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Branding your band

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Lifestyles | October 30th, 2006

Every band participates in spamming random individuals regarding their album launches, creating mass mailing lists to keep their fans informed, adding their touring plans to website directories, and putting up wall-to-wall posters in their downtown districts for local gigs.

Depending upon a band's experience, and allotted promotional budget, the level of sophistication and quality of their practices may vary, but essentially, all bands, even those with representation, employ these tactics in order to self-promote, build their reputation, and attain recognition.

Why? Because if executed properly, they can work. However, it must be taken into consideration that the primary target market for bands, the youth generation/concert goers, are being bombarded by thousands of these messages each day through every possible medium. Understandably, media avoidance and desensitization are common. Therefore, recognizing how to make an impression and stick out from the rest of the pack is essential for success and survival. Getting your name out there has become an art-form in itself.

Within the constant haze of advertisements that pervade every sector of our lives, there are sometimes moments in which you will stumble upon a poster, or an event listing that really catches your eye. Somehow, amongst the clutter, an ad was able to make a statement, grab your attention, and maintain interest in order to get its point across.

There are various schemes that advertisers undertake in order to ensure that their message will be received such as: preying on human emotion, appealing to archetypes, and implementing dramatic effect. Regardless of which avenue advertisers choose, all of these methods share a common bond: they make ads memorable. This is important because if a company's promotional materials are memorable, it will more than likely spark the interest of consumers which in turn creates a rise in profits, resulting in success for the organization.

So how does this relate to marketing your band? Simply, the same approach needs to be implemented. The first thing a new band should ask itself is, “What makes us unique?” If you find yourself struggling to find an answer to this question because your music, image, and name all play on the current “flavours of the week”, then I hate to break it to you, but your act, if success is achieved, will probably end up becoming a one-hit wonder. There is only so much room for copycat bands in the industry, and eventually, even the best of trends lose their popularity. The surviving bands are those that are able to reinvent themselves, they are not the acts that just “jump on the bandwagon” as it were.

However, if your response to this question replicates the standard, “We are like nothing you've ever heard before” - again, you are deluding yourself. By default, every original act produces something “original” because individual influences, member collaboration, and the creative process is varied in nature, but everyone is influenced by someone or something of the past. For that matter, it is impossible to be aware of every artistic movement that currently exists or has taken place across the globe. Even if you can't think of another act to which you are comparable, it does not mean that they don't exist.

Still, several bands market themselves in this fashion, and unfortunately for them, they are sooner or later called on their shit.

So how do I come up with a creative marketing approach? Easily, you just need to put some thought into it.

1) Consider your band's name, image, and sound carefully. Each of these components can make or break a band. Therefore, not only should their inspiration be creative, but as well it needs to be meaningful (more on this next week).

2) Avoid typecasting yourself into a certain genre as it may deter listeners from checking you out. Allow your audience to develop their own perceptions by providing enough information so that they are intrigued, but not so much that they will end up feeling as though there is nothing left to uncover.

3) At all times, act professional because word of mouth is one of the most powerful forces in this industry. Be aware that effective self-promotion is not only a viable means to expand your band's fanbase, but as well, it can often grab the attention of the industry's movers and shakers. This industry is all about connections, therefore maintaining business-like conduct in all situations is crucial. (You never know who you might meet.)

4) Most importantly, be respectful and appreciative of both your fans, and any media outlet that provides you with coverage. Your fans allow you the opportunity to go on tour through the purchasing of your merchandise, and the media allows you to reach worldwide audiences that you cannot on your own. Remember you need them in order to exist, but they don't need you.
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