by MATT BACON >
So this is a topic I’ve written about at length before but I think needs to be circled back to again, and I’m going to try and discuss it in a more generalized way because this seems to be the issue the bands are running into these days. So this is the question of targeting the C level, regardless of platform or function, be it markets, websites or just about anything else you can think of. This is one of those finnicky tings that you need to understand can be a good thing in limited amounts but which can also fuck you over well proper if you’re not smart about it and don’t take care in order to make your endgame clear. C level constructs are the basis of a lot of what we do and I often encourage you to invest time in accessing them but at the same time I think I need to do this piece – cautioning you to temper your outreach. There can be too much of a good thing and the C level is something you need to be extremely fucking careful with.
The C level to clarify is a catch all term for the things that don’t fit into the target A and B tier constructs. For example, an A level market is New York City, a B level is somewhere like Sacramento, the C level would be pretty much anywhere else. In terms of publications an A level publication is one of the biggest publications in your genre and where the main people all work there full time, the B level is a website where no one working there makes money off of it but the site looks professional and gets hits and the C level is blogspot sites and the like. The C level is great because it often can provide a solid basis for your band. Hell in big cities you even have C level venues which like most other C level constructs tend to be the most easily accessible and those are a great way to develop your band. However you also need to be fucking smart and realize that if you tap into these too much then your brand is rapidly going to deteriorate.
Think about it – the reason the C level is the C level is because it’s no ones first choice.
It means that most of the time things are going to be a little dingy and subpar. Now while this is great for cutting your teeth and starting to feel out your band and your place in the scene you also need to be aware that it’s not the ideal. You can’t spend all of your time targeting the C level. You might say “Well it’s only the C level that will deal with me!” and that may be true – but you don’t want to give the impression of that, and odds are you can probably get into a few B’s if you present yourself right. Now I get we are going deep into the world of theory so look at it this way, imagine you ant to go out and play a bunch of shows. Well that’s all well and good – but if you make all those shows happening tiny suburban towns then very rapidly you will become “That band who only play shitty suburban towns.” By the same token – if you pitch your music to blogs well after the material has been out for a while and no one gives a shit anymore you are only go to wind up in tiny .wix sites etc. While that’s well and good and helps you look better on google do you really think that people are going to read that Wix site review and go see your show in a shitty little town?
Now I get how this can be confusing – after all I lecture all the time about how you should be willing to accept any show that you can and be grateful for any opportunities that come your way. This is true up to a point, but I also think I need to temper this by reminding you that you need to be fucking careful about which opportunities you take on. There certainly is a good reason to do the occasional C market run. If you get on the good shows well a lot of the time people will show up because in C markets there are a surprising amount of fans who have been underserviced as fans. That being said – if you play C markets you want to make sure you are in the GOOD ones. By the same token if you want to get into the C level blogs you want to make sure that you are getting into the ones that have some sort of cult following, even if they are dingy, and beyond that you want to make sure that you are getting into those blogs at the right time. A review of your six month old album isn’t going to do anything for you, however that same review building up to release can create the illusion of a massive movement which is the real goal.
See – the C level is fucking fantastic if you are using it in the right way.
If you use it to fill out your touring schedule, add in a couple fun weekend dates here and there, get a few silly sponsorships or subtly increase your brand presence then it makes sense. You can use it as an easy and fun progression on what you are trying to do. You can be liberal in your use of them but you don’t want them to be the focus of how you market yourself. If all you are doing is getting into the same dingy publications that ultimately don’t matter and playing the same pointless shows then yeah no one is going to care about what you are doing. While there certainly are bands that focus on how they are super DIY they also try to make sure that you see not everything else they do, like their choice of venues and shows is not awful but in fact makes sense with regards to what they are trying to do. Basements are fine if you are trying to be a basement band – but you need to make sure that even those basements are the right ones.
I know this is a lot of information and it can be frustratingly confusing.
I think when it comes down to it you really just need to be plugged the fuck in to your local scene. You need to be capable of figuring out what parts of your scene actually have a positive real impact on the music and what parts of the scene are just driven by drab human suffering. It’s not about begging for shows but rather figuring out which parts of the scene make sense for you to take part in and figuring out how you can contribute 00iso you’re not just another fucking leech. When it comes down to it I just want people to contribute positively to this stupid thing that I love just so goddamn much and if you’re not helping it out then you’re just making us suffer.