Last week’s blog caused quite a stir on how band should go about building a brand. I got hit from the local angle to bands from the midwest and east coast looking to shed wisdom on becoming successful.
While some people personally emailed me to tell me that they had it figured out, I still found that their music was A.) Par and B.) Their band marketing was non-existent. Others who emailed me had promise to their music and were simply using Gmail to get the word out. Hey, it’s a start.
Once again, I’m not a guy who is in a band and what do I know about creating music and selling it? But...
How Are You Characterizing Your Band’s Success?
When you think about it, musical success is truly in the eye of the beholder. Sure, the perception of success is lodged in people’s minds by seeing a band gain a summer slot on a big tour. Truthfully, it may be a success, but it’s less than 1% of where the other 99 can make you successful.
If you’ve been in the band game for a while and you’re trying to make money with your albums, I want you to start thinking beyond the music and think about the byproducts of your music.
If your music is about bikers, drinking, long beards and kicking ass, then you might have a slew of products that can be marketed with your music. In this instance, I see shot glasses, flasks, bandanas, keychains, etc. You know, all the normal stuff that you would expect in swag with your band’s logo or a lyric emblazoned on the front.
Try to think outside the box when it comes to your swag too. The music you create can set the tone of how your byproducts are created and distributed.
“But where do I get the money to do all of this?” It’s not so much about having the money than it is about having the money fronted to you before you create the product. I’ll discuss more on this next week.
Digital Summer - Extreme Marketing Beyond Locality
If there is one Arizona band that has succeeded at doing it on their own, it’s Digital Summer.
Love ‘em, hate ‘em, or “just ok” with ‘em, they continue to have a wild fan base to this day. Why? Probably because they have band members that are committed to expanding the brand beyond their locality. Even when the band was first starting out, they knew that word-of-mouth marketing would be a key component to their success. I had always found it funny that the band members would give me their business card even though they knew me personally.
Digital Summer treats this band like a small business. That's how you should be treating your band if you're looking to see success...
When I hear Kyle Winterstein tell me, personally, that his band’s reach extends from Glendale, Arizona to St. Petersberg, Russia, I can’t argue with how he markets his band.
When Digital Summer fans tweet a fan picture at me from a show in North Dakota, I can’t argue how this band has built loyalty through their marketing.
When I see Digital Summer fans in North Carolina post Facebook pictures of their car’s dashboard, it’s usually the band name and song description on local or satellite radio. Again, I can’t argue on how they marketed to turn this person from “fan” to “RAVING FAN”.
When my professional musician friends are asking me to “put in a good word” to audition for an opening guitar spot with Digital Summer, I can’t argue about the band’s marketing based how my friends perceive the band’s credibility.
This is how you want your band to be and be perceived--with respect by fans and fellow musicians.
Bang Your Head Into Wine
Kyle doesn’t have to tell me this is how he and Digital Summer makes money because I see the marketing pieces the band has put into place. Whether it’s drawing awareness to a Kickstarter campaign, giving fans the opportunity to be a part of a new album, or even creating buzz around an acoustic album, Kyle and company are infusing themselves with the juice to earn money in some form or another. The result will equal sales of ANYTHING at anytime.
Winterstein is equally savvy when it comes to building alternate streams of income with regards to his band. He may not be Maynard James Keenan by personally pruning vines in Jerome, Arizona, but Winterstein has aligned himself with the right people to help him market his own wine, Headbanger.
I can guarantee you that when you see Digital Summer next, you will likely see the label, Headbanger at one of their shows. If the wine or whiskey isn’t being sold, then I promise you DS has people promoting for it.
For Digital Summer they align themselves with a new stream of income through affiliation. Your band should be thinking like DS by affiliating with the right people. It's really about the alignment just as much as it is about the music (don't get me wrong, them music is a huge part of the marketing game too.).
Digital Summer is the 21st Century’s Business Model For Bands
Look, I’m definitely not shilling for Digital Summer because they owe me something. Kyle knows he doesn’t owe me anything because he’s paved his own way without my help.
However, I am shilling for the band’s efforts to make something happen for themselves. They may not be signed to a major label, have management calling the shots or even deal with an A&R rep, but I know there’s one thing they value: ULTIMATE CONTROL.
Without the muddled-up shit that comes with the music industry, they certainly have control over their:
B.) Management Style
However you want to see it, you and your band members need to sit down and discuss the direction of the band and how the music can carve tributaries of income because this is how I see Digital Summer doing it.
OK, So How Do I Start? Do It By Defining Your Ideal Fan
At the end of the day, you should know the ideal fan that you are trying to reach just as Digital Summer has done. Define who your fan is and know what they do day in and day out. I’m not talking about demographics. I’m talking about really defining the ideal fan.
What is your ideal fan’s name?
What does your ideal fan do for a living? What are his working hours?
Does your ideal fan have kids? What are their names?
Is your ideal fan married? If so, what is his wife’s name and what does she do?
Dig deep and know that fan better than you know yourself and ALWAYS REMEMBER who that ideal fan is. Don’t think of this ideal fan once in a while. Define this ideal fan everyday and know every wrinkle and hair follicle on this person.
If you know exactly what your ideal fan is about, then you target your band’s music and byproduct toward that ideal fan. You will have a customer/fan for life. No matter what you do or what you put out for those ideal fans, they will buy just about anything you create. So...
Create them so they can create you.
Check back with me next Wednesday as I will give bands step-by-step instructions to getting started with building a fanbase and creating content that will help build that fanbase.