Convergence/divergence@social networks: trying to promote your band

10 Nov

Despite what music industry’s big bosses moan about losses and not getting as much profit as before, truth seems to be that social networks and convergence in their use has helped redefine and shape the way people listen to (and consume) music.  By the way, I really hate the word “consuming”, specially when we are talking about an art like music.

Something that the previous link states, which is really interesting, is that people no longer have the time or disposition to listen to a full music album (taken as a cohesive unity or piece of work) whole-heartedly. Our each time shorter attention span thanks to internet and social networks and our each time faster-paced lifestyle have meant the triumph of individual songs (singles, back to the old 45rpm era) over albums. Anyway, let’s suppose we have a well-rehearsed band with some good songs, decently recorded and mixed and that we want to start playing gigs like mad in our town but they have no contract with any record company and thus no manager, A&R or whatsoever. How to take the next step and start being known, although it is locally?

In the past, this would take some job to get done outside our home:

  1. Make lots of copies of a demo CD (or cassette, if you talk about ancient days) to give away at local radios and pubs
Old Cassette

An old cassette tape (photo by Steev under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

  1. Get some stickers and posters printed and distributed at local commerces, CD and music stores, University boards, bus and tram stops…
  2. Nag a lot of music/indie/alternative magazines with the greatness of your band and send them more copies
  3. Start gigging at one mighty pub or two and pray for the word of mouth to become your best ally.

Quite a good job for a band itself with no manager or A&R as I said before. But nowadays our social networks come to the rescue to help this band get promoted easier than before! Well, it requires a bit of job too but in a different way.

As you might know from my earlier post, the problem with most social network tools is that although they are said to converge into a whole “media world”, they are in fact quite scattered around. Let’s take a look at this:

  1. First of all, a well-designed webpage that some friend can lay out for you (or either you try and get your hands on Dreamweaver) is one of the best starting points to centralize all of what we are going to cover next. Gigs, blog,  lyrics, photos, music and video streaming, downloads, links, forum, chat… whatever you can get into, it’ll be great.
  2. Of course, you would like to create a band profile in social networks like Facebook, Twitter or MySpace. Well, this last one I wouldn’t really recommend it to you. I find it’s worthless and not very useful, but that’s only my personal opinion. Of course, you want to create something that has some real content, so make sure that you have a band logo and some decent band shots (either posed or in some cool place and also in live or rehearsal moments), some good description of the band’s background, member names, location, influences, aspirations and if possible, a kind of diary (either in written, photo or video format) where you keep people updated of your things. Of course, upload your whole demo there in the best format possible. Try to keep a fan base right from the start on these networks although at the start it’s comprised by family, friends and such. It will expand if you make your music available to everyone…
  3. A useful add-on to this would be have a band blog in somewhere like Tumblr, WordPress or Blogspot. Yeah, keeping it updated is not easy, but it’s also a great place where to share your feelings as a band and your latest news.
  4. The turning point is to create also band profiles in music specific sites such as LastFM, SoundCloud, BandCamp and even GoEar. Upload your demos with the maximum quality as possible, as for example BandCamp gives users the choice of downloading a full demo or album in FLAC format if they desire so! Great for audio geeks… While there, be sure to tag appropiately your songs and album, upload the band’s logo and the album artwork if there is one. It might be much work, but it’s also great if you are able to write each songs’ lyrics so that people can actually read what you are singing. It’s a way of opening up. Be also sure to cite your influences if you feel like it. And, like in Twitter, start networking! First follow friends that have a profile there, then artists that inspire you, then people from the industry if you can. You never know…
  5. Then, we are going to move to the video side of social networks. So I would like to say that you must have a band account in Youtube and also in Vimeo as well. As we said before, you have some songs on your demo, right? Well, if you are fortunate enough to have friends that like video shooting, maybe you are so lucky to have a sort of videoclip for at least a song. If you do, upload the video there as soon as possible. If not, you can always try by mixing each songs’ sound track with a slideshow of band logo and band shoots, or maybe some footage of your rehearsals or rantings about. At least we have something to look at! Why do we do this? Because Youtube is becoming one of the main networks to listen to music for free and in a mostly legal way. Vimeo is more centered in short-film and documentary format, but it’s still good to be present there.
  6. What about some file-uploading services? There we can upload our whole demo in zip or rar format so that people can download it directly and easily. Personally, I prefer using band webpages described in point number 2, but some people love to do this as well. Preferred file uploading services? You can’t go wrong using a Dropbox free account! But there a whole load of places like Megaupload, Rapidshare, FileShare, FileServe, Uploaded.to, Mediafire, 4shared … Just don’t go mad and upload the demo to all of them:  stick to just one or two if you feel this is necessary.
  7. Last but not least: the free streaming music networks! The first one we should try is Grooveshark, which has an impressive music database of all genres and artists, quite well sorted for the massive amount of music that it has… and best of all, it’s absolutely free for access from your PC and smartphone. Spotify is not that easy to sneak into if you’re an unsigned band, unfortunately. DittoMusic specializes into bringing music from artists into streaming music networks such as iTunes, Zune, Amazon and Spotify, but of course paying so maybe this is not of your interest.

If you’ve followed all of these steps by now you must have crowded social networks with your body of work! But as you see, we have mentioned lots of social sites in this article. How to keep all of them updated and running at the same time? Some tools can help you like TweetDeck or HootSuite.

I can’t forget traditional ways of presentation such as business cards for bands! They still work great and they have to be really simple. The band’s logo, the two web addresses of your main’s social networks and also an e-mail account, followed by a QR Code that leads you directly to the band’s demo at Bandcamp. How cool is that?

As you can guess, all of this free to use music advertising and distribution has its bad part: it relies heavily on what YOU as a user can do with it. As you can guess, keeping all of these sites updated with news, photos, videos and stuff is quite a time-consuming task. And besides, once you’ve properly updated one of the sites that you’ve got an account into, it’s pretty much copy-and-paste for the other networks too, so you’re not generating any real original content in most of them… It’s the eternal conundrum of social networks: do they really generate new content or is it just copy-and-paste from another social network which has been Ctrl+C-Ctrl+V’d from another place?  That’s another question…

Without a doubt, the most difficult thing to do is to promote the band and get it to be known outside your hometown, family and friends to reach really new people who might like to listen to your songs and find something special in them. But after having described all of the hard work it takes to promote a band via social networks, my experience is that still today the best way to go is to give REALLY GREAT live gigs that make people enjoy as mad. Word of mouth that escapes social networks is really powerful, almost the same power as social networks. People who have really loved your gig will be more likely to come to the next one and also to download your demo and follow your updates. So don’t forget that… keep rehearsing hard and writing good tunes, because in the end it’s all about music.

Advertisements

One Response to “Convergence/divergence@social networks: trying to promote your band”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Social media and marketing,perfect marriage « Ruido Blanco by Jorge Polvorinos - November 16, 2011

    […] Ruido Blanco by Jorge Polvorinos The art of Audio Production and music enjoyment HomeAbout me ← Convergence/divergence@social networks: trying to promote your band […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: