In future articles, I will be sure to elaborate more on how to engage and establish a strong musical brand and online presence. But first I felt obliged to share with musicians what NOT to do. The things that can be death blows to how you’re perceived by venue owners, potential connections, and most importantly your fans. There’s a lot of bands out there, you NEED your community if you want to make it a serious and lucrative part of your life.
1. No website!? No blog!? No credibility.
It’s true, and a major faux pas if your let’s say, I don’t know, looking to get good gigs and capture the attention of producers and labels. And no, your Bandcamp page does NOT count as a website. You see with the tools that are now available to us, not having certain things are perceived by managers and scouts as laziness. Which it is. There are plenty of easy to use and pretty cheap platforms to build a cool site on. Wix is one, another good one is Squarespace, or even head over to Tumblr and shell out for a premium theme with no monthly cost and get the creative juices flying. Your website and blog should be the hub of your online presence. It’s where prospects will go to see where the rabbit hole begins, where fans go to hear you, and keep in the loop and where journalists go to find story information about you.
2. Share life, not shows.
Social Media isn’t a soapbox to preach from. The best band Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Pages really show their personality, either as the band as a whole or by each member really putting themselves out there and most importantly ENGAGING with their audience. The era of the cool and elusive rockstar is dead. Maybe it’ll come back with a rare bird, but nowadays transparency and personality reign supreme. Figure out your crowd, it’s easier with music than other businesses, you pretty much already understand your target because you are your own target in many instances. So create dialog by sharing cool videos, pictures, quotes, whatever is relevant. And of course, share your shows, but remember, if your crowd starts to feel that you’re being pushy and only posting when it’s about a show or selling albums, they will start to ignore you. Do you know that friend that only calls you when they need something? Don’t let your band be that guy.
3. They liked our page, of course, we can add their email to our list.
Wrong! Just because someone is your friend on Facebook, or even liked your band page, they did not give you permission to add their email address to your email list. This is an easy way to create negative vibes, get people talking bad about you, and if enough people complain you can lose your account. It’s hard with email, I have even had people unsubscribe AND report me even though I know I never added an email that someone didn’t sign on the website or at a show. I figured if I could read it you were sober enough to remember you signed it. Opt-in is the keyword here, feature email signups on your site and of course, collect them at shows, but beyond that leave it be. A big email list does you no good if the people don’t actually come out to the shows. It’s not a numbers game, it’s a community game.
4. It’s not an event, it’s just a set.
The days are passing when just a set was enough. Now with so much going on all the time the true move towards success is creating an amazing event. Or even just promoting the entire night, not just you’re set. Many go by the get em in and get em out mentality when it comes to your fans at your shows. This is more of an aggressive reaction to promoters and venue owners’ poor treatment of bands rather than being based on any kind of coherent reality or sense of community. Theme nights, giveaways anything outside of the norm that will make people want to come to experience the event is the way to really make a name. Being open and sharing other good bands and albums paves the way for good things to happen to you as well. Kindness leads to kindness. As more and more we see the climate making it harder and harder for musicians, it is time we really create community and look out for each other.
5. Spreading Yourself too Thin.
Many times a new social platform comes out and everyone jumps on board, and sometimes these get forgotten. It is a lot of hard work to develop a community on any platform, let alone many if you do not have a strategy. Trying to market yourself without a strategy created to meet goals is like writing a book without a plot if you don’t know where you are going how is anyone else supposed to know where you want them to go? ick what will really work, it is better to be heavily engaging on a couple than barely keeping up with 10. Remember, when a venue or industry person searches for you, that twitter page you set up and then lost interest in WILL come up, and will show a lack of ambition and follow-through. Plus, the more sites you are working, the more sites to update with new pictures, shows, band members, etc. Keep it simple and strategic, and add more one at a time and only when it feels right and fits your goals.
What are some hard marketing lessons you have learned?