So you’ve managed the (not inconsiderable!) task of getting your mates together, figuring out who can play what instrument, discovering that your vocalist can’t actually sing and hurriedly recruiting another, and you’re well into practicing for your first gig. Lamentably, however, most music scenes are not very accommodating to new talent. It is important to remember that it is less a case of “build it and they will come” and more a case of “build it, market it and they will come”. Skip the marketing, and the reality is that you’ll be disappointed to find there will be no-one at your first gig. So how can you ensure your band’s popularity?
Branding and Logos
Design an instantly-recognisable logo for your band. If you’ve decided just to have a shape or some kind of design, make sure it is bold and easily identifiable. If it is only writing, or if it contains writing, you should make sure that it’s always in the same typeface and the same colour. The more consistently you brand yourself, the more recognisable that brand will become.
Some bands seem to want to take it easy at first and gradually increase the number of gigs, so as not to be overwhelmed or become over-exposed. If you’re starting from scratch, this may not be an effective plan of action. Don’t overload yourself, by any means, but if possible you should take on as many gigs as you can, to expose your band (and your brand!) as much as possible, increase your visibility, and make people aware of your name.
Once you get a bit of money and popularity going, it could be wise to starting turning out some merchandise. Merchandise is great because (ideally) it makes you money, and it increases awareness of your brand by visibility and word of mouth. As a good money-maker you can sell CDs you’ve recorded at gigs, but it would be best to try to spread your brand, and custom-made clothing is a great way to do this. This can include t-shirts, hoodies, bracelets, caps, whatever you like. Anything with your name and logo on it is helping you market your band.
Piggy-backing and Sponsorship
As you’ll be aware, many bands start out by “piggy-backing” on another, bigger band’s success, usually by travelling around with them as their support/warm-up act. Usually they’ll put you in the footers on the posters for their gigs, and this is excellent for getting your name about. If you can land a deal like this, you’re in with a great chance! Once you’ve gotten a bit bigger yourself, try to secure a sponsorship with a company. Being associated with a brand or a store can significantly increase your visibility and credibility.
Keep the Faith
Trying to make your band successful is hard. It’s a long, difficult road, you’re going to experience rejection and disappointment, and you’re likely to feel disheartened along the way. As long as you stick together, keep supporting each other and persevere in doing what you love doing, you can’t go wrong!
J.D. is writing on behalf of Banana Moon, an online retailer which specialises in personalised t-shirts, sports kits for schools and clubs and hoodies for school leavers.