music business consultant
The Denver Post

Denver Post
July 4, 2004

Want To Start A Band?

This book identifies five roles within every band

By Chi-Chi Zhang

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Want to Start a Band? Read this book first

By Chi-Chi Zhang
Denver Post Staff Writer

Three weeks ago, Curious Yellow lost its bass and guitar players. Frontman Adam Lan­caster wasn’t even notified.
The guys just stopped show­ing up, and later, drummer Gregg Rosenthal got an instant message informing him they wanted to drop out and start their own thing.
‘We had no idea it was com­ing; it just came as such a shock to us,” said Lancaster, founder of the Denver-based band.
This isn’t the first time a member has left Curious Yel­low. It’s the seventh, In fact, Lancaster is the only original member left.
Mark Bliesener feels his pain. Although losing members is common in the evolution of a band, Bliesener, a Denver- based music consultant, insists there are ways to avoid the un­necessary drama.
He is the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Start­ing a Band,” one of the latest additions to the popular series of how-to guides.
“It’s a great education on how to run a small business,” Bliesener said. ‘We’re just try­ing to help people save some time and money.”
Bliesener, who wrote the book with Denver resident and freelance writer Steve Knop­per, draws on more than a decade of his own experience playing in bands.
The book offers advice on ev­erything from deciding what kind of music a band should play to dealing with club own­ers and landing gigs.
Bliesener also hopes his book will save aspiring musicians some aggravation, noting that the music biz is fraught with headaches.
Tips on avoiding such pit­falls as ego clashes might seem like common sense, but it’s eas­ier said than done, Curious Yel­low, founded in 2001, learned the hard way.
“Every person we had in Cu­rious Yellow has always been committed from the start,” said Lancaster. “But once we stayed together... problems surfaced. (It’s) stuff you just learn to deal with along the way.”
One piece of advice in the book that Lancaster wishes he brought up earlier with the band is the importance of hav­ing a leader,
“The reality is, we aren’t all equal - we’re equal in that we all want the band to be successful, but we can’t have four leads,” Lancaster said, “We’re going to let people know earli­er on that if they have a problem with our set-up, then it’s not going to work.’
“It’s all about having a com­mon goal.” Bliesener said,‘Bands are not democratic. To be successful, there should be a leader and each member should play a different role.”
The book identifies five roles within a band: the leader, the talent, the arranger, the friend and the comedian, The talent often possesses an “innate mu­sical or show-business sense,” while the comedian is always around to lighten up the mood.
Every band needs a peace­maker, so the role of the friend is making sure everyone gets along, A person who is more into the logistical work - book­ing gigs, setting up transporta­tion and publicity-should as­sume the role of the arranger. All members fall under the guidance of the leader, who is responsible for a band’s overall musical vision.
Although the book touches on how to avoid getting stiffed by club owners, Bliesener points out that exposure is sometimes more important than money, Curious Yellow took that gamble from the be­ghming.
“A lot of small clubs don’t do contracts, so we’ve been stiffed a couple of times,” Lancaster said, “They just told us, if we didn’t like the way they did things, then they’d find anoth­er band.”
Because much of the advice is taken from lessons Bliesener learned in his roles as concert promoter, independent publi­cist and personal manaqer, the book features practical tips -- gleaned from his observations, - One of his rules: Never bring a date to band rehearsals. Fans of “This Is Spinal Tap” will un
Bliesener says reading the book will help a band get on its feet but notes that it doesn't guarantee success. Ultimately, he says, it’s all about the band’s ability to write good songs.
“There are many bands out there that don’t have it,” he said. “In the beginning, some bands can succeed with their image, but the life of a band will be determined by good writing.”
And after looking over the advice from the book, Lancaster says that while it’s helpful, he would recommend a band just ­go out there to experience everything firsthand.
‘You don’t know anything unttil you do it yourself,’ Lancast­er said. “Whatever success or
failure I face, I know it’s on my’ own merit, I didn’t burn on anyone else’s advice.






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