Artist Advice by Austin Livingood of Belle Histoire
A few weeks back, I went on a huge rant-fest when I posted “Major Misconceptions as an Unsigned Artist” that received tons of high-fives as well endless emails from the “haters” (which I love of course). This week, I deemed it appropriate enough to ask a recently signed Daily Unsigned Alumni, Belle Histoire to provide some advice to those up and coming artists/bands.
So here we go!
When asked if I wanted to write something for the Advice column of Daily Unsigned, my immediate response was truly, “Why me?” I’m not a person who should be giving advice. I’m still a 21 year old kid (that can’t grow a beard yet by the way) who is still pursuing a dream just like any other band in the world. What makes me different? Why should you want my advice? Well, the only conclusion I guess I could make is that we’ve signed a dotted line. If you’re reading this, my take is you haven’t yet. I say this in the most non-arrogant matter, but rather a matter of fact. Someone, for whatever the reason, saw something in us kids and decided to take a risk, and so did we. Do I still work a part time job on the side? Yes. Do we tour full time? No. But am I the happiest I’ve ever been? Without a doubt.
What a weird introduction, right? I’m supposed to be this guy in a “successful” rock band who has things figured out. Well, this is I guess where the advice begins to take its place. My friends, you’re one of a kind people. I truly think that each of us have a destiny on this place we call Earth, but no matter what you do, who you are, or how much money you make in this lifetime; Remember, you’re still a human being. I could care less if you’re headlining Bonaroo Festival, have a $1.9 million dollar tour bus, and a have vintage, one of a kind Super Nintendo on the tour bus. You are a person. In my eyes, that is one of the most important factors to remember when being in a band. I understand that people are fans of music, but more than fans, I believe it begins with your relationships. Kill your arrogance, and burn your pride. Humility will make your lasting friendships and relationships with people who will follow and support you.
Along with humility, comes maturity of self and an understanding of the business you’re in. You’re technically running a business (you realize), so it’s up to you how much you’re wanting to invest. Just how far are you willing to take yourself? How far are you willing to push the envelope to take your project to new heights? If you’re willing to begin sleeping in Walmart parking lots, floors of houses you’ve never been, and making money you think you’re profiting that goes back into your gas tank and merchandise; You’re on the right track. So the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day.” Bands don’t last because of the lack of investment and time put into it. You cannot expect the status of Katy Perry in one evening and not everyone gets a Youtube phenomenon of a career like Justin Bieber. There are steps to climb, and mountains to conquer. You keep going until you find the top of Everest. After that, you seek out the sky. Until then, KEEP GOING! Use your understanding and discern the right decisions from the wrong ones.
Finally, I’m going to give my thoughts on the actual signing process. A lot of people say that you need to stay as DIY (Do It Yourself) as long as possible and then sign if given the right deal. This makes lots of sense! The music industry is a disaster right now for Major Labels and Indie Labels alike. There are bands that I grew up listening to jump off of a major label such as Mae, Copeland, and Derek Webb. All of which went independent or to an independent label. There are bands such as The Civil Wars that have gone from the ground up to the sky in success. I remember seeing them at a local show in Cincinnati opening for a band called Seabird. This year, they were on the Grammy’s! So, DIY is a great process. It’s organic and beautiful handling your own material and it’s also a LOT of work. But, under the right circumstances, when given an incredible deal on publishing, distribution,etc..You must realize what a good investment is. Remember, the part of running your business in the last paragraph? When you’re given the right percentages and distributions of your material, realize what is going on. Is the budget you’ve been given to record with realistic to pay back at the status you’re at? Is the market you’re going to reach the correct demographic? Be specific. Be Focused. Be Wise. This is your future!
I hope I don’t come across as a pompous “know-it-all” because I’m figuring this out just like everyone else. We’re in the same boat, and I consider us all apart of the same community. So, when it all comes down to it, remember these things; Stay humble no matter the status you’re at, be mature and persevere in the hardships of making it into the music business, and be wise in all things involving decisions when it comes to your band/career. It’s your art and business. Take pride in it! You’re worth everything you’re doing and it will come back to bless you in the future.
– Austin Livingood / Belle Histoire
Belle Histoire released their debut album on July 17th entitled “Dreamers” on InVogue Records so make sure that head over to iTunes today and purchase it!
To purchase Dreamers on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dreamers/id541781999?ign-mpt=uo%3D1&v0=9988