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Aug 16

Five Things Your Band Should Be Doing

Indie artists have it tough. They live in a realm of the great unknowns. Literally. Thousands of Indie bands and artists dot the landscape across this country and they all battle the same thing: anonymity. So, how do you break that mold of anonymity in a vast sea of others trying to do the same? Well, applying these five, simple principles to your life may help you in rising above others and getting your message out to a world that desperately needs it.

  • Maintain Active Social Accounts

Now by “maintaining” I don’t mean those status updates that say “Good morning!” or “Good night!”. In fact, a team of researchers who set up the website Who Gives a Tweet that received tweet ratings from more than 1400 users stated that “presence maintenance” (Good morning!) tweets and location check-ins were among the worst received status updates. What the published report did say was that “…users tolerate a large amount of less-desired content in their feeds. We find that users value information sharing and random thoughts above me-oriented or presence updates.” The report cited that approximately 65% of all tweets were rated as “OK” or worth reading. Also, it was noted that people quickly shut out social media that whined or complained.

So what type of content can you use to generate more traffic to your social media sites? For starters, your status updates should offer context, not elusive information. Tell them when your next show is, describe part of a song your recording, or make mention of a difficult recording session. Give your fans and followers some concrete ideas to sink their teeth into. Elusive updates such as “Stay tuned…” may hook people initially, but after so many times of tuning in, people will begin to tune you out.

Also, try to be original. I’ve seen bands a dozen times over post their status update as a verse of the day. While I love the Bible and it is absolutely great that people are posting verses as their status, it is time for someone to take this trend and personalize it. If you want to use a Bible verse, you might try just citing the address of the verse and then tell your followers what that verse means to you, how you’re applying it to your life now, or how it’s influenced your next song. Sharing with your followers how Christ and His Word influence you day in and day out will likely cause your audience’s affection to grow for you and you may even change some lives in the process.

  • Market Yourself

Quite possibly the most overlooked and misunderstood part of any new venture is marketing. It doesn’t matter if you have the best grilled-cheese sandwich recipe or the greatest band in the history of Christian music, if people don’t know about you, they’re not going to buy into your product. While Field of Dreams stated that “if you build it, they will come”, just building it and then doing nothing with it in the real world falls disasterously short. I’ve seen great products and services fail all because of one thing: no one knew who they were. People MUST know you exist. Let me say that again. People MUST know you exist!

“So what does this mean for me?” you ask. Good question. It means you need to be getting out and getting your band name and music in front of people. People will be the driving force behind your ministry. It will be the people that buys your music, attend your shows, share your posts on Facebook and Twitter and sharing in your ministry. Speaking of social media, some sites, like Facebook, offer simplistic advertisements on their site that points directly to your Facebook page or website. You can start out with a relatively low budget and drive a few people to your page and hopefully create more fans.

However, nothing will ever beat the time proven method of just beating the pavement. Print out some flyers, grab an arm full of demo CDs and go see people face to face. Some of the best places you can hit up are church youth groups and clubs like Remedy Club and The Lighthouse Venue. Club owners and youth leaders are always on the lookout for something new and fresh. If you can group up with another band to go as a package deal, then that just sweeten’s the offer. Venues have to find entertainment for an entire evening or weekend and often have to make several frustrating calls to fill those time slots. If you offer to provide most or all of that talent for an evening all wrapped up with a bow on top, it may increase your chances of getting in the door.

Another option is to send your music in to radio stations known to play Indie music in their regular playlist or to have a special evening set aside for Indie music. Stations like 89.7 Power FM out of Dallas, Texas and The Joyful Noize Show from Hugo, Oklahoma have been known to play Indie music during peak listening hours or to have an Indie hour on the weekends.

There is one key thing to remember and to maintain throughout your marketing efforts, though. You must not be afraid of the word “no”. It is imperative that you understand this, because you will get told “no” many times. It’s much like a job interview or making those first sales pitches for a new product. The majority of people out there are going to be wary of you and your music, but it will only take a one or two gigs to break that ice and hopefully get your foot into the door of many more venues on down the road.

  • Maximize Your Potential

Well, now that you’ve marketed yourself and landed that first big gig, you better make sure that you’re ready for it, and that means practice. Just because you know the three of four songs your band has written really well, and you’ve nailed that guitar solo every time in the past five practices there are still many things you need to consider before going on stage for the first time. Have you worked out your set list and know the order? Are there any awkward pauses as your band members prepare for the next song? How is your stage presence? All of these things if not dealt with before hand can lead to some embarassing moments on stage or give the impression that you aren’t competent enough to even be on the stage.

The best way to remedy those problems is to practice through them. Stage your practices to mimic what your set for your gig will be. Turn the lights off in the garage, flip on the worklight halogens and chain the dogs to the back bumper for an audience, or better yet, offer a free showing to neighbors and friends. Do whatever you have to do to make it more real so that when you get on stage and are facing a crowd of a few hundred people you don’t get completely shell shocked. While it may sound silly to plan things out like that for a practice, if you’ve worked on those song transitions and other elements time and time again, things will run much more smoothly on your first nerve-racking time on stage.

  • Manage Your Home Life

While the dream of sharing God’s love through song is one worth dreaming, it should never be at the expense of your family and friends. These are the people who have put up with long nights of you practicing with the band. They have endured long sessions of you locked behind the door creating a mound of paper wads as you write song lyric after lyric. God has blessed you with these people and has entrusted many of them into your care. Do your job. Care for them. Spend time with them, as well. What good will it be for you to have finally made it big time only to have lost every family member and friend that supported you from the beginning?

I know it adds more into the difficulty when you’re trying to market yourself and write new content and practice with the band, but your friends and family are who will be there for you if your band fails. Not the record producers. Not the club owners. Family and friends. Take time out of each day to spend quality time with those that love you whether you ever get a recording contract or not. They’ll be your biggest supporters and also your biggest safety net should you fall.

  • Methodically Pray

A no-brainer right? Well, we would all think so, but I know from personal experience that praying without ceasing is a very easy thing not to do, especially when life gets busy juggling family, job and band. Sadly when life does get busy one of the first things to go from our routine is our time spent in prayer with God. You really need to work on keeping prayer a consistent part of your day and to have it be a methodical, ongoing part of it. It wouldn’t hurt to even call the band together, along with your family, and pray together over the week, over your ministry and over each other. Americans as a whole need to do a better job of praying and asking for God’s intervention in our lives and it can start with you.

I realize that none of the things listed above are just great outstanding ideas. In fact, you might even classify them as the simple day to day things. But so often we overlook those simple activities in an attempt to make something big happen, when what we really need to do, more often than not, is to just step back and handle the simple activities and let God take care of the big things. Because if there is one thing that God does, that is big, and He’s in the business of doing big things with simple activities.

Please comment below or on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RockCriesOut) with your ideas of how to rise above the others, or even if you disagree with something I’ve written above. Critiques are how this site will get better and we value your comments.Thanks for reading!

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