As the Behind the Mic series comes to an end, we’d like to give you all a list of 20 things we think all artists should be doing to keep their fans engaged, pack their shows and promote their music.
From having an online presence to setting up distribution for your albums, we hope this list will help you hone your skills as both a musician and a business person in the fast-paced and constantly changing music industry. After all, your band is your brand, and it takes lots of hard work and dedication to reach your goals!
1. Get online. This is an obvious one—you’re already here, but if you don’t yet have an account on OurStage, sign up now! As our artists will tell you, it can be a career-changing move. You should also have a MySpace page, a Twitter account, a Facebook page and anything other account you think you’ll use. You don’t need to sign up for every single music site you see, because chances are that you don’t have the time to update all of them all the time. An outdated profile is useless, and sometimes detrimental to your progress!
2. Consider making your next album an EP, or a 3P. As we discussed earlier, the 3P is the future of music releases. We live in a world of instant gratification, so music fans are showing preference to purchasing a few EPS over the course of a year than an annual album.
3. Take some new band photos. Ditch the old photos from last year and get some updated, high-quality shoots. You’ll need them for your websites and press kits!
4. Get your album reviewed. There are a million bloggers out there waiting for albums to review. Get your music heard and attain a quotable review for your EPK and bio.
5. Research potential sponsorship opportunities. Sponsorships are a great way to offset the costs of being in a band. Learn how to reach out to companies for sponsorships for clothing, gear and more.
6. Be gig-savvy. Plan your gigs carefully—be sure not to double up on the same market more than twice in a month, and watch out for potential scams. You might want to start using a band calendar to keep track of everyone’s availability. That will save you the extra step of calling each band member every time you’re offered a show. And don’t forget to use our Gig Finder to find new show opportunities!
7. Learn the business. The music industry can be tricky. Learning the ins and outs of record deals, tour planning, etc. will put you at an advantage over other musicians!
8. Practice your live show. The test of a true musician is seeing how well you can replicate the sound of your record in a live setting. Take our tips for honing your stage presence and your next show will be even better than your last.
9. Sell your merch online. Fans who can’t come out to shows need a way to buy your merch too. Set up a webstore and start selling!
10. Manage your mailing list. Set up a mailing list and an account on a newsletter site. Keep your fans in the know and offer them cool incentives for signing up!
11. Promote to the college crowd. College kids love music and love being the first to know about the hottest upcoming bands. Learn how to get in with the college crowd by playing shows, getting on-air interviews and handing out free merch at local schools!
12. Webcast your next show or acoustic set. Make your fans feel like they’re getting the VIP treatment by putting them front row center to an intimate performance or live show, or just host your own webchat. Webcasting is a powerful artist tool, so make sure you get on it as soon as possible!
13. Launch a fan-funded campaign. Fan funding is the hottest new way to raise cash for a new record, tour or merch collection. Source your funding from your fans and reward them with awesome, exclusive prizes!
14. Design cooler merch. With all the crazy merch out there, T-shirts and CDs are old hat. Get creative with your merch and give your fans some fantastic new swag.
15. Record a cover song. A cover song is a fast, fun and easy way to get extra exposure and promotion. In a time when music is discovered online everyday, posting a cover song or video can actually help launch an artist’s career!
16. Run a street team. Gather a group of your most dedicated fans and start a street team. These fans will be your grassroots promoters, so get some unique and innovative ideas together to get your name out there.
17. Take care of your voice (and other instruments). Take our tips for proper voice care and check out Jay Schneider’s Tune Up series for pointers on keeping your instruments in top shape.
18. Hire a manager (when the time is right). One you have a solid following and are making money off your music career, you should consider getting a manager. They can be a huge help in getting ahead in the industry, but they are ultimately a representation of you—so choose carefully!
19. Update your official Web site, don’t ditch it. Don’t forget about your official Web site! It’s the go-to place for accurate and up-to-date information, and should not be replaced by MySpace or Facebook.
20. Have fun! Being in a band is a challenging, time-consuming job, but ultimately, it’s about the music. Remain dedicated, work hard and stay passionate about your art!