Anyone who is serious about making music knows that it takes more than great songs to become successful. If you want a meaningful career in an industry as competitive and tumultuous as music, you’ll have to develop skills that have nothing to do with writing, performing and recording songs. But while every band brings different talents and skillsets to the table, there’s some things that your band simply won’t be able to do well without help.
How do you know what your band can successfully do by itself and what it can’t? That completely depends on your goals, resources and experience. For example, if you’re planning a big album release, your band will obviously need outside help if you plan on putting out your record on CD or vinyl––unless one of your bandmates somehow knows how to duplicate CDs or press vinyl. But things get a little bit more complicated when it comes to everything else it takes to make an album release successful.
Sure, your band might be great at posting pictures on Instagram, but do any of you have the equipment, skills and vision a professional photographer does? Probably not. And while a band photo might not seem like a huge deal in comparison to the music you’re releasing, it actually is. You might not want to cough up the few hundred bucks it takes to hire a solid band photographer, but you’ll probably be taken much less seriously by fans and press unless you do.
…but what you’re really paying for when you hire professional help with promotion is connections, contacts, and industry credibility
This same idea applies to setting up PR and radio campaigns to help promote your album. Yes, your band can do it in-house, but how successful can you be without outside help? You can craft compelling email pitches and send off your album to radio stations by yourself, but what you’re really paying for when you hire professional help with promotion is connections, contacts, and industry credibility. And because your band only specializes in making music, you probably won’t have a lot of those things.
Hiring the pros to help your band can make a huge difference as far as getting the word out about your music, but lots of bands simply can’t afford the thousands of dollars it takes to run professional PR and radio campaigns. The best decision for your band depends on your goals and resources, and the best solution for you might be a mix of hiring outside help and doing a few things by yourselves. If you have absolutely no money at all, which is not an uncommon thing for musicians, then you might have to do everything in-house until you start selling music or making money at shows, and that’s okay. Plenty of bands have done great things with no money and some great music, but if or when you can afford it, handing off some of the non-musical aspects of your music off to the pros could do big things for your band.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.