Guest post by Patrick McGuire
Promoting a band is tricky business these days. Tools and tricks that worked wonders even five years ago don’t work nearly as well today. In case you haven’t noticed, the music industry has undergone a complete transformation in the span of just a couple of years.
Where listeners used to rely on full-length albums for their music, they’re now flocking to playlists. This means that to get the most out of promoting your band, you’ll have to approach things a little differently. Here are eight ideas to help you get started:
1. Add a physical element to your promotion
An easy way to promote your band that often gets overlooked is by bringing your marketing efforts into the physical world. Despite what you may have heard, posters and flyers aren’t irrelevant now that most of us spend the majority of our waking lives on the internet. Physical promotion is a proven way to carve out an identity for your band, promote new music, and a chance to stand out in a screen-addicted world.
And it doesn’t have to stop at flyers and posters. Think art installations, scavenger hunts, murals. The more experiential the better. Physical promotion gives your band a chance to extend creativity and innovation past music.
2. Tour, tour and then tour again
In today’s complicated and ever-changing music industry, touring is more important than ever. Touring gives bands the chance to connect with listeners face-to-face, and that connection is becoming more valuable as real life, non-digital experiences become more important.
The tried and true method of bands hitting the road to promote their music and find new audiences is one thing that hasn’t changed all that much in today’s music industry. There’s also the added bonus of getting the chance to make an impression by reaching out to local press, radio and blogs when you play in new cities.
3. Focus your efforts on playlists
In 2018, playlist inclusion is an essential part of promoting a band. Not exactly breaking news, but how exactly does it work? Well, if you’re signed to a decent label, they’ll probably pay the money to feature your music on heavily followed playlists curated by major streaming profiles. But for artists who aren’t signed, their work is cut out for them.
There’s now a dizzying amount of playlists and playlist curators out there. Narrow it down to a manageable list of ones that you think your music would fit on and get in touch with the folks who curate them. Start small and work your way from there. Yes, this all takes lots of time, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to find new listeners.
4. Keep an up-to-date website
Social media hasn’t replaced personal websites, and if you exclusively rely on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the word out about your shows and new music, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity.
The big social media companies have made it harder and harder to promote anything for free through their platforms over the past couple of years. Having a website gives your band the chance to speak directly to your audience and shape your identity at the same time through creative visuals and design.
With your own website, you’re not inhibited by character limits, content restrictions or any other rules. Say what you want, exactly how you want to say it with a website.
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5. Post your music on as many free platforms as possible
Making your music available on free platforms like Bandcamp, SoundCloud and YouTube will give potential fans the best chance at discovering your music. Promoting your band through these platforms is free, but it does take a little work.
Building and maintaining your various profiles is important, but engaging with audiences and other artists is your best chance at making an impression and connecting with new listeners.
6. Research and pitch to radio stations
Radio is still a major force in music, even with playlists. In particular, the emergence of small internet stations gives bands a chance to find new audiences. Like playlist pitching, a lot of research is involved here, but if you take the time to find stations play your kind of music, the rewards are big.
And remember, the benefits of promotion are cumulative. A few small radio stations and playlists picking up your music could eventually translate into meaningful momentum for your band.
7. Create engaging video content
The boundaries of what’s now considered to be a music video are being stretched beyond their limits. Videos represent a huge opportunity for bands to promote themselves in creative ways for not a lot of money.
Studies show that video content is more likely to get attention than articles, still images, and songs, so the more ways your band can attach your music to videos, the better. Live performances, vlogs, music videos––these are all easy, cheap and effective ways at grabbing the attention of your audience.
8. Get creative with your merch offerings
Band merch doesn’t have to be just shirts, stickers and pins. Opening up your idea of what merch can be is a way to connect with audiences by giving them something to remember you by. Offer up private concerts, sell baked goods at your shows, throw your name and logo on mugs, plates, and shot glasses.
Yes some of these suggestions are corny, but corny works for some bands. Taking some time to think about creative ways to offer up merch that fits with your band’s style and identity can help you promote your music in a big way.
If it seems like there’s a whole lot of non music-related work involved in promoting a band these days, you’re right. The days of bands getting signed and purely focusing on music are long behind us, and even the most successful musicians spend a lot of time away from the stage and studio promoting their music. There’s no single proven way to promote music these days, but incorporating creativity and experimentation into your promotion efforts can do nothing but good things for a band.
Also check out: 17 ways to promote your music online
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.
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