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Five steps to building your band’s brand
Article Post Date: Wednesday 28.04.2010

Sometimes musicians forget they work in the music business. It’s easy to do, but impossible to ignore if you want a listener. The business part of music is really just the business of finding a listener. Ultimately, your music is your product and like any other company with a product, you need to know how to distribute it to someone. So I like to think of band like any other brand.  Here are my five steps on how your band can build its brand. (Coincidence the two words have only a one letter difference?)

Build a solid EPK

Your EPK is your best friend that talks about how great you are to the cute girl across the room at a party. So, make sure you spend time giving your EPK all the right information to spread the good word.  Put your best face forward with a good mix of high-quality promo shots and exciting live shots. Highlight only your finest and most catchy songs. Publish all the good things press or bloggers have said about you.  Show where you’ve been and where you’re going with your calendar dates (hint: this last point is especially important for promoters).  Your EPK is going to get you that in with someone that matters: someone that owns a venue or decides what song plays in the whatever-new-hybrid-car commercial. So don’t skimp. These people are not as forgiving as an adoring fan looking at your Myspace. These people want to know immediately what you can do for them and their event or product. That girl at the party wants to know why she should give you her number.

Communicate consistently with your fan base

These days, music isn’t enough for fans. They want to know who you are. They want to know what you’re doing and when they get to see you next.  Be flattered.  These are people that can help you—not only by buying your t-shirt, but also by telling their friends to buy tickets to your next show in town. But people today are ADD and you need to be giving them something new to talk about on a regular basis. You can’t put out a new record every other week, but you can post a new video to Vimeo every other week for them to watch and IM to their friends at work. You can blog on your site and let them know how that show in Toronto went, or post photos of the recording studio. If you’re in a collaborative mood, post some lyrics on Facebook you’re working on and ask if anyone knows a more poetic way to express, “Cute girl across the room, I’m obsessed with you.”

Use social media to promote yourself

Yesterday I posted on Twitter that I was looking for new music for my new iPod Shuffle. A follower of mine I’ve never met in person said I should check out this band from Australia called Medollic and looped them into the convo with an @mention. I checked them out, and actually quite liked them. Sweet, Medollic just got a fan out of me via a fan of theirs I’ve never even met. So, I had a channel (Twitter) to tell Medollic directly I liked them and I sent them a quick note saying so.  About an hour later, I got a message from Medollic asking if I would like a CD and that they would mail it. Wow. I just got hooked up with a free CD from a band directly I just heard of. And now I’m blogging about it for hundreds of other people to read, and now you just might click on their EPK link and listen to their music here (www.sonicbids.com/medollic). That’s how social media works. If you’re engaged and using it right, your brand... I mean, band, won’t need half page ads in Rolling Stone to get out there.

Build & nurture relationships

Before I get too carried away on how glorious the internet is and you walk away thinking the internet is all you need to promote your brand, let me tell you a fact: most of the bands I love the most that are gigging today (sadly, Queen no longer plays in Boston) are the bands I’ve met in person.  At the end of the day, Facebook is cool, but nothing beats shaking hands and sharing a beer.  Keep in mind, I work for a web company and I am saying this.  Go to other bands shows in your genre or market and say hi to them afterward. They could help you get a gig with the promoter they have an in with. Go to a music conference, make business cards and put a download code on them, and hand them to everyone you meet. Get their cards and follow up with them. The most important thing is to stay in touch with whoever you meet. Make it a point to send an email just saying hi and give a quick update every few weeks. I’ve known people who even keep a calendar about their contacts. The internet is great, but a good face to face conversation is going to be more memorable than any tweet or blog post.

Continue focusing on your art

Let’s just say, if my new friends Medollic didn’t make good music, their fan wouldn’t have tweeted about them to me and I certainly wouldn’t write anything about them. Building a brand requires balance, and a very important part of that is improving your product (read: music). I love everything about the Diet Coke brand, I think it’s classy and fun and that’s saying a lot for soda. I couldn’t care less about the brand though, and in fact I’d probably be annoyed The Temper Trap (www.sonicbids.com/tempertrap) was in their last Grammy-aired commercial, if Diet Coke wasn’t the most delicious thing in the world. Schedule yourself some time to be online, to follow up with your contacts and all that good stuff each day. Then, shut off your computer, turn off your phone and go practice your scales.

By Tess Cychosz, Sonicbids Community Manager, 2010

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