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So you wanna be in a rock band?: Getting the word out about your label

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Lifestyles | March 9th, 2009

... continued from last issue

Designing your record label's look and branding its identity take more time and effort than you may think. Number Three: Business Cards

There is nothing that I, as a music journalist, hate more than coming across a website in which I'm interested for which there is no appropriate contact information. Similarly, considering that networking is such a crucial component of establishing business relations, and reputation building in the music biz, it is equally aggravating, for industry professionals, to come across bands and/or aspiring label owners who are not adequately stocked with handfuls of business cards at shows and industry conferences.

You need to be prepared for anything in this industry because you never know who you just might meet, and having business cards on you, at all times, is certainly a step in the right direction.

In terms of design, maintaining the same colours and fonts that you use for your website, and logo, on your cards will work to solidify your label's image. Make sure that you include all necessary contact information (ie: postal address including country, phone, fax, email, website), your slogan, and where applicable, the roster list of the bands you represent and/or a list of your top five acts. Including all of this info is essential as at any given gig, an industry rep could meet upwards of a hundred people trying to get his/her attention, you need to ensure that they'll remember exactly who you are, and what you're about, come time for the follow up.

As a side note: A newer trend that I've witnessed on the band promotional front is the creation of “postcard” style business cards in which the band is presented in full colour photographic form on the front, while label contact information, and selected quotes about the act are depicted on the reverse side. If done properly, these can be quite eye catching, but it's important to realize that they are much harder to carry around as they don't easily fit into pockets, and the last thing that you want to do, with your promotional materials, is to inconvenience the very person to whom you are trying to sell up your business.

One last note on business cards: Please, I beg you, actually spend money on getting these things printed professionally. I know that they can be expensive, both to design, and to print, but trust me it'll be worth while, and there are lots of services out there willing to give you good deals, if you make the effort to look.

Number Four: Press Kits

Press kits are your means of getting “the good word” out about the bands you represent to venues, bookers, media reps and other industry professionals. While their look will vary from label to label, standard components, all of which should be tucked neatly into a crisp folder, include: the band's biography, a “stat” sheet, an 8 x 10 photo that depicts the entire band with their logo overlaid, upcoming tour dates, press quotes, a copy of their latest disc, and of course, your label's business card.

Just as your website, business card, and slogan work to “brand” your label, your bands' press kits should follow suit. Each one of your bands will, of course, have their own distinctive look, but the packaging in which they are presented should work to draw an association back to your label, and ensure continued business dealings, even if one of your bands decides to jump ship. A simple way to do this is by including your label's logo as the header, and contact information as the footer on every page included in the kit.

People often get caught up in the excitement of their own ideas and convince themselves that they have superhuman capabilities. They take on more and more and more, but eventually they reach their breaking point, and had they just set out a sensible plan of attack from the beginning, they never would have found themselves in that situation. Take it from someone who once attempted (successfully, if you don't count my consequent mental breakdown and physical fatigue) to book all of her own shows, do all of her own publicity, negotiate all of her own business deals, while performing several times a week, working part time, and attending school- you cannot do it all on your own, and even if you can, it will eventually catch up to you.

Do not underestimate how hard it will be (hundreds of indie labels go defunct every year), and do not overestimate your own abilities. Do your homework, start out slow, and do not rush success. After all, everything that is worth fighting for is always a challenge.
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