Whether you are preparing to launch a band, a business or a new project, there is a single general rule to consider – ultimately, it is a new product, targeted to a certain audience.
We can see new products being launched every day, and businesses being set up with a rate of over 80% failing within the first few years. Why? It may be argued in many ways and from a hundred perspectives, but one aspect will always remain standing: There was a problem, somewhere along the way, with branding, marketing and dialogue with its customers.
While this article is the first of a series aimed at introducing the launch of a marketing product I have recently started to work on, I wanted to address each of these three points briefly to build towards a better understanding around how music and marketing are strongly inter-related.
1. Branding a new music band
When you hear the name of Bruno Mars, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? That’s right – the curly, funny guy dancing on “Uptown Funk” or “Locked Out of Heaven”. What about Arctic Monkeys? Yes, those kids from England singing “R U Mine?” and transposing teenage thoughts and stories into sometimes more-explicit-than-usual lyrics. You get the point. There is a reason why these bands and artists get us thinking about them this way – they planned and stuck to the plan. Ultimately, the band is a product – it’s something that people buy into. Yes, it is also a family for the artist and a means of expression, but it is also a commercial presence, no matter the “market” – or category of fans / genre of music. This is a very critical thing to understand, because by knowing how you would like the band and its members to be seen by the public – and very important, WHO is this audience you would like it to appeal to – you will be able to guide actions better towards building a reputation and create a brand around you project. What would you like your fans to think about when they hear you band’s name? What feeling do you want them to associate with you? What would you like a venue manager to associate the band’s name with when discussing a new gig? All these are questions to be asked before launching, in order to make sure the next step – marketing – is being executed properly. Have good quality images. Dress well on stage. Think about a show, not only a music performance. Have a high quality recording. Step away from “average”.
2. Marketing as a way of thinking
Ok, so now you have all the things in place and are preparing for your first release of materials. An important thing to identify before any action being taken is the scale to which you want to communicate with your audience, the bank of promotional material and content you have available as well as the way you will design your campaigns. I will take the example of a regular unsigned band, using its own funds and without any management behind it.
The first thing to understand is that marketing has to always support, enhance and communicate the established brand values, through the channels you know your audience is engaging with. It has to be personal, and it has to be integrated through more platforms. The more your fans hear about you and encounter your name in different places, the more they will remember you. We are living in an era where if you are not searchable online, you basically do not exist. A big mistake for new bands is failing to be present and active on social media. As reported by multiple artists and management labels, this is becoming the medium in which fans are most easily reachable as it is informal, mostly free and allows dialogue (building the personal connection) – plus they can always be found here several hours every day.
If you are really committed and you have a budget in place, you may want to consider investing in a well-designed website, Facebook Ads, Instagram or Twitter promotion.
Additionally, don’t forget PR can take you a long way and can earn you considerable amounts of “free” exposure. Get creative, help somebody, create partnerships with brands already established. And don’t forget about your friends owning blogs – if they’re in any way related to entertainment, you have an additional pool of possible fans there!
Next steps – prepare the launch. Advertise on all social media channels. Tell your friends. Make a nice video. Or two. Showcase your preparations. Schedule your content. Engage your audience. If you do something you think your fans would like to be involved in, share it right away! Use Facebook Live and Twitter Periscope. Reward your audience. Be someone labels would like to get involved with, and fans would like to have a good time along with. No management would like to take risks in signing a new band that doesn’t show commitment and professionalism, and no listener will want to come to a boring show. Be genuine AND smart. They won’t know you unless you tell and show them who you are.
Tip: While you’re doing all these, remember, your mind-set should be that of creating a relationship between the band and new fans though every communication you put out. Don’t think about marketing the band. Rather, think about how you can stay in touch better, let them know you and involve them in your life as a band.
3. Dialogue – Talk, listen, talk again
Buzz buzz buzz. You want everyone to know you’re up to big things, and that’s great! But make sure you also listen to what they have to say. Always track your progress, how you engage with your audience, see what posts and communications performed best. And, most importantly, listen to the feedback – mainly from knowledgeable people. As for any other product in the launch stage, it’s important to be adaptable and admit you might not always be right – even if the “artist ego” tells you the opposite.
Contestant communication is key. Ask questions, give answers and let your fans know they have a voice. Keep it consistent and create new content that can educate or bring value. Don’t spam your followers, but rather make sure you schedule posts regularly that can contribute to their lives.
Bringing it all together
Have fun, but be smart about it. Creating a new band is a fun, demanding and exciting process, and every one of us wants to be in the “Hall of Fame”. But what will set you apart from the other thousands of artists will be, in addition to the quality of your music, the kind of person you become in the process and the way you market your band. Stick to it and follow through, and it will surely work – and most importantly, don’t postpone! In this moment, think about something you can do that can enable you to start or better this process, and start now. “Get the ball rolling”, as things won’t happen overnight – the sooner you start, the more time you have to improve, make changes and develop.