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Wednesday
Oct172018

The Best Ways A Local Band Can Seem More Professional (On The Cheap)

If you’re in a local band, you know how hard it can be to get people to care about your band. You pound the pavement putting up flyers. You send event invites to all of your Facebook friends and spam them with Soundcloud links. You tell all of your coworkers that you’re in a band. 

And after all of this, you might get a few people to actually check out your page or go to a show. And if your band looks amateurish or sloppy, there’s a good chance that they’ll go right back to ignoring you.

It’s not necessarily your fault. Most people are used to their music being highly produced. Local music can be a little rough around the edges for their tastes.

But there are ways you can make your band seem more professional—even without a big studio budget behind you.

 

Have Some Standards For Gigs

In the immortal words of Sex Bob-Omb frontman Stephen Stills, “a gig is a gig is a gig is a gig.” 

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World may be a fantastic movie, but that’s really bad advice. Your fans will only take your band as seriously as you do. And when you take every gig that comes your way, it sends a bad message.

If your band is playing at children’s birthday parties or company picnics, then people aren’t going to give you the same respect as if you were opening for touring bands at the hottest venue in town.

And I don’t mean to say you shouldn’t play these shows at all. Everybody has to start somewhere. But if you oversaturate yourself, people start to tune you out. 

Tighten Up Your Live Show

This past weekend, I played at a festival of about twenty bands from around the Midwest. I saw a lot of really great sets. I also saw a few stinkers.

The less-than-great sets all had one thing in common: they were sloppy.

I’m not just talking about their playing. A couple of the bands actually played really well. But they were unprepared. They didn’t have set lists. They took forever to load onto the stage. They indulged in awkward stage banter. 

And people stopped listening.

Your live show doesn’t have to be highly produced to seem professional. You just need to know what you’re doing. Make sure your equipment is working. Prepare a set list. Don’t waste time. Load up, play your songs, talk as little as necessary to engage the crowd, then get off. If you’re good, people will want more. If you waste time, it won’t matter how good your music is. People will get bored.

Make Your Content Snappy

Take a moment and go to any major artist’s website or Facebook page. What do you see? 

Probably some professionally-shot photos, some music videos…maybe a poster of upcoming tour dates. 

I know that most of these artists have massive support from their label’s marketing department that a local band can never compete with. But there are a few tools that you can use to create content that looks comparable.

There are a number of free online resources you can use. Canva provide you with professionally-designed templates that you can tweak to make your own beautiful designs for posters or merch. For video, Adobe Spark can help you make high-quality lyric videos with ease, even if you don’t know how to make an intro. Even a quick Instagram filter can help bring your photos to the next level.

Remember: Less Is More

Starting a band is exciting. Sometimes, you just want to share whatever you have with everyone. Driving back from that fest this weekend, one of my friends eagerly showed off demos from his new hardcore band. There were no vocals, and the riffs weren’t arranged in the right order. He even scatted through some of the breakdowns for us.

That excitement is normal. But don’t let it tempt you to flood social media with every demo, iPhone picture, and video from practice. People don’t want to wade through low-quality content. And if your Facebook page is filled with crappy demos and blurry videos, most people will just click away.

Instead, be stingy with your content. One well-produced single is more valuable than a Bandcamp page filled with unmastered demos you recorded in Garage Band.

 

Some high quality tracks, well-done videos, and the occasional killer live show can have your fans begging for more. It can take your band’s presence from so-so to can’t-miss. But if you oversaturate your listeners with sloppy shows, roughly mixed songs, and bad looking content, get used to playing in the garage.

The Best Ways A Local Band Can Seem More Professional (On The Cheap)

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