Daunting Realities You Must Realize When Forming a Band
Hearing your songs on the radio, listening to thousands of audiences sing your hits, playing at a jam-packed Smart-Araneta Coliseum, becoming an icon who can stay immortal for ages with your music - the dreams of most, if not all, wannabe-musicians who wish, one day, to take the stage and sit on top of the music industry.
You lay in bed with your earphones on, in trance, while listening to Ely sing about Paraluman, Shirley, Aling Nena's daughter, and that kolehiyala, 'till he sends you to sleep. Bamboo rides with you on your way to school and back, belting Awit ng Kabataan, Kisapmata, Himala, Elesi, and many other classics in Rivermaya's first three albums before he left, and then you got used to and loved Rico until the last original Maya flew away.
You learned to play every song on your mp3 player - ranging from Yano to Parokya, The Youth to Orange and Lemons, Juan de la Cruz to Kamikazee, with your own hands and ears, and played it in your drinking sessions or when alone.
You met people of the same interests along the way. You jammed together and felt there's something special with the music you created. And the idea to form a band naturally came after.
It always starts this way, right? Well, if not exactly, at least the major decision to play music together involves feeling a sense of magic and connection. All of you are in agreement that each one complements another, and therefore completes everyone's individual musical inclination. At the moment, it's as if your future unfolded before your eyes, you see yourself performing at sold-out venues, signing autographs, touring the world, scoring girls in every place you go, coming home to your dream man cave, and repeating this blissful cycle over and over again.
Now, hold on. Before you get intoxicated with the thought of living the existence of a rock star, you must realize that it's not as good as you think, like the universe is just going to give it to you. If you truly want to earn your spot along with legendary musicians, you need to confront a few realities.
Even if the local bands don't rock as loud today as they did in the glory days, the scene is overflowing with other groups trying to find their spot in the hearts of audiences, like you. Friends or not, present or past, other bands are competition; you need to think about the unique thing your group can offer. This doesn't mean you have to sell out, but just try not to mimic your influences and mold your identity. Unless, of course, you aim to become the Filipino Boyce Avenue, every material you play should speak of personality and character that distinguish your band from the rest.
It's a Job
Most aspiring rock bands only realize the perks, fame, money, social status, etc. as if these come by virtue of merely playing music but not the hard work success requires. The reward may be bountiful if you make it, but the road to stardom is paved with stress, sleepless nights, and lots of other sacrifices.
Knowing how to play wouldn't suffice; you need to learn professionalism to build your network, perseverance to keep the fire burning, and humility to keep your feet on the ground. Talent isn't everything.
In the music industry, you either earn millions or hardly enough. If you're not born filthy rich, you need to realize the likelihood of living as a struggling artist. This is relatively a non-issue if you're single, but what if you're the bread winner in your family with a rent to pay and mouths to feed. Pursuing a career in music is a balancing act between doing your passion and being a responsible individual.
There's divorce in bands, and not a single one, even Eraserheads, Rivermaya, Bamboo, or Sugarfree, is exempted. Even if you're at the height of your popularity, things can change in a single text when one, especially the chief songwriter, decides that it's time to graduate. The group falls apart, leaving friendships broken for God knows how long and everything different from the way it was.
When you form a band, odds are, your musical differences and personal ambitions would get in your way to go on together. History tells us that only a handful has remained solid after decades, or called it quits with no hard feelings.
In spite of all these, nothing should hold you back if you really believe you should be heard. Who knows, your band may be the next best thing this industry, and country, awaits. Until then, work your way up, love what you're doing, be sincere with your craft, and, most importantly, never forget to rock on!