So in the prequel to this piece we talked about getting your bases covered, sorta figuring out how you’re going to put your plan into action, the fans you are trying to target, getting your general materials and products together and figuring out the price point that you are going to try to be selling this stuff to them at. Now we need to get into some of the nitty gritty, how you’re going to position yourselves in the market and how you want to promote yourself but also how you’re going to keep track of all of this and how you’re going to roadmap it. Remember – your SMART goals aren’t worth it if you forget the R and fail to road map all of your grandiose plans. If you don’t do these things then it can be hard to tell if things are getting out of hand because you have no plan to fall back on and refer back to. Yet if you can present yourself in a mature and well put together way then it will be a lot easier for big names to want to take the time to work with you.
When determining how you want to market yourself you need to figure out not just what need you’re filling, a hard question in a crowded underground scene, but moreover how you are going to pitch yourself so that it seems like you are fulfilling a previously unmet need. For example, don’t be just another indie pop band from Philly. There’s a million of those. Figure out a mutual interest of your band outside of music and use that to your advantage. For example if you all like Star Trek then use that geekiness as a launching pad and try to place yourself as an indie pop band for geeks. It certainly worked for Weezer! Also key in this is figuring out what venues and music distribution services match your brand. If you’re trying to play ska then you’re probably going to have a hard time playing in a local punk house – even if it is run by your buddies. You need to be aware that everything about where you sell your products reflects back on your brand and if you don’t keep that in mind you will surely falter.
This also ties into how you are going to promote yourself. There are a lot of layers to this and it can be rather tricky. For example – some bands don’t realize that there are certain PR companies that are the favorites of writers. I’m part of a Facebook chat of some of the top music writers in heavy metal and you can bet your bottom dollar that we have publicists who we eagerly await material from. You need to find out who those publicists are, either by thorough research, asking writers directly, or just tracking your favorite bands. That’s not all there is to it though – you also want to make sure that things your videos fit into your image. You want to have a wide swathe of content for your fans to choose from but it needs to make sense based on who they are. For example, a hardened sludge band doesn’t need to do little bit pieces about “Why they fell in love with music” but a fun pop punk band probably does. Realize that everything you do to promote your band ties back to a larger image.
Of course all of this is useless if you don’t take the time figuring out how you are going to measure your success and your initial costs. Now measuring is not really that hard, most of the time you can just do it with solid spreadsheets and a little know how. You need to track merch sales of course, but also head counts and your (hopefully) rising guarantees. It’s how you make sure that your plan is working. By the same token you need to map out your costs far in advance in order to guarantee that you are not totally screwing yourself over. Have a budget and do your best to stick to it. Obviously sometimes things don’t work out and you need to be willing to deal with that – but having an initial idea of how much some of these things are going to cost you will only help. By measuring you are going to only be more able to figure out when your break even point is and start to find yourself crawling to the top of the heap.
Which is why behind all of this you need a timeline. There are a lot of ways to do this and I really only know what works for me – which is a week by week outline for the current quarter and then broader outlines for the next three. This way you know what you should be working on on any given day but also what you are building towards up to a year from now. Timelines are great because they make sure that you stay on track with all that’s going on in your musical world but also can beset up to remain realistic with everything that you are trying to do. I like to put a lot of small tasks in my timelines so that way I can feel like I accomplish something every day. Sometimes I even take the time to color code them based on the completion of an event, making for a handy visual guide to how far along you are in your general marketing plan.
Long story short – I hope that this is an effective introduction to what you need to be doing in terms of marketing your music. I know it’s a lot to take in and I know that a lot of it is kinda weird and is hard to wrap your head around, which is why you should probably read some better articles than these – but also know that these are tactics that have worked for businesses for a good long time – I am just trying to adapt them in the name of punk rock. These pieces were pretty dense, so just remember that everything you do with your band can act as a reflection for your brand, a strong brand will make you lots of money and a weak one will make you look pathetic. Do with that information what you will.