A Rock Band’s Guide to Common Music Industry Terminology

Over the years, it seems the same discrepancies about what’s what in the music industry still constantly arise, so I thought it best to lay them all out in one slightly humorous, handy-to-reference guide. The following is a list of useful terms and definitions for the up-and-coming rocker.Tour – A string of cities within different geographic region of the country. Therefore, playing at four different venues, all within 30 miles of each other over the course of two weekends is NOT a tour.Load-In Time – The time a band should arrive and begin hauling their gear into the venue. Soberly. I said load-in time, not loaded time.Manager (definition one) – A person whose job it is to guide and shape your career and use their network of contacts to give you opportunities you couldn’t get on your own. If this involves any variation of the saying, “Well, I know this guy who has Pro Tools and could probably record you guys for free in his basement,” then you do not have a real manager.Manager (definition two) – If anyone in the band is dating him/her then you probably don’t have a real manager.Fan Base – People who consistently support a band through its various efforts, maturations, sales peaks and valleys simply because they love your music. Praying that the local senior class that loves your band flunks their final year of high school so that you don’t lose 95% percent of your audience when they go off to college is not an example of a strong fan base.

Radio Campaign – When an individual or company is hired to promote a song to the decision-makers at particular radio stations, in order to try and convince them to play your song, which results in increased demand and (hopefully) sales. A radio campaign is not getting one spin a month by the area rock station that plays local artists once a week between midnight and 1:00 a.m. and neither is it getting four spins on two local college stations.Draw (definition one) – The number of people a band can reasonably anticipate their performance will bring to a particular event or venue. This does not include counting people two and three times in your final audience tally and justifying that it was because you had beer goggles and then multiplying your total by an arbitrary number, say, I don’t know 50, in order to “boost” your appeal to venues that you are trying to book shows with. Remember, you will have to explain why only ten people showed up when you “normally draw around 500 or so.”Draw (definition two) When everyone’s favorites local band invites you to open for them at their CD release party and 500 people show up, do not claim that is your draw. That is not your draw, that is their draw.Units Sold – This is the total number of CDs or downloads that a band has sold. Giving away 200 to friends and family and then another 300 for use as promotional copies does not denote “sold.”Getting Press – This refers to bands that secure reviews, write-ups and other types of media coverage. Being listed in the “Upcoming Events” section of your local paper is not getting press and neither is being featured in the advertisement for the venue you’re playing at next week.No Unsolicited Material – This means a company or individual will not take materials from sources that (s)he doesn’t have an already established relationship with. So don’t send your latest demo. And a band t-shirt. And a sticker. And a desperate, pleading note about how you know they said they wouldn’t take unsolicited material but how you hoped they’d take exception just this once because your band is really good and all you need is someone to listen etc., etc.

Merchandise – Products that a band sells to fans in order to promote their name and image and make money. Printing off labels with your band name on them on your home printer does not mean you have merch.Confirming a Gig – This is when you affirm that you will in fact be playing a club on a certain date, or opening for a band. Taking two weeks to get back to the band or club that contacted you to tell them that you decided to book another show that night and have been leaving them high and dry for the last 14 days is exactly the opposite of confirming a gig. Using this approach is not recommended for maintaining long-lasting business relationships.Sleep – This is an unknown entity to most touring bands. Rumor has it that sleep provides a needed respite from life on the road…or so I’ve heard.© 2008 Refugee Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.