I spent ten years as a professional guitarist, including three years living in Japan and touring Asia with the U.S. Air Force Band. During my time, I helped market the band to new sponsors and venues, drive site traffic, and promote our content through digital and social media. Here are four tips (of many) that I think are important for musicians looking to use the digital space to forward their gigging goals. Whatever your definition of being a successful musician is, these same tips will apply.
1. Your product can’t suck.
This is number one for a reason, and it’s often overlooked. The definition of whether or not something is good can be subjective – to an extent. Yes, a lot of successful bands and artists suck – but they usually have some other marketable quality or fortunate situation that guides their success. But, if you’re in the business to make good music (regardless of preferred style) – there needs to be an audience for that music, and your musical product should be relatively consistent with the quality that your particular audience expects. Without giving too much of a musical lecture - I believe they are two fundamental things that cannot be compromised regardless of your style or audience: musical feel, and intonation. There’s a lot you can get away with as you look to promote yourself, but if these two things are out of whack – you’ll be in for a rough time.
2. Video content: think “audio first.”
You want video content, it’s pretty much an expectation these days. One great way of getting a gig is to send over a package including videos of your musical product. I think that you can make some compromises on the actual video quality if you don’t have the right resources. This band does and found a creative way to turn pretty poor video quality into something awesome.
However, the audio quality is something you should not compromise on because audiences are generally less forgiving in this regard. Consumers typically expect that whatever they are watching and listening to should have good audio production, and not sound like it was recorded on a wax cylinder.
If you are recording at home – most listeners will forgive (or not even hear) minor details and an imperfect production. But it’s important to have a good mix, and worth the money to have your music properly mastered.
3. Brand voice and personality
For many artists - music is a natural extension of their own personality. Others like to take on a different stage persona. Bands are in a unique position to try and find a single voice to represent their collective effort. Whatever you feel best represents your group and resonates with your audience – do that….and keep it consistent. If engagement is low, you might have to make some changes. Also - just as I wouldn’t assign a social media job to an intern, I wouldn’t assign the guy you keep away from the microphone to this same job.
4. Promote yourself by promoting others
Collaboration is a huge part of being a musician. I’m always surprised to see the number of local bands that are happy to share a gig together, but do very little to help each other on social media. Use your social media page to help share content with other artists or bands that you may have a relationship with. You can ask them to do the same for you. By sharing each other’s content across networks, you’re expanding the reach to potential fans. It’s a tough business, partners can make a huge difference.
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