North Texas Daily

The ups and downs of being a musician

The ups and downs of being a musician

August 09
21:59 2012

Ashley-Crystal Firstley / Intern

Music industry veteran Tom Whalley, former chairman of Warner Bros. Records, once said, “The hardest thing in the world to do in this business is start a band nobody’s heard of.”

Making a living writing, recording and performing music has never been easy, but some local bands are trying to find the same success known to big name Denton artist such as the Eli Young Band, Sarah Jaffe, Brave Combo and Midlake.

The band Sundress formed in Denton in 2010, released its first EP in May 2011, has traveled on two tours across the U.S. and has been invited to perform in prime time slots at SXSW in Austin, 35 Denton and Free Press Summerfest in Houston.

When the band started to get more attention, vocalist and guitarist Ryan McAdams said he knew he had to take it seriously and enlisted a manager, booking agent and attorney.

“It’s a lot of waiting. Being in a band is not fast paced whatsoever,” McAdams said. “It’s very tedious and there’s a perfect equation to it all. You do just one thing wrong, it’s like you can really screw it up.”

Jon Meneley, a guitarist for the band Born and Raised, has toured across the state, and said that playing gigs – any gig – was the best way to raise a band’s profile.

Expenses such as equipment, studio time, CD manufacturing and enough gas to tour can be prohibitive for many new bands, said Alex Atchley, singer and guitarist for the North Texas-based Bad Times.

“Being in a band, it’s fun. Sometimes it’s a pain,” Atchley said. “Sometimes it’s really cool. Sometimes it’s not,” Atchley said.

He said his band wasn’t trying to make a living, but just enjoyed playing music, even if it meant not making a dime.

McAdams said every band has to “pay their dues,” and endure difficult times to find success.

“There’s been nights when we slept in our van in a Wal-Mart parking lot,” he said.

Most importantly, McAdams said, a band has to work at it and do whatever they can to get out there, even if it means playing to an empty room.

“Don’t just go out there expecting [things] to land in your lap,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a business.”

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