Don’t Shoot Yourself In The Foot
A common, ongoing challenge facing bands is the somewhat daunting challenge of spreading the word about your music. This includes both the task of getting your music in front of completely new listeners and the task of keeping in contact with your existing fans.
In the case of new listeners you have to introduce the band, the music, the products and the brand (you better believe it, even for amateur bands).
For existing fans, the challenges facing your band will be to keep your fans interested in what your band is currently doing, making fans aware of any important news, including the announcement of gigs and tours, or a new album release etc. or perhaps you will be
recording with a new producer. You get the idea. Plus you have to keep your fans aware of any other band products. Even for amateur bands, your freebie give-always are still products that have to be “sold” to your fans, even where there is no cash price involved.
These challenges are becoming harder and harder as:
- The number of bands continues to increase
- The standards of bands aspire to continues to get lower and lower because they incorrectly think quality is less important than it once was
- Existing methods of contacting fans are gradually becoming less effective
- The audience becomes more and more jaded
Today there is a blizzard of demanding messages trying to attract the attention of people from the moment they open their eyes at the beginning of the day, to the moment they close them again at the end of the day.
Until now, the response of bands has been to force more and more of the same type of unwanted, ineffective messages down the throats of anyone within slapping distance. Strangely they remain surprised that fan uptake is slower than desired and they resolve to try the same thing, only harder.
Repeatedly hitting your head off the same spot on the same same wall should be sending a message. First and foremost it should be sending a message to you, the band. “Change what you are doing.”
Delivering the wrong message is easy. It is something bands are remarkably good at, along with delivering a message at the wrong time, in the wrong way.
Delivering the right message, at the right time, in the right way has never been more important.
Spreading The Love
Bands love telling people about their music, but how sure are you that people want your band to tell them about your music?
Stop and think about it from the perspective of someone not involved directly in the band scene for a moment…
“Check out our latest gigs!”, “Listen to our new song…”, “We have a new band member!”, “Guess who we ran into at the studio last night!”, “Look at the new gear we got!”, “Listen to the new songs we recorded!”, “Come hear us at our upcoming gigs!”, “Check out our new VIDEO”, “Listen to our new songs!”, “Band rehearsals are so funny…”, and on it goes, the studio we went to and oh we have new recordings, and more new gigs and look at these pictures, wait, we have more recordings!
All this, and the poor unsuspecting recipient hasn’t even heard of the band in question and didn’t want to know all this stuff to begin with.
A common scenario is that the band in question didn’t even ask them if they wanted to know about their music, their activities, or their personnel. The band just assumed that they, as members of the general public, wanted to know.
Weak Foundations And Fundamental Fatal Flaws
To make this already bad situation much, much worse, not just for any one band but for all bands, just this one especially, all this is more than likely information being sent from one of the many bands that didn’t wait until they had something worth telling anyone about before they went and just blurted out their non-news to everybody. In fact they probably
never even asked the questions:
- Is my band good enough to tell people about?
- Is my music good enough to tell people about?
- Are we ready to take advantage of any attention we receive?
The typical modern band neglects to really get answers to these questions. Looking at the typical indie band, often, their music is poorly recorded, and very, very amateur in performance typically demonstrating almost no live experience.
- Firstly, for no reason, that can be adequately explained, many musicians, songwriters and bands obviously don’t feel any rules concerning quality of music apply to them. The evidence for this litters the internet. Where early drafts of songs or Suzie singing in front of the mirror used to remain hidden from the public, people and bands compete with each other, posting poor quality video, with hissing poor quality audio, as recordings of barely rehearsed songs, onto the Internet for all to see.
- Secondly, they behave like they incorrectly believe, in a one time only deal with everyone else in the world, that for them, first impressions don’t count. How wrong could they be?
- Thirdly, they seem to believe that poor impressions will be easily forgiven.
Can you say naïve?
Perhaps the band thinks everyone views their band as cuddly amateurs in need of a break?
Of course, secretly most of even family and friends are probably sick of the messages they receive from the band, because frankly they rarely tell them anything worthwhile or useful, and because, as usual they neglected to ask them if they could send them anything!
Often when they hear something on Facebook they have already heard it by some other means already, so, done the way most band messages are, your messages really are likely to be a waste of time.
This happens day in, day out, on social networks, in email etc. So many times a day in fact that people tune it out, they develop “band blindness”.
As a social group we (songwriters, musicians and bands) have become experts at poisoning the well.
Social media does have it’s uses for musicians and bands, or at least it could have. Sadly, like Myspace, over eager bands have trashed most social media completely. Bands are so happy they can tell people about their music, and so keen to tell everyone and their dog about how brilliant their music is, very few ever stop to ask themselves “Should I?”.
Even less bands break that down further and ask themselves if their band is really ready, in terms of music, image, business set up etc. It’s an essential, ongoing set of questions that all bands should ask themselves regularly.
These days most social networks have features built in to help cut down on how much leaks through. Social networks have struggled with containing bands after the MySpace fiasco. MySpace was a social network taken to the brink of death by the exploitation of normal users by bands in a massive spam bonanza. Non-band users may have migrated social networks to get away from bands, but they haven’t forgiven them for what they did, or for what they continue to do. “Ignore” buttons were primarily invented to deal with the unwanted attention of bands and users are very prepared to use them.
Of course email now usually comes with several layers of anti-spam filtering, and “band blindness” applies just as well to the few email messages that survive anti-spam measures as to Facebook wall posts.
It’s also worth noting that some social networks only show your public messages to a subset of followers / subscribers / fans, and use their initial reaction and interactions as a way to ration showing your posts to further followers / subscribers / fans. On Facebook this rationing factor is an algorithm called “EdgeRank”.
Breaking News – BANDS SPAM, NO ONE LIKES IT.
When it comes to spam, bands are amongst the very worst offenders.
Bands bombard people with some of the most unwanted, unprepared crap. Build a buzz? The only thing it tends to build is resentment. At best the band experiences a painfully slow growth in fans who barely interact with them, seeming to work damn hard for very little gain.
If musicians really want to be viewed with respect then the sooner they learn the difference between spam and welcome promo the better (yes there really is such a thing). Bands need to learn how to respect others while balancing their promotion activities.
Do bands really think;
1) that others can’t see through thin veiled promo?
2) that people view such messages as anything other than desperate “hey no-one else will
talk about my music”?
3) people receive such messages are likely to respond positively?
Unwanted messages from bands usually end up being ignored or flagged as spam. Is it really worth risking losing any goodwill you do have in the bank by sending out such ill thought out messages?
It is against that backdrop that musicians as individuals and as a group have to fight to retain any social standing or self-respect. The challenge is to do that and still get word out to get more fans. There are ways. Quite a few as it happens, but that is for another article or you can find out more in our community forums.
- Pause and consider the messages you send.
- Don’t swamp people with meaningless, unsolicited messages.
- Select good bits of news to send.
- If you struggle to find newsworthy items to send, DO NOT SEND UN-NEWSWORTHY ITEMS just for the sake of something to send. Instead, a more productive approach is to FOCUS ON ACTIVITIES THAT GENERATE GENUINELY NEWSWORTHY NEWS!Discuss this article in our Music Forum.
Songstuff Site Crew
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