Surviving as an Indie Band

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From sound and location, to fashion and flair, indie has long been as much of a lifestyle as a music genre.  Cavalier demeanor, catchy choruses, and a do-it-yourself work ethic makes this youthful subculture a favorite amongst college students.  Here is a survival guide to ensuring your status as your school’s premier indie band.

#1 Sound

Whether you’re going for nerdy, edgy, mathy or all of the above, maintaining a definitive indie sound is a must: treble heavy guitars, grinding bass and grooving drums are essential. Danceable rhythms and dreamy melodies serve as the anthems to your classmates’ hectic schedules. Don’t be afraid to add synthesizer leads and surf rock falsetto. Think Phoenix, and The Drums.

#2 Name

Your name can make or break your image. Choose something that complements your sound and your “look” accordingly. Avoid adding the word “club” to the end of any name. It’s played out. For duos, refrain from two word names separated by “and” (i.e. Tegan and Sara, Matt and Kim). Think about your audience, vulgar or inappropriate language may not fly on posters around your school.

#3 Image

Possibly one of the most important elements in defining this genre is the threads.  The two general classes are the “careless” and the “careful.” Ironic tees, slim fit jeans, retro track shoes and 5 o’clock shadows are signs of the former. Although the careless rocker might not look any different than the grizzled senior in your Chem lab, the “careful” style followers are the divas of the scene.  Here tailor-fitted plaids, deep V-neck tees, vests, and bandanas, put you in league with the indie scene “who’s who.”

#4 Accessories

Although its not as important as your show time fashion picks, well planned flair can transform you from a homely Michael Cera to a bohemian Russell Brand. Macbook stuffed messenger bags, medium format cameras, and fixed gear bikes are perfect travel supplies. If you are just lurking around the dorm or across campus, full-ear headphones and vintage sunglasses keep you under the radar yet modestly hip.

#5 Location

Don’t let your tunes and fashion sense go to waste. Although playing open-mic events at your school’s activity center gives you some practice, chances are you won’t gain huge exposure. Network with off campus students and locals; submit your demo to indie film directors for a chance on a soundtrack, and don’t be picky. Playing popular college bars will get your name out quick, while opening for big name acts at nearby venues can help net professional exposure.

#6 Network

One of the biggest keys to success is to stay in vogue. Social networking sites, Internet radio and even DIY demo distribution keeps you at the forefront of everyone’s mind and your media in circulation. The industry is as tough as you’ve heard.  Befriend show promoters, club owners and other bands. Be ready to fill a slot at the drop of a hat.

Stay the course and avoid genre faux pas. Be creative in your sound and image, and remember, its indie; if you try too hard you might just miss it.

Junior > Communication > DeSales University

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