friends and colleagues in the music business.


MG: What affect do you think NAMM (and the products debuted at the show) have on the industry?

VS: I believe NAMM not only promotes the music industry as a whole but also generates a level of excitement and interest in musical instruments and music in general. And that in my opinion is the most important thing that NAMM can do for a business like Vic’s to help it thrive.

Social Media Stories & Words of Wisdom

By Ashley Fullerton

Dan Kanvis:
“I think Twitter and Instagram are the most important right now because they’re both direct. They’re the most enjoyable for me and I get the best return from them, as far as interaction with fans and peers within the scene.

Years ago Facebook was way more important as far as the artist pages go because you could hit every follower with ever post. Now I only reach a fraction of the people that choose to like my page unless I pay for a promotional package.

Twitter has been very valuable in that it has helped me to easily connect with or find different producers and artists that I have eventually ended up working with. My forthcoming album Windows wouldn’t have happened without it. I first connected with the main producer over Twitter. I also love Instagram because it allows me to utilize my skills as a designer to really shape the mood of my brand, giving people a sort of visual aesthetic to associate with my music.”

American Wolf:
“As a small indie band, we’ve tried almost every single way of getting our name and music out there. Social media platforms come and go so it’s sometimes increasingly difficult to sustain a successful reach to potential fans or even actual fans for that matter. Before we released our album, we searched everywhere we could on the internet for sites that reviewed indie albums or musical blogs that were consistently posting and emailed them. Though you might only get a handful of responses; if they like your music they’ll post it on their site. It’s definitely an uphill battle but it pays off when you get the opportunity to expose your music to an individual who might’ve never heard of you. Facebook/Twitter are also a platforms that we use, but we’ve found that it has become harder to reach your own fans or new ones, without paying for posts, which can add up.

We’ve thought of different ways to reach potential listeners, like going onto Craiglist’s bigger cities around the US and posting a simple headline like ‘DREAM POP’ and leaving a link to our Bandcamp/Facebook. So many musicians and just regular people use Craigslist that we’ve honestly gained an incredibly amount of exposure through that alone. I wouldn’t want Craiglist’s to shut this method down or stop bands from trying this because it really helps create a direct link to other musicians/listeners in parts of the country. Additionally, we’ve try to post our music to every single music outlet we can. We use sites like CDbaby to help upload all our music onto Spotify, Rdio, Itunes and Amazon.

As a band, our ultimate effort is to share our art with as many people as we can. In this innovative technological era; we have to be as resourceful as we can by using the all the new tools we have at hand. Bands have the opportunity to use the internet as a medium to connect with millions of people, thousands of miles away. All the hard work pays off if you stay humble, realistic, persistent and hungry.”

Great Ocean Waters:
“The two most important aspects of our social media campaigns are (1) An equal mix of words and images and (2) Consistency of the overall message. Great Ocean Waters uses: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter as well as the major music websites like iTunes, SoundCloud and Spotify. Facebook events are the gold standard for promoting concerts, but it’s not enough to just send out an invite — you need to supplement promotions through lighter touches on other platforms. For example, we’ve gotten a tremendous response through Snapchat to remind people of our concerts on the day-of. These supplemental messages keep Great Ocean Waters on the top-of-mind of our fans, but doesn’t burden them with over-saturation of information.”

As you can see, it’s very important to stay on top of what you’re posting online and know who you’re actually reaching. If one method doesn’t seem to be effective try another until you find the perfect formula. If you want your music to reach millions and make your rockstar dreams a reality, you need to start on the ground floor and build your followers. With risk comes reward so get creative and find new ways to get your name out there.

Artists Who Topped the Charts with Creative Marketing


By: Elise Niemann

Knowing how to market yourself plays a huge role in being successful in the music industry. You want your promotional efforts to be creative and unique in order to make your work stand out from everything else that is already out there. Here are a few examples of artists who went above and beyond with creative marketing tactics to sell records, break records, and even give away records.

Beyoncé surprised everyone by dropping her self-titled album on iTunes overnight in December 2013 with no prior announcements. Each of the songs came with a corresponding music video as well as a few bonus videos for a total of 32 pieces of work for a one of a kind album. This visual factor only added to the shock value with the amount of material that was produced in secret. The fact that there was no marketing for the album leading up to its release turned out to be the marketing tactic itself. There was instantaneous hype once people realized it was out and the fans came out in full force to buy it up. Beyoncé broke the iTunes record for the biggest sales week of an album as well as landing the title of iTunes’ fastest selling album worldwide. The album earned Beyoncé her fifth No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 chart in addition to becoming one of 2013’s top selling albums after only being out for 18 days of that year.

Another big name in music who promoted his new releases with creativity was Justin Timberlake. The Prince of Pop made his musical comeback with his first solo albums after seven years when he released The 20/20 Experience in two parts in March and September 2013. Fans were already ecstatic from news of one album let alone two, so the announcement of another set of songs to be released later in the year was enough to send fans over the moon. The first album was not only a successful body of work on its own but doubled as a marketing tool to get listeners excited for the next one.

Timberlake took advantage of social media to promote these releases by announcing special giveaways over Twitter. Justin had his label reps hide one vinyl record of his album in cities across the country and tweeted a picture of its location with the hashtag #finderskeepers. The first fan to find the album through this scavenger hunt won the record. The records were hidden in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the singer’s hometown of Memphis. A year later, Justin Timberlake held another #finderskeepers contest to promote the last leg of The 20/20 Experience World Tour. On November 20, the pop star hid more vinyl in 10 random cities across the U.S. where the lucky winners walked away with huge prize packs: VIP tickets, airfare and a hotel stay for his finale show in Las Vegas complete with a meet and greet with JT. Using marketing tactics that involved fan engagement worked extremely well to create hype for both Justin Timberlake’s albums and tour dates as well as making special connections with his fans.

Foo Fighters have been in the rock scene for nearly 20 years, so they wanted to do something different for their next studio album. As if recording their last record Wasting Light on tape in front man Dave Grohl’s garage wasn’t different enough, the band ventured out to eight cities across America to make Sonic Highways and film the process for a documentary of the same name for HBO. The Foos traveled to Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Seattle, Nashville, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. to interview musical legends about the history of music in their respective cities. A few of these musicians landed guest spots on the album, such as Zac Brown, Rick Nielsen, Joe Walsh, and Gary Clark Jr. While everyone spent the week recording their musical parts, Grohl waited until the last days of each session to write the lyrics by looking over the transcripts from the interviews and pulling out quotes to work into the song.

Each episode of the Sonic Highways documentary features the interviews and recording process from one city and concludes with a lyric music video of the song to unveil the final product. This docuseries doubles as promotional and companion material for the album and stands alone as a great look into the music scenes where the band recorded. For additional promotion, Foo Fighters put on a small club tour going through each of the cities that they recorded and kicked it off in October right here in Chicago at The Cubby Bear. All of these marketing efforts and new material led up to the announcement of Foo Fighter’s North American summer stadium tour slated to start on the Fourth of July next year.

While these artists have gained plenty of fans over the span of their careers that would make for big record sales based on their numbers alone, they created a special sense of excitement by marketing their new releases in these creative ways. Want to make some marketing magic for your own band? Check out our article on what kind of promotional tools you can use for your next release by using grassroots marketing.

Crash Course: Online Marketing & Social Media

By: Ashley Fullerton


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This handy-dandy chart shows you what you should already know, teens dominate social media. This is especially true on Instagram and Twitter. You should be aware of what audience you are trying to cater to so you can tailor your marketing to specific platforms. Here are some things you need to keep in mind before you get started:

Be aware of your group’s image or brand
Brand image is critical to creating a consistent experience for your fans across multiple social networking platforms. You need to make sure that all of your social networking accounts have the same look and feel, so the message you are sending to your fans remains consistent. Creating a bio can help with this as well, because fans will have a better understanding of what you’re about. Remember, keep your personal and professional profiles mutually exclusive because this will eliminate unwanted confusion about what brand you’re trying to sell.

Understand your group’s goal
Why are you establishing this online presence? What are your goals? Is it to find and build a fan base? Promote a new release? Sell CDs and merch? Whatever the purpose of your online music marketing is, your content should reflect this consistently across all social networking platforms. You should have had a similar chat about goals when you started making music, so this should be easy, but necessary to sort out.

Pick what social media will work best for you
You don’t have to sign up for every social media platform and you shouldn’t! Sometimes more isn’t always better because stretching yourself too thinly can lead to unwanted stress and cause you to devote less time and energy than you want to posting and gaining fans. Test them out; figure out which ones are most useful, and discard any that aren’t.

Now that you’ve decided what platforms to use, here’s how to keep up:

Friend/follow people to make great professional contacts
Like we’ve said in our previous newsletters, networking is key. You never know who can help you out and you could do the same for them as well. By building up a strong list of contacts and followers, you can only build a good name for yourself. Be interested and curious about what other artists are doing and reach out! You’ll never know what you can learn and who you can meet if you don’t try.

Always be respectful.
People don’t like to be constantly spammed with invites, so don’t force yourself onto the pages and timelines of people without their permission. You should be reaching out to new fans or contacts, but if they decline invites don’t hound them. Often this will lead to having a negative idea of your group and you don’t want to build a bad reputation. Start first with the contacts you’ve been making and build relationships slowly, not all in one mass invite. Growing a fan base takes, time, patience and persistence.

Promote, promote, promote!
If you have an event, a sale, or any kind of project, let everyone know about it by every means you can. Just passing out flyers and hitting the streets may not work on their own so combine your offline and online efforts!

Get creative and interact with fans by hosting contests for merchandise and tickets or posting short videos or sneak peeks. People appreciate feeling involved and close to bands they follow so get creative and move past just the typical paper flyer.

Just remember that this is a process and even the most famous acts also started out with only a few hundred followers. Be patient and smart and you will reap the benefits!

Getting Creative with Grassroots Marketing

By: Elise Niemann

Grassroots marketing is one of the easiest ways to promote yourself. You can pass out promotional materials outside of venues to fans leaving a show featuring bands similar to yours or create displays in retail stores, on school campuses and other public areas around your town. Festivals and traveling tours are also a great place to promote since you’ll have access to bigger target audiences. Pair hand-to-hand promotions with our tips on social media marketing and you’ll be on track to get your name out into the music world!

The Best of the Basics
Everyone needs to start somewhere when reaching out to potential fans outside of family and friends. Use word of mouth alongside these beginning promotional tools to tell potential fans about your music.

  • Flyers – the easiest step in marketing for your next gig. You can print out your creations at home and pass them out before and after shows. Try to market outside of the venue you will be playing since concertgoers are one step closer if they already know and like the venue where they can catch your show.
  • Promo Cards – get some nice, glossy cards with a picture or logo for your band and include your social media links for new listeners to check you out online. These are like business cards for your band. A band IS a business after all!
  • Posters – you can opt to print posters for specific shows or use your album artwork to create wallpaper for the rooms of your fans and to plaster on bulletin boards across your city.
  • Stickers – the go-to non-paper item that people will stick on their laptops, notebooks, and car bumpers. If possible, print from somewhere that will allow you to add text on the paper backing. This allows for double promotion power when handing them out to your fans if you can include more details about an album release or social media links.

Trying Something New
When you have a little bit more money and are ready to step your marketing up a notch, you can find some clever and functional items that will make people remember your name. I have passed out several unique items for artists and bands for my job as a marketing rep that have really caught my eye and stood out from other materials I’ve received at shows. I’ve found that having an item that serves a purpose or takes the audience and/or the show into consideration really makes a difference. Ideally it’s something they would use every day. Here are some of my favorite items that I have seen over the years.

  • Bottle Opener Key Chains: since this item hangs right on your keys, it’s easily accessible and ready for use any time. You can print your band’s name/logo on the opener and fans will look it every time they open a drink. This is one of my favorite ideas because it’s so practical!
  • Paper Fans: as seen at summer festivals, a popsicle stick fan is a small but creative way to market to concertgoers. You can put your album artwork or other information on the fan, and be sure to use both sides to maximize your marketing impact when people wave them about to cool themselves off. To really catch the audience’s attention, choose a fun shape or a fan that doubles as a mask if fans hold it up to their face.
  • Sunscreen/Sunglasses: these items are perfect for sunny outdoor shows! These marketing materials take the elements into consideration and help the fans battle the sun in addition to promoting your band. For the sunscreen, small sample sizes could include the band’s name, album name and release date on the wrapper. Sunglasses can have the name or logo printed on the frames.
  • Beach Balls: the most exciting festival item! Print your information on a panel of the beach ball and watch it soar over the crowds of fans ready to keep them flying. While the person who received the beach ball might not end up with it at the end of the day, someone will definitely catch it in the crowd and want to take it to the next set or take it home at the end of the day.

Hopefully these creative ideas sparked your imagination and help you to increase your marketing potential by picking unique items to pass out to potential fans. As always, be sure to take advantage of the ways your can market yourself inside the Music Garage building. If you have a show coming up, write out your info on our hourly room and front desk clipboards. If you have posters for a show, give them to one of the lovely faces at our front desk and they will put them on our bulletin boards during the week of your show.

Featured Interview with Jim Gifford


While it may be easy to gather your friends and start jamming in your basement, there are a lot of actions that need to be taken when forming a band. Without talking about everyone’s level of seriousness or how to handle the expenses, you might be vulnerable to losing members along the way.

With 38 years of drumming experience, Music Garage’s own Showcase Room manager Jim Gifford is a founder of multiple bands. In addition to talking about the changing lineups in his numerous musical projects, Jim shares his advice on how to build your band on solid ground as well as where to turn if you need to find a new member for your group.

One of Jim’s biggest points about forming a band is that it is like forming a business. You need to decide if you’re playing shows just to have fun or if you want to make this a long-lasting profitable venture. It’s important to have an active conversation about the expectations you have for your band right up front. “Make sure everybody agrees on the purpose of the band,” says Gifford. “Whether it’s fun or money or girls, have a common purpose and common level of dedication.” By discussing your goals and dedicating time to work together, you are increasing the permanence of your lineup and setting the tone for your band to succeed.

When getting the band together, talking about money and ownership is crucial. “Whatever your goals are in starting something, you should always treat it like a business in the terms of who owns what and who gets what, or when the money doesn’t roll in, who pays for what.” To prevent any rifts over finances, keep track of who is paying for the assets of your band. From printing flyers and ordering merchandise to buying gear or a van, you’re making an investment in your band when paying for these items. The members who invest in the band stake their ownership in the project. “The ownership situation is based on who is actually invested in the band and who gets to decide what happens,” says Gifford. Even if you’re just looking to jam, every band should discuss the money situation. “The bands that are formed for fun should still be looked at as a business. In the event that things go well and you make money, everyone knows who is responsible for what.”

Gifford also talked about his experiences with lineup changes throughout his musical career. He has been playing in bands since 1996 when he formed the Jim Gifford Trio. He remains the constant member of the group but if another member’s schedule gets too busy, they can always bring someone new into the mix to play a show. Jim also drums for Chicago Soul Revue, who you might have seen perform at our monthly artist showcase at Double Door in September. The other two constant members of the Motown music group are vocalist Felicia Patton and Tom Ogunribido on bass guitar while the rest of the large lineup is made up of the horns and rhythm sections. “[The band] can be anywhere from nine to twelve people depending on the venue. If any other member can’t do it, we have subs for them.”

Jim also plays in a jazz-fusion band Polcat, one of his favorite things. They recently experienced a change in the lineup when their bassist Sean O’Bryan Smith stepped down from the band to focus on his work in another field. Gifford shared that networking within the members’ musical contacts was key in looking for the person who would replace Smith. “Someone in the group knows someone who has played with the people involved before. This guy is a great player who fits well musically and personally.” These characteristics were very important to the members of Polcat when considering a new band member. “Everyone has their own reputations and careers, so the addition of the new guy has more of an impact.”

By working with someone that has a mutual connection within the band, you can gain firsthand knowledge about their track record and how well they work through the relationship they have with the mutual link. “Talk to people that you have a connection to because ultimately how well they play and how well they fit into the culture of the band are two of the most important things,” says Gifford. “It’s much easier to know these things from people who can vouch for them and you’re less likely to be surprised.” Jim highly recommends using your network to fill any replacements. “Work the friends network; talk to friends of friends. Personal relationships are by far the most valuable thing you can have in this industry.”

If you’re starting your adventure as a new band or tweaking your lineup with a new member, make sure to discuss the basics during every step of the way. Determine the reasons why you’re getting together in the first place. Treat your band as a serious business and work with all of your members to contribute financially to the band. If you’re working hard and investing in the band, there’s a better chance you’ll end up playing album anniversary shows instead of farewell shows.

The Show Must Go On: Tips for Replacing a Band Member


Being in a band is like being in a committed relationship. There are breakups and there are make-ups but when a member is truly ready for a divorce it can leave you hanging and in need of a new member. Once you exhaust your contact list of friends and family members looking to live the rockstar lifestyle, the task of finding someone becomes increasingly difficult. Where do you even start? Lucky for you, we came up with a (nearly) foolproof list of ways to find a perfect musical match.

A tried and true method is first putting an ad on craigslist or for the truly old-school, an ad in the paper. Pay a few dollars and you can have an ad in any local paper, but with the risk of little to no one responding. Nevertheless, this has been a method for many simply because it’s very straightforward. For the slightly more technologically advanced, put your ad online to increase its reach. Places like Craigslist and Bandmix act as virtual classifieds section that are no fuss and straight to the point. It will be a waiting game, but you can do it from the comfort of your own couch. In the mean time you should be…

Working within your extended music network. You’ve likely already made many connections within your music community or know some seasoned veterans who would be willing to connect you with the right people. The music world is a revolving door of people constantly leaving and entering for various reasons and you will run across many of them. So keep good karma and don’t burn any proverbial bridges because you never know who will be willing to help a brother out in a time of need. Chance are there’s something looking to start fresh or get out of their current gig. Which leads to our next point.

Find someone who is unhappy with their current situation. This approach could be for the bold, as convincing someone to jump ship from their current group may not come off very well. It’s easier, however, to extend the offer to a friend or acquaintance who you suspect is looking to enter a better situation. Whether it be artistic differences or clashing personalities, this is bound to be the case for many artists. You never know, that act of sticking your neck out could lead to an awesome long term member for your band. What we’re getting at here is that you’ll never know unless you ask! Even your mother could tell you that. To make this happen you should…

Start frequenting places like your favorite music store, rehearsal space or the local open mic night. Keep your eyes and ears on high alert. It’s acting as your own reconnaissance mission, checking out the talent before you have to muster up the courage to approach them blindly. This also mitigates the chances of putting up an ad and having the response be from someone too inexperienced or just plain crazy. You never know what kind of talent will show up while you’re rehearsing with your newly fractured group. Invite them to a short jam session and you have a built in audition without all the hassle. Mind you this involves more risk and intuition, but while you’re there…

Check out the community board. It’s difficult to think of any business that doesn’t have one of these posted up on a wall somewhere. It may be a waiting game, much like posting an ad online, but it gets more directly to the source. Places like music rehearsals spaces and music stores get a lot of foot traffic, generally from the kind of people who are active musicians. So it’s a safe bet that there are plenty of talented and dedicated musicians looking at your ad. This also gives you a good, neutral place to set up a meeting or audition, without having to give out too much personal information. The music garage encourages people to post on our bulletin board and has a space in the newsletter dedicated to musicians seeking members because we know how difficult it can be to reach the right audience!

There’s a good chance that you reading this article all the way through means you’re looking for a new addition to your music family. If you’d like a shout out in our newsletter, send an email over to elisen@musicgarage.com.

Music History Lesson: Famous Fractured Bands

Pink Floyd

Starting on any musical endeavor is a leap of faith. Some are in it to simply have a good time, while others are committed to make it to the big leagues. But what happens when some members aren’t in for better and for worse?

Throughout music history, groups have gone through the natural ebb and flow of fame and fortune, often losing members along the way. It’s a situation we see time and time again, whether it happens through tragedy, substance abuse, conflicts of interest or simply movement on to solo careers. Here we’ll take a look back at a few of many groups that have faced this dilemma:

One of the most recognizable dissolutions of a band, if tragic, was with Lynyrd Skynyrd. In 1977, the band lost three of its core members, Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines after their plane crashed just three days after the release of their latest album at the time, Street Survivors. The group disbanded after the tragedy, until 1987, when they returned for a full-scale tour with five of the original members, Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson and Artimus Pyle, as well as guitarist Ed King, who had left the band before the crash. Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother, Johnny, took over as the new lead singer and primary songwriter. The group has since lost several original members, but still continues to perform with Gary Rossington, as well as Johnny Van Zant.

More recently, Paramore dealt with a messy breakup from two of its founding members. In 2010, the group announced the exit of the Farro brothers, then guitarist Josh and drummer Zac, following the release of their album Brand New Eyes. This had come after months of speculation that the brothers would eventually leave the group. The split became heated after Josh made many accusations toward front woman, Hayley Williams, including a blog post where he stated that the band members had “always been treated as less important” than Williams. The brothers have since tried to patch up their relationship with their former band, saying they were still proud to be a part of the group. Paramore continues to tour with Hayley Williams at the helm as well as bassist Jeremy Davis and guitarist Taylor York.

Having a careers spanning decades, you would expect a band like Pink Floyd to have run the gamut when it comes to band dynamics. Aside from Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright all started out studying architecture together at London’s Regent Street Polytechnic School. After gaining popularity and honing their signature psychedelic sound performing in London’s underground scene, they released two charting singles and a successful debut album. David Gilmour joined as a fifth member in December 1967 and Barrett left the band in April 1968 due to deteriorating mental health from drug abuse. Waters then became the band’s primary lyricist and songwriter, for albums like The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. Wright left the group in 1979, followed by Waters in 1985, wanting to go in different creative directions and saying the group was a “spent force”. This left Gilmour and Mason as the only members of Pink Floyd. Former members Syd Barrett and Richard Wright have since passed and the group recently announced the release of their 15th studio album Endless River, without the help of Roger Waters.

There are countless examples that are lessons in themselves for all musicians, showing us how truly difficult it is to stay dedicated to a band, especially when dealing with adversity, ego, artistic temperaments and an ever changing music scene. Keeping a collective ambitious attitude, being unwilling to fail and having a love of the music are likely a few reasons these groups have been able to continue on through the years. Not everyone makes it through, but when you have something good going, you should do anything to make it last.