Yesterday I answered a questionnaire for an online magazine about 'how to promote your band the right way'. I've mentioned my thoughts on this subject in conversation once or twice before but never put it into writing, and as this place was (as ever) desperately in need of an update, it seemed a good opportunity to quickly sum it all up...
Every band is different.
That sounds obvious, but it's something which a lot of people seem to forget when it comes to the dog eat dog world of band promotion. Quite simply, there is no fool-proof way to take your band from A (playing to 5 people in Huddersfield on a Sunday night) to B (selling out Wembley and shacking up with a celebrity), although there are plenty of wrong ways. These wrong ways should be obvious, but the phrase "don't piss people off" broadly covers the bulk of them.
Granted, every few years you get a Biffy Clyro or a Frank Turner, champions of the underground who rise and rise, giving us all something to celebrate and hope for the little guy that they could be next. These tend to become everyone's reference point and a model in which to base your own ideas, and rightly so. At the end of the day, however, these two both took very different paths to reach the level they now enjoy, with the real defining factor in both cases being their years of dedication and hard work.
These days I find too many bands looking to carbon copy others, whether it's in their sound, their artwork, their image or indeed their career path. Creativity is the key and with the music scene so over-saturated with very average bands, you need to do anything and everything you can to rise above to the top. Don't look at your idolised bands and think "well by this stage they were playing to 10 times more people than us" and definitely don't look enviously upon your friends bands and think "why are they getting this opportunity and we're not?" Every band is different.
For some this may mean constant touring, gritting your teeth and taking the quiet nights on the chin, slowly but surely building a national fanbase. For others this will mean making all of your music available for free, attempting to establish a solid online presence. In some cases it will mean signing with a label to help you out, in others it might mean staying completely independent and figuring things out for yourself. What I think is important to remember - and unfortunately often isn't - is that everyone is different. There's no set time when a band MUST have a manager, MUST put out their debut album, MUST tour overseas, or MUST go full-time. You define your own path as and when things come to you, making sensible decisions and working hard.
This isn't really going anywhere and I'm straying dangerously close to preachy territory, so should probably wrap it up. Apologies for the rant. I'll post a link to the feature when it goes live as I'm sure some of the other contributors will have different, and probably more useful, opinions on the subject.
This blog was brought to you by the music of Daytrader, the taste of Tesco Orange Squash, and the craving of a chicken bhuna.