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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Question Two

This from Chris Kettleson:

"I am kinda of a folky, acoustic, alt pop kinda person... I play my own music and stuff but I was just wondering how did you manage to get your first break?"

Hmmm...first break huh. I guess that depends on what one would consider a "first break"...

Was my first break the all ages show I played with my punk rock bank The Blue Collar Bullets? Was it the time that Billy Bones from Teenage Rampage Records (and now, Sparrow Guitars) offered to put out my first album? Or did the "lucky breaks" only start when I started flying around places and working with people I looked up to?


That is what I am naming my new album, by the way.

They say it takes ten years to make an overnight success.

I am by no means an overnight success but if you talk to anyone on the other side of Living Off Music they will most likely agree with this concept. In the ten years that I've been playing all ages punk rock shows, learning how to manage a band and record company and driving all over the damn places cause I love music, it's been a series of small breaks. You never know where the next one is going to lead you, and sometimes even the not-so-lucky breaks turn out to the be the best thing that could have happened.

I find it incredibly cheesy when someone asks for advice and all they're given is "Just Keep Up the Good Work!" or "Follow Your Dreams Kid!", "Never Give Up!" Sure, this is good advice if you're already on the other side, but it doesn't TELL you a damn thing. I'm not on the "other side" but I swore if anyone asked me for advice I would be truthful. In my opinion, the best thing you can do for your music is WORK.


1. Get a good paying job, or find a skill that sets you up every time you come back from tour unemployed (fork lift driver, cook, construction...anything, regardless of whether you like it or an interested in it at all.) If you can hack it, get two're going to need the money.

2. Put all your money in to your band. Merch, tour, a van, posters,'re going to need stuff that will stand the test of time cause Lord knows when you'll be able to afford it again! Look at your life and analyze where you spend your money and see what you can/are willing to live without.

3. Build up as much credit as you can. Get as many credit cards as you can. Take out a loan. This could potentially be the worst advice anyone could ever give you but the fact of the matter is this: You never know when your "Big Break" might come, and wouldn't it be a shame to miss it because you don't have any money to do that big tour, fly to that cool studio to record or do a new run of merch cause you just got added to Warped Tour?

4. Learn everything. Everything. If you think you know half of anything, you're wrong. Learn how to book a tour, settle a show, run a publicity campaign, follow up with radio, build a mailing list, market online, record yourself, write songs...any thing Music OR Music BUSINESS related...You Need To Know It.

5. Start working. Yep, as if you didn't think you ere working enough cause you're exhausted from your two jobs, trying to book a tour and make it to band practice without falling asleep on the bus, now it's time to really work. Every second you are awake, there is something you could be doing for your music. Whether it's writing, recording demos or getting better at your instrument, there is always, ALWAYS something that you could/should be doing for your music if you're serious about it. Every time you sit down in front of the T.V., pick up your guitar. On your lunch break, read music industry books and write lyrics. In the car while driving plan your new album artwork. See? It never ends.

Did that help at all?

Random Fact 16: I've been keeping a scrap book of every article, interview or review that has ever been done about me since I was 16. I also keep every piece of mail I've ever been sent. Once for my birthday Dana gave me a $20 bill with a thank you note written on it and I still have it. It reminds me that no matter what, the sentiment was more valuable than the money. Always.

4 View / Post Comments:

Zimmy said...

that is very succinct and helpful information. very well thought out from the point of view of perspective. it is so true what you say about money!! -- i have a question, too: what kind of computer & programs do you think are good for self-recording? i listened to 'catastrophe' just now (the version you put back up). it sounds really good!! it always did. what did you use to record it? can you easily self-produce stuff with drums/electric guitar/bass as well? or is that too difficult for getting a proper sound? (sorry that the question is so technical!)

Desi said...

I really like reading your blogs, Billy.

I also have some questions for you! My little brother is in school at OIART right now, and in September us two Saskatchewan kids are getting in my car and driving to California! Do you have any tips on the most fun things ever to do there.... or also things for a dude who wants to work in the sound/music industry there someday to check out?

Chris Kettleson said...

helpful yes.. a little discouraging.. yes aswell haha. oh well, I'll get over it.

if you ever feel like just giving some honest critiques.. you could check out...

billythekid said...

Aw. I sorry. That truly was not my intention. I'm kind of speaking from a "I wish someone had told me this shit 10 years ago" kind of way, which isn't entirely fair. It all depends on your goals. I guess that's why we invented The Lost Cause...we had to find a way to survive...we had to start making our own rules and just...Find A Way. There just wasn't another option.