by MATT BACON >
Hey dear readers, it has been quite a trying week here, and I wanted to spend some time looking at one of the fundamental realities of the industry that not a lot of bands really want to understand. That is to say that, today I wanted to take the time to talk about what industry people are looking for in bands. Now this is very different from what fans are looking for in bands, it’s a side of marketing your band that I think not a lot of people really spend time thinking about and which can actually push your band to a much higher level than any standard fan outreach might. This requires a much deeper understanding of the industry, or at least one that forces you to look at how things work from a variety of perspectives and not just as a dude in a band trying to make a buck or at least get put out on a label that they don’t hate. I know this is a rough one to have to wrap your head around sometimes but it’s also the way things go now and then.
I think first and foremost it’s important to realize that while your fans probably don’t care that much about professionalism, but industry people do. If you’re trying to get your band signed to a label and you don’t have your assets together nicely, that is to say the bio, EPK, photos, and all that good shit, you are alienating people right away. Beyond that, if you’re not able to email folks back reasonably quickly or spend weeks to get your shit together, the the odds are that no label is going to really want to invest in what you are doing. Admittedly that’s also a fan relations thing – but I think that you understand why it’s probably going to end up being more of an issue for industry people, at least in the longer run. But this is all obvious stuff, stuff every band knows, but much to my chagrin almost none do. However, I want to dig in some of the weirder things that are going to get industry folks attention.
You need to realize that not only does your music need to be good but your music also needs to be concurrent with the present trends. That is to say, if you’re starting up a doom metal band right now you’re probably not going to get anywhere because that genre has already had its boom two or three years ago. Even the major festivals in the genre are moving on stylistically. However, if you’re in a sick death metal band right now, odds are it’s going to be a little easier to get interest because that’s the type of extreme music that is presently dominating the zeitgeist. This is part of why it pays to have a good producer or songwriting coach, they can help you identify the parts of your art that will resonate with what the market wants, which, at the end of the day is all that matters. If your music doesn’t have that “Oh shit” factor, and is poorly recorded, not well produced and has generally weak presentation then industry people aren’t going to pay attention.
The key thing to realize is that someone like me, who writes for some fairly major publications as well as managing a few bands, gets sent hundreds of submissions a week. There are ten thousand metal records or more released every year,and the odds of yours impressing a significant number of industry people such that you can get signed to a cool label is extremely slim. Countless bands come off as foolish wannabes because they think that it should be an easy thing to get picked up by a label, not even considering things from the record labels perspective. They don’t think about what about their band will provoke peoples interest. It doesn’t matter if hundreds of your friends come to your local shows, if there is no staying power and opportunity for expansion. When a label looks at investing thousands of dollars in a band, staying power is what they need, there’s now way around it.
In the end it comes down to looking at the industry from other peoples perspectives, be it the label, the journalists, the producers, the fans or whoever else is involved, you need to figure out what they want and go from there. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again – this is a business and if you want to enter into actual business deals and not just random bullshit scams then you are going to need to think about how the deals that you end up making work for all parties involved – not just yourself. So if you do something that you think will be helpful and productive for a label to want to work with you need to explain why it will be and maybe even be willing to do a financial breakdown. That’s not the labels being assholes, that’s just everybody realizing that there are certain very clear things that need to get painted for everything to make sense to everyone. If you ignore these issues you’re just priming yourself for the worst.
This isn’t always a fun industry to be in even if it paints itself like that. A lot of the time you need to break free of your artist mindset and then think about how this whole thing shakes out from different perspectives. When you do that it rapidly becomes obvious that despite it all the music industry is a strangely ;ogical beast. Yeah there are a lot of scams and whatnot – but that’s largely because people don’t think things through. If you look at how this all works from the top down then it starts to become clear that odds are no one is trying to scam you – at least fif you’re associated with legitimate people – rater they are trying to work with you in order to develop a bolder and brighter future for your career and artistic vision.