You've just formed your first band. Your guitarist plays gutsier rhythm than Interpol's Paul Banks. Your bassist is a quick learner who already has the studied melodiousness of Electrelane's Ros Murray. Your drummer is as polyrhythmic as Battles' John Stanier. And you've got all the songwriting skills, ringing guitar lines and vocal charisma of Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock.
Maybe, then, the time has finally come to join the hundreds of professional bands gigging around the city.
Atlanta is an exceedingly friendly place for live musicians, and most of the venues in town, particularly the Masquerade and the 10 High, will take a chance on a fledging act that can draw a crowd. Monday Night Band Camp at Lenny's Bar is a nice place to start.
"We let any band play on Monday that wants to play," says Lucy Rayberg, the club's assistant booking agent. Send her an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she'll find a slot for you. Four to five bands play each Monday. There isn't a cover charge, so Rayberg suggests inviting lots of friends to buy drinks at the bar. "If they draw more than 30 people, then we'll book them again," she adds.
One caveat: Lenny's Bar is a 21-plus venue. If you, your bandmates and your fan base are underage, try 11:11 Teahouse, which hosts the gonzolike, experimental-oriented Kirkwood Ballers Club on Mondays. Travis Thatcher of Judi Chicago recommends it: "It's really easy to get shows there."
So let's say you've got a few shows under your belt, and you've written so many tunes you no longer have to pad out your concerts with Prince and Kelly Clarkson covers. It's time to make a cheap, 20-minute demo CD that will win more fans and impress promoters, which will lead to better-paying gigs, and even some out-of-town shows.
One of the most convenient studio-production options is the White House (www.brainrockrecords.com/housemain.html), a Decatur studio run by Brain Rock Records CEO Jen Pope. Rayberg suggests Red Room 104 (www.redroom104.com), a Marietta-based studio that recently recorded albums for Emotron and the Desarios. For a warm, vinyl-friendly analog sound, consider the Living Room (www.myspace.com/95951486), a studio run by Ed Rawls and Justin McNeight of Good Friday Experiment.
The next step is to visit a CD duplication center and press up hundreds of copies. Located right across the street from the Earl in East Atlanta Village, East Atlanta Copy Center duplicates CDs, prints CD inserts/booklets and imprints (those labels that decorate CDs) as well as posters and handbills. Some of its clientele include the Earl, Mike Geier's Tongo Hiti and the Remnant.
"You'll find our rates to be much better than Kinko's," says Jim Silvestros, who runs the copy center with his wife Mickie. "We're very flexible."
Then there's Atlanta Manufacturing Group (www.amgcds.com). Past clients include the Jennifer Nettles Band and major stars such as John Mayer and Widespread Panic. With a wider range of booklet printing options than East Atlanta Copy Center, it's a little pricier but still affordable.
With CDs in hand and some prime gigs lined up, it's time to spread the word. Assuming you already have MySpace and Facebook profiles and a box full of fliers, what are some additional avenues for free publicity? Try AtlantaShows.org, an exhaustive listing of area shows. "I love AtlantaShows.org because they list a lot of shows that you wouldn't normally find out about," Rayberg says.
As for radio, there's an excellent program on Georgia State's WRAS-FM (88.5) called "The Georgia Music Show" (www.myspace.com/gamusicshow). The show broadcasts two hours of local music on Thursdays at 6 p.m. Over at Georgia Tech's WREK-FM (91.1), there's the hour-long "Live at WREK" (www.myspace.com/live_at_wrek), which showcases Atlanta bands every Tuesday at 10 p.m.