Want to Make it To The Big Time? Learn to Market Yourself.
Here’s the situation. You play in a band. You’re awesome (you think). But you need to get your name out there, break out of the local circuit and start earning the big bucks and the other spoils which go along with the life of an international rock star.
Now of course talent comes into the equation here, but plenty of great bands drift through their careers without ever getting noticed. While others end up like, well…. Coldplay. So what’s the difference?
Luck right? You’re unlucky and those X Factor wannabies sail through life on a cloud made of luck. That probably does come to into it but blaming your bad luck on your careers failure to launch is a bit of a cope out lets be honest. Where the Stones ‘just lucky’? The Beatles? Radiohead? Coldplay?
Of course not. Those guys got a lucky break at some point sure, but how did they get in a position where their luck and talent could take over? Marketing.
Marketing is an ugly word in any creative industry. None less than in music where the very idea of marketing yourself sends shivers down the spines of many “artists”. But at the end of the day its your choice – do you want to be the tortured genius or the international rockstar?
The good news is that these days there’s no excuse for you to not market your band properly. Thanks to the web, the things you’re probably doing already anyway can quickly become marketing. Stalking your ex on Facebook or searching for new music to rip off inspire you on MySpace? You’re not procrastinating, you’re “social networking”. There’s plenty of examples of new artists who have shot to fame off the back of nothing more than a few YouTube videos and there’s no reason you can’t at least try to replicate their success. Sure the world doesn’t need anymore Justin Beibers (if fact it could do with one less) but if your band with all your talent could get just 1% of the eyeballs his YouTube video’s have got that’s your break right there.
Although the fashion these days might be for new artists to go straight to market – building up a massive fan base through social media to the point the record company exec’s are going to be lining up and mud-wrestling to the death to sign you up, remember that most bands still get their break in the traditional way, seeding their music out to the people in the know and hoping that their samples will make their way to the people who pull the purse-strings at Sony or wherever. Again thanks to the web the process of getting your music out there isn’t nearly as painful as it once was. Make sure your Myspace page is pimped out with your latest music and videos. Put together a proper website of your own with your own web address. Doesn’t seem to be anything too fancy – use something like Basekit or WordPress to get up and running quickly.
Work out the best way to share your samples with the widest possible number of industry bods. That might be through your YouTube channel. Or something like SoundCloud. You might want to burn 1000 CD’s and deliver them by courier pigeon – that’s cool too. In fact ideally do all 3. The key thing to remember is that marketing doesn’t stop once you’ve posted your sample or got your website live. The real work is getting the right people onto your sites or listening to your stuff by whatever means. For most bands that’s going to mean playing the game, hustling, keeping your ear to the ground for opportunities to play to the right crowds. Don’t forget – it’s a game, and if you’re serious about your music and making it heard you don’t only have to be willing to play but you need the tenacity to play it well and go the extra mile.