You may have heard the saying, “A good band copies three or four other bands, a great band copies twenty.” This isn’t just true for the music though, it holds for the actual marketing of your band as well. I would say that in my whole career of doing this, I’ve had no original thoughts – everything I’ve done has consistently just been an upgrade on something that I saw one of my peers doing. In a career where I’ve been profiled multiple times and been able to hire people, create companies and release countless records I’ve gotten through it all not by being especially smart but simply by knowing what other bands do that works and then copying that. Sure I might need to elaborate on ideas here and there, because sometimes bands don’t realize exactly what they have come in to but the basic principle stays the same. You see what works, put your own general flavor on it and then try and go from there – the same as with songwriting.
When it comes down to it, we are all, on some level, aware that everything is stolen from everything else. No thought is truly original but not every thought has been built upon in the right way yet. My view is that you need to take different ideas and combine them in order to figure out new paths forward. It’s a brainstorming technique that I think has worked fairly well in countless situations over the years. Look at existing services and the bands that take advantage of them and then try and think about ways that bands could be expanding upon what they are doing and figure out a way to make it accessible and practical for your band to do. You’d be surprised how often people seem to miss key functions of services, or read articles about doing cool things with sites like Patreon or Kickstarter and then never bother to act on it.
Another thing that I find comes in handy when copying other bands is to take an idea and look at the most successful bands doing this. Or example – my cousin plays in the band Animaniguchi, a group who has had one of the most successful crowdfunding experiences of all time. Whenever I need to set up a kickstarter, as much as I might think that I know all the rules and as much as I might think I know how to crowd fund at this point I still refer back to it. I also constantly stay updated on articles about crowd funding to see what exciting new ideas are being carried out and what fundamental truths about crowdfunding I can glean for personal use down the line. I know this isn’t something you might normally think of doing and this is part of why it’s good to have a manager who stays up to date on these sorts of things. It’s easy to get lost in far too simple and nicely designed guides on websites without backing it up with any sort of real knowledge.
You need to view anything that your band or any other band does as a sort of great experiment. You need to look at all the opportunities that people have taken and try and determine where they fit into the grand scheme of things. If you fail then chalk it up to a learning experience, but more importantly try and see if you can find other bands that have done what you are trying to do and then see if you can improve upon that. I know these things can be hard to find a lot of the time because if something failed then it’s unlikely an article will be written about it. By the same token – even if it was successful if the band was of a small enough caliber then no one might have noticed. Some of the best ideas I’ve ever had have come from stalking obscure bands I discovered on Spotify because I was bored, seeing how they never capitalized on a great moneymaking idea and then making one of my bands play it to the hilt.
I think that one thing that really helps with all this is looking beyond your own genre. A lot of the time you will read an article about a band who don’t do anything at all similar to you but if you look at it with the right mindset then you can fairly easily find where they are coming from and how they were able to make money off of whatever their idea was. I know that can sometimes be hard to put together and less than obvious – no one said the music industry was easy! Still, the successes of a group like Pomplamousse alone should be enough to inspire your average DIY band and give you food for thought for months, if not yars to come. By taking the lessons of groups who are not afraid to experiment and then document their experiences you are going to ind a bold future. The secret of course is to be smart enough that you don’t get caught up in the fact that it won’t work because “It’s not our genre” Instead take that as a challenge to find the essence of their solution and use that to drive your work forward.
If you really look at it – figuring out how to make money with your band is just like with any other business. Businesses aren’t trying to create totally original ideas most of the time in order to drive their model forward. Rather they are making variations on old themes in order to generate something powerful that can make th profitable in the long run. If you look at things in terms of the immediate and not the long term then even then you will be able to find countless examples that will help you. In my yes though it’s much wiser to take the time to isolate some bands you really admire and try to pull of their marketing tactics and bring your entire model to brave new heights.