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Monday
Jun062011

No One Will Remember Your Band: 10 Ways to Stop Being Forgettable

Attention - disorderWhat bands tend to forget, not everyone at the show knows who they are. Some people are just there to hang out and could care less about the bands. Knowing this, you have to use every tool at your disposal to get your band recognized. It’s no good to entertain a crowd of people and then let them leave not even knowing the name of your band. (It happens…trust me…)

1. Large banner on stage

Displaying your band’s logo prominently while you’re playing has to be the number one way for everyone to know who you are. At any point during your set, people will immediately see who you are.

Simply announcing the name of your band during your set is not enough. You never know at what point someone will or will not be in your audience. People wander in and out the entire time: getting beer, smoking, going to the bathroom, just got to the club, etc. There is no gaurantee your new, potential super-fan will be in the room when you say your band’s name.

Yes, even if someone really digs your band, they can still wander out and miss who you are. Why? Well, there are usually two things that trump your show: alcohol and getting laid.

2. Something free for everyone

Have something with your logo and website that you can give to everyone at that show. Stickers are always good for this, but it could also be EPs or a small piece of artwork. The point is to get your band’s name into everyone’s brain.

An additional benefit, handing out these items gives you an excuse to personally meet everyone in the club which is the best way to get new fans. 400 other bands sound exactly like yours; The only thing that separates you from them is YOU.

3. Large logo on merch booth

In addition to hocking your wares, your merch booth has a secondary role for branding. A well designed (and well lit) logo above your merch advertises your band’s name for the entire night. Even those that didn’t see your set will still see your band’s name.

4. Posters

Posters are just cool. I rarely see bands with posters. I sometimes grab fliers for a show and hang on my wall. A cool poster lives a long life well past your show.

A nifty way to brand yourself at the show is to hang up a cool poster that isn’t tied to a particular show. Just pop up a graphically intriguing poster on the club’s wall. If you’re lucky, someone will steal it.

5. Logos on the Kick drum

Kick drum headPut your logo on the kick drum. In addition to a banner, the kick drum is usually visible during your entire set.

6. Logos on the cabs and amplifiers

The grates on guitars and bassist’s speakers can be removed and painted. Grab some cardboard and spray paint to re-design that grate with your band’s logo.

7. Beer coasters

If you’re playing a bar, create some cool beer coasters and give them to the bar. Your band’s name will be underneath everyone’s drink all night long. Maybe all month long.

8. Matches

Everyone smoker forgets their lighter. Give ‘em a nifty band branded set of matches.

9. List of band lineup

Something simple that I’ve always appreciated. Have a clear list on the wall around the club that says who and when each band is playing. I’ve used these lists to know the name of who I’m watching. Maybe it’s just me that notices this crap, though.

10. Custom item for club

Make something really cool just for the club. I’ve seen guitars, broken drum heads, and nice, glossy photos. When people are chilling out, they’ll check out these items on the wall. Another way your band’s name can live on…

I am Chris “Seth” Jackson, a bass guitarist and composer. I am an average musician, working a day job as a software engineer, in pursuit of fulfilling my life’s dream of being a self-sufficient musician. My blog How To Run A Band is about sharing the ups and downs of this adventure and, hopefully, finding great techniques that everyone can use to achieve success in the extremely difficult world of music.

E-mail me: seth _at_ howtorunaband.com
http://twitter.com/howtorunaband

Reader Comments (16)

That makes a lot of sense, good tips, thanks for share.

Thank you very much, Music Think Tank! I can't express how much I appreciate you publishing my posts. You have been extremely helpful, and I hope I can repay the kindness sometime in the future.

Though they haven't responded here, I saw a couple of comments on twitter about this post. One was that it wasn't original and nothing new. To that, I respond TRUE! What's stated in this post isn't groundbreaking. However, it's from years of going to shows and touring that I see the above mistakes being made consistently.

Second, someone mentioned that this is terrible advice because good music wins out for being rememberable. I really wish that were true. So many great bands go unnoticed because they don't know how to get their name out. There are amazing bands that have been playing for 10 years that people are completely unaware of.

But, I see crappy bands that can barely hold their guitars selling out shows and getting media coverage. They know how to get their name out.

As much as it sucks, getting your name recognized can be more important than your actual music. I hate that fact, but it's the truth.

And please! If you disagree with this, please post a comment! I'd love to debate, and I don't mind being wrong! :)

Some good ideas here. You could also try, taking a crap on stage whilst repeating your band name over & over.

@Ryan: Ha! Yes, the GG Allin approach works well! :) Or Iggy's broken bottle music marketing techniques.

There's a local band here in Seattle, Neutralboy, that always incorporates there name into their music as well as between songs. "Neutralboy, bitch" is a slogan for the band, and they can get the whole crowd chanting it.

Chris, you are totally correct. It doesn't matter how awesome a band's music is, if they are lacking in effective marketing they will struggle to succeed. It's sad, but it's how business works. Of course, having a better quality product (the music) is important and will probably endear you to many more fans... But having that alone with no marketing skills will usually get you no further than YouTube and your local pub. Thanks for blogging about this essential topic!

Thanks for the comment, Inner Second. Personally, I prefer bands that sound tight and know their instruments well. It definitely puts you over the top to be both good at marketing yourself as well as being a kick ass band.

The band's name on a sign/banner/drum head/hand outs/etc. is definitely the #1 thing. Not only does it help people remember who you are, but it can trigger their awareness later when they see your name again elsewhere, like Facebook, twitter, or anywhere on the web—"Hey, isn't that the band I saw last month? I need to check out if they have a new release or new gig coming up…"

June 9 | Unregistered CommenterIctus75

About banners, another thing is that people often take photos at shows. Sometimes not of you, but of their friends. While you're on stage, having a sign with your name, logo, and url might also get captured in the photo.

Also, I highly suggest putting some signage at your merch table. I've seen many bands who just put T-Shirts and Cds on a table and have no backdrop or whatever. Put something up.

June 23 | Unregistered Commentermarq-paul

Very good advice. I know of so many bands that thinks their music is so good that all they have to do is wait to be discovered. There is no such thing as being discovered. The fans are the ones who discover you and you better help them out by doing the things you talk about here and a whole lot more.

great post.
lot of good points,
especially making stickers ,
i love that,
gives people value
and an easy door to start talking to people
especially if you're shy
"here, take this free sticker!"

lesson from my life,
doesn't matter about talent,
everything in life is about marketing,
not just music.
so we need to understand
and start mastering the fundamentals.

no need to resist,
need to enjoy it.
thanks again!

Cuzzies are good to. Fans join our mailing list and recieve a free cuzzie. They are very affordable 200 for 100.00 and display our logo and website on each side.

July 2 | Unregistered CommenterRonnie Lee

@Ictus: I forgot where I read it, but name recognition is what really gets your band noticed. All the throwing around of the name gets your band on the radar. The same goes for music on the radio. Apparently, it takes about 80 to 90 listens before a song will catch on with people. So, the more you get the logo and band name out there, the better a band's chances.

@marq-paul: Hmmm. That's interesting. Always have your logo ready for a photo op. That could be a new article by itself!

@JC (Ageless Stranger): I think the "Getting Discovered" philosophy died back in the 80's and 90's. I think the only "get discovered" opportunity that exists is having a viral hit on YouTube. And that's extremely rare and can't be manufactured.

@thegreentreesmusic: I love stickers. Patches are fun, too!

And I definitely have heard bands that aren't that good at their instruments succeed. However, they had talent for making their music connect with people. So, musical talent isn't all about how well an instrument is played, in my opinion.

But, anything without proper networking and marketing is going to fall flat.

@Ronnie Lee: That's a GREAT idea! I might have to steal that one from you! I know the cuzzies are extremely popular with the punk rock scene on the West Coast, US.

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