The Danish trio Whomadewho had a lucky break in 2007 when they were asked to fill in as a last-minute addition to the Benacassim festival after another band was grounded. They’d been touring almost continuously since then, releasing five albums since 2005 and learning a few things along the way.
Drummer Tomas Barfod has a few words of advice for Pomplamoose following Jack Conte’s now infamous article about his band’s recent tour which cost the band about $11,000. The underlying theme? Do what works for you and don’t feel pressured to follow any predetermined path.
Whomadewho made a profit from the first show on and is able to support four people — the band and a manager — with full-time salaries, Barfod writes in a new post for Digital Music News.
He does provide some words of advice for Pomplamoose, a band with a similar-sized fan base.
Whomadewho travels with just their instruments (minus the drums), recently adding a sound engineer and “a bit more equipment,” but has found more success in doing the opposite of what they’re advised by other artists.
“…[W]e started getting good at analyzing our career, which kept us from doing many of the things that everybody said was the ‘thing a band in our position should do.’ So when a label told us to make Franz Ferdinand-like hits, we made a dark, partly-instrumental album, and when we were told that we could get a certain amount for gigs, we said okay, but we’ll only play for double now, and somehow we started getting those fees.”
In other words, ignore any rules that aren’t your own.
Bands that play some shows to 1,000 people and other shows to a handful might be better off paying that smaller crowd instead of performing, he suggests. Too much energy spent on the logistics of a big, time-consuming tour that doesn’t lead to a larger fan base or better experiences might become more stressful than it’s worth, limiting creativity in the long-run and short-changing the band.
“If you are a band, nobody is gonna tell you to cut down on gigs, because that’s still the easiest and cheapest way to make a band for the label,” he says. “But don’t be naïve about it, because it’s also the easiest way to break a band, and you might wake up in a few years, having done everything by the book and with decent success, but still the band breaks up, because it doesn’t really support a ‘normal’ life.”