Music industry revenue is unstable, and Spotify might be to thank for it. As streaming services become household names, the industry model begins to show cracks, while simultaneously the potential audience for the budding musician has grown thousandfold. As the major label system starts to fall, the time has never been riper for independent bands and projects to take the lead. But, with an increasingly choked generation of musicians and bands all vying for the same attention, how do you set yourself apart from the pack?
With ballpark estimates of 600,000 unsigned artists in the UK alone, marketing is key for the emerging musician to find success above the rest. Music-upload sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp are perfect starting points, once you have a working demo of your music, but simply won’t do on their own. You need to actively hunt your audience down.
YouTube is slowly becoming an accessible means for all to advertise their wares, as evidenced by an increase in local businesses advertising with low-budget videos. However this is still a transitional phase, and as such a perfect to time to jump on board ahead of your competitors. The video can be as simple as 20 seconds of your music, and some decent photographs or footage from a friend’s phone – your music will still be out there, and your chances of making an impression infinitely more than if you don’t bother at all. Needless to say, an increase in interest naturally follows and increase in production quality, so the cleaner and more professional you can make your recordings and footage, the more you’ll benefit.
But marketing in this manner is nonetheless nothing new. What more can you offer that will result in exposure and interest? What can you do that isn’t often done by so many before you? Looking into products, the literal offering of a thing with your band’s name attached, could be a promising alternative. At its simplest, keyrings and badges to be given away at gigs and festivals are a sure-fire way to get your name out there as a part of the invididual’s fashion, a ‘brand’ over a ‘band’. Stickers are fantastic for free advertising, but all-too-common the country over. Giving out free stencils could subvert that commonality, making your name far more eye-catching owing to the different medium of expression. This way, your audience engages far more with your band, taking steps to enhance your presence for you, and in the process becoming more likely to invest in you.
On a less tangible front, putting your name to an interactive product online could result in viral attention, in which case our focus can turn to the gaming industry. It’s common knowledge that online games such as Mega Fortune Dreams could land you the lottery type win to finance your musical venture, but that isn’t all the platform has to offer and a lot of acts have taken inspiration from slot machines. Games can simultaneously act as a unique and interesting promotional device, from which interest and even merchandise revenue can be garnered. So, whilst you may not get you name up in lights like Megadeth and Elvis at Betsafe, you could follow in Green Day’s footprints and get a programmer friend to build you a promo tool like this. In this way, your fans engage actively in and with you online, and your name isn’t soon forgotten.
Needless to say, these are just some starter thoughts – the world is big and beautiful, and the ways to skin a cat numerous. Bounce off these fundamental thoughts, draw up some new ones, and you’re well on your way to separating your wheat from everyone else’s chaff. Do share below if you have any particularly successful methods for exposure!