Indie bands and musicians - What can we learn, if anything, from the viral marketing techniques employed by the world’s biggest pop star (except Justin Bieber of course), Lady GaGa? If at this point you’re grumbling “Not my thing” or “I hate pop music” you’ve quite possibly closed some of the potential doors available to you and sorely missed out as a result. Let’s also forget the obvious point that GaGa has millions of followers anticipating her every move. I plan to use this individual simply as a conversation starter on the topics of controversy and originality, which are becoming ever-more important in today’s music industry.
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Entries in marketing (100)
When you think of DIY bands, chances are the acts that come to your mind are not on the billboard charts. At least not yet. When we first reached out to 3OH!3 for an interview, we had our doubts as well. However, as you will see below, 3OH!3 was born and raised in DIY ethos and continue to move forward with the same mentality even today.
Part of being a DIY artist is marketing yourself like an entrepreneur or small business owner: You’re presenting the brand of “You, Inc.,” comprised of all the unique things about your music and you as an artist. And while putting some tracks up on social media platforms like Facebook and Myspace or on your own website is an important part of your larger portfolio of marketing tactics, you can’t just leave it at that and hope that someone will eventually stumble across you. A very important part of your PR campaign as a DIY artist is presenting yourself well to blogs, podcasts, online music communities, music websites and magazines. It’s a given that if you’re at the stage where you’re ready to approach the press about your music, you should have at least two things: a professional-sounding collection of your songs – whether that is in the form of an LP or a full-length album – that represents you at your best; tangible proof that you are playing whenever and wherever possible, working hard at providing an engaging experience for your fan base – who essentially act as your paying “clients,” buying albums and coming to your shows – and to turn new people onto your music. Assuming you have both those things going for you, what comes next?
You would be hard pressed to NOT have heard of Google+, the newest social networking and sharing tool from Google which after one month of existence boasts around 18 million users. Artists are already bombarded with a plethora of tools to help them connect with their fans, but Google+ truly adds some unique features which have great potential for integration into a musician’s marketing arsenal.
This contribution is by Bas Grasmayer (@Spartz), head of online communication at official.fm, a d.i.y. platform for music creators and content owners. Be remarkable, be easy to discover, turn your fanbase into a party, connect, listen. Those were the final words of my article when I introduced my thesis’ main theory of the ecosystem of fans on hypebot back in March. Being a perfectionist, I’ve been waiting with the public release of my thesis until I felt that the layout matched the content. I teamed up with a wonderful designer called Ryan Van Etten, who built an amazing site for this thesis, which you can visit at http://basbasbas.com/thesis (and the entire thing is available in its entirety for free).
Some indie bands are purposely obscuring their names, hiding their faces, and refusing interviews as a means of image-management. Is this a good idea for your band?
Artists are giving away way too much free music. The belief that giving away free music will result in future sales are too far-fetch. Also with the advancement of new distribution models cutting down the dollar value on music (Cloud/Subscription models), we are entering a stage where the public is becoming too accustomed to free music. Sure illegal downloads are here and will continue to be here, but artists must not fall into the trap of allowing their fans to dance to the tune of music is a free commodity.
What 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.
Author David Meerman Scott made a honest and realistic quote, “if you want 20,000 fans you must do 2000 different things that each generate 10 fans.” This was my favorite quote from 2010 and I am going to take this on as a challenge for 2011 for an ambitious project to give you 2000 different things you can do to generate 20,000 fans.
Balancing the different facets of being a musician, along with our social, personal and professional lives can be very difficult. How do we do it, and do you have anything useful you can share with others?
Some of these items will apply better for larger acts, some items will work for any act. Some may work for you, some may not… not yet. Some these can be done with little effort, some will take some web development, some might even require some significant development. Some of these have successfully worked for me over the years. The point is to create a list of items that would cover a wide range of acts and abilities.
The end result of all this will hopefully be more Facebook likes, Twitter followers, email list subscriptions, more sales and more traffic to your website… more fans!
We’re proud to name Natalie Cheng as Music Think Tank’s first ever Community Manager. Natalie has toiled away in the shadows here for months; editing comments, tagging posts and in general keeping things flowing. This acknowledgement of her efforts is long overdue.
So, who is Natalie Cheng?
A general rule of commerce is this: You cannot demand money until you have generated demand, or at the very least, the perception of demand. And a sure way to generate demand is by using a loss leader. Your music is your business. And in business, in order to spike sales and increase the bottom line, you have to pick and put into play a loss leader. A loss leader is a part of your whole product offering that you will lose money on (or not make money on) in order to get potential customers through the door. Once they are in, their experience with your “brand” should cause them to buy other products you also offer as well as become repeat customers. This adds to your bottom line. This is what a loss leader does.
I used to be afraid of always talking about my music to people, whether it was online or offline. Mainly because I was afraid I would annoy and lose them. I found myself in a dilemma of sorts because the promotion of my music was inconsistent as result. And inconsistency doesn’t breed success. So I had to check myself. I was taking this music thing too personally. I needed to step back and be a bit more objective with my career. I needed to think like a businessman. After all, I’ve spent 6 years building my own marketing company.
As I understood business, when you have a good product, the main task at hand is to figure out ways to let your target audience know it exists and raise your product’s profile in their lives. That is your focus. You are the owner. You are the marketer. The success of that product is in your hands. And, being in music makes no difference. If I ever want to make this passion my “9 to 5”, I had better pull things together. What I’ve found is that it took just as much creativity to be in business as it did to make music. Both requires you to take what is seemingly nothing and make it into something. Except when it comes to the business side of things, your job is to make your music, which at the start is nothing in the mind of a consumer, become something meaningful to that consumer. And the key to great marketing is one word: frequency.
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(Updated Feb 25, 2014)