Being in a band means different things to different people.
For some, it’s a way to portray an artistic vision or express inner-most emotions otherwise subdued by the monotony of everyday life. For others, it’s a serious business, and promoting your music to the widest possible audience whilst solidifying a brand is of utter most importance. For the rest it’s a just a way to get drunk, look cool and impress the opposite sex with sweet rock shapes. In reality, being in a band is all of these things. I have been playing in bands since I was 16 and have experienced a lot (but not all) of the highs and lows making music to know that it consumes most of your waking hours – arguably most of those will be nursing a hangover but that’s beside the point.
7 not-so-deadly sins of self-promotion
Promotion of your band is always an important factor, whether you’re telling your friends you have a gig in your mate’s shed whilst their parents are on holiday or you’re hoping to fill Wembley Stadium – getting the news out there to fans/potential fans is imperative.
I recently read a blog entitled “7 Deadly Sins Musicians are Making on Facebook & Twitter” which intrigued me. The article covered some really interesting points but I thought I’d stick my ore in and throw some analysis and debate into the mix.
Pulled apart by social media
Musicians and bands occupy a strange space on social channels as it’s a space not dominated by the big guys in terms of “how to do it”. If you, as a young band, are just starting out on your career, I’d advise against looking at the big bands to see what they do – especially on Twitter.
A quick glance at the official Radiohead Twitter account for example and you’ll see they post once every couple of weeks, the majority of which are RT’s of something Thom Yorke has painted for an anti-government rally or a rare blog update – pretty dull in terms of social content.
Where the fun stuff happens is down at the grass roots with the bands that aren’t that well known (commercially speaking) but have nailed a formula on social media that both informs and entertains their following.
Bands like Future Of The Left, Health and Pulled Apart By Horses are a few of my favourites – not least because they belt out perpetually awesome face melting riffs, but they also hold my attention online. I look forward to their tweets.
I’ll fix it in the mix…
So, back to the “7 Deadly Sins…”, I’d like to turn some of these on their head and offer my opinions. Maybe you can use them to help your band find its social space, maybe not. After all, it’s your band, your voice and your music and THIS is what eventually pulls people in.
1. Promoting without providing value
As far as I see it, “value” can be perceived as many things. For you as a band, the value could be taking people to a Facebook event, other gig details or music download sites but to the reader it may be something different. Now, a gig is quite localised to the area of the venue, so I’d suggest tagging it with the location to give the reader the option to ignore it. Be sparing with your promotional tweets/posts though as, although the temptation is to spam the hell out of a gig to reach the most people, the effect may be the exact opposite.
2. Posting at the wrong times
I agree totally with Nic Robertson and his comments here. There certainly isn’t a wrong time to post and yes there are tools to help you plan when the majority of your audience are online, but don’t let this stifle your output. If you’re in the back of the van on your way to a venue and you want to tweet, tweet.
3. Being generic and self-indulgent
This one may take a bit of time to nail if you’re in a new band. A band is a group of characters, and collectively this gives the band a character. In the same way your songs evoke a style, so should your online writing. Be honest, genuine and passionate about what you are doing but the best tip I can give here is imagine you are talking to a friend as opposed to thinking you’re addressing a 170,000 strong crowd at Glastonbury. Invite your followers to be part of the gang and get them involved in the life of the band.
4. Adopting the same strategy for Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter are different beasts and both can be used to push content to different people with different interests. There are some great apps to take advantage of this within Facebook and one of the best is the Bandcamp integration. If you haven’t seen Bandcamp, I suggest you have a look. It’s a great way of uploading your music for mass consumption and offers downloads at a price you set.
Going back to Radiohead, you may remember they released their album, ‘In Rainbows’, online with a ‘pay-what-you-like’ ethic, which you can also adopt within Bandcamp and then stream via your Facebook page. Linking your posts so the same content is mirrored across the platforms is generally frowned upon as it doesn’t really show a commitment to your promotion. Spend some time on each site and work out what stuff gets the most interaction.
Hopefully you can take some of these tips away with you but feel free to tweet me @ginpanicalex if you would like any advice or just to play me some of your stuff. I’m always up for listening to new music.