THE DOCTOR’S DO’S AND DON’TS
“Get the word out there online. If you can build any kind of a fan base through blogs, bulletins, emails and all that jazz then do it. And for a young band that might not be able to play that many shows or travel very much, you’ll find it will make a difference.”
“Don’t put all your efforts into updating your profile or blog and neglect your music. As strong as you make your band’s online status, at the end of the day, it’s about the music. If your songs are there and you’re playing some good shows, then the rest will follow.”
6. PROMOTING YOURSELF
You've come so far so soon, young grasshopper, but there's still more to do, so it’s time to spread the word about your band. There’s a lot you can do to promote your band, but let’s start with your bio. As you start to play shows, people will want to know more about you, so it’s imperative to whip up a bio for the band. Vital information to have in your bio includes the name of your band and its members (natch), where you’re from, and a list of any achievements such as winning a band competition or what bands you’ve supported. But keep it interesting. Nobody wants to read something dry and devoid of personality, so don’t be afraid to spruce it up with some anecdotes or amusing band history. If the person reading the bio genuinely enjoys reading your bio, then they’re more likely to take an interest in hearing your music. And as a final rule of thumb, never go over two pages in length, it’s not a King Lear assignment.
From here, you should complete your promo-package with some band photos. Yes, your very first photo-shoot! “Getting photos done up for your band is always fun, but it’s hard not to look like idiots in a line most of the time,” says triple j’s The Doctor. And he’s right. The majority of photo-shoots for bands look terrible. To avoid the douche-bag look, try and have some fun with your photo shoot, do something that’s a little unexpected and creative, instead of the usual ‘band against a wall, staring off into the distance’ pictures. When it comes to presenting yourselves, the call is yours. You may be the type of band that likes to go wild and dress up for your photos and shows, or maybe you’ll go the casual, jeans and tees look. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re comfortable wearing it and having it serve as an extension of your music.
This next step is a critical one, but seeing as though you’ve already come online to find this guide, chances are you know how important the Internet is for music. It has quickly become one of the most effective tools for bands to connect and communicate with music fans, so start creating an online presence with a profile on one of the many social networking hubs out there, the more popular choices being Facebook and Twitter, or sites like MySpace, Virb and Last.fm, which integrate music streams. And, of course, there's triple j’s Unearthed website. Sign your band up, upload your tracks and interact with fans, eagle-eyed industry people, other bands and triple j staffers looking for new music. While you’re there, hop onto The Board, where you can get in contact with other bands to arrange shows, recording sessions and whatever!
Another important destination for getting the word out about your band’s music is through music blogs. It’s no good to simply blanket bomb each and every blog out there with a mass-email, you’ve got to read the blogs you’re interested in and write to the bloggers who show a clear affection for the style or genre which you see your band sitting in. If you can get a picture of a blogger’s musical tastes then you’ve got a better chance at connecting with them and getting them to feature your music.
“I don’t know where we’d be without the Internet and blogs,” says Midnight Juggernauts’ main man, Vincent Vendetta. “It was amazing for us when we were starting out. We hadn’t released a single record outside of Australia, but we got booked for an entire European tour, and the crowds in London and Paris knew all our songs,” he says, the disbelief still there. “That wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been blogged about by so many different people.”
Although you’ve ticked all the boxes and begun down the road of self-promotion, you and your band aren’t on easy street just yet. Truth be told, being in a band is a lot of hard work, and that is especially true when you’re a young band that’s only just starting out. But the trick is to be persistent and hopefully, like Gold Coast success-stories Operator Please, your music finds its audience. “When we first started we didn’t think about where we’d go,” Operator Please’s commander in chief Amandah Wilkinson admits. “We were doing everything so DIY back then; we were organising gigs, printing our EP ourselves, and we even did the artwork ourselves. I stuffed up so many times cutting the CD sleeve!” But as we all know, their effort payed off, and the band are flying high, currently recording their second LP. “We pinch ourselves because we can’t believe we’re doing this stuff for real.”
Like a baby bird all grown up, you’re ready to leave the nest. There’s still more to go through, but as you develop your band, you’ll learn it all through your experiences. So work hard and play your songs harder, we’ll be listening.
Band Aid: Jack Brown of White Lies
“Don’t be discouraged if fame and fans fail to appear overnight. When we started out we couldn’t even pay people to come to our shows.” This was when White Lies were known as Fear Of Flying, and since the change of name (and direction), things have been very different for the band. “You’ve just got to keep at it. We were stuck, but we decided to keep trying with the band, so we worked hard to make better songs and to be the band we wanted to be.” With a debut LP that hit #1 on the UK charts, it worked for them.