by MATT BACON >
Some bands get noticed by their style, not their music.
I know it is crazy, but it’s the case. I mean that’s sort of the culture we live in – one of aesthetic. Now while on the one hand this is obvious with folks like Danielle Bregoli. There’s no talent there but she represents something greater and that’s why she’s suddenly touring on a 50k guarantee. I know that musicians like to think that doesn’t apply to them, but look at someone like Action Bronson. Sure the music is good, but do you think that he got picked up because of the quality of his tunes or his whole weirdly unique backstory. That’s not an attack on Mr Bronson by the way, in many ways its almost a celebration. He discovered a new way to present himself that got people paying attention and spending money. So the question you are logically asking is “How does this apply to me as well as my band, and furthermore what can I do to help actualize this reality?”
I’ve written before, even recently about the importance about having a professional image, but this is slightly different from that.
This is about having an aesthetic that people connect with. That means looking not at the presentation of other bands but the ideas they are trying to represent. Then look at the ideas you are trying to represent, trace them back to their roots and then work on emulating those artists. That’s how you start to have an aesthetic people care about. You want to be walking on the knifes edge of familiar and forward thinking. On the one hand you got to have call backs to earlier forms of culture so that people have some context for what they want to get from you but at the same time it needs to be pushing enough o that you get a sense of what it could be in the long run. Obviously there is a limited future in being strictly derivative, so finding that balance is going to work in your favor.
This is also part of on of those fundamental struggles that I think a lot of bands have.
Their music might be perfectly good but they don’t understand the social media side of tings and don’t get that you need to be able to craft some sort of viral content if you want to have long term success. That’s a weird thing to have to deal with as an artist. Your entire life you’ve been told that if you practice your instrument then things are going to work out, and then you master your instrument and find out that things aren’t really going to work out until you get a better handle on the viral side of social media. And again – the people who have mastered the viral side of social media know that literally nothing else matters. Then don’t need to be good songwriters. Again – Danielle Bregoli is getting 50 large to lip sync and basically insult her audience. If you can’t appreciate that level of fucked up then you need to recalibrate my friend.
Now you may think that your band is not really suited for viral content.
To some extent this may be true. But then look at a band like Nails. They’re an insane powerviolence band who don’t give a fuck. Yet they inadvertently went viral with their slogan of “You will never be one of us”. I think that there are a lot of bands, especially in the hardcore scene who are able to tap into their bands youth culture in order to craft something truly substantial. In my eyes a lot of it is about sharing memes and the types of content that normally go viral. Like, if you keep putting out stupid 30 second videos then not only are your friends going to think that it’s funny but you are also going to find that there are a ton of other people who will be incentivized to share your memes. Again – you don’t need to be a pop artist to get viral attention. You just need to appreciate the fact that being in a band is inherently a kind of silly thing and people just want to live out the fantasy.
Providing the fantasy is a key part of band life these days I think.
In a world where it’s increasingly difficult to get attention as a band and where you can really go viral. Now while it certainly does apeall to your more hardcore fans to have moments of true ‘tour life’ I think that at the same time you need to show people that there is a certain magic to being in a band. For folks like us who are surrounded by bands it’s easy to forget that bands aren’t just a bunch of fat pot smokers. Bands, to the normal person, are really fucking cool and most people are going to connect with that dream. 99.9% of the population dreams of playing to any sort of crowd and you are doing it. If you can figure out a way to make that relatable then you will find success. Just look at a band like KISS, they made their success into a meme and made it something people could relate to and that resulted in one of the most important rock movements ever.
Point being – understanding branding is going to be more vital than anything else that you ever do.
Now that’s not always going to be super easy and I think there will be very real struggles as your band attempts to develop. Obviously finding KISS-like success is pretty much impossible for any band these days. But you can appreciate the lessons that good branding and an understanding of viral content and the ramifications that they can have. You don’t need to be totally business minded, you just need to appreciate that there are probably a million other bands doing what you are trying to do so if you can find a unique way to appeal to people then the rapid development of your band is all but guaranteed. You just need to be smart and pay attention, man.