Early Spirit: what I learned from co-founding a band

I recently left Early Spirit, the folk band that I co-founded in 2018.

There’s one thing in particular that I’ve learned while being in the band and would apply if I started a band today.

To express what it is, here’s Dan Runcie on his Trapital podcast of March 25, 2021:

Another cost that’s related to touring—specifically when it’s your own tour—is making sure that the production and the lighting […] all of it looks good on social media, especially on that first tour.

Because if that image looks great, that is going to be what other people will see and that’ll make them wanna get more tickets. It will help your buzz, it’ll increase demand for your tour.

But if those first few photos don’t look right or don’t generate the excitement, you may have a much harder time selling tickets for the rest of your tour […] how are you going to make sure the first few can set the tone, so that everyone else will wanna buy tickets for it?”

In other words, I’d do everything possible to get the most out of each gig.

In Early Spirit we did that together, but we had to learn together as we moved ahead.

My biggest mistake was taking pride in being thrifty with overhead costs. I wanted to skimp on some important content creation and I told everyone that skimping was good. It’s not.

Photoshoots

Early Spirit did one band photoshoot that carried us through my entire tenure. We deployed the same two photos over and over again.

This is my fault, because I didn’t want to spend more money in that area. I’d say, “Aren’t our current photos doing the trick?” But at some point, they get old. The other band members knew where that point was better than I did.

Once we got some great photos from a gig, we had fresh air and a new visual presentation. We could have used much more of that!

It doesn’t even require money all the time. We could ask for our audience’s photos at gigs, sending them some small gifts in return. There’s a middle ground between thrift and great visual pieces.

The band played well over a hundred great gigs during my stint, and each one deserved the fullest treatment possible. My philosophy got in the way of maximizing opportunities. I’m correcting it.


Since I left Early Spirit, they’ve done more great things. One is that they won their first FACTOR Artist Development grant! Congrats.