Being a solo musician isn’t easy, especially when you’re a rock artist. You can’t accurately or easily do your music justice at shows unless you hire backing musicians, which, let’s be real; most up-and-coming artists can’t afford to do. It’s harder to appeal to an audience because projects with multiple people in them are more exciting to people. You also only have one person to pitch in and invest in expenses related to the project – which means on average you can only do ¼ what any normal band can do.
“The Next Avril Lavigne”
This is what I did for several years before Wave Break. I was a solo musician trying to appeal to both the mainstream and alternative scenes at the same time, branding myself as “the next Avril Lavigne” (despite the fact that the newest generation doesn’t even know who she is). I would record all my songs full band, but perform them alone and acoustic at shows because I didn’t have a backing band. I had tried the YouTube cover video thing, but sadly none of my videos ever went viral. The only people who ever came to my shows were my parents (and a few close friends if I were lucky enough that they were available… and if I dragged them there). I was really struggling to get people to pay attention to what I was doing.
When it came time to record my second solo EP, I unknowingly amplified those struggles. The approach we took to recording it was to be as raw as humanly possible while still having a solid record; the vocals were hardly touched at all with pitch correction and there were next to no effects on the vocals and instruments. However, the trend of beefing up the production on rock records was growing, and this record was at odds with what people wanted to hear. Upon release, I got accused of needing vocal lessons by strangers despite having both been in the high school choir and having already taken lessons for a few years. My friends also almost all ignored the release and did not listen to the album.
I was distraught. I spent 2.5 years on this album and was incredibly excited about it, but the world was not. I felt like I had actually taken a huge step back with the release, which was not what was supposed to happen. It was then that I knew what I was doing was not working.
So for the next year, I honed down, wrote new material, and re-thought my branding. I needed to come up with a new approach to everything. I rewrote songs repeatedly until I was proud of the lyrics and the music had a sound more reflective of what I grew up listening to. I didn’t play any shows for over a year. I spent time just living my life, writing, and thinking about what I needed to do.
I eventually decided that I wanted to be in a band. I wanted to be able to show people from my performances what I was all about – which would hopefully sell the music better. I also just didn’t want to be in the game alone anymore.
Eventually, I came across a post on Facebook from a local band looking for a vocalist/guitarist. Their influences included Jimmy Eat World, which was (and still is) one of my all-time favorite bands. I got really excited and sent a message to them with a video of a recent performance of mine at an open mic. They sent me a demo to write over, and I spent a week writing lyrics to it. I recorded over it, sent back what I had, and they loved it. They tried me out at practice about a week later, and then I was in the band.
For two months, the practices went well. They taught me all their songs on guitar, and I was writing lyrics to all of them. In those two months, I wrote lyrics to 4.5 songs, which was the fastest I had ever written (good) lyrics in my life. They made a couple snide comments about other female-fronted bands and told me they didn’t expect to have a female vocalist, but I was too excited to be in a band to care at the time. We soon had our first show coming up in a few months. Then, they told me that they couldn’t make the project work financially, and it was over.
I was back at square one. I was incredibly frustrated and worried that I’d never been a part of a project that accurately reflected my goals. But I still didn’t want to waste a moment and started looking for other people to get a new band off the ground. I posted on Craigslist and Facebook relentlessly and eventually found the rest of the band. In the process, I found out from a mutual friend that the band that I was just in had gotten a new vocalist and was recording. I was angry but also didn’t care. My new band was going to do much better because I had a better vision.
All of a sudden, people slowly but surely started to care about what we were doing. We had friends coming to shows without us even having to ask them to come. We broke 1K Spotify plays on our first two singles within a few months when none of my solo songs ever came close. We were added to regular rotation on Idobi Radio. We had a short New England/NJ/NYC tour for our EP release. Our merch was actually selling. Other notable people in the industry started taking notice of us. And people I didn’t even know started coming to shows or at least expressing interest in coming.
It’s been a long road, but there’s still a long way to go. We want to go on longer tours. We want to open for more national touring acts and play for bigger audiences. We want to put out a longer album and break 10K streams on a song. Hopefully getting signed by a reputable management company is in the cards for the next year too. Despite all these things we still want to accomplish, we are grateful for how far we’ve already come.
Hard work was (and still is) paying off.
All we need is time.
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