You got the band together. Your band members are talented and, after lots of rehearsing, the playing is tight. You just know that you're better than almost anything out there and when you gig, the feedback is great. But time is moving on. You're paying your dues and earning your stripes for sure. It's time to ramp it up a notch or two but the venues aren't getting any glitzier, audiences aren't getting any bigger and downloads simply trickle. Lesser bands seem to be breaking big, so what are they doing and what can you do? The answer is band promotion.
Have you thought about how to promote your music? We know, we know - you're an artist and above all that. Well, that's fine if you want to stay where you are or just leave it to luck that some promoter, manager or R&R guy will find you. Sure, that happens. But it doesn't happen a lot and there are far more effective ways to get noticed. Music promotion has been around pretty much since the first gigs and recordings, it's just that the tools have changed. Perhaps Mozart or Beethoven ran off some flyers on an ancient printing press and posted them around town in their early days. You can do that too, but you can do an awful lot more.
The Art of Music Promotion
We already know that you're an artist but promoting your music is an art form too. If you have some talented representation to do this stuff for you, then congratulations. But even then, you should take an interest and know what's going on. There's a good chance that you will know your audience at least as well as those guys, and maybe better. That means you'll know where to find them. If you don't have such representation, then you're going to have to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty.
Don't turn your nose up. You're an artist and this is artistic work. Writing songs might be hard but the result can be stunning and life-changing. It's the same here. You can apply the same hard work and talent to band promotion. There are other similarities. Your band has different instruments and your music has different chords (hopefully). Promoting your band is the same. The tools and channels are like instruments and chords. They do different things but they are part of a greater whole that completes your sound. Let's look at some of those music promotion instruments.
Don't be Shy - network
Getting up there on stage and sharing your music takes guts. So you already have the guts for band promotion. Make sure you are known in your area. That's both musical area and geographical area. Make friends with the guys who hire bands in your area, the club and bar owners and the local promoters. Get to know the reporters from your local papers, not just the music press (although clearly them too!). Get them on the guest list for your gigs and make sure they have a 'plus-one' to impress their partner; people love feeling special. Local reporters are always hunting for stories. Give them one.
Likewise, hang out with other bands in your niche. Go to their gigs and get to know them. A bigger band might be looking for a support act and they're going to want to play with someone they know and trust. This is a great way to get your music in front of a bigger audience and grow your fanbase using those who came to see the headline band. Don't worry, you're not stealing them - people follow lots of bands. Also think outside of the music box. Bars and stores like to create a certain vibe with suitable music. Find outlets that suit your sound and offer them free tracks to play in return for hosting some promotional material. You can always do joint promotions to entice them.
Online Band Promotion
If you've given any thought at all on how to promote your music, then you will almost certainly have thought about online channels. This is just another form of networking but it allows you to cast that net much wider. You can only cover so much ground by physically networking. The good news is that there are lots of channels for music promotion online. The bad news is, erm, there are lots of channels for music promotion online - it can get confusing. Perhaps the easiest way to approach things is to break it down into sound, video and people.
We all know that physical sales of music, such as CDs, have been in decline for sometime. This means that your music has to be readily available on as many online platforms as possible. There are lots of distribution services that will manage this process for you and you can see a nice comparison chart at http://aristake.com/?post=92. They can't get your stuff on all channels, however, so check out some important platforms like Dozmia or Soundcloud and deal with them directly if you have to.
YouTube is by far the biggest video sharing platform but Facebook is hugely important and Vimeo attracts a more specialist audience. DailyMotion focuses on good quality videos. Each of these platforms has guidelines about uploading, tagging and marketing your video to make sure it's seen by more people. You need to read these and make sure your video is properly optimized for each platform. Just uploading the same video in the same way does not work. Also, think about the medium. It's video. People are going to want to listen to your music, sure, but it's a visual medium. Make sure your videos are visually appealing: your most exciting live performance, a quirky animation or unusual film sequence.
People are what it's all about. They will buy your music, come to your gigs, purchase merchandise and change your life - if you know how to promote your music to them. Social Media platforms are a great way to build your fanbase and there are now more sites than ever. Facebook remains king but Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and tumblr can all be important. Each has its uses but it's vital to know where your audience is and how you can use that platform to engage with them.
Let's consider Facebook. You're definitely going to want to have a Facebook page for your band as a place to communicate with your fanbase. In many cases this can replace your own website as an easier place to get an audience. The key thing is not to spam people. The key word here is engagement and Facebook has lots of tools to do that. Provide value by sharing exclusive content and interacting with followers. Change your status to attract comments and post videos to get more shares. Timing is vital, so research when each platform is most active and use a service like Hootsuite to automatically post at the best time. Create a Facebook Event for your next gig and invite all of your followers.
Don't forget email
Email marketing is another way to communicate directly with your fanbase. Yes, people do still use email and, properly used, it can be an effective way to promote your band. You can create a Facebook button to collect email subscribers and gather email addresses at your merchandise table at gigs and pretty much everywhere else. This is a channel best used to communicate with people you've already engaged with and if you segment properly, by geography for example, it's a good way to promote gigs to local subscribers. Remember never to spam, offer value and provide a clear unsubscribe option.
Now play all these band promotion instruments together
It might seem like there's a lot to do and you don't know where to start. But now is the time to take a deep breath and start to seriously consider how to promote your music. Pick an event, probably a gig, a little way into the future; perhaps a month away rather than tomorrow. Now start putting together a plan for promoting your band and that gig. Think of it as building a set list. Be reasonable about what you can achieve but be determined and follow through.
Do you have a video you can share? Great. If not, video the gig and post it next time. You can certainly start a Facebook page and you will definitely have some music to upload. What can you do locally? Which local journos, bloggers and influencers can you invite? What local stores and businesses will play your music and help you promote the gig? What can you give them in return as a little encouragement? In everything you do, remember to make it as easy as possible for people to connect with you and share your music. Your fans are your best marketing channel. People love sharing their latest band discovery so make sure they can do so.
Share the love and love doing it!
Promoting your band isn't about selling out. It's about sharing the joy of your music with as big an audience as possible. Think about your favorite band or musician, the one that most inspired you to pick up a guitar, bang a drum or finger a keyboard. Imagine that they only ever played in their parents' basement.. All those memories gone. All of those life-defining gigs and tunes no more. Use these tools to be yourself, to be honest with your audience and to reach out to as many of them as possible. Now, get to it and check back with Join-a-band soon for more on band promotion strategies.
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