Thursday, October 4, 2012

Band 101: Networking & Promoting

Part of this blog is to have open discussions on topics to help bands get a step further in their career. We highly recommend comments and questions that you may have. All comments that are not relevant to the topic will be deleted.  
So, for the first installment, I would like to talk about the way Bands Should Network & Promote to gain new fans.

Photo: Kid Felix - Liberty Musicfest @ Dobbs 8/18/12

As an Artist/Band you should know who your core fans and what markets are growing for you. The main stumbling block is how do I you get more fans, better shows and any publicity. Industry professionals have been saying that it’s an “Open Playing Field for the DIY Artists” as this is true but the underground artist still needs to work harder, smarter and be more creative then in the past. So where do we start…..

Networking:Networking is key to every artist/band. It's a method of meeting like-minded people in any given industry. Person to person networking is the best way of gaining useful contacts that you can call upon for assistance in the future. It puts a name with the face. So where should an artist/band network. Be apart of your scene, make it a point to go out to clubs and talk to other bands, people in the crowd and the staff at the venue. The more visible you are the more people will recognize and remember who you are. Attend non-music events like galleries, conventions, gaming events, parties, festivals, etc. The key is not to plaster someone with a flyer or bring up your music. You are building a relationship and it will eventually be part of the conversation. Attend music conferences, even if your not showcases. These are hotbeds to meet bands, industry folks, music companies and even new fans. I have seen bands go to a music conference, not showcase, and come back home with a mini-tour just by meeting other bands. It sounds real simple; it is, you just have to do the hard work. If you are a serious musician I recommend joining your local chapter of The Recording Academy.  I can personally say that the Recording Academy was a major part of being successful in this business. Their networking and special events that they organize gained my access to meet some of my peers along with people like myself who were looking to further their career. The key is to meet as many people as possible and build a working connection. You never know who we help or offer you a great opportunity. It's worth remembering the 'domino effect' of networking: once people have seen you music and like your style, they will tell others and so on. You'll be amazed about how far simple word of mouth referrals can go to increase your awareness.
Recently, 2 mid-level touring artists met each other for the first time at a music conference. They talked and found out that they had several things in common. They both thought that their fans would dig each others music. In Short, the two artists got together onstage that night to do a song together and video tape the performance. Their plan was to get both of their friends interested in each other. It work perfectly and both artists saw a substantial increase in fans after they released the video on Youtube.
Networking can lead to collaborating with other artists. You never know who might be interested in your music unless you engage in meeting new people.
Artists should have goals in having 5 new contacts a week.

Today there are endless ways to promote your band, both online and offline. Most bands put heavy emphasis on their online presence through social networking, blogs, video updates, free downloads etc. So what do we still need to do to get noticed? I wish I had a Golden Key to solve everyone’s needs but I will present a few items that continue to work. The days of a band showing up a venue and it being packed has been gone for numerous years now.  So it’s left up to the bands and venues to get people interested in mew music.

Networking is a strong option (see above).

Cross Promoting is not really used that much this day and age. An artist/band should have band business meetings on a regular basis to discuss everything. At A meeting each member should bring a list of the top 5 things he likes other music, more towards their lifestyle eg. 1. Tattoos, 2. Harleys, 3.Video Games, 4. Comics and 5. Craft Beers.  You will have 15-20+ plus ideas on the table to devise a cross promoting campaign for your next show. People like music so once you get your like’s together try and setup a way to promote each other. Also, make sure your music can complement the company you are trying to partner up with.
Posters/handbills/EventsI am a strong believer of really cool creative posters to promote shows. One issue with this I have seen lately is that bands send posters a week before the show which to me is a waste of time. Posters should be up in the club, in a store or posted at lease 4 weeks before the show.  A key to every promotion is constant exposure of your show. Bands should contact the other bands on the bill to develop one poster and one Facebook event for the show. This cross promotes you with the other artists on bill and vice versa. Each band on the bill should talk up the other bands. The Punk scene continues this tactic and it still works to this day.
Handbills are still effective if put in the right environment. Again, with posters, creativity always catches people’s eye. Bands hand out thousands at major shows, on the street, on cars, etc. What’s the effectiveness? It’s hard to judge at times. I would have something on the handbill like percentage of merch, a free same CD or Download with the flyer; I have seen free drink on some.... It sucks it’s a numbers game but it is necessary to keep your name out and hope someone eventually says I really need to check these guys out.
For years, I saw “WNOC” stickers all over Philly. It was to a point I had to go see them, everywhere I went there was a WNOC sticker; the toll both, stop signs, trains, buses, hot dog carts and more.

Fan Interaction:
Getting people to come a gig is hard; the more important challenge is to keep them coming back. Most bands don't really do anything special to give their existing fans any real reasons to come back and see them over and over again. It's hard to become successful when most of the new fans you will get also won't come to see your band play more than once or twice. You need to keep your fans engaged and make them feel they are party of your music family. Some key stuff that sounds basic but rarely done, keep all your social media sites up to date and send out updates about the band on a 7-14 days, Always add video content, streaming music and special live downloads on a scheduled pace. Find out what your friends are into from movies, games, tv, news and interact with them as much as possible. Fans like to be apart of something, ask them for input on show ideas, run contests and find other avenues to interact with them.
Collecting E-mail Addresses:
Emails are a must for every band trying to promote and keep in touch with their fans. So many bands I seen don’t worry about this which is a huge mistake. What if Facebook crashed tomorrow? It could happen; look at, Myspace and others. So how are you going to connect with your fans? Collecting names, email addresses, city, state, and zip code allows you to specify who receives the emails according to gig locations. Knowing where your fans live you can send regional emails to your fans and you are avoiding 'spamming' your other fans of which the email is of no relevance. Newsletters are great for fans but should be limited to monthly newsletters that have important band news.

Being in a band today is great but also a great task to be successful. The whole band has to be involved with networking and promoting. A band has to be the music creators, booking agent, designer, promoter, counselor, PR, etc. The days of managers, PR and booking agents at this level are all but gone. The economics is not profitable these days so finding people who are willing to do this for you effectively is a huge asset.

If you want to join in with successful ideas, questions or comments regarding this topic feel free and we will be apart of the conversation.

Jim Thorpe
The Legendary Dobbs/DVT Entertainment

1 comment:

  1. Very good advice. As a relatively new band, we (The THiCK) were having a hard time finding a venue in the city to let us play. Through some networking, The Legendary Dobbs gave us our first city gig. With that, we are now able to book other shows and PR as a Dobbs band. Thanks for our shot! Listen to their advice.
    =The THiCK=
    Playing Dobbs again Oct 20 2012 8pm