Musicians work hard. They write for days. They rehearse like fiends. Drag heavy gear here and there. Sweat like pigs on stage. Put marathon hours in at the recording studio. Work their fingers to the bone…well, at least into some pretty gnarly calluses. But, musicians also like to play hard: booze, drugs, groupies, and trashed hotel rooms are actually more occupational hazards that rock ‘n’ roll myths.
No matter how disciplined an artist needs to be for his or her music, they will always need to blow off steam in some way or another. Some hit the gym, run, partake in extreme sports, do yoga, pursue their spirituality, web surf, build custom guitars, restore classic cars…you name it. All of these outlets help musicians to handle the enormous flow of energy so necessary to channel the creative process. Still, other musicians prefer a more debaucherous form of escapism. They drink until they puke, get stoned and eat a case of Cheetos, or sleep with all of their friends’ sisters.
This wild lifestyle, albeit a music cliché, may feel terrific at the moment, but many musicians clearly forget that the days of offstage antics circling around the buzz of the band, like whispers in the wind, are long gone. These days, fans carry camera phones to gigs, friends videotape your band’s every move, and everybody’s a blogger. The afterparty, once simply a chance to blow off steam with loved ones and lovers of your music alike, has now gone from the innocent scandal of, “Oh my God, did you hear what happened after the gig Saturday?” to a website monitoring every second of debased insanity with pictures, video, and descriptive essays.
This new unexpected publicity may increase the number of crazed partiers at your next gig, but what happens when the entertainment attorney you’ve been courting, the A&R guy you’ve been hoping to hear back from, or the manager you’ve been telling how serious you are about your music, pops on the internet and finds your drummer passed out in the pool, your bassist vomiting in someone’s bushes and your guitarist naked in a stranger’s bed with cheerleaders of questionable age?
The following are a few tips that may help you to throw a terrific afterparty without the ramifications hurting your career in the long run:
- Pick A Designated Partygoer---As much as this thought may send shivers through the spine of any wild-at-heart musician, it’s a good idea to have someone at your afterparty keeping an eye on those who’ve sold their souls for rock ‘n’ roll…or at least Jack Daniels. Whether you rotate it from gig to gig, or find a friend of the band (girlfriend, manager, a bandmate’s brother, etc.) who’ll stay sober enough to make sure that no one does anything stupid…and if they do, that it won’t be “caught on tape.” Playing Band Hall Monitor is truly a thankless job for anyone who parties hardy, so maybe free admission to the gig and some cool band swag as compensation would be a nice way to say “Thank You for being our assigned killjoy tonight!”
- Set Some Guidelines For Your Band And Fans---I know it sounds like Big Brother is busting up your raging good time but when you’re talking about your career, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Have a chat with your band explaining that extreme behavior needs to be controlled at parties where fans are recording events. Post on your web site, and your fan club or have a Pow Wow at the gig and explain to your people that, while you love all of the cool photos and videos they take of the band at the gig, there has to be a few rules for what can be shot offstage. Be honest. Let your friends/fans know that you love partying with them but that the band’s reputation is an important ingredient for its success and that it’s vital that certain memories be enjoyed by partygoers only and not preserved in cyberspace for the world to see.
- Monitor Your Websites And Web Communities---Again, better safe than sorry. It’s always a good idea to visit your forums, message boards, photo galleries, fan clubs, blogs and online communities to see what the latest scoop on your band is. It’s also wise to retain approval privilege on anything posted on each of your band sites. Let people post all of the drunken, naked pictures they want, and then pick and choose which images you want to represent your band. The same applies to comments and posts. Remember fans are important and priceless but it’s ultimately your image to preserve to the industry and the world and your web presence is how you represent yourself to everyone interested in you from fans to labels and everything in between.
- Dial Your Scandalous Behavior Back A Bit---It’s all well and good for your drummer to sleep with your girlfriend’s mom on his own time, but at band functions make sure that the behavior is kept professional. In our modern society, the lines between reality and publicity have become so blurred that a simple kegger in your singer’s garage can get more coverage than a Grammy Pre-Show Special. Sadly, that may simply mean changing the standards of band partying to those that you exhibit at gigs. Throw private parties and have orgies in your grandma’s bathtub, but when it’s music related you’re, in a sense, at work and should act accordingly.
I realize that telling musicians not to party, is like telling a dog not to lick its private parts and if, after reading this, you feel that the thrill of the over-the-edge rock ‘n’ roll afterparty is completely ruined, don’t change your major to math just yet. Remember, doors lock, parties can be invitation only, cameras turn off, and bloggers can be taught to use discretion. You can still live like Jim Morrison at Scott Weiland’s toga party; just do your best to keep it off the internet. While a little scandal is titillating, a lot of scandal just says to a label, “Sure. We’ll take your money and then we’ll blow it all on Tequila and show up to the studio three hours late every day.” Show the industry you’re serious, put on a professional face, and give your website the appearance of a band that’s fun and responsible. Then, have a private party, invite the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, a donkey, the drug dealer next door, and your guitarist’s horny aunt and throw a party that would make the cast of Half Baked blush. After all, you’ve got to fight for your right to party…in secret…with the digital cameras unplugged.
Sheena Metal is a radio host, producer, promoter, music supervisor, consultant, columnist, journalist and musician. Her syndicated radio program, Music Highway Radio, airs on over 700 affiliates to more than 126 million listeners. Her musicians’ assistance program, Music Highway, boasts over 10,000 members. She currently promotes numerous live shows weekly in the Los Angeles Area, where she resides. For more info: http://www.sheena-metal.com.