121 Things Not To Do In The Music Industry

February 25, 2014

All too often, we get wrapped up in new tactics, new ideas, new plans and new ways of getting bigger and better as musicians. With social media and the internet, there’s so much information that it’s almost become immeasurable.

This is great and all, but maybe we sometimes lose sight of what we shouldn’t be doing.

There’s lots of stupid shit you shouldn’t be doing.

Here’s a quick guide to what you shouldn’t be doing.



  1. Don’t ever stop practicing your instrument.
  2. Don’t be an asshole.
  3. Don’t WANT WANT WANT WANT. Learn to give back first.
  4. Don’t get defensive. Learn to take constructive criticism.
  5. Don’t forget to learn how to take destructive criticism, too. You’ll get a lot more of it than you think.
  6. Don’t forget that everyone’s an asshole.
  7. Don’t stop learning.
  8. Don’t lose your ambition.
  9. Don’t lose touch of where you came from and who helped you out.
  10. Don’t stop reading. Read more. Read a LOT more.
  11. Don’t ever stop trying to meet new people and fans.
  12. Don’t stop practicing. I fucking meant it.
  13. Don’t make excuses.
  14. Don’t make commitments you can’t keep.
  15. Don’t say what you can’t back up.
  16. Don’t exaggerate, everyone will see right through it.
  17. Don’t be afraid to get into it.
  18. Don’t owe anyone money. Pay it off as soon as you can.
  19. Don’t think that they won’t fuck you over just because they’re a friend.
  20. Don’t shit on the few friends that you do have.
  21. Don’t be the guy who just floats along. Actively help your band out as much as you can.
  22. Don’t rely on everyone else, make it happen yourself or lend a hand in getting it accomplished.
  23. Don’t forget that you can’t change certain things, and bitching about it won’t help either.
  24. Don’t forget how fucking stupid you are.
  25. Don’t be afraid to listen to those who are smarter and more experienced than you.
  26. Don’t forget that sometimes you’re wrong. In fact, more often than not, you’re wrong.
  27. Don’t pretend you’re innocent.
  28. Don’t pretend to be above something. Get your hands dirty. Hurt your back. Get scraped up and some real work.
  29. Don’t live in the past or the future. Learn to love the moment and what you’re doing. You’re in a band. Love that fact.
  30. Don’t lose sight of what you started your band for to begin with.
  31. Don’t lose faith in yourself or your friends. They’ll help you out more than you think when you need it.
  32. Don’t be naive. Believe it when you see it.
  33. Don’t forget what it’s like to just be starting out in the industry. Explain things to people. Take on someone under your wing; teach someone something good.
  34. Don’t blame the label. As a fan, you have no idea what the circumstances were. As an artist on that label, there’s always something you did that was probably shitty, too.
  35. Don’t blame the manager, either. Same goes for them.
  36. Don’t think bands are these innocent angels. They rarely are as good as they make themselves out to be. They’re people just like everyone else, and that means they can be just as shitty as anyone else.
  37. Don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand.
  38. Don’t get into arguments with people on social media. Stay away from it. It’s pointless.
  39. Don’t judge a situation before you’ve heard both sides. This means you should basically never judge a situation or someone.
  40. Don’t forget that everything is a joke and that you shouldn’t ever be too serious. No one gets out of life alive.



  1. Don’t assume anyone will care about your band. They won’t.
  2. Shit talking doesn’t get anyone anywhere.
  3. Don’t be that band that starts to do it for the money. It’s not that money’s bad, it’s that we can all tell you’re forcing it and no one appreciates a forced art form.
  4. Don’t ask too much for your merch. It’s just a damn t shirt.
  5. Don’t order too many CDs. It’s not worth having tons of them laying around.
  6. The same goes for merch. Don’t order more merch than you reasonably think you can sell on a tour or in a small timeframe such as a month or two.
  7. Don’t spend your money on stupid stuff. Spend it where it counts.
  8. Don’t buy likes on Facebook
  9. Don’t try to buy your way to the top.
  10. Don’t skimp on gear, either.
  11. Don’t forget to practice with a click. Drummers and guitarists, this goes for both of you.
  12. Don’t ever stop interfacing with the people that buy your music. No matter how big or small you are.
  13. Don’t forget to do cool little things for fans while you’re on tour. a small note or a signed drumstick will go a lot farther than you think.
  14. Don’t expect respect.
  15. Don’t forget that you have to do your time.
  16. Don’t assume. Make everything as clear as you can, and get it in writing at every chance you can get.
  17. Don’t stop creating. Not just music, either. Create in every format you can. You are a creator, after all. Photos, blog posts, new music, share music, share ideas, just put out content.
  18. Don’t forget just how many ways there are to reach out to your fans.
  19. Don’t forget to post on every social media network every single day.
  20. Don’t forget to engage with your fans. If you master this, you’ve mastered the music industry.
  21. Don’t stop trying to improve your sound and tone, both live and recorded.
  22. Any publicity is good publicity.
  23. And, additionally, people will hate you for anything and everything. Don’t worry about it.



  1. Don’t ask for too much.
  2. Don’t book a tour for your band unless you have the emergency fund to support it
  3. Don’t book a tour with too little notice. You’re just shooting yourself in the foot.
  4. Don’t turn down a door deal because you think you can do better.
  5. Don’t blame the promoter when you haven’t helped promote the show, either.
  6. Don’t blame the promoter when you haven’t helped, period.
  7. Don’t expect to play to 100 kids a night. Be grateful for 5.
  8. Don’t forget to say thanks to the sound guy.
  9. Don’t forget what it feels like to be the opening band.
  10. Don’t forget what it feels like to be shit on by the touring band.
  11. Don’t get a rockstar attitude.
  12. Don’t kiss ass, but don’t forget when to say thank you, either.
  13. Don’t forget that the touring band usually needs a place to stay.
  14. Don’t forget that they could use a place to shower, too.
  15. Don’t think people will help you out just because. You have to give them a reason.
  16. Don’t pretend to be better than the local bands you used to play shows with.
  17. Don’t stop booking or helping to book your tours. Just because you have an agent doesn’t mean you can’t help out.
  18. Don’t be the diva in the van.
  19. Don’t be too cool to say sorry. Come on, dude, you and I both know you were being an asshole.
  20. Don’t let what someone said get to you. Keep your cool.
  21. Don’t forget to have fun on tour. That’s what it’s really all about, anyway.
  22. Don’t skimp on buying your van. Quality counts when it’s the only thing getting you to your next show.
  23. Eat at cool places and do cool things on tour. Those memories are just as good as the rest of tour.
  24. Don’t stop drinking water on tour. Dehyrdation causes fatigue and you’re dehydrated before you even know it.
  25. Don’t pass up the chance to shower. Ever.
  26. Don’t buy anything that can go bad in the van. Meats, dairy, anything that’s perishable is a no-go in the van unless you eat it immediately. If it can’t sit for more than 30 minutes, don’t bring it in to begin with.
  27. Don’t leave your dirty laundry everywhere in the van. Keep it in a sealable bag.
  28. Don’t step without looking. You’re gonna break some shit.
  29. Don’t gas up without checking the gas prices with the GasBuddy app. Find the cheapest gas.
  30. Don’t get under a half tank of gas if you can help it.
  31. Don’t pack too heavy, and I’m not talking about just your bag. Cut everything out of your life that you don’t need. Emotions and unnecessary clothes alike.
  32. Don’t forget to call your loved ones back home. Family loves to hear where you’re at. Girlfriends love to hear that you’re not kissing another girl.
  33. Don’t spend all your money on stupid stuff on tour. You don’t need that sombrero, homie, your money can go to better places while you’re being poor on the road.
  34. Don’t forget to wipe a couple extra times. You can’t afford any leftovers, man.
  35. Don’t forget to masturbate. That shit relieves stress. You’re a god damn musician, get creative and find a place.
  36. Don’t forget to experience the locations you go to on tour. Find good food to eat, visit a national monument, go the Grand Canyon, check out Mount Rushmore, and take pictures.
  37. Don’t forget to stop at cool places along the road on tour.
  38. Don’t be a dick to the person who gives you a place to stay. Say thank you at every chance and try to do something in return for them. Clean the room you stayed in a little bit, help them do dishes.
  39. Don’t be loud and obnoxious at 3:08 in the morning when you’re staying in a stranger’s house.
  40. Don’t be the band who only cares about getting drunk or high after the show. Learn how to have a good time sober.
  41. Don’t try and get out of driving duty.
  42. Don’t stop talking in the van. Late night talks are food for thought and soup for the soul.




  1. Don’t expect your drums to sound like Lars off the Black Album when you haven’t tuned them and put new heads on.
  2. Don’t expect your sound engineer to work magic. This goes for live shows, too. Your instruments must sound good first.
  3. Don’t show up to the studio without extra guitar strings, drum sticks, guitar picks, and drum heads.
  4. Don’t forget to bring a source of entertainment. Studio time is 90% of waiting-for-someone-else time.



  1. Don’t talk shit on your scene when you’re not doing anything to help it.
  2. Don’t be an asshole, okay? Do you fucking get it? Stop that shit.
  3. Don’t think you’re band is the best. You’re not.
  4. Don’t stop trying to improve your live show.
  5. Don’t shit on local bands because they’ll hurt you more than you think.
  6. Don’t steal from other bands; Learn the subtle difference between paying homage and stealing.
  7. Don’t show up late for the show. This goes for touring bands, too.
  8. Don’t dip out before the show is over. Stay for all the bands.
  9. Don’t be an elitist. If a band is doing well, then they’re doing something right, whether you agree or disagree with it.
  10. Don’t stop supporting local music. If you start to get big, help out the local bands that you used to play shows with. They’re the same as you, and as much as you don’t want to admit it, they might deserve it just as much, if not more than you do.



  1. Don’t forget why you got into this.
  2. Don’t stop putting your entire heart and soul into every show. It’s cliché, I know, but it’s true.

And there we have it. A cumulative list of 121 things to completely avoid.


Post written by Dylan Lott of BandHacks You can follow Dylan on Twitter @DylanLott

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