The Lowest Common Denominator

Hi folks, music biz advisor and pro musician Mike Fitzsimons here. From time to time I’ll be dropping some new ideas your way to help you with your music careers. Of course The Fan Formula is the best way to move your career on but here’s another thought provoking formula to add to your collection and it may help you get what you want – SUCCESS  and avoid what you don’t want – WASTED TIME.

All you maths heads out there will know what a lowest common denominator is: the smallest whole number that divides into a set of other numbers in a series. So what’s this got to do with a band? For bands it is worth knowing right from the get go who is the lowest common denominator or as I refer to them the LCD. What this means for you is this: who in your band has the least ambition?  and probably does not want the same future as you (even though they may say they do).

What happens if you don’t know? Your band will achieve what the LCD wants – much less than you want – i.e. the lowest outcome. The consequences are frustration and in many cases destructive resentment.

What do you experience?  Some band members don’t pull their weight, don’t want to play the harder gigs, don’t want to improve their playing,  wont rehearse, wont dress in the band style, prefer the comfort of a day job, like to ‘be in a band’ but avoid the real work of creating a lasting long term future. Where will you and your band end up? Probably nowhere.

It happened to a good friend of mine. I shall use a ‘nom de plume’ for him: Raul ‘Mad as Hell’. He joined a local band in 2006 who claimed they wanted to ‘make it’. They said they wanted a record deal, and wanted success. Three years later and after much hard work on the part of Raul generating a following, showcasing at international festivals and being seriously courted by record producers, managers and labels, they split up. At that point it became clear that two members of the band had never had any intention of giving up their daytime careers for music. Sure they loved the music, they loved being in the band but they did not want to do the work, and when the biggest opportunity of their music career came knocking they were gone.

Another musician friend had a similar experience: Frank recruited four new members to his band. Five years later, after three albums the band were getting nowhere. He asked them to work harder and improve their playing ability – they refused – they had other priorities. He left! 

I’m sure you’ll recognise this type of story. The saddest thing is that those who really want to have a serious career are often so pissed at the outcome that they give up too.

Don’t let this happen to you. Get the direction, the ambition and the commitment sorted out right at the beginning. Make sure you are working with the right people and you all want the same thing. Once that’s all agreed then set off. That’s what the fan formula does for you. Even if you have to lose some people at the beginning that’s better than wasting your time pretending you all wanted the same thing when you didn’t. And if you’re already up and running and this formula has set off a light bulb in your head – then challenge the LCD.  If you’re uncomfortable with that and can’t do it right away, then set them a test. If they don’t deliver then time is up for them.

Get the book, download the worksheets, plan the success you want!

A master plan to break into the UK charts

Bitter Ruin

Ben & Georgia, Bitter Ruin

Bitter Ruin are on a mission to get their music into the UK charts on Sunday 9th October.

“We all want that so what’s new”, I hear you say.

Well of course it’s not new but what’s different is Bitter Ruin are seeing the results of a very good piece of planning that everyone can learn something from. Plus there’s the fact that they’re unsigned and doing all of this themselves with grace, enthusiasm and a good pinch of strategic thinking.

Bitter Ruin formed in 2007 in Brighton when Ben Richards and Georgia Train met at music school. Although they understood each other musically through their classical training, they had dramatically opposing music tastes. Georgia listened to Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor and The Talking Heads whereas Ben preferred rock and bands like Metallica. The result? ‘Contemporary Expressionism’ with passion and musical intelligence at the heart of what they do. Their songs are about the darker side of life and their innovative performances come alive with theatricality, strong sparing vocals, harmonisation and raw instrumentation.

Bitter Ruin put in the hours and are persistent. They have a strong belief in themselves. After doing over 500 gigs they were good enough to be paid and they started getting great support slots in bigger venues. They’ve toured before now but it wasn’t the right time for them. This time it was very different.

Their plan was masterful and it payed off. They recorded their single and made a video (the first thing you see when you visit their site They decided on a release date for the single and went on a three month tour in the lead up to it. During the tour they concentrated on growing their email list and afterwards, back home, they plugged the single using Facebook and Twitter. They are clear about their mission and give their fans clear a ‘call to action’ to support them. Their single, ‘Trust’, is only available in outlets that notch up sales registered in the charts. They know how many sales they need to get to number 1.

All good stuff. Their big break came when Stephen Fry got involved. Then followed radio and TV interviews on local stations.

And their ultimate goal? To have someone do the leg work for them so they can spend more time doing what they love – creating great music for their fans.

10th October update : Bitter Ruin achieved a #19 placing in the Official UK Independent Singles Chart. A fine achievement.