One day, you’ll have a major-label marketing team at your command, ready to ram you down the public’s throat and into every orifice of popular culture. Until then, you are the marketing department, that park bench is your press office and your smart-phone is your loudspeaker. Here’s how to blow your own trumpet without hitting bum notes.
#1. Get a proper website
Your website is your online HQ, and your mission is to drag the right people over the threshold. If you haven’t got one yet, get started. Find sites you admire and take note of their best features – from layout to colour palette – then enlist a designer or use a package like WordPress or Wix. Put the key information into a logical layout, ticking off a news feed, live dates, bio, photos, merchandise, music, contacts, social media links and press cuttings. A regular blog will pull punters in, and if you dangle a free track in exchange for their email address, you’ve got a ready-made database.
#2. Use the right platform for the right media
If your website is the mothership, then your social media platforms are the satellites. But use them right. Facebook is good for sharing news while its analytics tools can help you get a snapshot of who your fans are. Twitter is great for quickfire thoughts and last-minute newsflashes, while Instagram is invaluable for letting fans into your world with exclusive shots from the studio and the road. Across all your platforms, the key is to make the content feel revealing and engaging, so fans feel like they’re invested in your journey and ride with you all the way.
#3. Let your fans do the work for you
Sure, you could stay up for six days straight, wired on Nescafé and Pro Plus, trying to herd disinterested strangers towards your new EP. But when it comes to self-promotion, it’s far easier to let your fans do the heavy lifting for you. The best tactic is to make your posts and content as funny, shocking, honest, surreal and/or personal as possible, so causing an avalanche of shares and retweets that make your band bounce across cyberspace like the musical equivalent of Kim Kardashian’s buttocks.
#4. Target the right people
Between old-school media, new-school blogosphere, local radio and national TV, the potential avenues for independent bands are mind-boggling – so don’t waste time chasing up blind alleys. Do a little research and decide who is most likely to further your career. Target magazines who cover your genre. Approach DJs who actively support upcoming bands. Hit up bloggers who have covered bands on your circuit. When they bite, be ready with a slick press pack that includes music, photos and bio.
#5. Show your face
Social media is a great tool, but don’t dismiss the time-honoured approach of getting out there on the scene and making connections the old-fashioned way. Hang out at the same venues and watering holes as bands, promoters, agents and A&Rs. Shake every hand that comes your way. When a conversation starts organically, be ready with your elevator pitch, your business card and press pack – and don’t be stingy when it comes to shouting drinks.