Now that bands can upload music to a Bandcamp page in about five minutes, they can give their stuff away. You know, the music they made. For free. To no one.
They can also charge money for it, which no one will spend because everyone is an entitled content thief.
So what’s the secret formula for bands trying to break through the noise with their own noise? How can they get discovered in a way that actually helps them… make money?
Here are the first six steps in that journey:
1. Make Friends with Other Bands.
Being disaffected and generally numb to the world – or at least painfully shy and introverted – is a trademark of a good musician. It’s also terrible for building your audience.
Bands need to stop acting aloof with other bands and they especially need to stop being jealous of everyone else’s accomplishments. Everyone has to work together. Share people’s stuff online. Interact with their Facebook Pages and post on each other’s websites.
2. Get Your Stuff Online Before You Play Shows.
With the music of every other band in the world sitting in their pockets at all times, your potential fans aren’t going to remember anything you do at Joe’s Who-Cares in Nowhere-Near-Public-Transit, USA, on a Tuesday night.
It’s your job to give them the next step. The URL to a Facebook page, a webpage or a Bandcamp. A CD with a URL on it. A big sign that screams your band’s name.
3. Realize Early that Facebook Sucks.
Facebook doesn’t actually show your posts to all of your fans. Some of your fans – maybe most of them – are family and friends who you invited to like the Page, but they tragically don’t have the same taste in music. Forget them.
Still, you need a Facebook for future fans who actually like your music. You also need it for venues, who will use it as a vetting process to see if you’re worthy of setting up there and playing in their basement for free on a Saturday night.
Grit your teeth and post on Facebook at least once a week, and try not to cry too much when no one acknowledges the post.
4. Make Your Music Free.
All music is free on the internet. Every purchase is now more or less a generous donation from fans who really, really like the music. Everyone else is downloading it with evil grins on their faces.
To get exposure, you need to make your music free to play and cheap to download. Worry about getting plays first, downloads second and money last. If you get to the money step, you’ve made it good.
5. Get a YouTube Channel.
Where do musicians waste a lot of time? YouTube. How do they listen to weird music when they’re bored or in some altered state? YouTube.
Make a YouTube channel. Post interesting stuff on it. Interact with other bands there.
6. Create a Website that Doesn’t Suck.
I’ve talked about platforms musicians can use to make a website before. You need to use one of those to make a website. A Bandcamp page isn’t a website, and neither is a Facebook Page.
The website is very, very, very important if you use it right. It’s totally useless if you don’t.
Here’s what the website has to do:
You have to make a b(r)and identity
Self-promoting bands have to create a crystal-clear image of their identity. That’s what will make it impossible to forget you. That’s what will make people interested in your stuff. And it will make it much easier to market that identity online, because it will guide all the little posts and tweets and SnapChats you send around.
So think about the message behind all of your music, that one common theme that seems to effortlessly travel from song to song. If you don’t have one, then your music sucks and you need to fix it. Why are you writing songs that don’t have a message?
Photo Credit: Sprengben [why not get a friend] via Compfight cc
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