You can choose to sit around and wait to get discovered or signed or hired or booked, or you can get to work.
No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself. - Seth Godin
Your band would like more press, right? You'd be stoked if you got covered on Pitchfork, or NPR, right? Imagine a feature on Lambgoat, Punknews, or AltPress. Why not dream big? Magazine covers, talk show appearances.
Each of those media outlets has a gatekeeper. Someone who says "yes" or "no" to you.
Then around 1995 or so this "internet thing" started happening. The gatekeeper still exists, sure. But now you can set up a website, stream your album, and post your music video on YouTube, start your own video show. And everyone in the world can see it. The problem? It's hard to get noticed.
But along comes "social media." Twitter, my favorite, came about in 2006, and used to be called Twttr.
Twitter is where people CHOOSE to follow you. They're saying, "I'd like to hear from you." You get to speak to them directly.
You're not speaking to them through a magazine or music blog. There's no filter. You don't need to tell them, "go read what I told a writer." No. They clicked FOLLOW. They want to hear from you.
If you have 10 followers, 100, or 10,000, like it or not, you are now a MEDIA OUTLET.
:: Wouldn't it be great if a magazine sent a photographer to the studio while you recorded your album? You'd Tweet the heck out of that, wouldn't you?
Guess what? You don't need to wait to do that. You already have an audience that would love to see that. Take some good photos and get them up on YOUR site. Then Tweet to your fans to go look at YOUR feature. Chances are the music blogs will link to it, too.
:: Imagine if a press outlet sent a photographer and writer with you on tour, capturing all the behind the scenes moments. Telling your story from the road. The highs and the lows. Then three months after your tour it shows up in a magazine. Your FANS would read that, right?
Well, you can do that, too. Bring a photographer and/or a writer (like me) along on tour for a week. Publish good photos on Twitter and Instagram, with a well written story to go with it on your blog. You know, a tour diary, but instead of giving that content to a music blog, put it on your YOUR blog, for your fans. YOU get the traffic, not someone else. You decide the branding. You can offer special deals to your fans. You can ask people to join your email list. Or SMS list.
Your band is the media outlet now.
Oh, but you're just posting photos of quick-mart stops when on the road? Wow.
You get to create the story you share with your fans. The photo to the right is HRVRD, (at the time) on Equal Vision Records. This photo just screams a good time, doesn't it? And note - that's not a 1000 seat theater, is it? Don't wait until you’re playing sold out arena's to start doing photos like this.
Sure, a magazine cover story is great. And PR people doing their job and getting bands placement is awesome. I'm not knocking them - they're clients of mine!
But until you get to that point, what are you doing? Posting photos of your dirty van? Thrilling.
Let me put it this way: you know how there's a difference between a seasoned touring band and the local openers, right? You can just see it in how they walk. How they load in. How they carry themselves on stage.
It's no different on Twitter or Instagram. You either look like a hack, or you look like you know what you're doing.
Anyone can post a photo a blurry photo of your band loading in.
Or, you can post photos like this (which was shot on an iPhone, which you probably have).
Anyone can Tweet a link to their tour dates. Boring.
Or you could edit together some video footage and tease it like this:
Anyone can upload their video to YouTube.
Or you could have a photographer and writer at the shoot, and put together something like this like I did when I was editor at Noisecreep.
Are you going to sit around and wait for a magazine or blog to "do a cool feature" with your band? Or, like Seth Godin writes, are you going to pick yourself?
It's a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, "I pick you." Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you--that Prince Charming has chosen another house--then you can actually get to work.
Hire a writer. Work with a designer. Bring along a photographer on your next tour. You already write great music, so let’s get to work!
(This was originally written by me in Sept 25, 2012)