Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her — confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
In 2011 we thought we had our break after winning a competition. We were already booked to play a cruise in Florida so shortly after the awards we had to fly out to America and play on [well known band cruise] and as amazing as it was it didn't give us the chance to capitalize on the attention we got from the awards. After that we toured with [major American metal band], it was very successful and we built a nice little fan base. In early 2012 we got plenty of interest from labels, according to our manager, but in the end nobody took the risk on us and the labels wanted to concentrate on the older bands because they were risk free. We decided to release the album ourselves and because of the lack of funds the album got pushed aside and was not ready until November so we had basically wasted the majority of a year and lost all the momentum we built up.
At the start of 2013 our album was released and we did a 28 state tour with [same major American metal band] and the album sold amazingly for us and our merchandise sales kept us going. In August after the tour finished up we came home and despite a successful tour and great album sales we find ourselves in limbo land and not sure what we should do next. We keep getting so close to the finish line but every time we get there it feels like someone moves it. What are we doing wrong and what we should do next?
I am not sure you actually have a problem.
Things are working out for you. This is just sort of what a moderately successful career looks like. Stop looking at anything as a finish line, like one event or one tour will make all the chips topple into your favor and then you are a rock star™ and you can just coast and it's all just blowjobs and filling your toilet with champagne instead of water or whatever it is that happens in your fame-fantasy.
Because that's not how it happens; though I think that's maybe how it happened in the '70s. A career nowadays is often a long, slow, marginally rewarding slog to a middle place and there is no finish line. You are living the dream, you are putting out your own records, you are touring (by water and by land!) with bands that have had multi-decade careers of ups and downs in metal; that's not a bad career model at all. Appreciate all that you have achieved, resist the idea that there is a magic path and if your trod it properly your dream will come true and you career will feel very different even if nothing at all changes. This might be the biggest your band ever gets. Think on that and get out of the future and the what ifs; when you lack gratitude, nothing will ever be enough.
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