I am going to discuss the benefits of a link exchange. Now for those who dont know – a link exchange is where you provide a link to someone elses site, and in return they provide a link to yours. I like this idea, it is of great benefit to the reader as they can easily check out other sites of a similar topic, in this case, they are going to find bands of a similar genre.
If you link with a band who has a lot of gigs coming up and are doing a lot of promotional work, you can assume their website hits are going to be pretty high. You would hope they are gigging quite a bit and promoting their website. Now if they are popular a lot of their audience are going to check out their site and if you get just 1 viewer in 10 to click on your link you are going to dramatically increase your website traffic. Now imagine if you have done this with 10 bands, throughout the year these bands are going to promote their bands and gig and different times. The idea is, these links will supply you with a constant supply of additional traffic. Ok, I accept some of this traffic wont come back but some of it will. Some of this additonal traffic will become a fan of you, that is why you are doing it!
Before doing a link exchange or if you are in 2 minds, then ask yourself these questions:
- Do you think the band you are exchanging with can generate you extra traffic?
- If so, can that extra traffic bring in any extra income by doing link exchanges?
- Are the band you are exchanging with a similar genre to yours?
- Is this band good, do you want to be associated with them?
These are valid questions and if you can answer yes to all of them then go for it. I am not suggesting find 10 bands in a week and exchange with them straight away. You may find 1 or 2 bands and exchange and then not find another suitable band for 2 months. This is fine – only fools rush in. If you are going to do it, you need to do it correctly.
Be very careful about the bands that you are picking to exchange with. If you are an acoustic artist and have a good friend in a heavy metal band, I dont think this is worth the exchange. Any fan of acoustic music is probably not going to want to listen to heavy metal and vice versa. Neither of you are going to benefit from this. Of course there will be an odd exception to this but as a rule of thumb I wouldn’t advise. Your link can be better placed elsewhere.
Now where can I get these links from? The best sources are from bands you gig with. If you are put on the same bill as another band and get speaking with them email or phone them and put the question to them. At least you have that added personal touch. Another good possibility is MySpace. Their forums have so many hits all wanting to discuss bands, music and promotional ideas. You won’t be able to link to your website from the forums as MySpace dont like it and consider it spam. Linking to yourMySpace page and then to your site is fine though. This is probably the angle you would have to take.
There are disadvantages to link exchanges though. They do have the potential to to direct visitors away from your site before they have had time to completely check yours out. This is a debate in marketing and promotion but in this case I dont think it is as relevant. Your site isn’t going to be huge, it is there for visitors to listen to your music, which is probably and hopefully the first thing they are going to see and hear. If they like you, they will listen to more, if they dont, they will go anyway and there is a chance they will click on one of your links – so in a way, this disadvantage could be your advantage if you are linked on other peoples sites!
I think a link exchange is good, don’t over do it. Better to have fewer links that are all quality than not. I hope this gives you some food for thought…….
Now as a promotional technique – I love this!! It is a little sneaky but still brilliant. Someone mentioned this to me as a technique to promote their blog, which then got me thinking – How can this be used to promote a band? Now I do think this is more targetted to promoting your website, which in turn will promote your band.
How many of you have a video of your band on YouTube? YouTube has to be the greatest advertising tool in the world. I dont know how many hits it has per day, but it is in the millions. What better way to promote your band than put it on a website that has millions of hits per day. If you haven’t already got your band on there then do it now! Now I agree, I am not going to look on YouTube for a band that I haven’t heard of, but I am going to look on there for songs I know, or want to hear different versions of.
If you put around 10 videos of your band on YouTube, make 5 of these cover versions. Now be clever about the cover versions that you choose, the songs have to be by a popular band of the moment but also reflecting the type of music that you do. For example: Kings Of Leon, they are one of the biggest bands in the world at the minute and have a world wide following, just look at their videos on YouTube, how many hits do they have? If your band were to do an acoustic version of one of their songs, or you were recorded at a gig performing one of their songs and put this on YouTube under the song title, then potential fans that like you type of music are going to stumble upon your band and in turn stumble upon your website.
Now, another question you may be asking – How do viewers know who we are, if so how do they find us? This is also very simple, at the start of the video, introduce yourself. Have some text before the video with the song name and web site address. This can be done on any pc. Failing that, say who you are before the song and ask the viewer to check out your website. If not, then do something similar – have a board behind you with your web address, whatever it takes! Now, many viewers are going to look at other videos you have uploaded, make sure you upload your own songs, provide links to these from your website too.
Ask yourself this – how many views do you think you will get? Look at similar videos of guitarists playing their favourite songs and how many views they have. Now if between 5% – 10% of viewers look at your website, that is a lot of hits. Whats better is that the video is constantly going to be there, you dont need to do any more work on it after. I was looking at videos of Nick Drake, there are videos of guitarists doing cover versions of his songs with 17,000 hits – imagine the promotional potential for your band. There are of course others with only 3000 hits but just gettting 10% of these views on this one video to look at your band, join your mailing list, the possibilities are huge.
I hope you can see where I am going with this, definately try it. What do you have to lose?
I spent a while thinking up a title for this post, and then decided to go straight to the point!! For your band to grow and be recognised, you need to promote them, people need to hear about you – its that simple!!! Fans are not going to come to you unless you introduce yourself to them first! I wanted to make a point that recording an album is not promoting in my opinion, especially when recorded at the wrong time. Let me give you 2 different stories of 2 different attitudes toward a bands management.
I know a band which are very insistent on getting a good album recorded (not demo, album). They spend more time, effort and money at doing this than they do at gigging, this is definately the wrong way to do things – never do this! I have had this discussion/argument with them time and time again, they are not recording the album at the right time and their efforts should be spent better elsewhere. They dont have a fan base big enough to warrant an album just yet. What good is it going to do the band? An album is a good thing to have eventually but concentrate more on the demo than the album at first. An album should be something you record when you dont have anything else pencilled in for your band, or when you dedicate a week or two towards it, or more importantly – when there is a demand for it! Why are this band wrong to concentrate on recording more than they are on gigging or promoting? Well, essentially, you want to earn money from your band, and most probably enough money that you dont have to work and can earn enough from it. How do you do this? By gettting gigs, by selling merchandise and buying your music. This is not possible unless you gig. People are going to hear you music at gigs, join your mailing list, visit your website and go to your next gigs, this is where your fanbase will grow. To sell music, you must have a following. To get a following you have to gig. It is the old fashioned way of doing things. You can have the best recorded album in world, spend a firtune recording it and it all be note perfect with amazing songs too, but what good is that album doing in your hand when you have hardly any fans to buy it? Answer me that….
Now: I was speaking to another friend of mine on Skype the other day. He has just started out with another friend of his doing acoustic gigs, he is very relaxed about it all, if it happens it happens is his opinion. He has been ringing round bars and getting a slot each week for the last few weeks. Someone from these gigs offered them a slot at an open air event a few weeks from now and 2 other gigs in a month or two. Now this is brilliant and is the point I am trying to make. It is so simple, he is gigging the old fashioned way and is getting results as you would expect. Of course he is in the right place at the right time, but he put himself in that place by getting a gig. Imagine if just 5% of the people that hear them, like them. If they are joined to their mailing list and notified when their next gig is. That is a lot more people that are going to their next perfmormance.
To summarise: Recording an album is good and is neccessary but getting your band out there is more important. You will know when the time is right when people start asking for more of your music. Don’t confuse an album with a demo, a 3-4 track demo is vital and should be one of the first things that your band do, use this to get you some gigs and build up some hype about it. When this is done and your fan base is big enough, then record some more. You should only need an album when you think you can sell it.
I have viewed many band websites over the past few months and I am shocked at what they do and do not have. A band website should be the most important point on the web for anybody to view what your band is about. I have seen so many bands abandon their website and concentrate on their MySpace page – why do this? Below I have composed a top 10 of things you should have on your bands website and why. Hopefully they will be of help to most of you:
- Band Photo’s: This is a great way to showcase your image and any gigs you have recently done. As you know a bands image can sell a band.
- Sample Tracks: Definately have 2 or 3 of your bands strongest tracks. Give them a download option as taster for thingsto come. Too many tracks can do you more harm than good.
- Mailing List: Provide viewers with a mailing list to join. This will keep more people coming to your gigs and buying your demos.
- Contact Us Option: Have you got an option for viewers to email you for more info or any gigs they want you to open up for? If not – think about how important this actually is.
- Domain Name and Page Rank: Is your domain name the same as your band name? If not why not? If I were to type your bands name into Google does your website come up first? If it doesn’t you really need to look into this, look into SEO and optimize your websitethe very best you can. Over 75% of people looking up your band will go to Google and type your bands name in – you need it to be first.
- Blog: Why not include a blog in your website. This can just be a link from your website but it is a great idea to have so your fanbase know what is happening with your band – or what has been happening. When you are next in the studio, when you are next on tour for example.
- Gig Dates: These have to be on any bands website – how else are people going to know where and when to see you play? Don’t leave these on here though, I have seen so many bands with out of date gig dates, sometimes advertising gigs from months ago. What does this show? That you are a non active band or that you can’t get a gig anywhere or even that no one wants to see you play. It looks very unprofessional so just keep it updated.
- Bio: How did your band start, where are you going? Who are your influences?
- Merchandise: Have an opportunity to buy t-shirts, cd’s and any other merchandise of your band.
- Reviews: Show your latest reviews you have received for your band. Are you not receiving any? Then contact the relevant magazines and papers and let them know your playing, get them to come along and review you – get your name out there. You may not have much success with the bigger named mags at first so start off small, get the local newspapers to review you. The more reviews you get and the more talked about you are the more ripples you will cause and you can step up this way.
I hope this selection helps. Your website should be the best place on the web for your band – not a MySpace page, this should come 2nd. A website doesn’t have to be expensive and yet it is so effective.
So, as promised – a very simple beginning challenge, and yet so effective. It is actually crucial to the success of your band. The bigger this mailing list, the bigger your audience, the bigger your audience, the bigger the gig, the bigger the gig, the more you get noticed, the more you get noticed, the more record execs will bang on your door. It is a simple solution, but people dont want to start mailing lists, I have no idea why – probably because they don’t understand the importance of them or it seems like too much hard work.
So the challenge is this:
Begin your mailing list. You can start this mailing list any way you want to, firstly though you need somewhere to store it and be able to update it. If you have Microsoft Office, then you can use Excel or download Open Office which is a very similar program but absolutely free. Alternativey you can use the good old fashioned pen and paper in a notebook – it is up to you (I advise using open office and saving it on your pc and then later your website, far better in the long run)! Once you have this program create a table to include Name, email address, phone number (optional), address (optional). It is that simple, get this setup now! Now it is setup, add 5 of your friends to it to get it rolling. You now have the beginnings of a mailing list which you can now use. This will be the core of all your promotion from here on in, that is why it is so vital.
Easy challenge – 10 minutes max, get it started. Follow the rest of my challenges, they will help.
I have decided to introduce a whole new section and category to this blog. It will simply be called ‘Challenges’. The idea is to introduce a very simple challenge for your band. These challenges will be very simple, very do-able and if completed will help your band grow. Over time you see the effects of these challenges, you will see your fanbase grow, your gigs get bigger, your website get more hits, your band sell more merchandise and basically put you one step closer to where you want to be.
Stay tuned for this, and please attempt them. They will be very worth while. First one to come very shortly. It will be very simple and very effective.
If your band only do one thing this week – make sure you copyright your music. If not all of, then the best and most important songs you have. Effectively you are just protecting your music against other people. What is to stop you writing a song, recording it, distributing your demo at gigs, someone going home listening to it and using it themselves? Absolutely Nothing! That is the worrying thing, they could effectively sell it and earn well out of it and you have no proof that you wrote it and not them. For example: A band I was in a few years ago still use a lot of the songs that I wrote, now if they were to ever make a lot of money out of any of them or use any for an advert for example, then I wouldn’t get a penny. I wasn’t smart enough to copyright it when I wrote it. Therefore – it is anyones. Anyway, I’m not too bothered, they’re not smart enough to make any money out of those songs!
There are several ways to copyright but I firstly touch on the old fashioned way, everyone has heard of it. It works like this:
- Record your songs onto a cd.
- Post it to yourself
- When this arrives, never open it. The only time this should be opened is if you are ever in court in front of witnesses
The idea works because the date stamp works as proof the song was written before anyone trying to copy it. I don’t personally like the idea though. It isn’t fool-proof. I prefer it to be official. With the quality of software and printers these days it would be all too easy for someone to print an envelope with an old date stamp on it. You can copyright your music here: http://www.copyright.gov/. It would be a good idea to just register your music.
Few people realise that most record labels won’t even entertain listening to some demos unless it is copyrighted. They can’t always run the risk of signing and releasing music that could potentially already be released, this is one of the reasons why demos being sent directly to record labels rarely succeed – or even get played!
What Can’t I Copyright?
There are things that you can’t copyright. You can’t copyright an idea of a song, if you have written a song about touring, getting your van stolen and then stealing another van to carry on the tour – anyone is free to use this same idea. You can’t copyright song titles either. You are free to use any title you like and any artist is free to use your song names.
Where do I Copyright my Music?
This can depend is the short answer….. There are several organisations for this depending on which country you are from. A simple google search on this will provide you with several links. One for example is http://www.copyright.gov/. I will be writing a more indepth post on this subject shortly, so stay tuned.
It is a horrible position to be in – your too good for the bands you are playing with, they are opening for you but you really want to step up and open for some really big acts, the kind of acts that bring in twice the crowd you are. How can you do it?
It is a good question, a lot of bands approach a venue and ask to support a bigger act, they get their name taken down along with so many other acts and don’t hear anything back. The band in question probably won’t give you the time of day – but why would they? They aren’t really getting anything out of you, to them your just another support act in a long list of bands over the last few years. Have you got anything you can offer them? Can you afford to play for practically nothing just to get that gig and get your mailing list growing? This way they get more money and are more likely to offer you the slot. In the mean time you can really attract some new fans, get more hits on your website, play better venues, sell more merchandise and basically get your name out there to a bigger crowd. Think of it as a seed, plant the seed and it will grow…..
I don’t even know if it is worth speaking to the band or the venue in the first place, it all depends on how the gig has been arranged. I would go straight to the management company or promoter and speak to them, they are arranging their gigs and tours, try and tag along with it. Maybe arrange the gigs for them and give them the headline slots, you are just using them at the end of the day to get a bigger fanbase. Once you get in with the management company of bands you are in a really good position. You can negotiate your fee depending on the amount of gigs they are offering you. If you are on good terms with 10 different management companies or promoters then they could even call you or offer you future slots or put your name forward to other acts and venues – a band is never going to do that. Once your name is put forward you are also in a position to offer a gig swap.
So keep networking, keep your contacts always and go straight in there and ask for what you want. It really isn’t as difficult as people think it is. The more people you speak to the easier you are making their job. As I always say though, when you get these bigger gigs, don’t stop getting people on your mailing list, dont stop selling shirts and driving traffic to your website. If you keep these basic strategies up then your band is going to be growing and earning without you knowing it. Keep these foundations in place and you will go far.
Sometimes you can’t wait for that headline slot, sometimes you just need some fast cash for your band and all these techniques you are using are taking their time to show profit. Well just like you would create your own hype, create your own gig, create your own headline slot. Get a lot of bands along, get the press along, get a lot of fans along!
Do you know of any field near you, can you hire it out? If so, get working, get a gig arranged. Get a few bands to support you (for free). Give a percentage of the take to charity – say 25%. This way you are more likely to sell more tickets and get people attending. Whether this is a day gig at the weekend or at night is up to you, but this is definately worth doing. Publicise and advertise it well. You will get a lot of exposure in your local area, local magazines and papers. You can really sign up a lot of fans to your mailing list, sell a lot of merchandise. Even arrange for food vans to be there for the day and ask for a cut of their take. They will want to be there as they will be making a lot of money from it to. Ask 5 vans to offer you a percentage and accept the van who is offering you the biggest cut – its brilliant, this will earn you a nice bit of spare cash. The more you work on it the more ways you can think of bleeding money out of the event. Film the event, record it, release it for example. Once you get this exposure you can get better gigs and more money. The bands that you ask to support you (for free) will return the favour when they have gigs. Advertise it on myspace.
Do a few warm up gigs a few weeks before and advertise it there to. Think about it, if you can get 1000 people to attend each charging $5 each – thats $5000 and a lot of exposure, thats before you sell any merchandise and take a cut of the food vans. You will need to give the land owner a cut, but that can be negotiated, even so it is a great money spinner.
Band Promotion has to be the most important aspect of your band – period! It may come second to writing good material, but thats it. I have seen a lot of poor acts find surprising success just by promoting themselves well. I know you can probably say the same, although - I have seen many good bands go nowhere because they don’t promote or market themselves correctly – or worse still, they don’t even promote or market themselves at all! A common misconception is that – if you write good music, record a demo and play some gigs, then you will get noticed and eventually get signed. Maybe for 1% of the bands out there this is the case, but more often than not, this wont work. You really need to promote and push your band. For example – every band should have a website, but how much work are you really putting into driving traffic to that website – if any? If you are doing it, how well are you doing? Are you tracking your results? Probably not! Or, you have recorded a demo – how well is that demo being distributed? Who is listening to it? How many sites are selling your music via MP3? How many radio stations have played your demo in the last 12 months?
I still think the best way to promote yourself is to give yourself one goal, one project and stick to it. For example – Tell yourself you are going to get your band some airplay and really work at it until you do, until you feel that goal has been achieved. Give yourself aims and targets, this will help your progress. Find 3 radio stations that you want your band to appear on and research them. Who do you have to send the demo to? Which DJ do you think will play yor music? When and how are you going to follow this up? This is obviously just an example scenario but you can get the point, the same would apply for any promotional project. It is just basic promotion strategy and technique. Don’t make the mistake of trying to do too many things at once, it is better to do one thing really well than three things half assed. You will also find once you have achieved one goal you can leave it for a while and it works for itself. If you have got your band on air and you have been well received, then you will continue to be played. Look at my post on “Getting Airplay For Your Band”. The same can be said for building a website, once its done, it works for itself.
I Don’t Have A Manager
Do you currently have a manager? If not, then I would strongly advise you consider it. It doesn’t have to be expensive, try to arrange paying them on a results basis. The more they give to you, the more they earn themselves! They will work harder this way. If they are on a basic pay, then it doesn’t matter how much work they do, they are still getting paid! There are so many methods of promotion out there that you may not have thought of, which could really help your band to grow, really generate some money too. You don’t want to spend too long concentrating on promotion when your main job is concentrating on your music.
Is My Manager Any Good?
One thing that really annoys me are bad managers and promoters. A lot of them are just collecting their pay cheque. Look at my previous questions, now if you have a manager or a promoter and he or she has not been producing the expected results, then sack them!! Straight off. There is no room for compacency, they have a job to do and don’t let them waste your time or money by doing it badly – or not doing it at all. Sometimes you don’t realise how bad someone is until you fire them and you get a replacement. Typical symptoms: Your manager is getting you gigs, arranging transport, collecting money, they may have setup a website, but thats it – if so SACK THEM! Anyone can do that for you! I don’t want everyone to sack their management, I just want you to really understand how important promotion is. This can make or break you, it is that critical, so there is no room for error. You can have a bad gig and recover from it, you wont recover from a bad manager. Are you not sure how good or bad they are? Are you not sure about your methods? Then email me, ask me any questions you like, I will give you advice and opinions or help, look at my ‘Contact Me ‘ page. Ask yourself some questions: Do you think you can be getting more out of your band? Do you think your band is better than the gigs you are currently getting? Should your website and fanbase be better? If you are answering yes to these questions, then I would look for new management – be ruthless! Its for the greater good.
Once these techniques start to show results and your band really starts to grow you will need management to control it and use it effectively. Don’t do all this work and then think it is over, it is a constant job, so leave it to someone who has the time and knowledge to do it well. How can you tell if you are getting results?
- Are you getting more gigs?
- Are you getting a better quality of venue to gig at?
- Is your website getting more hits?
- Are you selling more merchandise?
- Have you got a variety of airplay?
- Has your fanbase significantly grown since you started working on it?
Can you answer yes to these questions? If so, then keep doing it, it is all heading in the right direction, if you answer ‘No’ to any of these points, then work on them, give yourself a goal, a project that is all based around your weakest points and dont stop until you have achieved it. It is a lot easier than you think. The reason people think it is hard to get airplay and get noticed is because the mojority of bands don’t achieve it. Why don’t they? Because they don’t market themself very well, they don’t promote themself correctly. If you do, then you are one step ahead. That is why promotion and marketing is so essential and should NEVER be overlooked or underestimated.
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