Guestpost #43: Stephanie Sheri – Ten things I’ve learned from being in the independent rock band Pan Out Now

Steph is a friend of mine, a musician, an improviser, and an all-around awesome person. She is also an excellent vocal coach:

Note: After graduating music college and being a professional working musician in Toronto, I took the plunge and co-founded an original rock band called Pan Out Now. It was an intense 13 year ride – with many ups and downs and lessons learned along the way. Here are just a few of them:

  1. Your fate is in your own hands. Don’t wait for others to make things happen for you.
  2. Working for beer and glory will be status quo till you land a record deal.
  3. Record deals are a pipe dream for most bands. see lesson #1.
  4. If you want to make some decent coin on a tour- college shows are where it’s at. They’re not easy to get, but if you have a good promo kit you just may snag some. With some smart planning they will keep your tour from going in the red.
  5. Always be kind and gracious to your soundmen. the fate of your show is in their hands.
  6. If you play the bar circuit, than you are essentially a liquor salesman. Booking agents care little how amazingly you can play or sing. Bottom line is, if you can bring 150 people to your show, they’ll book you.
  7. Stay away from Band Competitions. A pyramid scheme of the worst kind. See lesson #1.
  8. Wearing many hats (manager, promoter, booker) is part of the job description for an original indie band. If you treat the band like a business you’ll get farther ahead.
  9. Thanks to Homeland Security, the USA is a fortress for indie artists. While it’s possible to cross the border on the sly for shows, you run the risk of being finger-printed and banned from re-entering permanently. It’s just not worth it.
  10. The best lesson I think I learned is that my tenacity and passion for something I value is something to be proud of. It brought me much success, and even though the dream of having a label pluck us up and carry us further eluded us, I am proud to have accomplished all that we did. Like Franky says – “I did it my…..way!”

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