Sure, there are people out there who are going to tell you that now is the time to be a musician for the simple fact that there are more avenues than ever to explore. But just because there are a lot more ways to get heard does not mean that it is easier. In fact, being an indie band now is probably harder than ever before for the simple fact that there are so many options. Playing yet another gig at yet another tavern hidden way off the beaten track, the kind of place that makes you pay for your own water is not exactly a great way of making it. Don’t believe us, just look at your band’s communal wallet.
However, just because you’re broke and living at your bass player’s mom’s house does not mean that you should give up the dream. That is because you can still make it and live out your dream of touring some far-off country where fans chant your name in their adorable local accents. It is just about following the rules and knowing how to maximize your chances.
Of course, telling you that and then skipping town would hardly be rock n’ roll of us. So, to help you start living the dream and escape your bass player’s mom’s house (No offense, Barbara.), we have pulled together a list of insider tips and tricks. Check it out:
- Get To Know Your Fans Like The Back of Your Hand:
Pennies are short and, for some reason, no record labels seem to hang around open mic night’s held in Big Dave’s Garage (lol.). Basically, there is no sign of an advance floating your way just yet, which means your fans are your biggest financial life jacket. That is why you need to make sure that you are giving your fans something for their loyalty and love. Get to know the names of those guys and girls that are always in the front row. Give your fans a way of listening to exclusive music or interviews by creating a band website and then sharing this sort of content there. Share video recordings of acoustic sessions and behind the scenes banter on your social media pages and make sure that you are replying to any comments or messages that float your way. We used the life jacket analogy for a reason because, in the same way, you need to inflate your life jacket by blowing air into it, you need to give your fans something in return for being so awesome.
- Play Your Strengths As Well As Your Guitar:
Every band has their own strengths, so make sure that you are aware of what yours are and then play to them in every way possible. Just being great songwriters with above average talent and the technical know-how when it comes to uploading your music onto Soundcloud, Youtube, Spotify or whatever else isn’t enough. You need to find other ways to shove your musical abilities into the realms of greatness, and that requires a little bit of magic (aka creativity). If you’re a band that offers more stage presence than the lovechild of Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, then try and play as many live gigs as possible, and maybe even consider getting a residency somewhere. Not only will you get paid, but you will see your star start to rise as more and more people see you. It could be that your sense of humor is your secret weapon, in which case document this and share it, get interviews with niche magazines and little radio stations, and then let this personality of yours show in your music videos. OK Go became famous for their viral worthy music videos, which means that it is totally possible to emulate this approach to success.
- Grab People By The Eyes And Ears:
Having a sound that people recognize is one of the most important factors when it comes to carving out some Top Of The Pops like success. But so is having the right visual branding, too. That is why it is worth spending a little bit of time and money (Presumably borrowed from your parents. Barbara, we’re looking at you.) on a graphic designer. This branding of yours is going to be stamped across all of your promotional material – Facebook page profile pictures, website homepage, Instagram, flyers, album covers, t-shirts, USB drives, and pub mic-night posters – and will help establish your place in the industry. Think about some of the greatest and most famous bands to ever walk the boards of the biggest venues. The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Run DMC, Daft Punk. All of these legends created a visual identity so powerful that just their shadows would halt you in your tracks. Basically, get your branding right and you’ll have people want to sport your promotional products, whether t-shirts or posters, and that will spread the good word faster than the flu.
- Forget All About A Record Deal. Period.
No one from a record deal is going to turn up at one of your small gigs – or your bass player’s mom’s house (No offense, Barbara.) and hand you the golden ticket that is a record deal. That just isn’t going to happen, nor should you want that to happen. The hard work is there to be enjoyed, used in your music, and make you successful. Most importantly, though, you need to understand that no record label has a secret recipe that guarantees success. They just don’t. Instead, they pick up talent based on their independent success; so they will pick you up based on your independent success. That is what you want. You want to use this as a bargaining chip should the day ever come where labels start to notice you instead of getting snapped up early and dropped or, worse, hung out to dry. Concentrate on what you are doing, focus on your trade and doing your own thing; that is what will lead to success – not trying to chase the money and the labels.
Being in a band is cool. Finding success in something you love is cooler. Prepare for a lot of hard work and with just a little bit of luck, you won’t be crashing on Barbara’s couch for much longer.
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