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Getting the Word Out

Scott AllenHi all and welcome to this column dedicated to helping you get your music promoted. We will focus on what you can do without the help of a fancy management company or promoter; in short what you and your band mates can do right away to get the word out about your band. This is an incredibly important part of being a musician, in many ways as important as your music. Let’s face it even if you somehow produced Led Zeppelin IV in your basement, it doesn’t matter if nobody knows about it. Believe me if a great record falls and no one is there to hear it, it doesn’t make a sound.

Know Thyself-

The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of band you are and make sure every aspect of your marketing conforms to this vision. If you are a death metal band you shouldn’t have flowers and bunnies on your CD cover. Similarly you should only try to book gigs at venues that you know cater to your style. Most of the time booking agents won’t book bands that don’t conform to what their club is all about, but occasionally a touring band will get stuck playing punk in a dance club. Also make sure that any copies of your record that you send out to the press to review or to radio stations are going to the right reviewers who like your genre. It is hard enough to get good press, let alone try to rebuild an image after a scathing review. Make sure that you keep your image in line with your musical style, and remember that even if you decide to not have an image, that’s your image.

Get Connected-

Independent musicians are nothing new; however musicians nowadays have unprecedented ability to reach many people through the web. It is critical that you have a band website that has a crisp pro look, and a myspace page with a similarly pro production. Make sure that your website has lots of photos, sound clips, a bio, and calendar page. Try to pair the info with your myspace page so that anyone going to either site will be able to get the same media. Make sure that the songs you choose for the sites are truly the best representation of what you do. Always keep in mind how many choices potential fans have for entertainment and give them a reason to stick around. It is also important once you have a record available that the fans are able to buy the record right on the site. Make sure you have a store page with links to your record companies store, amazon, cd baby, or just your own online store. Any road block you put up between your fans and them getting their hands on your merch is lost sales.

Using the power of youtube is also a powerful way to find fans. Make sure to have someone take video of your shows and put the best clips up on youtube with keywords that relate to your genre. Don’t just put up anything; make sure it is the best representation you can muster at the moment. Remember the internet is a great leveler in terms of your ability to reach fans. Back in the old days only record companies had the power to reach so many. Thankfully for us and for music more and more artists are now being heard.

Call in the Press-

Once you finish putting the final touches on your masterwork in the studio, and get it reproduced. Guess what your work is just beginning. You need to do some research and find every webzine, online radio station, fanzine, and music magazine that relates to your style and get a pro looking press package into their hands. It is always best to contact the person responsible for receiving submissions to let them know that you are sending them a press kit beforehand and to thank them in advance for their time. These poor people often have to sort through hundreds if not thousands of submissions, and in many of the smaller webzines do it for free, so a little appreciation goes a long way. Also inquire about getting a link trade to the websites of similar artists featured in these webzines. More traffic to your site means more record sales.

Hit the boards-

That’s right get out there and play your guitar. You should play regularly at any local venues that are friendly to your genre. Don’t worry about playing out 3 times a week if you are doing originals, as you want to make your fans eager to see you again, and not burn them out on the same tunes every other day. Try to gradually increase the geographic area you play as your audience grows, and even consider regional touring if it seems there is a demand for it. Another good idea is to try to develop friendships with like minded groups and consider booking complete shows with a lineup already intact before contacting the clubs booking agent. The bookers appreciate that you have already done the work of putting together a show for them, and you don’t have to worry about the bands having conflicting audiences such as the Norwegian black metal band sandwiched between two pop bands scenario.

Be back next time with more tips, in the mean time keep shreddin’.

Copyright © 2009 Scott Allen. All rights reserved.

You should already recognise Scott Allen from an album review we featured on Shredaholic! Go over to the album reviews section to read more on What Lies Beyond Words.

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