Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tips for becoming not quite famous by building your band brand

I must apologize for the length of this post, but it is something I am passionate about.

Derek Irving, guitarist for the San Francisco Bay area blues band The Aces, posted a question on Linkedin, “Do online distribution services really work for press releases?” First, great place to put a question to get some of the finest minds in the world to promote your band. Second, great way to use social media.

Derek hopefully posted a Twitter tweet that he posted the question on Linkedin and announced his band’s MySpace (theaces) site, as well as the band’s own Web site, on Facebook too. I let friendfeed automatically handle all that for me.

I tried to persuade Tiffany Giardina to contribute to this post. She is a marketing genius. At 15, she has street teams, on Radio Disney Incubator, on a Disney soundtrack, a hit single, a rapidly rising CD, performing everywhere, including the NBA 2009 All-Stars national anthem. Yes, I think she’s a marketing phenom, and she’s 15!

Derek got a response from one of the greatest music minds today (outside of Chuck Morris), Bay Area Musician founder Dennis Erokan. Mr. Erokan was responsible for the revival of Santana, launched Huey Lewis and the News and I believe Eddy Money. Think also Journey or one of those bands that all sounded alike in the ‘80s (Kansas, etc.).

Let’s look at marketing The Aces. First, they have a MySpace. Required. They should also have their own unique Web site, a blog too. Street teams (used to be fan clubs),

My philosophy is the fan is king. We’ve all heard the story of the rising band that plays to two people and gives it the best show they’ve ever done. In this day, you go out to the audience and get your picture taken with your fans and you post those pictures to MySpace (where you have a blog) – at the bare minimum. We’ve all gone to the battle of the bands to see the hair metal guitarist shaking his hair, thinking he’s the hottest, then runs to his friends and ignores the fans. Has that guy’s band ever won?

Let’s dissect The Aces MySpace page. I don’t want to be cruel. My daughter was just telling me how her fraternity grilled her in an interviewing and resume writing group. Essentially the verdict was she sucked. I told her – in all seriousness – it must be nice to have a group who cares for you so much they would take their time to help you improve. I hope The Aces go through this in that spirit, and other bands learn from The Aces.

First what hit me off the bat on their site was – before I heard the music or anything – their tour schedule is posted – and current. I like that. Also like they have their own Web site posted on their MySpace page (except it is only their MySpace page – hope they change that – see my Linkedin answer to Derek’s question). Is there a way to create a link? Also a Facebook link - great!

Now for what I don’t like – no opportunity to purchase a download. That is available on MySpace now and makes the site great. Second, the songs run too long. Guns “N’ Roses killed “Chinese Democracy.” Why should I go to Best Buy (I hate exclusive offers) when I can hear half the CD on MySpace? You want to offer each song for 90-seconds. Either buy it or get off the pot, so to speak. Don’t see the band listed on Amazon downloads. You want those downloads everywhere.

The band has a video on MySpace. When I went to YouTube I couldn’t find it when I plugged in The Aces. I’m sure it’s there, but I couldn’t find it. Put it on all these sort of sites.

Love that they are opening for Charlie Musselwhite and Tommy Castro. Get creative in your “band brand” thinking. See for ways to develop your creative thinking.

Here’s a brief one-minute research I did. Musician’s Friend has Hohner Piedmont Blues 7-Harmonica Pack with Case for $20 per set. I’d buy $200 worth or more and have Musselwhite sign them. Hold contests – before they open for Tommy Castro, have the owner of the club get on all the morning news shows (radio and television) – or Tommy Castro himself – to talk up the upcoming show. “By the way, our own local band, The Aces, are giving away a signed set of harmonicas; signed by Charlie Musselwhite. That will be after their set May 8, 7:30, at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma. You can find them on MySpace under The Aces, all one word.”

Find the biggest social event you can find (doesn’t matter if it’s local – just a good place to draw fans from, like the W.C. Handy in Memphis the night before the Petaluma gig). You don’t have to be there. Call all the blues stations throughout the nation two weeks before and announce the giveaway. If the awards show doesn’t have an auction, find another society event in Memphis the same time and give those puppies away. Make sure you’re mentioned in the benefit’s program, on their Web site, in their newsletters – buzz, baby, buzz.

Then when you open for Tommy Castro (or whoever), get the most inexpensive guitar like the artist plays – for Castro you get a Squier bullet for like $99 (as many as you can afford) and have him sign it backstage. Secret to guitar signing. Sand away top varnish (leave color) where the signature will be and then polish (varnish) after it is signed.

Again, charity events, future gigs, anywhere you can creatively think of to build a following. If it doesn’t make sense for your group (like a high school band – you know, “One time at band camp….”) find something else to do creatively. Ask Tiffany Giardina. She may have some fantastic ideas.

For all those bands that benefit from this advice, let me know. Remember, the Jonas Brothers were bounced from Columbia Records. Joe Walsh’s daughter, Lucy, was bounced from one or two labels and is the Internet queen of music.

Watch your friend’s on social networks. If The Aces noticed my MySpace page, they’d discover Bob Corritore is a “friend.” Bob owns the Rhythm Room, one of the finest blues show clubs in the world. I’m confident he’d do a night with The Aces. It called a social “network” for a reason.

Good night and good luck.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a great article for all bands and all businesses. Richard you should use a tool called "share this" which allows users to quickly share this link.