Odds are if you’re an emerging band, you could do with a little more buzz. Not because your music isn’t great (because it probably is) but because you haven’t fully invested in the marketing and creation of your brand. I know those can sound like dirty words when all you want to do is play music you love and have it touch the lives of others, but the reality is that in order to actually reach that audience on a wider scale so that you can inspire them, you’re going to have to invest a little time in doing the things that don’t come naturally. Such as…
Know who you are—and own it
This is where branding really starts. It’s all about getting crystal clear on who you are as a band and then owning it. By that, I mean incorporating it into everything you do, from the photos you take, to the shows you play, to your stage persona, to your social media posts. Creating and sticking to a brand persona is what will set you apart from the rest and allow people to truly connect with you. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out bands like The 1975, Twenty One Pilots, or even one of the classics—KISS.
Treat your band’s social media like you would your personal social media
By this I don’t mean air all your personal grievances on your band’s account but rather, be active, engaged, and present on your band’s page just as much as you are your personal page. (Hopefully you’re one of the many who are glued to social media, otherwise this comparison falls short!)
For better or worse, many of us spend the majority of our day posting to social media with ease. Yet, when it comes to sharing on your band’s page, it can look like a ghost town.
Part of the hang up here is that you probably have no idea what to post. That’s where referring back to the first point will come in handy. It’s also why getting clear on your brand before doing anything else is crucial. When you have a strong sense of your brand and what you’re all about, creating content becomes much easier. Sure, you should share your new music or shows when they’re happening, but to truly create connection and get people talking about you, there needs to be more than that. I suggest following the 70-20-10 rule when it comes to social media—take some time to dive into this, set time aside each week to schedule out posts, and you’ll be in a routine in no time—and reaping the rewards of consistency.
Throw yourself into a newsletter & blog
Like social media, your newsletter and blog can be easy to overlook in terms of growth. However, it is, in my opinion, a crucial piece of the puzzle. Both are an opportunity to connect with your audience in a unique way.
With your blog, it’s an opportunity to talk about things that really matter to you, that are likely to matter to your fans by extension. It’s a chance to take your branding one step further by publishing not just what you’ve been up to musically, but what’s on your mind personally. It can be a well thought examination of the industry, or your experience in the studio, or a totally non music related thought that supports your brand. The idea is just to show more of who you are to the world.
Your newsletter is similar to this. While a lot of bands make the mistake of just including new show dates or songs, you’ll get a much stronger response (sometimes actual tangible email replies) to your newsletters if you instead engage with your audience by offering them something of value—your thoughts.
A client of mine recently made the switch from ho-hum newsletters (which were boring for her to even write, so, you can imagine how the subscribers felt) to one where she allowed herself free expression to talk about her personal struggles and the intense transition she was going through musically. Within the first 24 hours she had over 8 responses.
That’s the power of words.
Connect one-on-one with fans
Stick with me, because this one is going to sound a little scary. In the age of the internet there is much to be done without ever leaving home. However, nothing replaces the power of in-person connection. So get out there! Spend time after your show purposefully talking with the people that wander by your merch table (please do better than “hey how are you? Thanks for the support.”). Go out into the audience and introduce yourself, thank them for coming, ask them what great shows they’ve seen lately. Go to shows that aren’t your own, talk to the bands after, and form bonds. A huge part of this industry is networking and the truth is that in-person is where you’ll make the strongest impressions. You can’t get people talking about your band if they don’t first know who you are and why they should care—getting out there and in front of people is one of the fastest ways to begin creating buzz.
Have fun with what you’re doing—it doesn’t all have to feel so daunting. If you’re a naturally exuberant person (or someone in the band is), have them hang outside the venue, talking to people waiting in line to get in, and hand out flyers for your next show. But don’t just hand them out, talk to the people. Tell them who you are, ask them if this is their first time seeing the band they’re in line for, what their favorite show is. Form a connection.
If you’re a little more shy, find a way to step outside the box via social media. Maybe you run a weeklong series of clues and puzzles about your upcoming single title and the winner gets a free merch pack. Maybe you do a virtual show where you take requests from your fans. Maybe you get really creative and hide tickets to a big show around your city, then create a scavenger hunt for fans to find them. Whatever you do, make it memorable and make it an experience. If you make it an experience, people will remember, and they will talk. Trust me on this one.